5 Principles for “Newbie” Youth Pastors- PART II

Posted on: 08/13/12 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Last week I asked you to chime in with your advice for my friend “Neal Newbie,” a brand new youth pastor. You all shared some amazing insight. In the next post, I finally chimed in with my two cents, raising the question, “How should a brand new youth pastor begin his or her job in ministry?” I suggested there were 5 principles to consider. If you haven’t read that post—make sure you go back and read that first principle. Today I continue my list:

NOTE: Today’s post is riddled with helpful links to articles and resources that expand on the topic. I think you’ll enjoy them.

2.    Start with People… not Program

This principle has a lot of crossover with the first principle I shared, but it deserves specific attention.

Effective youth ministry isn’t about dodgeball, pizza and all-nighters. Don’t get me wrong, I use all of these tools (and find them effective)… but they are just tools. And they definitely shouldn’t be the focus of any ministry.

Ministry begins with Continue reading “5 Principles for “Newbie” Youth Pastors- PART II” »

5 Principles for “Newbie” Youth Pastors

Posted on: 08/9/12 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

How should a brand new youth pastor begin his or her job in ministry?

A couple days ago I asked for your advice for my friend “Neal Newbie,” a brand new youth pastor in a small church with just two teenagers currently attending Sunday School. What would you tell this guy? How does a youth worker know where he or she is supposed to start?

I think many youth workers might immediately start a midweek program. Others might start going on nearby campuses. Some might just assume fetal position, shivering in the corner of their office in hopes that the senior pastor never checks on them!!!

So where should my friend “Neal Newbie” start? Continue reading “5 Principles for “Newbie” Youth Pastors” »

What Would You Advise Neal Newbie?

Posted on: 08/7/12 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I have a friend who just started a job as a youth pastor for a small town church. When the church hired him, they were emphatic about two “vital” elements:

  1. Don’t change the room.
  2. Make sure you let the pastor know what’s going on.

So much to say… I don’t even know where to start.

I’ll go ahead and refrain from ranting, “Seriously? That’s all you require!!!” …skipping to the more intriguing subject matter. The fact is, my friend “Neal Newbie” hasn’t ever worked in youth ministry before, so this is his first crack at it. He met with me last week and basically asked me, “Where do I start?” Continue reading “What Would You Advise Neal Newbie?” »

Making and Achieving Personal Goals

Posted on: 07/24/12 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Saturday I participated in my first triathlon. It’s known in Northern California as the “no-swim” triathlon because in Eppie’s Great Race, you run, bike, then kayak.

Before the race I told my wife, “If I do really good, I’ll come in at 2 hours and 13 minutes.”

My time?

2 hours and 13 minutes and 14 seconds.

I don’t think everyone needs to do a triathlon to prove themself; but I think most of us could probably use a little self discipline in various areas. Personally, I’ve let my eating, and consequently my weight, get out of hand more than a few times in my life. I was fooling myself thinking that it didn’t affect my health and my marriage. Yes, my marriage. Continue reading “Making and Achieving Personal Goals” »

The Sticky Note Exercise Across the Globe

Posted on: 06/4/12 5:04 PM | by Jonathan McKee

About a month ago a pastor named Les emailed me from Virginia Beach and asked me if I had any suggestions for training a bunch of youth ministers in Columbia. After briefly assessing the situation, I suggested that Les use my “sticky note training” from my book Connect, a training exercise which we provide on our FREE TRAINING TOOLS page on TheSource4YM.com.

Wes had read Connect and was excited that we provided the training for free (we have a video of me doing a part of this training on our site, and we provide a free ppt with a training script as well. It’s an easy training right out of chapters 4 and 14 of my Connect book). A few weeks later, Wes was down in Fusa, Columbia, teaching my “Connect” training in Spanish to a group of young people going into ministry. Here’s a snippet of his email to me after the training:

…You suggested using ideas from your “Connect” book and free training because those principles could easily translate from one culture to another.

Well you were right. I was in Fusa, Colombia last week and had the opportunity to teach at a Bible School there for college aged young men and women going into ministry. Some are going into youth ministry but most will be planting churches. They will be responsible for getting youth ministries up and running in their churches.

I taught for four days on pretty much everything I could think of related to youth ministry. I shared the model you created for the “Connect” book and we did the sticky note exercise.

It was one of the best parts of the week. It worked very well. They had a great time doing the exercises. I thought I’d send you some pictures and let you know your influence has spread to young men and women who will be ministering all over the country of Colombia in the coming years! Pretty cool!

It’s fun getting feedback from people who have used this effective training tool, helping equip youth workers to connect with kids.

For those who have attended my CONNECT training workshop or tried this exercise with your team, you probably have found that the sticky-notes always gravitate toward one side of the chart or the other, revealing a ministry’s strengths and weaknesses. Most often, church ministries are really good at connecting with kids on the right hand side of the chart, but lacking at connecting with young people on the left. Apparently the same was true with this group in Columbia. Les wrote:

I think the thing that connected the most with them was seeing how many students they had on the right side of the chart, “growing” & “in ministry”, than the left side.

Once they looked at it, they realized how little connection they had with the outreach kids.

Asking them how they knew where their kids fit on the chart was a challenge and got them thinking.

I was pleased to hear that the training exercise achieved its purpose.

We have Connect on sale for 25% off on our website right now. Grab it and take advantage of our free training!

Ponytailed Pastor

Posted on: 05/10/12 2:55 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I’ve never heard of a “ponytail” being used for the kingdom. But in the case of Mick… it’s the truth.

Mick was nothing like I expected when I was introduced to the senior pastor at this small town Nebraskan church. Mick was wearing jeans, Converse and a t-shirt with Einstein’s face when he met me at the church on Saturday night.

It only took listening to a few people in the congregation before I immediately deduced how much Mick meant to this church.

“Mick has helped make this church the ‘go to’ place in this community when someone is hurting,” Stan McNabb shared. Stan is a volunteer youth worker in the church. “If someone is in the hospital fighting for their life, it doesn’t matter if they go to this church. The family wants to talk with Mick.”

When Mick finished his masters degree at Denver Seminary, he was offered a  pastorship at the small EV Free church in the middle of nowhere Nebraska. Mick moved out there with his wife and kids and immediately got a reputation in the community—the new pastor with the ponytail.

If you live in a small town you understand. Word gets around fast. Everybody knows everybody. When Mick walked into the Dollar General and people got a glimpse of the ponytail, he could almost hear the whispers, “That must be him.”

Big city pastors probably don’t know what it’s like to have the word “Hey! It’s me, the new pastor!” tattooed on your forehead. For Mick, he found that it opened up some incredible doors for conversations. But it also created some serious accountability.

Think about this.

How big a tip do you leave Katy, the waitress in the one diner who has probably served the entire town their breakfast at one time or another?

What films are you renting at the video counter at the gas stop? (Yeah, no Blockbuster Video in this town)

Are you patient when Janet, the town gossip, corners you and talks your ear off for half an hour?

A few years ago the community suffered a series of tragedies. Mick immediately made himself available to the families. It wasn’t long before people knew, the guy with the ponytail is a good listener. If you want to go to a church where everyone is accepted, go to the church with the ponytailed pastor.

Mick doesn’t have the ponytail anymore. He was loosing too much hair on top and didn’t want to do the “Phil Collins.” But Mick doesn’t need the ponytail any longer. Everyone knows who he is. He’s the guy that leaves Katy a nice tip every time.

What about you?

What if you had “I’m a follower of Jesus” tattood on your forehead? Would it make a difference how you lived?

What would the people in your town say about you?

Team Builders

Posted on: 05/8/12 8:21 PM | by Jonathan McKee

How important is team-building with our student leaders?

Doug Fields and I have been blogging about student leadership quite a bit lately (just last week I blogged about The First 4 Things I Teach Student Leaders, Part I and Part II). Doug’s student leadership conference is in July on both coasts, so the topic’s on our mind.

It seems that one of the most common questions I receive from the front lines is, “What do I do with my student leaders when we get them together for training?”

Great question. I think it’s important to get student leaders together regularly for training and fellowship. During those times I like to give them opportunities to serve together, and train them about anything from evangelism to discovering and using their gifts (we actually provide an entire ready-made training retreat in my book about developing student leaders, Ministry By Teenagers). But don’t make the mistake of making your training times all about “training.” Make sure you include some team building activities where young people laugh, have fun, with just a dash of “learning to work together.”

I think team-builders are essential. These activities are more than just games (and I’m not slamming on games, I think games can be fantastic tools). Most team-builders are fun, but they have that added bonus of doing just what the name implies, “building your team.” That why our website has a whole page of team-builders.

Here’s a simple one that youth pastor Dan Manns just sent in. I like that this requires no setup… just a few balloons!

Team Builder Title: Don’t Let It Drop
Description: Divide your group into teams of 6-8 people. Give each team a balloon. At ‘go’ each team tries to keep their balloon aloft. There are 3 rules:

#1 players cannot use their arms or hands

#2 a player cannot touch the ball twice in a row

#3 everybody on the team must touch the ball at least once.

If your team’s balloon touches the ground you are out and must sit down on the ground. Last team standing wins.

Simple and fun!

What about you?
What are ways that you help teenagers bond and begin to work together?

It’s Here!

Posted on: 04/25/12 3:55 AM | by Jonathan McKee

As a Zondervan author, I usually get a shipment of my books/DVDs a few weeks before they hit the shelves. This Monday my brand new REAL CONVERSATIONS arrived! So right now. I’m offering the DVD and combo Participant’s Guide/Leader’s Guide on my site for less than $20 total (and we’re giving FREE SHIPPING in the US).

I’ve been getting some really good feedback about this curriculum so far. Doug Fields said:


The curriculum features four sessions on the DVD, each about 12 minutes long, the last session a little longer because it features a scene between two teenage girls having a “faith conversation” where one girl shares her faith story in a real way. I had a group of 5 or 6 teenagers help me with the writing of that scene, keeping it real… not forced.

The participant’s guide features some devotional questions for students, then leaders’ notes with large group activities, small group questions… all you need for a full four-week evangelism curriculum.

In short, this training will encourage Christian teenagers to live authentic lives and gives them tools to reach out to their friends in ways that won’t give them cold sweats! The message is simple: an authentic faith creates opportunities to talk about Jesus.


Something Unique from Doug and Jim

Posted on: 04/9/12 3:35 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I got a little something for everyone today: free books, free admissions to a brand new conference you’re gonna love, 50% discounts, and… a new workshop I’m launching.

UPDATE: We’ve posted winners of this contest near the bottom of this post!

I’ve been looking for a venue to introduce my new parenting workshop, “Get Your Teenagers Talking,” so when Doug Fields called me a few weeks ago and asked me to teach the parenting track at their FAM Conference, May 10-12 in Southern CA… I knew this would be the place to debut this fun new workshop where I help parents open up the channels of communication in their homes and connect with their teenagers.

I also thought this would be a good opportunity to give away some free stuff to my blog readers, like two free admissions to the FAM Conference! For those who don’t win, Doug has provided me with a code for all of my blog readers that will give you 50% off admission if you sign up in the next two weeks. (More on these prizes and discounts in a minute.)

I really love what Jim Burns and Doug Fields are doing with this fun little conference at Azusa Pacific University. Jim and Doug are hosts, and they’ve brought out some amazing speakers like Jim Daly, George Barna and Dr. John Townsend (to name a few). Then they offer different tracks like my parenting track, a “Sticky Faith” youth ministry track taught by Kara Powell, or the children’s ministry track taught by author/speaker Christine Yount-Jones. There are 8 tracks total (see here).

One element I really like is the fact that, in addition to the tracks you choose, the FAM Conference offers Saturday seminars taught by all the workshop teachers so attendees can get a taste of a different track. So, for example, you could attend Kara’s youth ministry track on Friday, then come to my parenting track Saturday, which is when I’ll be debuting my “Getting Your Teenagers Talking.” (Friday I’m teaching my “Parenting the Texting Generation” workshop.)

But I guess the element that is the biggest plus of this conference is something that Jim and Doug have always brought to their conferences… personal attention. This conference offers very intimate sessions where you’ll have a chance to interact with the speakers. Plus, speakers like Jim, Doug and myself always make ourselves available at these kind of conferences to talk with you over meals and even one-on-one times. Well worth the price… especially the 50% discount price!

This conference is only about 5 weeks away! So let me cut to the chase and give you the DISCOUNT and CONTEST DETAILS:

50% Discount to FAMConference– Just pop on this page to register and enter the word “Doug” (no quotes) in the “special code” box and you’ll receive a 50% discount off all who register! (If you win the contest, your money will be refunded.)

Free Admission to FAMConference(UPDATE: This winner for this has now been chosen- we’ll post it soon!) I’m giving away two free admissions to this conference. The contest is simple. Just submit a comment in this blog and complete this sentence: “I’d definitely attend a parenting workshop if the speaker…” I’ll randomly draw a winner in just a few days and post it on my blog. And just for fun, I’ll go ahead and throw a couple copies of my parenting book in the mix of prizes, Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent.

WINNERS: Congratulations to David Shade of Whittier, CA! You are the winner of the two free passes to this FAM Conference! (Make sure we connect there! I’d love to meet you!)

Congratulations to the following people who won copies of my book, Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent. Use the CONTACT US button at the top of this blog to email me your address so I can send you a copy!

Sharon Stoltzfus

Brandi Barnette

For more details about the FAMConference, go to FAMConference.com

If you’re interested in bringing me out to your city to teach this new parenting workshop, Getting Your Teenagers Talking, CLICK HERE.

The Gospel Project

Posted on: 03/13/12 2:18 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Maybe you’ve heard, and maybe you haven’t, but LifeWay is rolling out a new curriculum called The Gospel Project. Consequently, my friend and fellow writer David R. Smith and I were invited to join a group of Christian leaders in Nashville (at LifeWay’s headquarters) to participate in a live webcast where the resource was to be introduced to the world.

Then, I got this nasty eye infection, and had to back out. (Dang!)

So that means that today, while I continue to recover from “ol’ zombie eye” as I call it, David is enjoying Tennessee BBQ without me while hanging with Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, David Platt, Ed Stetzer and about 75 other movers and shakers in today’s American church.

As you’re reading this, David is meeting the writers and developers of this initiative. It’s basically a “multigeneration, Gospel-centered Bible study” for children, students and adults that “examines the breadth of the Bible and seeks to reveal to participants how every story, every theological concept and missional truth points to Jesus.”

You might want to re-read that last line. They’ve crammed a lot into this!

In a nutshell, LifeWay is rolling out a tool that allows church leaders to teach the entire congregation the exact same truth…all at the same time! So far, it looks pretty strong. There have been other resources like this one that impact all people of the church at once, for instance, The Purpose Driven Life challenges.

Please pray for David’s travel and time spent in Nashville. Also, check back here tomorrow for a sneak peek at what David learned about The Gospel Project. It’s set for pre-order in May, but David will guest blog here tomorrow, offering his two cents on the initiative so you can make an informed decision about this tool. Also, we’ll probably be giving away a few of these kits as the release time draws closer. Don’t miss it!