Monday, October 31, 2011

Tools I Use In Ministry: Google

I remember many years ago, I was frustrated with the emails programs that were out there. I had a Hotmail, Yahoo and even created my own pop email program. I was very annoyed because they were slow, full of Ads and I would get tons of spam. I was talking to friends and found out that Google had created a email program that was way different than everything out there. I got excited and began begging for an invite into their private beta. I ended up buying my invite into Gmail and the $.99 was well worth it. I have never looked back.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tools I Use In Ministry: iPad, iPhone & iOS Apps

This tool is probably one that gets me a lot of grief from my other youth pastor friends.  I have had an iPhone since version 3G and I got an iPad a couple months after they came out.  I know that most youth pastors cannot necessarily afford either of these tools but this is what I use.  I use many programs that have PC/Mac versions, so you can take those ideas and apply them how you see.

Tools I Use In Ministry:

I remember back in mid 90's doing youth ministry at a small church in Hollywood, Fl.  I was working there that summer and loving it.  I created fliers using an old clip art book and black&white copier.  I thought I was cool stuff using "hip" clip art.  When I wanted to talk to students, I called them or they called me.  Thinking back to then and comparing it to now, is amazing to think about.  I don't have books of clip art, I just use Google Images.  I don't use an old copier but a very nice color laser printer.  I contact students using Social Media and texting.  The tools of the youth pastor have changed a lot in the last decade or so.  We use tools that make our work easier and more productive.  This week I will be highlighting some of the tools that I use in ministry.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tools I Use In Ministry: MediaShout

I love using media in our ministry.  I have used it for the last few years with a program called Mediashout.  Mediashout is like Powerpoint on steroids and specifically designed for churches.  I have been using Mediashout for the last 10 years or so and have seen it evolve into a great program for churches.  I know there are other programs out there but I feel that Mediashout is user friendly and fully capable of doing what most churches need.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My friend Neely McQueen over at always has some great advice on girl ministries and more.  I really liked this post because it always hurts when a students leaves, especially a student we have invested in.

"It’s bound to happen the longer you are in youth ministry…a student that you have invested in will stop showing up. They might slowly disengage from you and the ministry or maybe it happens suddenly. It can be heartbreaking, right?

What can you do?

I am strong believer in a follow up plan. Facebook, email, text, snail mail…a phone call. It’s important to make contact. The point is to follow up on the student – to provide care for them…but it’s easy to make it about their absence from our programs. I believe students can tell if we care about them or if we just care about the attendance."

Read the rest of the blog here

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Giving Away Ownership

I read a ton of blogs from other youth pastors.  Many of them I have met face-to-face, some I have never talked to.  All of them have great advice.  I think on the weekends, I will repost blog posts from my friends.  

My friend Jay Highman has a blog at where he talks about giving your adult leaders ownership of the ministry as a way to build the ministry to be more sustainable.  He writes...

"Tip: Let Them Own It; Leaders.
I am trying something new. This past summer, we made a number of significant changes to our programming. One of the major changes was introducing a redesigned small group ministry. In the redesign, we have handed over the leadership of the small group to the adult leader and the group. What that means is, I am allowing the adult leader to take ownership of what I hope becomes their ministry. As a group, we plan, lead, and love on students together. But in small groups, this becomes the role and responsibility of the leader..."

Read the rest here

Friday, October 21, 2011

Settling Into Your New Youth Ministry Position

Leaving a youth ministry position is hard. No one will ever disagree with that.  Starting a new position, is just as hard.  No matter how the interview goes.  No matter how much time is spent between the applicant and hiring committee.  There will always be some pain to the transition.  This isn't a bad thing.  Actually it can be a good thing.  New starts allow you to take a fresh look at what has been going on.  Depending on the size of your church/group, you might be able to make change right way or you may need to take some time.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Landing in Newburgh, IN

As I start this new blog with a new identity.  I figured I would take some time to let all the readers know where I am at in this youth ministry process.  I am sure that some people will land here having never met me or even heard of me.  I am not famous nor do I have any books written.  I am just a youth pastor trying to reach students for Christ.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Making Changes...

I have struggled for years on what to do with my blog. I started it as a personal space to write my thoughts and it morphed into a place to talk about ministry with some parenting stuck in but it never really had a unique identity. I want to write more and write on topics that others will want to read but a lot of times I think that so much is already being written by youth pastors all over the world. I asked God to show me what to do. Should I worry about it or let it go and focus on other things. I feel God is calling me to write more and bigger. I have it on my heart to write a book or two (at some point), articles for magazines but all that starts with this blog. This requires me to be more consistent in my writing and more purposeful.

I have said all that to say that I have purchased a unique domain for my blog , This name reflects the username I have been using for a while that has meant something deep to me. I have actually stolen the name from my brother-in-law, Mark.  Mark used to design and shape his own surfboards.  I loved to surf and tried to whenever I went to Florida.  In talking with Mark about the name, he explained the spiritual nature of surfing and how you connect with nature while you are sitting waiting for the next wave.  He felt that by shaping the boards, he was helping others to find that spiritualness.

I took the name a step further and applied it to what I was called to do.  God has called to minister to students and to help them develop a faith in Him. This is reflected in the name Soulshaper.   I am a shaper of souls, helping those to discover who God is and how to have a relationship with Him.  I came to a full realization of this while at Group Publishing with 100 other youth pastors.  We get together each year and Rick Lawrence leads us in experiential exercises.   This year he talked about our names.  We paired up with another person and they were to name us, then later on, we were to ask God what He would call us.  God confirmed the name Soulshaper to me.  I was amazed and blessed.

So with my new found confirmation.  I am excited about this change and the new domain. The look and feel of the blog won't change, just what I write about. This blog will be dedicated to helping youth pastors and parents to reach teenagers. I will also include some personal and church specific topics but it will all be within the context of helping others. I know I am one person among many writing about youth ministry but I believe God has gifted me with a heart to help others.

I am already in the process of queueing up articles for the next couple weeks.  So please, follow me on Facebook, twitter @soulshaper and via the blog reader.  If you have a specific topic you would like me to talk about, leave a comment and let me know.