Youth Ministry TV 004: The Disease Within Student Ministry

Is your ministry infected?

A subtle shift of attention, applied energy, and an investment of time has lead to ministries becoming infected with the disease within youth ministry. Is your ministry infected? Find out:

4 Symptoms of The Disease within Student Ministry

  1. Raising Leaders

Do we want leaders? Yes. But not everyone is a leader. God uses both the outspoken extroverts AND the quiet introverts. We are called to make disciples, not leaders. Leadership is a byproduct of first being a faithful disciple.

  1. Retaining Students

If your whole goal in ministry is to add numbers, you are missing the point and have the disease. There are a lot of fancy sayings like “Living things grow, dead things don’t” “If we’re counting people, and God cares about people, then I care about numbers.” These are fancy ways to say, “we care most about numbers.” Focusing on growth can take our attention away from faithfully preaching the gospel and get us looking for tactics and gimmicks that will get butts in chairs.

  1. Developing Behaviors

We shouldn’t focus our time and attention on making good kids (modifying behavior). We should focus on getting students to fall in love with the person and mission of Jesus Christ. When students fall in love with Jesus they will naturally chose to live in a way that brings glory to Him. Simply teaching them obedience to the law will lead to spiritually dead pharisaical students.

  1. Placing Students First

Placing students first means catering to their whims in ministry rather than championing Christ and allowing ministry to flow forth from there. Once again, this is subtle shift in focus that can happen unintentionally. So we must be intentional in the ways that we structure our ministries. Having a mission statement through which to run all ministry decisions can prevent us from simply throwing an event for the sake of making students and parents happy.

Want to do more reading on the Disease within Student Ministry? Check out our previous posts on this subject:
The Disease within Student Ministry: Part 1
The Disease within Student Ministry: Part 2

Thanks for watching! I hope you enjoyed and I would love to get your thoughts! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel and leave us a comment. Finally, we just like to give away free stuff because we love you guys and value your hard work in Youth Ministry. Click the button below to get some helpful parent resources that will help you engage and train parents.


20 Mission Trip Musts

Joining God's Global Mission

Taking students around the world to see God’s global mission is one of the great joys of Youth Ministry. Watching the eyes of students opened to God’s heart for the poor, oppressed, and marginalized is priceless. A well planned and organized mission trip can be an Ebenezer in a students life. What follows are 20 Mission Trip Musts that have helped make mission trips successful. A Mission Trip Guide per se:

20 Mission Trip Musts

  1. Talk with church staff about global, national, local mission relationships
  2. Use a Mission Trip Middle Man (Makarios, The Global Orphans Project, Praying Pelican) who has a long-term commitment to a church/location/people group.
  3. Recruit Leaders for the trip. Assign logistical duties to each leader.
  4. Open Trip Registration and interview potential team members. Pick a team.
  5. Schedule 5 pre-trip meetings.
  6. 1st Meeting: Cover trip logistics (passports, immunizations, etc), fundraising, and assign mandatory reading (When Helping Hurts, The Hole in Our Gospel).
  7. 2nd Meeting: Cover the purpose of the trip. Is the trip focused on service, discipleship & evangelism, partnership development, or vision casting?
  8. 3rd Meeting: Focus on Spiritual Development. What are you learning from the readings? Assign team members a prayer partner and travel buddy who will keep them accountable and cover the other in prayer.
  9. 4th Meeting: Do something fun together. Have a cook-out, invite families, and conclude the night with families praying over the mission team.
  10. 5th Meeting: Have a packing party where all bags are weighed and supplies are checked and double-checked. (Best done the day or two days before.)
  11. Begin each day of the mission trip with personal quite times. Encourage journaling.
  12. During the trip drink lots of water, work your bottom off, and watch God move.
  13. Regardless of the purpose of the trip, emphasize to team members that relationships are most important. Encourage them to actively engage with locals.
  14. Each night of the trip have a team debrief. Ask: Where did you see God at work today? Who did you see God using? What did God teach you about himself?
  15. After debrief, let different members lead a team devotional each night.
  16. Bringing someone who can lead the team in worship through song is always a plus and helps set the tone for evening meetings.
  17. Each morning, have the team draw names out of a hat. Each team member will write an encouraging note to that person.
  18. The last night, turn the corner during your evening debrief. Emphasize how our mission field happens to be the location and people God has placed before us. Our jobs, families, schools, and communities are our mission field.
  19. Also, have you team prepare to share their experience. They should be able to answer:
    1. What did God do on your trip?
    2. What did God do in your heart?
    3. What are you going to do now?
  20. Have a team meeting a week or two after you return. Ask what joys and frustrations they have experienced upon re-entry to everyday life. Pray that all would embrace a missional mindset and fulfill the promptings God has given each of them.
David Headshot

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at The Fellowship in Round Rock, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.


Get Over Yourself and Empower Others

You are not the solution.

This past week I was in the Dominican Republic. It was an amazing and transformative week. It was also a breath of fresh air, as I was able to rely on so many people to help pull this trip off. You see, I was dropped into this trip. I’ve only been on staff at my new church for 2 months and this student mission trip was planned sometime last year!

Get Over Yourself and Empower Others

This week was an excellent reminder that the best ministry you will participate in is the ministry others have been empowered to do. You as a youth pastor/worker are not the be all/end all when it comes to youth ministry events/trips/gatherings.

Yes, there is a feeling in your gut that if you don’t stick your fingerprints on it somehow it won’t turn out the way it should…but that’s simply not true.

Get over yourself and empower others!

That’s it for today.

David Headshot

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at The Fellowship in Round Rock, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.


YMTV 003: Theology in Youth Ministry

Honoring God with your Mind & Ministry

Here’s the deal. I love finding ways to infuse theology in youth ministry. In Episode 003 of Youth Ministry TV, Ben and I discuss why theology is important, how we have incorporated doctrine into youth ministry praxis, and the tools we have used to do so. Take a watch!

Three ways to infuse Theology in Youth Ministry:

1. In your personal development.
2. In the development of leaders.
3. In your sermons.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

1. Christian Belief: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know by Wayne Grudem – 9 bucks & streamlined (Go this route for leaders.)
2. Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem – more robust but $32 bucks (Go this route for you.)
3. Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem – middle of the pack, $22

Thanks for watching! I hope you enjoyed and I would love to get your thoughts! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel and leave us a comment.

Youth Ministry TV 002: Community vs. Maturity

Is deep & wide possible?

In youth ministry we walk a fine line. One the one hand, we want to whip out a few pizzas and attempt to feed the 5,000. Every youth pastor desires that their flock would grow. We want to cast wide nets on the side of the boat that Jesus suggests.

On the other hand, we want to push students deep in their understanding of the gospel. Shortly after feeding the 5,00 Jesus exhorts the crowd to understand that He is the bread of life. In John 6:60 & 66 we find: “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” and “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” So how do we facilitate community & maturity in youth ministry?

A few years back, I wrote a piece on Understanding Discipleship, where I broke down the needed elements of holistic discipleship. Youth ministry is more than just fun and games and it’s more than just beating students with the Bible. Youth ministry is complex, layered, and ever changing. Take a read:

 Understanding Discipleship

Thanks for watching! I hope you enjoyed and I would love to get your thoughts! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel and leave us a comment.

Get Students Talking

it develops faith...

This summer, we will be changing up the way we structure our teaching time on Wednesday night. During the school year we have a sermon followed by small groups where students break down the message and then exhort each other in community.

Get Students Talking

While this system has served us well, the groups, divided by grade and gender, tend to be larger and quickly get off track. Our Small Group Leaders do a great job facilitating discussion surrounding the message, but you can only wrangle 20 7th grade girls for so long!

This summer, we’re going to switch it up a bit. The goal is for students to own their faith. Students need to learn what they believe, why they believe, and know how to talk about what they believe.

We are going to seek to achieve this by getting students into small groups led by both Small Group Leaders, upper classmen, and our Summer Interns. Our system will include a master teacher teaching in short 5 minute bursts and then initiating discussion questions that will be carried out by the table leaders. Table leaders will then seek to get students talking about what they believe and why they believe. Am I a little nervous about protecting correct doctrine? Sure. Am I a little worried about what will be discussed at each table? Sure. But I know that students “getting it right” will only be a by-product to students first learning to think critically as they verbalize their thoughts and feelings.

With this in mind, what do you do to get students talking? How do you give students the opportunity to verbalize their faith? Comment below!

David Headshot

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at The Fellowship in Round Rock, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.


Youth Ministry TV 001: Student Overcommitment

Join the Conversation

Welcome to the first episode of Youth Ministry TV! On our show you will find a couple of everyday youth pastors discussing the joys, struggles, trends, and tricks of student ministry. We hope you find this extremely helpful and encourage you to Subscribe to us on YouTube and iTunes!

In Episode 001 we promised you some awesome parent resources that will help you engage parents. Click the button below and you will get:

  • Parent Point Graphics
  • Parent Point Contact Cards
  • 2 Parent Seminar Trainings (Facilitating Teenage Faith & Having “The Talk”)


Do you prefer audio? Here ya go…

David Headshot

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at The Fellowship in Round Rock, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.


Youth Ministry Paint War

Everything you need for Battle

This past Wednesday we kicked off Summer a littler early with a Paint War. We wanted students to be excited for everything that’s ahead this summer and what better way then with hot dogs, worship, a short message, and a paint war?

Paint War 2 transparent

Our students hand an absolute blast! We rented a pavilion at a near-by park where we grilled hot dogs, socialized, threw the ball & frisbee, played 9-square, worshiped, jumped into the Word, and then had our paint war. This is a great summer event that you can pull off! With minimal supplies, you can host your own paint war…and it’s totally worth is simply for the fun, community, and awesome pictures!

Youth Ministry Paint War 4

Youth Ministry Paint War 5

I HIGHLY encourage you to host your own paint war. And here’s the deal, I’m going to make it easy for you. Click the button below and I will send you a Paint War Cheat Sheet with all the details/graphics/supplies/rules you will need to pull off your own Paint War! You’re Welcome! Enjoy!

 Click Here for a Paint War Cheat Sheet

Growing Boys in False Worlds

For the last several months I have been researching what impact too much screen time can have on our kids. As I have gone deeper and deeper into the research I found that both young girls and young boys suffer under the consequences of too much screen time. But overwhelmingly, it is the boys, our future young men who suffer the major consequences associated with too much screen time.

Scientists have mapped out the brain growth in individual children and teenagers and have shown that during the ages of three and twelve there are some hardwired connections made in the front of the brain. This is the area that controls attention. These are connections that must be made for young men to function cognitively in the world. But those connections are being broken, or at best, rewired during their over use of screens.

Other studies show that those connections being made are not for the benefit of the young man. Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane in their book Growing Up Social say, “With increased screen use, the neural circuits that control the more traditional learning methods used for reading, writing, and sustained concentration are neglected.”

So it is not only that an abundance of screen time is rewiring the brains of our young men but that it is rewiring it in such a way that these young men are not gaining proficiency in areas that will help them grow. Their brains are being broken in the areas that are specifically needed to help them excel in school and in life.

Their reading levels are lower. Their writing abilities are hindered. They are no longer able to concentrate. One study found, “Tissue development can be retarded in certain parts of the brain, especially among young children whose brains are developing rapidly. The human brain is genetically wired to develop in natural, sensorial, and kinesthetic settings by doing things with one’s senses. A brain that develops in front of a screen for too long can miss out on its natural growth trajectory.”

This rewiring sets young men back in their mental development. This is something that we cannot afford to allow to continue. This decreased mental capacity leads to other problems as they grow into their adult years.

There is more research out there that I could share with you but hopefully you see that our young men are facing a problem today. It is a problem that they are not even aware of. We, as adults, must begin to work on solutions. I am afraid that our young men are going to be stuck in adolescence. I am scared that we are not developing creative, thoughtful, virtuous men. What can be done? I offer two points of action.

Become Aware

By reading the information in this article you have been introduced to some of the facts available about the consequences of too much screen time for our young men. But you should also do some real life research.

Watch the young men around you. What happens when they play video games for a while? Do you notice a change in their attitude? Do you notice any behavior changes? Have you noticed a change in performance in school as your young man spends more time in front of a screen? As you become more aware of what happens you will realize that screen time is not neutral in the life of the young men around you. Hopefully this new found awareness will move you to action.

Offer Challenges

Young men are wired to be challenged. They are wired to grow through challenges. Frankly, we do not challenge our young men enough. We do not challenge them to grow emotionally or mentally or even physically. Why are they so drawn to video games that deal with war and fighting? Because they long for challenges. Video games offer challenges and adventures that our young men are not having in the real world. False world challenges are not challenges at all. We must begin challenging our young men to grow and develop in the real world.

Challenge them to read a book. Challenge them to serve their community. Challenge them to learn a sport. Challenge them to learn to play a musical instrument. Challenge them to learn another language. Challenge them to memorize Scripture. The possibilities are endless. Find something they are interested in and challenge them to grow in that area.

It is my opinion that we cannot wait any longer to act. Our world is hurting for men. It is hurting for men that can think. Men that can solve problems. Men that stand on principles. Men that will fight for what is right. You and I are responsible for developing this generation of boys into men.

Let us get to it!

“Tomorrow’s illiterate will not be the man who can’t read; he will be the man who has not learned to learn.” – Alvin Toffler

Richard Hawthorne Headshot

Richard Hawthorne grew up in Oklahoma (Boomer Sooner) but now lives in the Panhandle of Texas. He received his M.Div. from Criswell College in 2012. He has served in student ministry for 6 years.

He has been married for 12 years and has three daughters. He loves to spend time with his girls and is actively preparing for the day when they begin dating… the age of 25! He also loves to buy books and sometimes read them. His wife has had to set a monthly budget to control his monthly book purchases.

He also loves to connect with other like-minded in people in ministry. He especially likes to write and you can read some other stuff he has written on his blog
He would love to connect with you on social media!

Instagram and twitter @rahawthorne

Transition in Youth Ministry: Part 4

Communication Strategy

How you enter a ministry will say a lot about who you are, how you operate, and what you want to accomplish. As Will Rodgers said, “You only get one chance to make a good first impression.” Have a clear and organized communication strategy will help you hit the ground running in your new ministry position.

Transition in Youth Ministry Part 4

Below you will find the communication strategy I used in my recent ministry transition. Five weeks in, I have initiated everything on this list. Am I finished? By no means! But I have started conversations and stated the ball rolling on all six of the following:

New Job Communication Strategy

  1. Expectations of your Senior Leaders
    1. What should my first 30 days look like?
    2. Who should I get to know first?
  2. Get to know your volunteers/youth staff
    1. Get to know their thoughts/concerns/vision
      1. Hold a leader meeting
      2. Start scheduling individual coffee/lunch/dinner meetings
  3. Get to know the parents
    1. Cast Vision for partnership
      1. Ask for stage time to exhort parents
        1. Explain that generational faith takes a community
        2. Ask them to join the effort/volunteer
      2. Set a communication plan (email, texting, trainings, seminars)
        1. Monthly Newsletter, parent trainings each semester, texts as needed
  4. Get to know students
    1. Identify key connectors (Who will help you get to know groups?)
    2. Build a Student Leadership Team or recruit high school interns
      1. Use them to foster community and develop ideas
    3. What schools are represented? Can you get on campus?
      1. FCA, Games, Lunches, Recitals, etc.
    4. Set a communication strategy (texting, social media)
      1. Texting every week with encouragement & announcements
      2. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook Group, or whatever their using next.
  5. Get to know the children’s ministry/staff
    1. How can the children’s ministry and student ministry work together?
    2. What is the overall goal, strategy, and plan to develop the next generation?
    3. What can you do for the other ministries of the church?
  6. Get to know local youth pastors
    1. Start or find a local youth worker network
      1. Ask about successes and struggles in the area
      2. Make friends…you’ll need them!

What am I missing? What did you do in your first month on the job that helped set you up for long-term success? Comment below!

Need a full transition strategy? Check out my previous posts on this topic:

Part 1: Question Everything
Part 2: Leave Faithfully
Part 3: Entering a Youth Ministry

David Headshot

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at The Fellowship in Round Rock, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.