Thoughts that inspire, challenge, and help you increase your influence


As a youth pastor, I love summer.  Students are out of school and we get to make the most of our time together with adventures around town, mission trips, and one day getaways.  Students are visibly more carefree without the weight of school and schedules on their shoulders.  It’s a time of relationship and community.  It’s a time when students make new friends and spend significant time with old friends.  Summer is a time of new experiences (often life-changing) and creating memories.  What’s not to love about summer?!?

It’s been the same experience for my family.  My wife and I are becoming more aware that the time we have with our young kids at home (something that we sometimes forget is a blessing) is going to continue to change as they grow and spend more time in school.  We have great desires for making the most of this summer.  Some of which we have accomplished and others that are still hoping to be realized.

While we are at the midpoint of summer, there is still some time left to make the most of our summer days while the kids are out of school. What were/are your family goals for the summer? Have you been able to make them happpen?

If you feel like summer hasn’t quite been what you hoped, there is still plenty of time to rally the troops and make some meaningful memories!

Here’s a great article entitled, “The Best Family Summer Ever: Ideas to Help Families Connect Before Summer Slips Away.”

Another idea, in case you missed it in the article, has to do with a “bucket list”.  Our family created a summer bucket list at the beginning of summer and have been checking off a few things here and there. Ours was simply a list on a piece of paper, but in the world of pintrest you can always find someone who is taking it to the next level. Here’s a great idea for a list that is a visual reminder and experience for the family –

It’s not to late to put a little effort in making this a summer to remember!


You’re Losing Your Marbles!

Playing For Keeps from Orange on Vimeo.

One thing you will find out as you follow this blog, is that I love the folks over at Orange ( &!  There are many things we could take away from this video, but one of the things that influenced me most was attending a conference with Reggie Joiner (the guy in the video) years ago and realizing how limited I am in influencing the next generation.    In fact as Reggie mentions in the video, as a youth pastor, I have 40 hours a year to influence a student in a given year!  40 hours!

Let me back up a bit, I’ve been in vocational ministry for around a decade working with youth.  Early on in my career, I watched several youth pastors come and go in student’s lives.  Some say the average life of a youth pastor is 18 months.  More recently, I’ve seen 2 – 3 years.  Better, but not that much better.

At the same time, I was noticing and hearing from many parents that spiritual conversations with their kids were virtually nonexistent.  As I explored why, I found that many parents had completely outsourced the spiritual formation of their children to the church!  The church is certainly better than some other options, but ultimately the church (and the youth pastor) will fail at this task.

Again, if I’m lucky I have 40 hours in a given students life each year.  But there is no way I can do this for more than a handful of students.  So what about all the others that come through our door?  At the church where I serve, we believe that we must be reproducing ourselves by recruiting, developing, and equipping lay leaders.  If not, our ministry will be severely limited.  But even so, we are still limited!

This is why I’m so excited about this blog.  Just a chance to have an audience with the folks who have the greatest opportunity to influence their child’s life.  That’s YOU!

If you haven’t already, watch the video above.  I hope this video encourages and challenges you.  If you’ve “outsourced” your child’s spiritual formation to the church or a specific youth pastor, I hope you bring it back home.  I hope that as we realize how much time we have left, we become more intentional with the time we have!

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”

Psalm 90:12

So, how many marbles do you have left? 

How does knowing that number help you get wise about the days you have left? 

(Ok, it may produce a bit of anxiety as well, but sometimes anxiety is the thing that gets us to move from point a to point b.  Not all anxiety is a bad thing!  (here’s a great post if anxiety is something you struggle with -  I should mention, anxiety is not something I’ve struggled with on a larger scale, but on this specific topic, I feel like a little anxiety might just be what we need.)

Also, here’s a link to the book Reggie and his team put together on this idea: Playing for Keeps/Losing Your Marbles

“A family is without doubt the most effective and efficient vehicle to produce the kind of people who can move confidently into the adult world and can have redemptive contact on the culture – that’s what we are supposed to be doing”

–Tim Kimmel

(in Grace-Based Parenting)

You’re a Better Youth Pastor than I am.

I was on the phone with a parent awhile back and found myself making this statement as they were expressing a desire to do more for their kids in the realm of spiritual formation:

“I think you’re a better Youth Pastor than I am.”

I have this same feeling when I watch Coach Taylor in Friday Night Lights (one of my favorite TV series of all time!), but that’s another post.

I’m constantly aware of how my time and influence are limited.  Over the many years of doing youth ministry, I have often wished I had more time to spend with students or more time to put myself in places to meet and get to know even more students.  In reality, I’m often limited to pouring into a handful of students and trying to raise up leaders to pour into the others.  I imagine you feel this way as a parent at times.  You know the desires you have for your kids, but between work, their activities, household stuff, and (hopefully) time for yourself or your spouse – you are left wishing you could do more.

During that phone conversation with the parent, I realized they were doing more youth ministry than I was.  I absolutely believe it too.  Between carpools, going to sporting events, plays, etc.  They were getting to know more students and having more significant time with them than I’m able to do.  This got me thinking:

  • What if many parents are actually doing youth ministry and don’t even realize it?  What would happen if they realized the amount of influence and opportunity they had?
  • What if I could help them see a new way to view carpool or sitting in the stands at a sporting event?
  • What if parents could do a few small, easy things in the craziness of life that had BIG implications for their kids?  Implications that are much bigger than the time and “know how” required.

I’m not talking about starting a bible study in your carpool or trying to get everyone to sing along to 105.9 (or your favorite christian radio station).  But, what if you made a conscious decision to pray for each kid in your carpool as you drove them to school and overheard their everyday life conversations?  What if you simply took what you heard and what you desired for these few students to the Lord in prayer as you drove?  I imagine God would surprise you with His goodness in ways you never expected.

Take it one step further and let your son or daughter know that this is your practice.  Let them know that you care for their friends and pray for them as you drive.  Since faith is often “caught more than it is taught”, I imagine they would catch your eyes in the rearview mirror knowing what you are up to.  I can only imagine that this would make a huge impression on them knowing you care and you actively live out your faith, even in small ways.

Now, I know it’s summer, but summer is even more open to opportunities to be intentional in relationships and ministry to friends and family.

Here’s an article I came across after my conversation and added fuel to the fire…enjoy!

What is one way you can view your everyday life with family/friends as an opportunity for ministry?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

“Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting.”

- Brene Brown

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