FAQ | How can I help?

Parenting teens is hard work. When I was 22 years old, fresh out of Bible College, I lived in this dream world. I remembered my not long abandoned teen years like some dream sequence in a movie. In this dream, I was a perfect child. My parents never had to discipline me and I never caused them any strife. The teen years were easy!

In those early years of student ministry I would watch the parents of our students and think – “What is wrong with those parents? They just don’t get it!” Fast forward 16 years later and both of my kids are in our #stumin. AHHHH! Parents in 2000 – I’m so sorry! I feel ya now.

Parenting teens is SO hard. There’s no book in the New Testament called, “The Teen Years.” Man, what I would give…
We’re all different. Every parent. Every teen. Everyone. Different.

Here is what I know – we need one another. Our teens need committed adults who love them and reenforce that they are made in the image of God…and are not their parents. Our #stumin needs parents who are committed to reinforce the truths that we are speaking into your teens. Our #stumin works best when we (student ministry adults and parents) partner together to disciple our teens.

How does this work?
1. Commit to getting your student to our events. It is next to impossible for your teen’s small group leader (SGL) to build a relationship with them if they don’t show up. Your teen’s SGL is showing up for them – make sure your teen shows up for them.

2. Pour into someone else’s teen. Pay it forward. We need SGL’s who love teens to walk alongside them and do for them what someone does for yours.

3. Pray. Nothing we do as parents or #stumin leaders should begin before we pray. Pray for your teen, your teen’s friends, your friends’ teens – all teens everywhere. Pray for your teen’s SGL. Pray for their family and their impact on students.

None of us have it all. We need each other.


Where do we go from here?

70% of students will leave the church for at least one year after leaving our student ministries, regardless of how involved they have been ( – episode 69).

Let that sink in – 70%…

Two things come to my mind, knowing that:

  1. Why do I even try? Seriously, if you are invested in NextGen and student ministry, the question is real.
  2. Can we do ANYTHING to combat this?

The good news is, we can cut that number IN HALF if their small group leader “goes with them to college.” What does that mean?

The one half statistic holds up, if that high school small group leader sends their freshman in college/out on their own students one text per month in that first year. They stay engaged with just one text per month. That’s why we try.

As student ministry and nextgen leaders, we cannot disengage just because our local school system tells us our students are done. The discipleship of our students and the future of the Church depends on it.


2016:Discovering more of God

Over the past several years, as New Year’s Eve approached, I would pray and consider a word that I thought that God wanted to work in and through for the year to come. This year, I’m doing something different. As I prayed, I felt like God was asking me to focus on Him more – that leaning into Him will pull the veil on discovering more about me.

So, over the next year I am committed to spending time focusing on the names of God. I want to learn as much about Him as I can. Revealing truth about God will reveal truth about me – his creation.

I invite you to join me as I walk this journey.


What’s our end-game?

My ministry to students has changed in the last year or so. 

Before I had a teenage daughter in my ministry I looked at parents differently. I didn’t understand why it was so hard. Discipling their teens, that is. Now that I come from the other side of this scenario, I understand the struggle.

handmade-791693_640Often, as I spend time with my kids, it becomes easy to throw a bunch of things out there, not knowing exactly what the target is or looks like. What am I really trying to accomplish as a parent? As parents, we have to know what our end-game is. Is our goal to have culturally well-rounded students? Are we cultivating star athletes? What about Christ-following, Gospel centered, Kingdom focused young adults? Is that our goal?

In the book, “Almost Christian: What the Faith of our Teenagers is Telling the American Church,” a social study of Mormon students shows that one of the difference between Christian teens and Mormon teens is how their parents approach parenting.

Parents take to heart their responsibility to get their young people ready.

I say I take this to heart. I say I know what my priorities are as a parent. The more I look critically at it, the more I realize that I can easily prioritize my kids extracurricular activities over their discipleship. I look at all the things I didn’t do as a teen or ways I wished I had succeed and didn’t. I have a knack for making people I love in my own image – or the one I wish I had.

We generally approve of teenagers who let us socialize them into younger versions of ourselves.

Ouch. The question has to become what the writer of Proverbs says –

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

How can we raise our students to a genuine, life-changing relationship with Christ? Maybe it begins with us finding our own genuine, life-changing relationship with Christ – so we can raise them in the way THEY should go and not the way we went or wished we’d gone.

My One Word for 2015

Several years ago, I gave up on resolutions. I never kept them and there were always too many to really attain. The list gets so long and honestly a year is just too short. If we look at our lives with real clarity and understand how discipleship really happens, we realize that God doesn’t ask us to get it all together in a 365 day period. That’s just not how our walk with Christ operates.

ow14_250x250_custom_250x250Since I started really, prayerfully considering the one thing God wants me to focus on each year, I’ve been able to recognize God’s hand shaping my life. One Word flies in the face of the typical year end look at a long list that had more unattained than accomplished – more regret than growth.

The greatest example of this came in 2014. God moved and shaped me more in 2014 than in any year I can remember, but I don’t believe it is because 2014 is the first year He actually moved in me, but because I was actually looking for Him in a quantifiable way.

For 2015, I began to pray and seek God in where He planned to devote His energies in my life and not just where I wanted to see him move. The word the came to mind was “invest.” As I prayed and thought through it, I wasn’t satisfied that “invest” focused closely enough where God wanted to be in me in 2015. As God stretched and pulled at the word “invest,” He placed the word “devote” on my heart. “Invest” has a strong financial connotation in our culture, while “devote” is a personal, deeply relational word.

Devote: give all or a large part of one’s time or resources to (a person, activity, or cause).

In the book of Acts, we are told that the Church, “…devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” The Church gave themselves to the mission that Christ left to them. In Romans 12:10, Paul tells the church in Rome to “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

Devotion is the Biblical term for personal investment. We are called to give of ourselves so that others might grow. We are asked to give ourselves fully to God. He wants our devotion to Him first and to others second. How often am I devoted to me and my agenda? How often do I devote my resources to the cause of me?

In 2015, I will seek God to become a more committed follower of Christ. I will seek God to become a more devoted husband. I will seek God to become a more devoted father to my kids. I will seek God to become a more devoted pastor, who gives time and resources to see those I lead become devoted themselves. The thing I know in all of this, is God is able and willing to lead me here.

One Word 365 – 2014

My One Word for 2014 was “New” and my prayer in choosing that word was that God would “make all things new in me” in 2014. God answered that prayer BIG TIME.

ow14_250x250_custom_250x250I got married in 2014. Gina and I have been navigating “new” for the last 8 months. It has been an amazing journey together and I don’t want to fall into ordinary. I want to continue to move and grow towards stronger, deeper and new with her.

With marriage, comes all the new you’d expect. I moved into a new community, neighborhood and home in 2014. It has been awesome to grow relationships with new family that I’ve added this year. I love my new family.

We also entered into new relationships with a small group in 2014. This group has become some of our strongest friends and where God has provided our core support system. God used these relationships to introduce us to Tony, the Campus Pastor at Austin Christian Fellowship – Brushy Creek.

This last fall, God opened a new door to a new full time ministry for me at ACFbc with Tony. Watching God move on our behalf has been truly amazing and a blessing. God answered my prayer in 2014.

Last December, I felt like God was stirring and moving in a new way and I resolved to pray for that movement in a big way and that is just what he did. I can’t wait to see what God does in 2015. I’m praying for God to lead me to pray with boldness again in this new year!


Good Gifts

For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
Good gifts. We ask, God provides. That’s how this thing works, right? TV preachers, for years, have been saying that God wants to give us blessing and wealth; riches and all the good stuff. And that seems to be what Jesus is saying here, isn’t he?
What happens when God doesn’t give us all that STUFF? Does He hate us? Did we do something wrong to make Him mad? Is He withholding the blessing because we crossed Him?
Sunday, I preached on suffering with Christ. This seems to be a real part of being a true follower of Jesus Christ, yet here in the United States of America, Christianity has found its own brand of discipleship. A place, where the American Dream is directly correlated to the blessing of God. Now, don’t get me wrong, nothing is given or taken away, except by the hand of God. He is involved in the blessing process and nothing happens in this little universe without His knowledge.
when we begin to associate our faith with material blessings, that faith is shaky at best and at its worst, is no faith at all. This “health and wealth” gospel as many call it only holds up as long as life is peachy and the sun is shining.
What happens when the rain comes and life is challenging? True discipleship happens in the tough times. Faith is strengthened by suffering. Paul and Peter both talk about how true faith is found in identifying with Christ’s suffering. Iron is sharpened in the fire, muscles are made strong by putting them through the wringer. Use whatever analogy you like, tough stuff makes us stronger if we are willing to walk through it with Jesus.
So what is Jesus talking about with these “good gifts”?
God’s idea of good gifts and our idea of good gifts, is a totally different discussion. Most times, in the USA, we aren’t even coming at this thing from the same solar system. We are world’s apart. God gives us, as Paul describes in his letter to the Galatians,
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Yes, sometimes we get some of the things that this world values – but God is most concerned, like any good parent would be, with our character and not our material lifestyle.
I’m still learning to live like this. Trusting in God’s brand of spiritual development, and not our Americanized version, is tough. How has God shaped you into who He desires you to be by allowing you to walk through tough stuff?