From “I Never” to Always

From “I Never” to Always

I have a new idea and that is to post the notes from my lessons here on I won’t do it every time, but I write a very manuscript form so you should be able to at least get some ideas. I don’t really have the time to explain everything, but I will try to make some quick notes when I can.

Theme: Getting a new start, Habits

Today we are looking at creating habits that can up us, but also habits that can make a difference in the world. We tend to think of making changes in our life as things that help us be better, but it is more than that. You have been given a mission to make a difference in this world and the habits that you form either help or hurt that.
So to get things started lets play “I Never”

(I never is a game where everyone sits in chairs in a circle. There is one less chair than students so the person without a chair has to stand in the middle. The middle person says something they have never done (I have never jumped out of plane, I have never eaten green beans, etc). The students who are sitting down have to get up and find a new place to sit if they HAVE done what the person in the middle HAS NOT done. When people start to move the person in the middle tries to find a seat and then there is one person left out again who continues with the game) 

There are some things that you have never done and others that you have. One of the big problems with our world right now are some of the I Never’s of Christians. There are lots of church people who have never shared their faith, who have never reached out to help someone who was in need, who have never seriously considered what it means to follow Christ.
So tonight we are going to look at what it means to go from I Never to Always
OK, let’s have a third of you to look up
Philippians 3:12–14 (HCSB)
12 Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

The next third can look up

2 Peter 1:5–8 (HCSB)
5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, 6 knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, 7 godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The last third check out

1 Corinthians 9:24–27 (HCSB)
24 Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. 25 Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. 26 Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. 27 Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

You see we have a mission, that is greater than a simple race. We are not running for a prize that will fade, but for a prize that will never fade away. The things that we are doing for God’s kingdom here will impact not only now, but also eternity.
So we need to practice disciple and adopt habits that help us to pursue the goal.
But let’s start there: What’s the goal?
The goal is to be more like Jesus
Why it is important to know the goal?
I need two volunteers
We are going to have a race. OK, GO!
What do you need to actually race? You need a destination right? OK, first one to the other door gets a free drink. Go!
You can’t race without a goal and you can’t grow closer to Christ without getting an idea of the goal which is ultimately to be ore like Jesus.
So what are some habits that you can adopt to help you to pursue this goal?
Bible reading, quiet time, prayer, sin management
Learning to see people, reaching out to the needy, having a heart for others
Those are all habits that we know we need to do, but they are hard. So how do we help impliment those? Well they start with right choices.
We are going to play a game here about choices.
Play 4 on a couch (sorry this is hard to explain, but I think you can search for it)
In this game you had to remember what had gone before and use that information to make wise choices. In the same way you need to remember that you have a mission and you need to make choices that help fulfill that mission.
Turn in your Bible to Hebrews 12:1-2

Hebrews 12:1–2 (HCSB)
12 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.

We need to keep our eyes on Jesus.
So let’s get practical for a moment. It doesn’t take long for a practice to become a habit, it just takes some daily remembering for a while and then it becomes like second nature.
I want to challenge you to 30 days of a new God habit. You can choose what that habit will be. If you pray only for 5 minutes then pray for 10. If you don’t read your Bible at home then commit to read it. Maybe you need to find someone to be kind to every day. Whatever it is find a way that you can 1) do it easily and 2) keep track of it (like in a journal) and do it for 30 days. If you can come back to me next month with a journal or record of what you have done I will give you a prize.

How I prep a Youth Talk (Vlog 1)

How I prep a Youth Talk (Vlog 1)

So I got a new camera and a computer that is actually able to edit the footage from said camera so I am trying to spend some time making a daily log of what I do. These first few vlogs will be just sort of how I work and what my order of things looks like. Then I hope to transition into thoughts about youth pastoring and life as a dual youth/children’s minister in a small church.

My reason behind this is that I think there are lots of big church people talking about their process and how things work in their church, but for the average size 200 person or less church there is less dialog about the day to day life of a youth pastor who is also the media editor who is also the associate pastor who is also the whatever it is in your church that you do other than just teach students. So I hope this series of blogs will help you out.

Wildlife Middle School Worship is Back

Wildlife Middle School Worship is Back

One of the most fun things that has happened for me in ministry happened a couple of weeks ago. It was the triumphant return of Wildlife our once a month middle school only gathering. Now if you are a big group and you have middle school and high school separate already you know how great this is. But if you have a small youth group like mine it is really hard to split middle school and high school on a regular basis. 1) because you don’t have enough staff and volunteers 2) you don’t have the space and 3) if you split your youth group you would have even fewer people in each group and things would get weird.

That is where Wildlife comes in.

Once a month we have a worship time that is only for middle school students. I would like to do it on Mondays and call it “Middle School Mondays” but I have other Monday obligations so we do it on the First Friday of every month. You may think that Friday is not a good night, but honestly middle schoolers aren’t out on Friday nights too often (their ball games are normally during the week, too).

Benefits of having a separate middle school worship service

  • Let’s you have fun in goofy ways that some senior high kids might not enjoy.
  • Allows deeper lessons and more serious tones at your regular meeting because your younger students have a time of their own.
  • Offers great opportunity for seniors and college students to get some leadership training.
  • Gives middle school students a fun “event” that they can invite their friends too.
  • Let’s middle school students cut loose without trying to look cool for the high school kids.
  • Is just generally fun!

Here is our basic structure:

  1. We have a theme and teams get points for everyone who dresses according to the them.
  2. There is always food!
  3. We play 3 messy games. These are all up on the stage and all of our games are boys vs girls.
  4. We spin the wheel of messes (just a fun game where someone can either get $5 or an egg on the head or other weird things like that (This lets me get more people messy without taking up as much time)
  5. We have a little clean up time
  6. We sing 2 or 3 songs. Normally we don’t have full band for this, just me doing some hand motion type songs.
  7. We have a short (read under 15 minute) lesson about the theme.
  8. We have small group time where our college students lead in discussion.

That simple structure of messy games (that look great on social media) and a short lesson creates an environment where students want to invite their friends. Creating Wildlife really helps me as I minister to both middle school and senior high students. If you would like to know more or have any specific questions just drop me a comment.

My Advice for Life (A Drawing While Teaching Lesson)

My Advice for Life (A Drawing While Teaching Lesson)

This summer I have been working on a series of lessons based around drawings. To kick that off I did this lesson you see here. There is something almost mantra like about the opening to me. I wrote it, so it is weird to say, but it is a very cool way of pouring advice into teenagers without pouring advice into them. The actual lesson part is a little more straight forward. I would project the next piece of the drawing and then would talk about it and continue until I had a whole picture of what it means to be a child of God on the screen. You can see the drawing below (I like to leave it hand drawn looking so that the teenagers aren’t intimdated to try and draw it)

It is a very strange thing when you find out that you are going to be a parent. It sort of shakes you to your core and you have all sorts of thoughts and dreams and ideas. You also have a whole lot of fears. For me I had lots of fears that most people don’t have at the beginning. You see being a youth pastor is my life. For 20 years I have been working with teenagers helping them to figure out who they are and who God had shaped them to be. So I had a whole lot of fears about those teenage years and I have wanted to find a way to help my son get through those even before he was born.

But how do you help? I wanted to give him advice, but working with teenagers I have learned that advice about behavior doesn’t help.

I could tell him not to speed, but he would still drive 90 mph through town no matter how much I tell him about tickets or show him wrecked cars and read him statistics. He would keep speeding because to him those problems are things that happen to someone else.

I could tell him not to have sex before he is married because there are lots of diseases and pregnancy is a possibility and even more than that there is something more about sex than about anything else and there is this union that comes between two people and when you do that too soon or against God’s plan it just makes you both feel empty inside.

I could tell him these things, but they wouldn’t make a difference because consequences are what happen to other people and no matter how much I try to tell him that I know what I am talking about he will never believe me.

I could tell him to not mess with people’s hearts. I could tell him not to do things to make himself feel good at the expense of others, but he would never listen to me, because he won’t understand that doing what feels good or funny or heart saving in the moment won’t feel good later.

He won’t listen because he doesn’t have years of regret showing him how he should act.

I could tell him to stay away from cheap imitations of intimacy that he finds on a phone or on a computer. I could tell him how those things will make him feel worthy and special for a moment, but only for a moment, how the next moment he will feel empty and alone and cheap and miserable. But he won’t listen because he will think of me as someone out of touch, out of date, someone who doesn’t understand how the world works who is just trying to keep him a kid and from growing up.

He will never understand the real pain in my heart, the wounds which are healed, but still show the scars from when I did those same things and thought I was different and thought all that mattered was what was happening in that moment. He will never understand that what I am trying to do isn’t to keep him a kid, but to protect his heart and to keep him from having to face these same demons of his past that I have to face.

I could try to remind him that he is still growing, that he is still figuring out who he is and all of the rules that I throw on him aren’t to keep him down, but to help him to be ready to face the world when it comes in. I could try to explain that I was trying to help him to practice, but all he will think about is getting into the game and he will look at me like I am an idiot and break my heart when he decides that I am not trying to help, but rather just trying to keep him a kid.

These are the fears that I had when Nathan was still not yet born. I tried to figure out how I could say these things to him, but I knew he would never listen. So I tried to think of some way that I could save him from these same things in a way that he might actually listen.
When it came down to it I came up with an idea not to help him figure out how to stay away from stuff. He would never listen to that advice.

So instead of trying to fill his life with advice I decided that from the very beginning I would try to make sure that he grew up knowing who he was. So every night when he went to sleep I would tell him who he was, and now when I put him and his little brother to bed each night I remind them of who they are by saying:



You are made by God. You are a unique creation, the product of His perfect imagination. You are being perused by the love of God each and every moment of your life. He will never leave you alone.

You are valuable because you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are valuable because He created you. You are valuable because He has chosen you. You have been picked by God to be a part of His great adventure. He has a place for you that only you can fill. He has called you by name and set you apart to follow him in place where only you can go.

You are a warrior, a mighty force against the powers of evil. You have been chosen to be a part of God’s plan to change the world.

You are also my child and I love you more than you can even understand. You are the some of all that is good in me. You’re my greatest gift, my greatest accomplishment. I am more proud of you just because of who you are than you will ever know. You will never have to do anything, say anything, be anything to win my love. I love you because you are you.

So as you go to sleep tonight rest in the love of God and the love of your mom and me. When you wake up tomorrow tackle the new day with wonder and excitement. Try new things; follow new paths; go where no one else will go; don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. Hang on to God and his plan for your life and follow Him as He leads you places most people are afraid to go.

Don’t be ruled by the opinions of others. God loves you, Mom loves you, and I love you. Let that love set you free to be who God created you to be, not who other people want you to be. Stand strong against evil wherever you see it. Be a champion for those who can’t fight for themselves. Treat everyone you meet withe the respect that they deserve as a creation of God.



If they can grow up knowing these things then all of the other things that they need to worry about will be easier to handle. If they can know who they are in God they can have a better idea of how they should respond.

Drawing Lesson:

This drawing lesson helps to teach this advice. At the end I also add a few case studies so that we could discuss how this truth can help people in their daily life.


It all begins with God, if we don’t believe God is who he says he is then we all of the rest of this stuff won’t matter.
So Let’s start with God


and while we know lots of things about God let’s start with the fact that God is absolutely in control. He is king


This God, the king is also a creator and he made you.



I know this may not look like you, but you can imagine it is you. So you have God who made everything and then you have you. So what do we know is true?


We know that God made you…

God Values you. Let’s talk about that for a moment. You are important and valuable because God has said you are important. You are valued because God values you. Think back over the course of your life and think about the things that you have done just to try to get someone to like you or to feel like you are important. I would imagine that list is long. Some of those things worked out, others made you feel worse when they were over. But ultimately all of them left you feeling a little empty because you can only find your value from God.


We also know that God has chosen you. I was never picked, ever.  Some of you know the pain of getting picked last at sports. I was not only picked last, but was often not picked and just dumped on a team. It hurts not to be picked. But now I know that I am chosen by God.

You see not only did God make you, and he values you, but he has also chosen you. There are people in here who would do anything to be chosen. Some of you are worried about being chosen by the right guy or girl, or the right school or the right club or group of friends. But you want so hard to be chosen that you would do anything, including things that you know will hurt you and people around you. You are chosen by God. Let that truth roll over you.

That means that you don’t have to struggle to be chosen by your peers. You don’t have to do stupid things to be chosen by some girl or some guy. Let me tell you, when you are in love you should do stupid things. You are in love so show your love extravagantly, just do it without being stupid if you understand me. Love shouldn’t have to be secret. Love shouldn’t have to hide. Love shouldn’t need a 7 second snapchat timer. You were chosen by God, so don’t worry about being chosen by someone else. Trust me I know this is hard, it is hard to remember that this is true.


and you can know it is true because you God proved that love on the cross. The cross is what makes all of the true, and because God, the creator of the universe God made you, chose you, valued you, He sent his son Jesus to die for you to show you just how much he cares for you. And if you will believe this, takes this into your heart and turn you life to Jesus as your Lord,


Then you will have God’s holy spirit inside of you and it will remind you that all of the rest of this is true about you.

(When I taught I did the case studies here, but I am going to continue on and finish out the drawing)


So you see this is true about you, but you have a choice.
Will you live like this is true or like what other people believe is true.


You can choose to take the view that you were made by God and that the cross sets your value and the cross is what chose you. Or would you rather



Choose to live as someone who gets their values from their actions, their body, their accomplishments, or from the approval of others.





All of those things sound good and they work for a while, but the problem is those things don’t last and eventually they leave you empty, alone, and feeling worthless.


So you have a choice. Live like someone who is valuable because they were chosen by God or live like someone who gets their value from these other things. Which way will you live?


Case Studies

Case Study One:

Bill is 16 years old. He isn’t classically handsome, but he is cute and he is full of charisma. When it comes to girls the chase is as important to him as actually finding someone to date, but he would never admit that to anyone. All he knows is that when he is actually in a relationship he feels restless and it isn’t long before he ends up looking for someone new. It isn’t that he likes to hurt people, in fact he feels bad when he breaks up with someone, it is just that he can’t find anyone who is as exciting when they are dating as she is when he is trying to convince her to go out with him.

  • What is Bills problem?
  • What is the heart cause that makes bill act this way?
  • How can our drawing help Bill?
  • If you knew that Bill would listen what would you tell him?


Case Study Two:

Julie is trying hard not to be a stereotype. She is young, but looks older than she is. She is continually being sought after by older guys and she wants to pursue relationships with them, but her parents keep putting blocks in here way. She doesn’t want to be the typical teenage daughter who whines about how her parents “always treat me like a child” and who tells people, “I’m not a kid anymore.” But it seems like those words keep coming out of her mouth. Sometimes the guys that she is “talking to” end up asking her to do more than talk. She wishes she could explain to her mom about all of the pressures that go on in her world. She wishes she could explain that her phone is her lifeline, it is also the place where she feels the most pressure to do things that she knows she shouldn’t. From everything Julies sees her mother is just being a prude. The world isn’t like it was 20 years ago, now everyone sends pictures to everyone else.

Julie still feels a little weird about the things she is being asked to do. But there is this one guy, this guy who seems to like her and who everyone else seems to want. Since it is this guy who is asking her she is pretty sure she will do whatever he wants.

  • What are some of the feelings that you think Julie is struggling with?
  • Why do you think she is feeling pressured to do things she is uncomfortable with?
  • How can our drawing help Julie?
  • If you knew that Julie would listen what would you tell her?


Case Study Three:

Ben is the kind of kid who everyone thinks is friends with someone else. In other words, he is around, sort of on the edges of the youth group. He engages people from time to time and generally seems to be happy, but he really isn’t close with anyone. Most people just figure he hangs out with people outside of the group or something. In fact most of Ben’s life is spent alone. His parents are around, and they love him, but they don’t know how to help him find people to hang out with or to find things to do besides just sit and watch TV all summer. Ben generally feels invisible. He feels like if he wasn’t around few people would notice. Ben doesn’t really blame people for not liking him. He can’t seem to find much likable about himself either.

  • So what are some of the reasons why Ben might be feeling this way?
  • How can our drawing help Ben?
  • What advice would you give Ben?
  • What advice from our drawing would you give the people in Ben’s life?


Case Study Four:

Katie is Mrs. Everything. She is captain or president of every group she is involved with. She has her life planned out, including the non-negotiable names of her 3 children (two boys and a girl) and at what age she will get married and start that family. She cannot fail at anything. At least that is what she tells herself. She is just 16 but there are already tons of people counting on her. She has adults constantly telling her what an example she is and she is afraid if she takes one wrong step she will be letting those people down. Katie has a hard time saying no to people and as a result spends most weeks exhausted from extra projects. But still she has trouble sleeping some nights. She can’t seem to shake the stress that seems to dog her every move and she is often afraid of failing or just missing something.

  • So what is Katie’s heart problem?
  • How could our drawing help Katie?
  • If you could give Katie some advice that you know she would listen to you what would you say?

Squishy Circuits: An electric lesson for younger youth and children

Squishy Circuits: An electric lesson for younger youth and children

The Idea:

Use a simple circuit to light up some LEDs using “squishy circuits” to talk about sharing God’s love with others. What are “squishy circuits” you ask? Squishy circuits are two specific types of homemade dough that you can use to create simple electrical circuits. You will need to create both a conductive dough and an insulating dough. Check out this link for the complete formula. For a very spunky description of squishy circuits be sure to see the video below.

Bible Text:

John 15:9-12

Main Point:

Just like a circuit, God’s love flows through us to others.

What you will need:

I put my group into teams of 3 and then gave each team the following items. So you will need one set of these items for every group of 3 you will have. You can order they Squishy Circuits Kit or you can just pick up all of these things at Radio Shack.

  • 9-volt battery
  • 9-volt battery connector thingy (I don’t know what these are called, but you can buy them at radio shack and they snap onto the top of a 9-volt battery and have two leads coming out that connect to the dough)
  • 3 or 4 LEDs
  • jumper wires (little wires that can connect the circuits)
  • Ball of conductive dough
  • Ball of insulating dough
  • You can also get a couple of cheap switches if you want to give students more to experiment with
You will also need a resistor and 3 alligator clamps if you are going to demonstrate circuits without the squishy stuff to start with.

The Lesson:

  • Ask: Does anyone know how a circuit works?
  • The basic idea of a circuit is this. Free electrons flow from the emitter through the circuit.
  • Take a few responses and then set up a simple circuit in front where everyone can see. (Using the alligator clamps connect a resistor to the shorter lead of the LED. Clamp the other side of the resistor to the black wire (-) side of your battery connector. Clamp the long lead of your LED to the red wire (+) coming from your battery connector. If everything is connected you should see your LED light up. (LEDs have polarity so make sure the long leg is running to the positive terminal).
  • Ask: What happens when I take one of wires off the battery? Since it is connected to the battery why doesn’t it stay lit?
  • In order for a circuit to work it needs a complete path. The electricity won’t flow unless the circuit is closed.
  • Point out which dough is conductive and which is insulating. You may also want to give some general pointers about the positive and negative side of the LEDs and that the conductive dough can’t touch or the light won’t light up.
  • If possible play the video above (from the Mini-Maker show) as a way of teaching your students how to make circuits.
  • Say: Your mission is to make a complete circuit and light up your LED using the materials provided
  • Give students some time to make a few circuits. You may want to encourage them to make some of the more complicated circuits that you find on the links above.
  • After everyone has had a chance to play with the circuits disconnect the lights.
  • I would suggest moving to another location or cleaning up everything before you try to do the lesson, the squishy circuits can be a pretty big distraction.
  • Direct students to turn to John 15:9-12.
  • Call on a volunteer to read the passage.
  • Ask: According to verse 9 how had Jesus loved His disciples? (As the Father has loved Him)
  • Ask: Look at verse 12 how does Jesus tell us to love others? (As He has loved us)
  • So the picture looks like this. God loved Jesus. Jesus passed that love on to us. We then pass that love on to others.
  • Just like a circuit God’s love should flow through us to others.
  • The question we have to ask ourselves is are we being conductors of that love or are we insulating others from the love of God.
  • Pass out a sheet of paper with the word conductor on one side and insulator on the other
  • Have students think back over the course of this past week and write actions that they did that either demonstrated Jesus’ love (conductor) or kept people from seeing God’s love (insulator). For example they may write that they shared their lunch with someone on the conductor side and that they were mean to their sister on the insulator side.
  • After a couple of minutes ask students for ways that they can be conductors of God’s love this week.