Thursday, December 9, 2010

The The Skit Guys

Here is a great encouragement video we showed last gathering. I hope it will encourage you as a youth pastor or anyone in ministry.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Spiritual Self-Care as Youth Pastor

About little over a month ago, the topic of our YPA meeting was Spiritual Self Care; simply how do we tend to our own souls. (warning this is long, but worth the read. I added pics to help)

This is something that is hard when your job is to tend to everyone else’s soul, and often your gets forgotten.  Unfortunately, the local church has rarely done a good job of helping, often times it just makes it worse; and after sometime we find ourselves drained. One even shared, “I had to realize that the church wasn’t going to be the place where we get fed.”
So, we discussed and shared as a group what are some ways we have each found and use to keep filling our own souls so that we might be able to tend to others because if we have nothing, we have nothing to give too.
Here is a summation of the ideas, we hope if nothing else this might help give you some ideas to try out.
We will start with the easier ones:

often times just hearing a different communicator helps to inspire us in our own context.  Here are a few that we shared that are worth listening to, but it is by no means an exhaustive list:
Andy Stanly, Mars Hill (Rob Bell), Grander Community Church, Louie Giglio, Princeton Youth Culture, Fuller Institute, Cornerstone Church in Semi Valley (Francis Chan), Doug Fields, Youth Hacks, Alistair Begg, James McDonald, Walk in the Word.

These are short DVD sermonettes with great
illustrations by Rob Bell.  I have a pastor friend who starts his day sometimes with watching and meditating on one of these as his devotional. You can find them at

Often times we can all be inspired by the great of past and the voices of the present, especially in scripture, but also in other writings. Here are just a few suggestions:
-C.S. Lewis (yes Narnia, but also his other greats like Mere Christianity and the Great Divorce and the Problem of Pain)
-Henri Nouwen (Anything his writes, make sure to check out his bio too)
-Richard Foster (Celebration of Disciplines, Prayer)
-Philip Yancey (Rumors of Another World, his book on prayer)
-Gordon MacDonald (Who Stole My Church)
-Anne Jackson (Made Church Disease, Permission to Speak Freely)
-Brian McLaren (New Kind of Christianity, A New Kind of Christian, almost anything by him)

Another way that we can find ourselves being fed is to
get away for a few days and go to conferences.  Often we think of just going to youth ministry conferences, which are great; but as one pointed out we need to also try leader and pastor conferences where we are fed too, not just learning the next new idea. Here are a few we have been to:
-National Youth Workers Convention
-Simply Youth Ministry
-RESTORE (Student Life puts on a conference for just for Youth Pastors and it is FREE!)
-Princeton Forum on Youth Ministry


We get this backwards a lot, myself included.  We study to teach lessons, but what is we study to grow in love of God and neighbor, and out of that our lesson flowed? Here are a few things you could try:
-Read scripture you don’t often read
-Try reading a whole book in one sitting as a story, the Message version is good for this.
-Try reading the Bible in a year

I have to admit, this was not one I had ever thought of, but just like personal study, we often only do missions when we schedule it for our youth.  We are called to live missionally every day, what if we did? Find something you are passionate about and start serving, not planning a trip, but just you show up and serve.  Once again let this lifestyle flow from your own to the youth, not the other way around.

I have heard it said and it really rings true now that I am married, but it was even true before that: “When you say YES to something, you have just said NO to something else.”  We have to learn to say NO as youth pastors.  Yes we have random skill and gifts that help the whole church, and this is not a ploy to say stop helping, it is just to say CHECK YOURSELF.  What am I saying NO to when I say yes to this?  If someone approaches you with an idea for the youth to do, ask them to head it up, and if they won’t then let them know you won’t be able to either.  

We are called to a place of rest, a time of rest, all of us.  Often in ministry, this Sabbath isn’t Sunday but we fail to admit that.  Sabbath should be a set away time hopefully day a week where we participate in whatever puts us in a space where God can fill back and heal our souls.  This is a great need in all of our lives, and if we as pastors fail to exemplify this in our own lives, how can we expect our youth and churches to live it out? Remember the Sabbath is different from vacation, vacations is just getting away, Sabbath is getting away to be with God.  My challenge to you is to try this for 4 weeks, pick a day each week and go and be, and see what happens.  Here are a few ideas on what you can do and other ways to experience Sabbath.
-Take a night away where you are disconnected from all things electronic including clocks.
-Take a day and spend it just being in God’s creation. Go lay in a pile of leave or a field of flowers.
-My wife and I are both in ministry in the same church, when we take Sabbath it is on Fridays, and the best ones have been when we have taken mornings to ourselves with God and then came back together later in the day for a romantic day night.
-Start simple, don’t answer or check your phone or email for one day a week.
-Take the day after a retreat for Sabbath, whatever day of the week it is.
-Take a few Sundays off a year and don’t go to church anywhere.
-One shared a ways of Sabbath living as 1 hour a day, 1 day a week, 1 night away a month, and I would add one week a year all for Sabbath.
- Take a 3 days retreat to an Abby, Monastery, and join them for set hours of prayer, nothing else.
- Find Prayer Practices that fill you! Labyrinths, Journaling, Music, Prayer beads ,whatever!
-Each night, I have found to just turn my brain off often a great TV show or movie or other activity like sports helps to get away.
-Create a Rhythmic Week that lay out when you plan to do everything you need to do each week just having a general guideline will help really organize you week.
-Finally, find someone else who is going to check up and make sure you are keeping Sabbath, not because you should, but because without Sabbath we eventually die inside.

We hope this was not overwhelming, but inspiring.  DO NOT TRY ALL OF THIS AT THE SAME TIME! Try one, if it doesn’t connect you and God, try again.  Be creative mix some together and make sure to tend to your soul!
Comment and leave your ideas!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Word Art Resource

So here is a fun and useful and FREE resource that will take words, webpages, documents, and make art out of the words.  The more a word appears the bigger it is in the artwork, from there you can mess with it a bit.  It could be used with scripture passages for art for youth rooms, t-shirts, etc.

 Here is an example with 1 John 4

Wordle: 1 John 4

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New Blog Look and Info

Make Sure to check out our new diggs and all of the new links on the blog!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Almost Christian...Study Guide

More Study guide chapters for Almost Christian are now posted!  
Chapter 4 - Generative Faith
Chapter 5 - Missional Imaginations
Chapter 6 - Parents Matter Most

Check out the questions!  They are great things to thins about!

Next Gathering - November 3rd

I wanted remind you our next gathering is Wednesday, Nov. 3rd at 10am at Forest Hills UMC. (1250 Old Hickory Blvd. Brentwood, TN 37027)
The topic for our next gathering to be discussed will be "Share Your Stories: One great moment in youth ministry and one not so great moment"
We all have stories, and it is good to share them, and hearing the good and the bad help to encourage all of us.  Come ready to share yours!

There will be Coffee, hot tea, and water, if you want anything else just bring it.  Remember when you pull into the church there is a small road that goes left around the church and to the back, follow that to the back upper parking lot.  You will the see signs leading you to our youth space from there.  Look for the YPA logo to guide you in.
YPA Small Logo.png
Remember this is an open group for youth pastors, so invite your friends in ministry, forward this email to them!  If you have any questions just email me:
See You There!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Almost Christian: Morman Envy...Ch 3

The Third Chapter study guide for Almost Christian is now posted!  We have been going through some of these questions with our youth group and they have brought up some great conversations and topics!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Next Meeting....This Wednesday

Our Next Meeting at Forest Hills UMC in Brentwood, TN is THIS WEDNESDAY at 10am!  For more information, please contact Chris Cummings,!  Hope to see you there!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Almost Christian Study Guide...Ch 2

The study guide questions for chapter two are posted on Kenda Dean's blog!!!
Click the book to go to a link to buy the book.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Almost Christian...Study Guide

So with all the questions about Kenda Dean's Book Almost Christian she has started to develop a study guide both for adults and/or youth to help work through the ideas in the book!!!  I am really excited about this!

Here is a link to her blog and the Chapter 1 study guide!   Once again Click the Book Cover to go to a place to buy the book!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Organizing Meals...The Easy Way

If you are like me, I have parents help cook meals for our youth group time.  Each week, we have different parents provide the meal.  The problem is that I am not very gifted in organization and would forget to remind parents or even have them sign up at all.

Then I found out about this free resource. This is a free website originally designed to help people organize meals when a family has surgery or something, but I have taken it to help organize our Youth Group meals.

All you do is go to the site, create a user and then add the information you parents or whoever need to know and the dates you need people.  Then all they have to do is know the login and password and they can sign up for whatever is available.  It will even send them and you a reminder email the day before!!!

If you want to look at how we use it let me know and I will send you our login so you can see how it can work.

Just wanted to share good resources!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Roundtable: Impacting Kids to Impact the World |

Great article, Paul Bonner sent me from Youth

Roundtable: Impacting Kids to Impact the World |

It really makes you think about teens and how ready are they to change the world?
(Please try to ignore the really out of date picture, the article brings up some great stuff to think about)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Almost Christian...and the Big Stir

So it was hard to miss the stir the Kenda Dean's new book "Almost Christian" caused on CNN, Tennessean, and so much more. I do have to say, if you work in a church or a heavily involved in one, you must read this book! All this to say, I have added her blog to the other links bar on the right, and you should definitely check it out!

Here is the link to her blog! Click the book for a link to buy it.

For me, this book was a call to the church to realize that the faith we have been sharing with our kids and teens was not a passionate Christianity, but rather "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism": a feel good, make good choices, and be a nice person faith.

Her point is that it is not that the teens they interviewed were presented with a passionate faith and they rejected it, but rather they are embracing what we are teaching them, and it is something far off from what we see in scripture.

If there was one thing that kept standing out to me it was this idea (which is somewhere in the book almost verbatim, but I can't find it at the moment):
Do our ministries with young people teach them to be good people, who are nice, socially acceptable, and overall God is not really involved that much, other than to keep them in a moral check; or does our ministry with young people teach and demonstrate a faith that seeks justice, loves mercy, and walks humbly with our God (Micah 6:8)?

How would you answer this about the church you are working with?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sharing...Heals, Encourages, Challenges

For me, I think that as being a youth pastor for over 6 years now, one thing that I have found that is lost in the church and among believers is the loss of sharing.
Sharing our lives together, sharing our stories of pain and joy, sharing well...everything.
There is something that happens when people share: they learn they are not alone, they no longer hold something in and a weight is lifted, they can encourage others, they can challenge others.
YPA is a place for this for youth pastors.  As place of sharing where in it encouragement happens, challenge happens, life together happens, and ultimately healing happens because we are united together in life through Christ. 
Whats your story?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Youth Pastors Anonymous...The Beginning

Last year, several youth pastors in the the Nashville, TN area decided it would be helpful to get together and share about all things youth ministry.

From there, several more have joined in, and now we meet monthly for a few hours and discuss topics related to youth ministry.  We have found that when you get a bunch of youth ministers in the same room with no guidance, not much productive happens, not that we feel we have to get things done, but it is nice to at least have something guiding us.  So each time we meet, we discuss a different topic that one or several of our group want to have discussed.

We had a great first gathering last week!  Amazing stories shared about how we all ended up finding our calling in Youth Ministry!  The Youth Pastors Anonymous came about out of a joke of it feeling like an AA meeting.  "Hi I am Chris and....I am a Youth Pastor," "HI CHRIS"  but it is fun and somewhat true so we'll go with it.

Something amazing happens when youth pastors gather together and learn they are not alone in this crazy, awesome, draining, filling, and everything else calling.

Remember each time we will have a topic of sorts to guide our gathering, if you have ideas on what some of these should be let me know and I will add it to the list, it could be anything relating to youth ministry.

For our October Meeting our topic to ponder and come ready to discuss is "Spiritual Self Care".
We all know that the church is amazing place, but for those in ministry often our own spiritual care is put aside.  Come with your struggles with this and ideas and ways you have found to help work against this. If you have any resources that help you bring those to for show and tell.  For each of us, this will look different in our own journey, but seeing other ideas always helps.  If you feel that you are drained but have no ideas, then you should definitely come!

We meet the first Wednesday of every month.  If you would like more information please email Chris Cummings at