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.


Transition in Youth Ministry: Part 3

Entering a Youth Ministry

There is nothing more exciting or mentally exhausting than starting at a new church. I literally blinked and a month has passed by. Where leaving a ministry position feels like a long slow break-up, beginning a ministry position feels like drinking from a fire hydrant.

Transition in Youth Ministry Part 3

You can quickly become overwhelmed with memorizing student names, connecting with parents, learning staff personnel/culture, jumping into the teaching schedule, executing events already planned, planning for the future, and assessing ministry strengths & weaknesses. This list doesn’t even include the burden of selling a house, moving, and settling into a new home/city.

One month?! I’m not sure how I’ve been in my new position a month, but that’s what my iCal says… I wish I could tell you that I executed the following plan perfectly, but I didn’t even come close. Has my transition been smooth? Absolutely! But even the best made plans can get thrown off (like when the buyers of your old house drop out and the new buyers want a new roof…really?!). But having a plan gets you back on target after you have addressed the distraction. With no plan, you can easily lose track of what needs to be accomplished and make a terrible first impression with parents, staff, and students.

Entering a Youth Ministry

Start with Relationships

As you step into a new church, you will want to identify and introduce yourself to:

  • Staff
  • Youth Ministry Leaders
  • Influential Parents
  • Elders/Deacons
  • Student Leaders
  • Local Youth Pastors

It will take you a bit to get through this list, but it’s reasonable to accomplish this within a month. While I might not know the name of their dog, I have at least introduced myself and memorized their face (and if I’m lucky…name). Staff will be the easiest to meet. Go office to office and get to know the folks on your team. Set up a leader meeting where you can get all the youth ministry volunteers in one space. Have them introduce themselves and how long they have been serving with the student ministry. Many of the volunteers will be parents, but also connect with key parents who have been at the church a long time (you want them for you, not against you!). Ask the pastor or key leader about attending an elder/deacon meeting so you can shake hands and meet the folks who pour their time and energy into the church. Begin meeting with upper classmen or a student leadership team who can help you meet/greet/lead games/accomplish tasks. Finally, reach out to local youth pastors. Ask them about successes and struggles they’ve had reaching the community.

Figure out the System

As you step into this new role, your job is not to start barking orders and making changes. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! Your role within the first two weeks should be to observe and assesses. You’re looking to fully grasp the programming.

Seek to understand why and how things are done. Be curious about everything. You’re new; you’re allowed to ask questions. Don’t pass judgment without first questioning intent and motives. Discover what the church and youth ministry consider foundational (non-negotiable), tradition (always been done), common (generally expected), and peripheral (it exists). Assess as you go, take notes, and make plans. But don’t change anything…yet. The time will come to make adjustments to the programming, but it’s not in the first month. Remember, start with relationships. The first month is about building trust with parents, students, volunteers, and staff. Don’t make changes before you have enough relational capital to do so.

How was the start to your youth ministry gig? Did you make changes to fast? Did you burn any bridges before they were built? Comment below!

COMING SOON: In Part 4 of Transition in Youth Ministry we will cover a Communication Strategy that will help you navigate your first month on the job…stay tuned!

Did you miss Parts 1 & 2?

Need a full transition strategy? Here ya go…
Part 1: Question Everything
Part 2: Leaving Faithfully
Part 4: Communication Strategy

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 LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.


Transition in Youth Ministry: Part 2

Leave Faithfully

Years of serving faithfully can be tarnished by a poorly executed exit. In the first post of this series we discussed how we are all temporary youth pastors. At some point you will leave the ministry you lead. And when you do leave, you want to be sure it’s for the right reasons. Once you know God is moving you, how you exit will be how many remember you. We must be faithful in our exit.

Transition in Youth Ministry Part 2

Three weeks ago I said goodbye to students I had spent four years pouring my life into. It was a bittersweet Sunday that ended a month long transition process. When I knew God was moving me, I wanted to leave in a way that honored the church staff, youth ministry volunteers, and students. Even if you are leaving under tumultuous circumstances, how you leave a ministry says a lot about your character.

While leaving my former church was emotionally difficult (as I will miss the amazing students, families, and staff) the transition went as smooth as it possibly could! Below you will find the transition plan I put in place to ensure that God was honored in my transition.

Transition in Youth Ministry

Step Two: Leave Faithfully

Here’s the truth. Transitioning faithfully will be a LONG process. You will have the same “why are you leaving?” conversation a million times over. You will feel like a broken record, you will feel a little guilt, you will want to expedite the process…but don’t. How you exit a ministry will be how many people remember you. Leave faithfully. Follow these steps:

  1. Notify Senior Leaders ASAP – One-Month Prior

As soon as you know God is moving you, notify your senior and executive leadership. If you care about the students in your ministry, you will want the leadership of the church to have a head start in finding your replacement. In addition, discuss the transition process with your senior leaders and ask them what would honor them most as you transition out. As I spoke with my executive pastor, we agreed that a month would be sufficient time to transition the ministry in a healthy God/Parent/Leader/Student honoring way. In my opinion, a month long transition process is generous. Obviously you will have to discuss this with the church you are transition into, but they should also want you to transition faithfully.

As you speak with your departing leadership, come up with a communication strategy. When, where, and how will you notify the appropriate parties?

  1. Notify Key Staff – 3 Weeks Prior

After talking with senior leaders, you will want to equip key staff members with desired language pertaining to your departure. Most ministry heads will be asked about your departure. You want to make sure they feel comfortable explaining your transition process.

  1. Host a Volunteer Leader Meeting – 3 Weeks Prior

Along with key staff, you will want to prepare and honor the leaders in your ministry by letting them in on what’s happening in your life and their ministry. I balled like a baby when I told my leaders! The love and dedication of my leaders made this an emotional announcement.

Your goal for this meeting is to honor their dedication, equip the leaders to answer questions, and ask them to share the workload you are leaving.

  1. Tell your Disciples – 2.5-3 Weeks Prior

If you are personally discipling students (you should be, that’s your job!), then you will want to give them a heads up. These students will be greatly impacted by your transition and you don’t want them to find out when everyone else does. Telling them early will allow you to be extra intentional and savor your last few meetings together. Discuss with them what it looks like to find a new mentor and be straightforward with them. If they need a heavy-handed challenge, step up, if they need praise and encouragement, lavish on them how proud you are of their spiritual growth and maturity.

  1. Tell your Students & the Church – 2 Weeks Prior

This is when the texts, phone calls, and conversations will begin pouring in! Students and parents will experience a variation of emotions (sadness, confusion, shock, anger, etc.) so get ready to wear your pastoral hat. When you discuss your transition, take everything back to God’s will and calling on your life. Emphasize how you want to be faithful in the same way you would want them to be faithful when God calls. Explain how God has spoken to you through Scripture, prayer, wise counsel, the Holy Spirit, and opportunity.

When you tell the students and the church you will want to emphasize the following:

  • The Student Ministry belongs to students…be the ministry, be the church
  • The Small Group Leaders are the true youth pastors
  • Explain who will be in charge and lead in the interim
  • Exhort your student leaders/seniors to step up and lead
  • Be specific about your timeline and destination

I’m not going to lie. This is a spiritually and emotionally draining process. But it should be! If you have been leading faithfully, it should be difficult to leave a ministry. If you have been giving your life to the expansion of the gospel among your students leaving will be hard.

However, being strategic in your transition will help ease this process. Have you transitioned out of a ministry? What made it smooth or difficult? Comment below!

Need a full transition strategy? Here ya go…

Part One: Question Everything
Part Three: Entering a Youth Ministry
Part Four: Communication Strategy

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 LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.


Oxygen Mask Youth Ministry

“Oxygen and the air pressure are always being monitored. In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are traveling with a child or see someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person. Keep your mask on until a uniformed crew member advises you to remove it.”

I was coming home from an international trip and had heard this on the overhead speakers in the airplane a few times that week. Each time, it was as if I couldn’t hear anything else in the world on my noisy airplane except that announcement. All of the troubles in my world melted away and I was completely focused on learning what to do in case of an oxygen emergency. Honestly, the airplane announcements never really interested me, so I was keenly aware at the fact that I was listening.

I wrote the words to the announcement in my journal hoping that one day it would make sense as to why I was listening so intently.

That was three years ago.

As any church worker knows, Holy Week and the events leading up to introduce a variety of services, meetings, as well as emotions and weight to our schedules. It’s an important season in the church world and there’s a lot of emphasis placed on remembering Christ’s death and celebrating His resurrection. After all, we are Easter people.

This year, in the midst of Holy Week, our church and community suffered a tragedy that affected everyone deeply and shook us to the very core of our existence. It was horrific and life altering and consumed our thoughts and emotions. I was to lead students and families through processing this all the while figuring out the why and how on my own. Which usually just led to me screaming at God in my car because how did He ever think I was going to handle this one?!

It was about one in the morning when I finally got home and settled one night. I was emotionally exhausted and needed to settle down to try to get some sleep to prepare for the next day. I was in the middle of having a really good cry in the shower when the only thing that replayed in my head was the flight announcement that was seared into my brain three years ago. I’ve heard it several times since then, of course, but this night, it was replaying over and over again with no flight attendant voice. Just my own.

“Please secure your oxygen mask first, before assisting another person.”

In ministry we like to use buzz words and create cultures around ideas and movements, and for the past decade we’ve been pretty set on the idea of soul care.

I’ll be honest, I hate the buzz words soul care, but I like the idea of caring for our own souls. The idea that we have to rest ourselves to take care of other people – that’s something I can get behind.

So, as I prepared to sleep in the midst of tragedy and heartache and devastation, I re read the words I wrote in my journal three years ago over and over again. I knew that God was teaching me something about self care that I couldn’t have learned any other way except the hard way. This way. The tragic way. The tearful way. The 1am way. The painful way.

I know that God is for me and He will never forsake me in my weaknesses. I know that my encounter with Him that night in the midst of my heartache was to remind me who He is, who I am in Him, and that He, too, is the God of rest, not just the God of the busy.

The truth that week was that I couldn’t take a day off, I couldn’t rest, I couldn’t care for my own soul very well. I thank God that our rest comes from Jesus and not from sleep or I’d really be in trouble!

The Gospel of Matthew tells us to let our YES be YES and our NO be NO – anything other than this is evil. I was given some days off following Holy Week to rest. It was like a little gift my Pastor wrapped up in a package and handed me with his words. When I started telling people that I had some days off, they immediately began to fill my schedule with things they thought would be good for my soul. “Why don’t you come here…” “Why don’t we do this….” “Why don’t you think about coming with me here…” “We should go…” Honestly, none of those things seemed appealing to my soul. The only thing I wanted to do to care for my soul was wake up to no alarm clock, eat the peanut butter eggs that were in my Easter basket, and workout. I wanted to have no schedule, to have no plans, to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it, how I wanted to do it, and with who I wanted to do it. I realized in the midst of this chaos that my life is so finely scheduled that rarely can I make a split second decision to do something that would bring my soul the deep care that it needs to be sustainable in the demanding life of youth ministry.

Friends, if we are not caring for ourselves, we cannot care for another. If we are not putting our oxygen masks on first, we will never be able to breathe life into the ones who desperately need to fill their lungs.

It is not selfish to care for your mind, body, and soul in order to serve others better.
It is not selfish to get to the gym instead of going to meet a student for coffee.
It is not selfish to find an outlet of writing, reading, music, or athletics, to free your mind of the mess it often gets in.
It is not selfish to be in your own small group, meet regularly with friends who hold you accountable, or take some extra time to read and journal before you walk into your office in the morning.

It is right.

It is required.

The world tells us that it’s selfish.

God tells us that we must do those things in order to be effective and sustainable in youth ministry – or anywhere for that matter!

Put on your oxygen mask. It’s a wild, exciting, fun, and sometimes tragic ride – and we wouldn’t want to miss it because we’ve run out of air.

Oh, and my week, you’re wondering? I’ve gotten a massage, had more iced coffees than any human should, have worked out twice daily, cleaned out my closets, and watched every single episode of Chicago Fire and Chicago PD that were ever created. I’ve had friends over for breakfast, sat in the hot tub twice, met other friends for dinner, and said no to meeting others. I’ve ignored work emails, texts, and phone calls that aren’t emergencies and I’ve said no to hanging out with a student. I’ve slept past 6am and I’ve stayed up later than 2am. It’s been wonderful. Freeing. Exciting. Fun. I feel happy again, healthy, and ready to get back to work in a few days. I’ve let my YES mean YES and my NO mean NO. I’ve made no plans 20 minutes before they are to take place and I finally laughed from my belly again.

I’m not back yet, but it’s good to be on the road to recovery.

I’m breathing much deeper with the oxygen mask on.

Put yours on, friend.

You’ll be grateful.

Questions for Reflection:

How is God calling you to better care for your self?
What action steps can you take this week to begin moving toward an oxygen-filled you?
Who can you be accountable to in order to help prevent burn out?

Megan Headshot

Megan Faulkner is a Delaware native, now claiming the shores of New Jersey as her home. She graduated in 2007 from Eastern University in Philadelphia with a B.A. in Youth Ministries and Communication Studies. She’s been in full time youth ministry for eight years now, and has loved most minutes of it!

She can often be found on an airplane to and from Haiti (not kidding), on the beach, or swimming/biking/running. She recently completed her first Iron Girl Triathlon with the goals of not dying and not coming in last!

Megan loves social media and connecting with other youth workers, especially through writing. Her blog, Joy in the Journey, can be found at

Ways to Connect:
@MeganEFaulk (Twitter & Instagram)

The Right Kind of Commitment

James (not his real name) is a core student of mine who I’ve been trying to meet with for a couple of months. We have a weekly routine. I text him and ask if he can get together this week. He replies with one reason or another why he’s too busy to meet. Wash, rinse, repeat. James and I have a great relationship. He’s not avoiding me to, he’s just busy.

The Right Kind of Commitment
On this surface, this is a classic example of a teenager who isn’t committed. Youth workers LOVE to complain about the busyness of teens these days. We talk about how sports, school activities and a lack of priorities is eroding the faith of teens. It’s easy to blame these external factors because it shifts the focus off of ourselves.

All this complaining leads me to think that we’ve unintentionally equated church attendance with spiritual maturity. We live by the axiom “Mature teens are in youth group more than non-mature teens.” We do this because it’s easy to measure and it makes logical sense. After all, God did create us for community and the church is the way God has chosen to work in the world. The problem is that this assumption subtly changes our job description. We go from being a shepherd who pursues students to a salesman who must convince kids to come. Success is defined as spiritual brand loyalty where teens are repeat customers. I can influence these kinds of results, but ultimately, they are out of my control.

So let’s put you back in the driver’s seat and focus on a success profile that you CAN control.

I’d like to suggest that you and your leaders’ commitment to students is more important than your student’s commitment to your youth group.

Instead of convincing students to show up at your stuff, why don’t you spend your energy showing up at theirs?

In the awesome book Creating a Lead Small Culture, the Orange folks talk about challenging leaders to show up predictably, mentally and randomly in students’ lives. The emphasis is leaders going to their students instead of expecting them to come to us.

This isn’t a new revelation but a reminder of a timeless truth. Jesus didn’t wait for us to come to his Trinity party. Nope. He packed up his stuff and moved into our neighborhood. That’s why he compared himself to the Shepherd who left the many to pursue the one sheep who had gone astray. (Luke 15:1-7)

Pursuing students will generally result in students who are more consistent. When our leadership team did the research for our students we found that the students we pursued more were the ones who showed up more. I never said our team was brilliant. It just confirms what I already understand. I am a pastor, not a salesman. I cannot convince someone into the kingdom, but I can reflect Jesus’ unrelenting love for us. When we as youth workers understand this we can pursue teens with joy instead of guilt.

I may not be successful at getting James to come hang out with me, but I am successful at pursuing James. I believe that means a lot to him. He know that each week I am pursuing him in the name of Jesus and that is going to stick with him long after he graduates. So next week, I’ll send out that text and that will be my success story. What will be yours?

Kevin Headshot

Kevin Libick is a Middle School Pastor living in Fort Worth, TX with his wife Kara and her two cats. He is a novice banjo picker and expert Hawaiian food eater. Kevin loves to connect with other youth workers and equip them to live out their calling in God’s Kingdom. Kevin loves to connect with and empower youth workers. Connect with Kevin on Twitter: @kevinlibick

Transition in Youth Ministry: Part 1

Question Everything

You will leave the youth ministry you currently lead. It might be next year or in 10 years, but you will leave. The ministry will be cast into transition. But the question is: Will your transition in youth ministry be healthy?

Transition in Youth Ministry 1

Since January, my wife and I have been praying through God’s will for our life and ministry. Long story short, God is moving our family and ministry to Round Rock, Tx where I will serve as the lead Student Pastor at The Fellowship Church.

This decision to move did not come easy. We spent many nights praying, laughing, and weeping desiring to know what God wanted from us. We didn’t see this offer coming, so we wanted to make sure we heard from Him and didn’t just pursue the new shiny offer.

In your ministry, odds are you will be here also. At some point you will leave the youth ministry you are currently leading.

So let’s examine how we can transition youth ministry faithfully.

Transition in Youth Ministry

Step One: Question Everything

One of the hardest things is to discern and understand is the will of God. Maybe you are more holy than I, and God speaks to you in an audible voice or via email, but not me. I have to petition Him when it comes to the big things. When it comes time for me to get that “one, most important, course-of-your-life-altering choices, right,” I have to seek Him earnestly.

This is how I questions everything:

  1. Bible – What is God speaking to me through scripture? This is God’s primary means of communication to us, and His will will never contradict Scripture. Psalm 119:105 offers, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
  2. Prayer – What is God speaking to me through prayer? Am I telling Him what I want or am I listening for His will? Pray that He would bend your will to His. In Luke 11:9-10 Jesus states, “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
  3. Wise Counsel – What are the people you trust most saying about this opportunity or decision? Proverbs 19:20-21 offers, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
  4. Holy Spirit – Where is the Holy Spirit stirring you? What keeps you awake? Where do you feel He is moving through? Proverbs 3:5-6 states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
  5. Opportunity – What doors has God opened and closed? Why should you even consider this option? Kevin DeYoung in Just Do Something states,

    “Live for God. Obey the Scriptures. Think of others before yourself. Be holy. Love Jesus. And as you do these things, do whatever else you like, with whomever you like, wherever you like, and you’ll be walking in the will of God.”

 You will leave your youth ministry. Will it be by His doing or yours? How do you go about hearing from God? Comment below!

Need a full transition strategy? Here ya go…

Part Two: Leave Faithfully
Part Three: Entering a Youth Ministry
Part Four: Communication Strategy

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 LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.


New Seasons in Youth Ministry

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” -Ecclesiastes 3:1 (or if you sing the words “turn, turn, turn” – The Byrds). These words ring true in my life as I sit at the end of one season and the beginning of another.

New Seasons in Youth Ministry


This coming Sunday, April 5th, will be my last Sunday as the Student Pastor at LifePoint Church. The past month has been filled with plans for transition, goodbye’s, and dreaming about what my new season will look like. God has called my wife and I to Round Rock, Texas, just north of Austin, to The Fellowship Church where I will serve as the Student Pastor.

Transitions like this bring mixed emotions.

On the one hand, I will dearly miss LifePoint Church and the students I have seen develop into men and women of God. While on the other hand, I am so excited to see what God has in store at The Fellowship and ecstatic to begin doing life with the students and families in Round Rock.

What I’ve Learned

Transitions bring perspective.

This transition has allowed me to critically evaluate what I (w/ the help of Jesus, obvi) have been able to accomplish over the past four years. It has helped me gain perspective on what I need to do differently as I begin a new chapter. It has helped me grasp what is foundational and what is peripheral to the health and development of a student ministry.

Time flies, relationships matter.

I can’t believe I have been at LifePoint four years. It has felt like a decade. Not because it has felt long and drawn out, but because of how much I have seen this ministry mature, and because of how deep my relationships run. I am proud of what God has allowed me to accomplish, which makes this transition even harder. As I prepare to leave, it’s the relationships that I will miss.

There is never a “good” time to leave.

If I’m being honest, deep down I wrestled with guilt over leaving even though I was here four years. I don’t want to be the Youth Pastor that church hops looking for the best opportunity. I  want to be the Youth Pastor that invests deeply and commits to the long run. However, there will never be a “good” time to leave. If you leave because of frustration with your context, that’s certainly not a “good time.” But alternatively, if you have been invested deeply over a long period of time, it makes transition all the more difficult! There is never a good time to leave, but rather we must trust God’s timing and will. But don’t be the 18 month’er!

Transition faithfully, finish strong.

The last thing you want to do is hit cruise control your last month on the job. How you set the next regime up for success matters. The message you leave your students with matters. The way you honor your leaders for their faithful service matters. The way you talk about the leaders of the church your leaving matters. Finish strong, transition faithfully, then set your eyes to the road God has before you.

I’m excited to share with you in the coming months what God does through my transition out of one student ministry and into another.

How have you transitioned in youth ministry? What have you done well? What have you done poorly? What advice do you have? 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 LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.


Leave Students in Tension

Yesterday I gave a Palm Sunday message a little different than I’ve given before. Rather than focusing on the royal imagery we are given in the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, I focused on the fair-weathered crowd.

Leave Students in Tension

Matthew 21:8-9 tells us:

Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting,“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

Most of the crowd. As Jesus entered the last week of His life, most the crowd praised Him, and used Psalm 118:25-26 verbiage to identify Him as the expected Messiah.

This sight quickly evolved into a rioting mob that would chant “Crucify, crucify Him!” (Luke 23:18-25)

We Are The Crowd

What I wanted to convey to students on Sunday was that we are the crowd. Every week we proclaim “Hosanna (salvation) in the highest! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” as we enter our churches and direct our attention toward God, only to live a week that that screams “crucify, crucify Him” as we live by our own standards and seek to establish our own kingdoms.

What I wanted to accomplish Sunday was a tension. A tension that students would have to wrestle with this week as they contemplated the coming of Easter Sunday. I wanted students to feel like the wavering crowd. I wanted students to live in the tension between full surrender to Christ and living for their own wants and desires. The crowds were looking for a political king and what they got was a suffering savior. Many of our students are looking for a kind safety net and need to experience a sovereign Lord.

May we not shove answers down our students throats but rather invite them into the tension of faith where their wants and convictions wrestle in order to discover what they truly believe.

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 LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.


Youth Ministry TV: Coming Soon

I am excited to announce that The Youth Ministry Blog is about to get a whole lot sweeter! In the coming weeks we will launch Youth Ministry TV. The goal of Youth Ministry TV is no different than the blog. We desire to train, equip, and encourage youth workers…while having fun…and conversation.

Take a look at the teaser:

If you want to know what we end up talking about, just click the button below and stay tuned:

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 LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.


Ben Headshot

Ben Fawcett is a six year student ministry veteran, who is currently serving as the Associate Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Texas. He is currently enjoying typing this bio out in third person, and aspires to one day speak in only third person.