Rules: it’s the ‘how’ that matters to teens


Contrary to what you may think, teens don’t have a problem with rules. But they may have an issue with how you bring them. How you communicate rules as a youth leader or a parent is a huge factor in teen’s decisions whether or not to stick to these rules.

The University of Gent (Belgium) has come to these conclusions after multiple researches amongst young people. Their conclusion is that you shouldn’t avoid rules with teens, but how you introduce them is important.

If you introduce rules in an authoritative and forceful way, teens will feel threatened in their freedom and will likely act out the opposite of the rules. This phenomenon is known as psychological reactance and it’s been well documented in several researches.

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The 7 regrets of youth pastors (1)

regrets graffiti

I’ve been in youth ministry for about fourteen years in one capacity or another. Looking back, I sure wish I would have done some things differently. I’m fairly sure many of us feel that way.

Now I personally think regrets are a waste of time but ‘7 things many youth pastors wish they’d done differently in hindsight’ didn’t sound quite as catchy for a title…

So here, we go with 7 things many youth pastors wished they had done differently aka the 7 regrets of youth pastors:

1. Avoiding conflicts

As Christians, we’re supposed to be loving, kind and forgiving. The problem is that this often results in an avoidance of conflict at all costs. I’ve let certain situations continue for too long because I wanted to avoid a conflict. Well, the conflict happened anyway and it was much nastier than it would have been if I had faced it head on.

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Tips for being a good Christian youth leader

youth leader

I love seeing search terms like this pop up in my stats: tips for being a good Christian youth leader. It means that someplace, somewhere, someone is doing his or her very best to grow in his/her role as a youth leader and that makes me happy. So I’m going to try and help you take your leadership to the next level with these tips for being a good youth leader.

1. Read

One of the things to invest time in each week to grow as a youth leader is reading. The old adagio ‘leaders are readers’ is really true! Here are a few things you can ‘feed’ yourself with:

  • Books on (Christian) leadership: there’s hundreds of them coming out each year. You don’t need to read them all, but find some authors you like and that challenge you.
  • Books and up to date info on youth culture: youth culture is changing so fast that it’s important to stay on top of this. Two of my favorite sites for this are the Youth Culture Report and Jonathan McKee’s blog.
  • Books on youth psychology and development: one of the hot issues at the moment is extended adolescence for instance – it will really pay off to stay current on topics like this.
  • Blogs from youth leaders and youth ministry organizations: I follow about 50 youth ministry related blogs and I’m learning tons every day.

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How to create support for your ideas and plans


You can have the best ideas ever and create strategic plans for your youth ministry ‘till you’re blue in the face, but unless others support you, you’ll never get anywhere. It’s very important to have vision, but it’s equally important to have people support your vision. So how do you do that? How do you create support for your ideas and plans and get people to cheer you on? It’s all about the three R’s:




Research your plans

The first thing that’s important is that your plans for your youth ministry are well researched and well developed. You need to know what you’re talking about and be able to back it up with numbers, statistics and facts. Many plans are grand in scope, but very sketchy on the details and no one will support those. People need to see your vision is  grounded in reality. [Read more…]

Do you know your ‘red buttons’?

red button

A couple of years ago, I was doing a management training provided by the hospital I worked for back then. One of the topics was team work and the trainer asked us to think about a specific coworker or employee we had trouble working with because they irritated us for some reason.

Someone came to my mind immediately: an experienced nurse whom I respected very much, but who frustrated me to no end. The trainer then explained the concept of ‘red buttons’: certain behavior or even certain words that trigger an excessive, overly emotional response in you.

I immediately knew the trainer was onto something and after some analyzing, I could figure out what went wrong with that nurse. She was patronizing me. She had over 30 years experience as a nurse and she made me feel it. I liked her as a person and I valued her as a nurse, but every time we interacted she pushed that red button with her attitude (though I’m sure she didn’t even mean it like that). [Read more…]

Making an operational year plan for your youth ministry


So, you’ve created a mission and a vision statement and you’ve translated this into a strategic plan. Now what? Now you make an operational plan, also known as a year plan. It’s the concrete plan of what you want to do in the upcoming year or season.

An example of an operational plan

Let’s say your mission is this:

“Making students into devoted disciples of Jesus”

You’ve made a vision statement in which you describe your dream of making at least 50% of your young people into devoted followers of Jesus, meaning that they attend church, read their Bible by themselves, pray daily and show in their daily life that they are becoming more and more like Jesus by bearing fruit both in character and in evangelism. [Read more…]

Vision casting for your youth ministry

look to the future

Your youth ministry needs a mission and a vision. Most of you will nod right now, but a lot of people have trouble to see the difference between a vision and a mission or fail to see how these two relate to each other. It’s no use developing a mission or a vision for your youth ministry if you don’t understand what it’s for. Let’s see if we can shed some light in this darkness.


Here’s a quick overview of the different elements of vision casting and planning your youth ministry:

Mission: defines purpose, 10 years

Vision: defines future, 5 years

Strategy: defines plans, 2-3 years

Operational plan: defines actions, 1 year

Now let’s discuss each of these elements separately.

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The loneliness of leadership: 9 healthy ways to deal with it


Leadership means loneliness in some ways. With every step in leadership we make, comes the inevitable increase in loneliness. The higher we climb in leadership, the more responsibilities we get, the lonelier we become.

We can’t share everything we experience in our youth ministry with our team because some of it isn’t beneficial to them. We can’t be completely open about what we encounter or wrestle with towards parents or church member because there’s a confidentiality issue. We can’t ask just anyone for advice about our struggle with the senior pastor, because we don’t want to talk behind his back.

And yet at the end of the day, we’re the ones who have to make the decisions. The buck stops with us.

No one said it better than William Shakespeare in ‘King Henry IV, Part II’:

“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”

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Is it okay to mentor someone from the opposite sex?

If you decide to mentor someone from the opposite sex, always meet in a public place

A while back we had an interesting question going on with a group of youth workers on Twitter. One youth worker asked if we thought it was okay for her to mentor a male youth from her youth group. There was no one else available, yet her church had a problem with it. It was interesting to see everyone wrestle with this issue, because we all understood the risks, yet we also understood the urgency of him needing a mentor.

Is it okay to mentor someone from the opposite sex? It’s a hard question to answer, but here’s my answer: yes, it’s okay to mentor or coach someone from the opposite sex, but…And here come the ‘buts’ in the form of questions:

Is anyone else available?

I think we can all agree that same-sex mentoring or coaching is preferable. So if anyone else is available from the same sex and there are no pressing arguments why that person shouldn’t become mentor, that person should do it.

If you decide to mentor someone from the opposite sex, always meet in a public place

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