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The Power to Succeed

By Leadership, Spiritual

It was a Wednesday afternoon, and I was frustrated. We had been at worship band practice for two hours and had made no progress. Tension was high, and unity was low.

Finally, as a last resort, I said, “Guys, can we just pray about this? Practice is going nowhere.”

So all seven of us laid down our instruments, put on a worship song, and prayed that God would help us. And a switch was flipped. We played the next song with unusual accuracy and anointing. Afterward, we just stared at each other awkwardly smiling. We knew God had shown up.

I learned a valuable lesson that day — God gives you the power to be successful.

Although it was a new revelation for me, it had been God’s character since the beginning. In Deuteronomy 8:18 God tells the the children of Israel, “Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful…”

After living in bondage for 400 years, God was about to take the children of Israel into a new season of blessing. He had given them promises of land, natural resources, riches, and victory over the enemy — followed by a warning.

Don’t forget who made you successful.

And as history tells us, anytime God’s people forgot about Him they soon remembered the effects of difficulty and failure. The same is true for us.

God loves to bless you. But we must realize that His blessings come as a byproduct of a healthy relationship. We don’t worship God to receive a blessing, we worship God and become blessed.

Now would be a good time to mention that God knows the intentions of our hearts. He can’t be “used” as a tool for blessings. That’s not what this is about. It’s about inviting God into every area of our life.

When you invite God into specific situations in your life, your allowing divine power, authority, and insight to guide and assist you. Who couldn’t use God’s help?

This isn’t a highly spiritually activity either. It looks like a simple prayer and acknowledgment of need.

“God, would you help me focus on my studies today and retain the information I need to pass this test?”

“God without you I’m not very kind to people, would you give me the grace I need to treat people with love today?”

“God I don’t have what it takes to lead small group tonight. Would you give me a word of encouragement for those you have trusted me with?”

“God I don’t know how to navigate this business deal. Would you give me the wisdom to make a decision that is best for my business and family?

“God you gave me this sex drive. Help please.”

It’s almost supernatural the way we begin navigating once hard situations with grace when God’s hand is on our life. But He needs an invitation.

The power to succeed is only found in God.

How would things change if you invited God into that situation in your life that has been stressing you out? What would it be like to have the power of God on your side?

I want to encourage you to press into God. Take time today (and every day) to invite God into specific situations into your life and watch as He gives you the power to succeed.

– Daniel Maddry


Learning To Fail Leads To Success

By Growth

Failure is no bueno.

I don’t like it.

It makes me feel devalued and incompetent.

I feel like a 5th grader is smarter than me…

I am not trying to downplay 5th graders, but I am a graduate of elementary. It’s a pretty big deal.

For years, I thought I did not fail. I might have said something like “I am not perfect” or “I don’t know everything.” When deep down I thought, I was close to perfection and I knew almost everything. I might have been blind to arrogance in my life. Let’s just say I failed at humility.

The more I succeeded, the more I ignored failures. I maintained this way of thinking for years. Until I went through a season of failures. Back to back. One after the other. I made almost every kind of failure. The biggest failure I made, was being blind to it all.

So, I took a hard look at my track record and asked three questions:

1. How did I not see the failures coming?

2. How could I have prevented the failures?

3. Why didn’t anyone tell me?

The answers to those questions were not very fun.

Like I said, I don’t like to fail.

Actually, the more I think about it…

I don’t know many people who like to fail.

We all fail. There is no way around it. We fail in relationships. We fail in school. We fail at work. We fail at budgeting. We fail at communication. We fail. Plain and simple. No one is perfect (except Jesus).

But failure actually presents an irreplaceable season of opportunity.

When we fail, we have an opportunity to grow. When we fail, we need to first recognize it and own it. If we do not own it, we will quickly rationalize it away and miss an opportunity for growth. To achieve success, you have to grow. Truthfully speaking, successful people stand on a pile of failures like they have climbed a huge mountain that others thought was impossible to climb!

You and I can improve and get better through three practices:

1. Anticipate Failure

Failure is inevitable, so we need to anticipate and prepare for it. One of the best ways to anticipate failure is to look at a track record. Sit down and make a list assess all your failures from your profession to your personal life.

Solve a problem before it is a bigger problem. Unsolved problems lead to failures. If you can make a list of all your failures, you are one step closer to succeeding at what you do!

Craig Groeschel says, “The difference between a good leader and great leader is that great leaders learn to anticipate rather than react.” Click HERE to check out his podcast

2. Evaluate Failure 

Failure is the result of an absence of consistent evaluation. When you consistently evaluate your failures, you will grow in your anticipation of failures.

Now take the list you just created and with laser focus evaluate and analyze your failures. Ask questions like: When did this problem arise? What can I control? What can I improve and do better next time? Why did I fail? What would a win look like? This list will quickly turn into your self-improvement strategy. You will only get better if you evaluate your failures.

3. Receive Feedback 

Receiving feedback is not easy at first, but once you embrace this practice, you will begin to have one success after another. When you are ready to receive feedback from your boss, your peers, and your family, you will not only be able to anticipate failures before they arise on a big scale, you will be able to lead others through their failures. Click HERE to learn more about Receiving Feedback.

Everyone fails. You. Me. Your Neighbor. Your boss.

Don’t worry. You are not alone.

People have been failing for thousands of years.

Check out what Paul said to the church in Corinth.

“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 

— 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Paul said it best. Weaknesses and failures are a window of opportunity to let the power of Christ work through you and me.

— Abe Haley

How My Youth Ministry Tripled In Size

By Growth, Spiritual

Three months into becoming a student pastor my church asked me if the  youth were going to do a disciple now. They had always done a disciple now. I casually said I would pray about it and let them know by Friday. I had full intentions of doing a disciple now. Besides, they had always done a disciple now.

That Friday morning I was about to leave for work, and the thought popped into my mind, “you didn’t pray about the disciple now.” So I went to my room, shut the door, and quietly asked God about the disciple now. Almost instantly I had the idea, “do a student revival.” In 2012 and in my limited experience I had never seen a student revival. This was also before Hillsong Young and Free had released their “Youth Revival” album. But I decided to do a four-night revival service for students.

It was electric. 

Many were saved. Many were set free. And there was a lot of chatter in the schools about our church. Needless to say, we grew — a lot.

I’m a huge fan of strategy, excellent leadership, and amazing content but there is another factor that goes into growing a ministry. The x-factor.

What is the x-factor? The favor of God. 

Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good.”

I fear that sometimes we can get so caught up in building the ministry that we fail to ask God for His input. I’m convinced that, when invited, God brings divine ideas, strategies, and conversations into our meetings. 

Unless the Lord grows your ministry, it won’t grow.

When the hand of God is on your ministry, it’s unstoppable. So I want to encourage you, seek God. Pray and ask God directly about your series, events, and outreaches. You might not get a “word from God,” but the invitation is all He needs to help you reach more students.

-Daniel Maddry

Introducing Our Sermon Builder Curriculum

By Preaching, Program

Let’s be real, writing a message can be very time consuming.

That’s why we got together some of the sharpest minds in youth ministry to produce curriculum that does the legwork for you!

Our sermon builder curriculum includes five blocks of messaging* that starts by capturing attention and ends with a call to action (including small group materials). We take a methodical approach to communicating God’s word to ensure that your students are growing in their relationship with Christ.

The Sermon Builder Curriculum was created as a bridge between traditional curriculum (with little flexibility) and writing your own message (with not enough direction). While you can certainly preach through our curriculum as is, we encourage you to use it as inspiration or a starting point for the message that God wants to speak through you to your students.

Below is the progression we use with the Sermon Builder Curriculum:

  • Capture — Grab their attention with a story or illustration.
    • Story / Illustration
  • Connect — Connect them to God’s word.
    • Main Text
  • Consider — What does this mean for us today?
    • Subpoints / Bottomline
  • Collide — How do we apply this to our lives?
    • Application
  • Call to Action — How do we respond to the message?
    • Altar call / Small group questions

We hope this tool helps guide you along as you teach God’s word to the next generation.

Get started today!

*The five blocks of messaging was adopted from

Make Your Own Ministry GIF’s

By Social Media

Have you ever wondered how certain companies, ministries, and businesses manage to get their custom GIFs on Instagram? You know those fun, flashy, animated images that all the youths seem to be posting on their stories? Getting your GIFs on Instagram is easier than you thought, and I’m going to show you how to do it in 3 simple steps.

  1. Create Your GIF

So this part seems pretty obvious. To put your GIF on Instagram, you need to have created your own GIF. But as you create your GIF, there is one important thing to keep in mind: your background needs to be transparent. Instagram only allows GIFs with transparent backgrounds to be searchable on their platform. Also, this pretty much goes without saying, but make sure to create and publish only original content.

PRO TIP: If you’re not sure how to create a GIF, check out this helpful tutorial:

  1. Become a Brand Channel on Giphy

Instagram’s GIFs are all sourced from Giphy. This means that all GIFs posted to an approved Giphy Brand Channel are automatically searchable on the Instagram App. Simply creating an account will not allow your GIFs to be seen on Instagram, so it’s important that you become an actual Brand Channel.

To become an official Giphy Brand Channel, follow these steps:

  1. Apply to become a Brand Channel:
  2. Create your account and wait for an email confirmation that you have been approved. It’s that simple!

PRO TIP: I recommend using an official business email when applying to become a Brand Channel. You should avoid anything ending in a generic address (example: I have attempted to create a few brand channels, and so far only the ones ending in an official business name have gotten approved.

  1. Post and Tag Your GIFs

Once your brand channel is approved, it’s time to start uploading! Upload all of your transparent-background GIFs to your brand channel and tag them with unique and searchable words. It’s important you choose relevant words to both your GIF and your brand because your tags are what Instagram will use to help people find your content. For example, if you tag your GIF with “fish,” anyone who searches for “fish” on Instagram will find your GIF. I don’t know why you would be creating fish GIFs, but let’s just go with it.

PRO TIP: Use both generic and specific tags on your GIFs. Generic tags will allow a wider range of people to discover your GIFs, but specific tags will make it much easier on your audience to find your GIFs quickly.

And now you know how to make a GIPHY in a jiffy  (Don’t worry, that pun made me cringe too HAHA).

By Meg Savoie

Confronting Leadership And Protecting Culture

By Volunteers

I don’t know a single leader that loves organizational tension, conflict or awkward conversations. I also don’t know a single leader that doesn’t love team unity, resolution, and understanding.

Unfortunately, the team you want to lead doesn’t come without the conversations you don’t want to have.

God has given you a vision for your ministry and values to get you there.  These values lived out are what we call culture. As your ministry and leadership grow, you will encounter opposition to the culture. Usually, this opposition comes from well-meaning team members. Navigating these cultural issues can be difficult, but with the right relational tools, it’s possible to unify your team under the vision and accomplish much.

Here’s a step by step guide that will prepare you for having hard conversations:

  1. Identify every hard conversation that you need to have with the leaders serving in your ministry.
  2. Contact each one and schedule out a meeting with them within the next 7 days.
  3. Make notes before the meeting, so you have a clear direction as to where the conversation is going.

Once in these meetings, you will need relational tools to not only confront the issue at hand but also protect the relationship. Here are a few tools to help:

  1. Value the person — This leader volunteered to help you. Regardless of the conflict, this speaks volumes about their heart for ministry. Let them know how valuable they are and how much you appreciate them.
  2. Communicate the common goal — It’s important that the leader in your ministry knows that you are in this together for the same purpose.
  3. Be honest in addressing the issue — Speak specifically to the way they are violating the culture as well as paint a picture for the kind of leader you know they can be.
  4. Allow them to be heard — This will assure them that you are for them and not against them. It might also give you some insight into ways of improving your communication or leadership style.
  5. Encourage them — Once again, let them know how valuable they are to the ministry and how much you appreciate them.

By default, your leaders will want to take the path of least resistance. Unfortunately, that path rarely changes lives and makes a big impact. By challenging your leaders, you change your leaders and change proceeds growth.

Confrontation is not easy, but it is worth it.

-Daniel Maddry

How to be a Virtual Leader

By Social Media

Teenagers. Thirsty. Dehydrated. Searching. Desperate. Dying. Mirages. Overhead. Circling. Observing. Culture Vultures! These birds of prey are waiting until Generation Z’s fantasy world blurs reality. They can then descend and feast on the morals and standards of those lost in an identity crisis. It is time for youth ministries to accept their calling as online missionaries and Ambassadors of Christ in the forums and chat rooms of the virtual world.

The culture vultures are using the internet to prey on this generation through pornography, bullying, sexting, peer pressure, etc. Even a faithful Christian teenager spends ___ % at church a week and ____ % online a week. Most Pastors think in terms of physical and spiritual. The virtual world has its own language, culture, and rules. It’s time for leaders to enter the glowing rectangles with the light of Christ.

Jesus had a forerunner named John the Baptist who prepared the way for Christ by telling people about him and baptizing them. He created expectation. In order for us to prepare the way for people to hear about our Savior, we need to utilize our voice, not be consumed with self-image and have actions that reflect Jesus. Below are some ways that we can create an expectation with our virtual followers.

1. Filter Control – Emojis are Generation Z’s version of “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” One aspect of leadership is the ability to cast vision in a way that people are willing to follow. Like an emoji conveys emotion, we must convey a clear picture to our online congregants of what the heart of our ministry is about. If a social media post doesn’t line up with the heartbeat of your church, then delete it. Filter your social media to glorify Jesus and draw people to him. Your social media is a direct reflection of the culture of your youth ministry to all who follow you from teens, visitors, and parents.

2. Digital Influencers – Create a team of teenagers that can be developed as digital influencers, photographers, videographers, bloggers and journalists for your youth ministry. A social media ministry can be as important as your greeters. Train them how to use this wonderful skill set for the benefit of virtually savvy followers.

Here is an example of a timeline.

  • Monday – Inspirational Word of Encouragement from Youth Pastor
  • Tuesday – Promo for Youth Night Activities & Announcements
  • Wednesday – Friendship Invitation Encouragement
  • Thursday – Youth Night Recap Video/Humor
  • Friday – Testimony of the Week/Spiritual Encouragement
  • Saturday – Church Attendance promotion
  • Sunday – Sabbath

3. Spiritual Currency – The last thing that Jesus told Peter was to feed his sheep. Utilizing virtual and social media platforms, we gain the opportunity to give spiritual currency to those looking for new life. We can put sermons on Youtube, insight on Twitter, life application on Facebook and inspiration on Instagram. None of this compares with face to face conversations, but giving free spiritual currency will let teens know where to find encouragement and spiritual substance online.

4. Bible Revival – Utilize a youth service to train your teenagers on how to use a bible app. Show them how to highlight scriptures, find commentaries, write notes, etc. Bring back Bible Drills. Have each teen sit with their phone off until the scripture is called, then as teens find it, they stand and the first one to read it in its entirety wins. When personal Bible reading becomes part of your youth culture, they will be able to bring it easier into their own lives.

As we live in a digital age, we can be comforted that Jesus loved to go where people lived to reveal his love and God’s plan for their lives. The great commission is just as powerful in the virtual world, as it is in reality. It’s time to save this generation from the culture vultures. The best is yet to come!

— Jaycee Jennings

Jaycee is a generational specialist with 28 years of experience including Camp/Conference Director, Bible College Instructor, and Evangelist. He lives in Dallas, Texas with his beautiful wife Anna and three amazing children Zach, Micah & Malea. If you would like to contact him

How To Find The Right Volunteers (And Avoid The Rest)

By Volunteers

Do any of the following statements resonate with you?  

“An event is closing in, and you know you do not have enough volunteers.” “You take a hard look at your ministry and realize you need more volunteers.” Your pastor says, “you do not have enough adult volunteers, college volunteers, or student volunteers” “Your pastor wants to see you in his office…”

Maybe you, like me, have been in a position where you need more volunteers. Much of recruiting volunteers can be solved by this statement: Always ask and never stop asking. For years I struggled with recruiting volunteers…I finally came to the conclusion that I was not consistently asking adults.

1. Ask In Prayer Before You Ask In Person

Prayer works. God continues to blow me away with how He answers ALL of my prayers. If you have not started praying for volunteers, start praying today. I started in student ministry in 2005. I have had my fair share of mistakes in leading others, especially volunteers. Pray before you ask…it ensures Godly wisdom in your decision making.

2. Set Clear Guidelines And Expectations

If you do not clearly communicate the expectation, expect frustration on both ends of the relationship. Clear guidelines and expectations ensure the right volunteers in the right places. The best way to maintain guidelines and expectations is to put it on paper. If it is not written, it is not concrete.

3. Those Who Influence Aren’t Always Aware

The greatest leaders are not always aware of their leadership potential. It is our call to develop their leadership ability. If you invest in your leaders, they will invest in what you do. If you ignore your leaders, they will eventually ignore what you do and what you have to say. The greatest influencers are the ones who stay humble and hustle hard.

Finding volunteers is about selecting the “almost” leaders.

-Abe Haley

Fighting Conviction

By Spiritual

Fighting conviction is the art of ignoring God — one that if mastered will leave you lacking in destiny and abounding in regret.

It was 2012, and I was getting ready to go hot tubbing with some new friends I had made. As I walked out of my room, I distinctly felt the Holy Spirit telling me to stay home and spend time with Him. I ignored it, hoping the feeling would go away. But it didn’t go away. I got in my car hoping not to feel it. But I did feel it. I made it to the stop sign at the end of my neighborhood and knew I was fighting conviction. I decided to turn around and sent a text to my friends telling them that I couldn’t make it.

Later on, I found out that the night had gone differently than I had expected. Looking back, I’m glad I wasn’t a part of it. I’m glad I stayed home. I’m glad I followed God’s conviction.

And I wish all my stories ended this way.

Maybe you have a distorted view of conviction. Perhaps, you believe that God’s conviction prevents you from having fun. When in reality, God’s conviction protects you from getting hurt.

You have a good Father. One that knows you better than you know yourself. He also knows your destiny and can see into your future. When you rely on conviction to be your guide, you’ll always experience blessings — even though sacrifice is usually required.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.‘” — Jeremiah 29:11

Maybe you are currently fighting conviction. As you were reading this article, the Holy Spirit was prompting an area of your life that you have been holding back.

I want to encourage you; conviction is an invitation to live your best life — obey it.

— Daniel Maddry

Make Defeat Your Fuel

By Growth

I saw a Gatorade commercial recently. It started with Michael Jordan telling a story of how he missed the varsity basketball team in high school. It’s followed by other well-known players telling their story of failure. The commercial wraps up with Matt Ryan doing drills, he was the quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons who blew the biggest lead in super bowl history and lost to the Patriots.

He said DEFEAT was his FUEL.

If all you do is WIN WIN WIN (insert song here) you won’t have a depth and strength to overcome when the challenging seasons come. And trust me the seasons will come where all you know is DEFEAT and LOSS.

Winning is amazing, I love it. I hate losing but I can tell you from personal experience that my best successes have come from the hardest DEFEATS.

No character in the Bible succeeds without sacrifice or defeat — our lives are no different. The story goes that one of the greatest basketball players of today, Steph Curry, grew up going to games with his Dad, who also happened to be a professional basketball player.

His dad played a few seasons in Toronto. Another great player happened to be on the team, Vince Carter, who will go down in NBA history. Most nights after warm up Vince would play Steph in a game of one on one. He never let Steph win — or score a point.

Now Steph is arguably the best shooter and has changed the game as we know it. I wonder how many of his now victories are found in the defeats of his youth?

I believe it’s the same for you and me — our past defeats aren’t fatal but they are the proving ground for success.

So I agree with Gatorade. Make DEFEAT your FUEL.

— Joel Bennett

This One Truth Will Help You Make Better Decisions

By Spiritual

Several weeks ago while I was traveling, I went to a coffee shop to get some reading done. Once I got seated, a book on the shelf caught my eye. I wondered over and picked it up. Turns out, it was The Cross And The Switchblade by David Wilkerson.

I sat there and read almost the entire book. Nestled between the pages of this book was one of the most incredible stories I had ever heard.

While David Wilkerson was having less than impressive revival services in downtown New York for gang members, he asked one of the notorious leaders to take up the offering. Everyone laughed knowing good and well that the gang leader would take the money and run. But something happened. Right before he was going to leave with the money, he realized that for the first time in his life someone trusted him. And that trust empowered him the young gang leader to not steal the offering. And to listen to the message. And to give his life to Jesus.

His name is Nicky Cruz, and he’s now an international evangelist.

That story of trust made me evaluate my own life.

By nature, I don’t like to be controlled. And I realized that when rules are given to me, I can easily break them, but when trust is given to me, I can’t betray it.

There in the coffee shop, I felt God say to me, “I trust you.

From that moment I felt empowered. Anytime I’ve had to make a hard decision, “I trust you” comes to mind. Anytime I face temptation, “I trust you” comes to mind. Anytime I’m handed responsibility, “I trust you” come to mind.

Consequently, I’ve never felt more empowered to make good decisions and protect the heart of God. I think this is what relationship is all about.

I want to encourage you today. Whatever hard decisions or situations you’re faced with God trusts you, and so do I.

3 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before Going Into Ministry

By Growth

Hey there, I know you probably have no idea who I am. If you are like me, then you are asking yourself, “Who is this guy? What does he have to prove? What can I learn from him?” I totally understand the skepticism and thought process. Honestly, I welcome it and appreciate it. Although there is a part of me that desperately wishes people would see my credibility because God has approved me.

Can you relate? Be honest.

We live in a word where people’s lips say one thing, but their lifestyle say’s something else. I don’t want to be that type of person anymore. I want to be a man that is real, honest, and wise. I want to be real about myself, be honest with others, and be wise with what I share.

To get to know me briefly, I was born and raised in the church. The type of church I was a part of prayed until people started falling down. I was raised in a church with dynamic worship. I am talking about the kind that you sweat during “Deep Cries Out” by Bethel and then bawl your eyes out during “With Everything” by Hillsong.

The same church I grew up in, I was employed at for four years as a Co-Director of Student Ministries to Director of Student Ministries. In Fall of 2017, I got the opportunity to be a part of a global ministry called Elevation Church with Pastor Steven Furtick for eight months. It was such a frustrating, but fruitful time. It’s interesting that most of our fruit or productivity comes from frustration or pain.

My hope isn’t to try and give you three points on how to be successful or build a ministry. I hope to share three areas that I struggled with. Three areas I wish I would have just “got” when I was just starting in ministry. I am still learning and do not have it all figured out, but I hope these lessons can speak to you.

Early on, I was so afraid of people seeing my struggles that they wouldn’t want to follow me. I was so nervous to let people into seeing my weakness. Who wants to follow a weak leader, right? Who wants to go into battle with someone who isn’t bold and courageous? I led out of insecurity and let it get the worst of me. Something I wish I would have done is let people in on my struggle. I am not saying the struggles your supervisor should know, I mean things like administration, consistency, and…hard conversations.

I tried too hard to carry this vibrato of having it all together, but underneath that, I was scared. I was afraid. What if people really knew that I hate when people don’t like me? What if people really knew I want to live in my comfort zone? What if people really knew I don’t like inviting people to church because I am so scared of being rejected?

If you haven’t, don’t be afraid to let people into your struggle. Something I am learning is that people connect to your weaknesses, and are led by your strengths. Be vulnerable!

Accountability is a love/hate relationship. I love that I am held to a standard that is set by my supervisor or me, but I hate when I miss the mark and am reminded I am really not “killing it.” Something I wish I did more wasn’t so much have accountability, but hold others accountable to what they promised me. You know…like telling a volunteer if they show up late again, they will be asked to step into a different role, but you kept extending grace because they were all you had to lead worship. Then you were wondering why all your volunteers are always late and not on time.

If you set a standard, learn to stand on that standard. Do it YOURSELF. If what you are demanding out of others is not set by YOU, then people might begin to question your leadership. If you want to be on time, show up fifteen minutes early. If you don’t hit the standard you set (it’ll happen), own up to that first before you say anything else. Trust me, this builds trust with the people around you!

Don’t forget that you are a local church pastor in some sense. We are never too busy to be interrupted. Get involved in people’s world! They may never step into your world, so why not jump into theirs? Jesus didn’t wait for us to come to heaven, he left heaven to come to us. Therefore, go to their games, presentations, hospital rooms, or anything else to show that you are available. God used Moses because he was available, not because he had a Masters Degree in Theology and Biblical Studies. It’s funny how you see faith work when you actually work it!

My prayer is that these are three things you can learn from me that I have not mastered, but am continually learning. Keep going, youth pastor; you are making a bigger difference than you know!

— Ryan Martinez

One Reason We Fall (And How To Get Back Up)

By Growth

Having arrested Him, they led Him away and brought Him to the house of  the high priest; but Peter was following at a distance.” Luke 22:54

Most of us know the narrative. 

It’s a cold night, and Jesus has just been betrayed by Judas. In an effort to do what is right, Peter follows Jesus as He is being taken away and interrogated. And there, around the comfort of a fire, Peter denies knowing Jesus three times.

The rooster crows. The guilt comes. And Peter runs away weeping bitterly.

Although none of us have been in this exact situation, I feel many of us can identify with Peter. We’re trekking with Jesus daily, maybe even involved in ministry, and seemingly from nowhere, we fail. Maybe we fail miserably. Our instinct is to run and hide. But Jesus teaches us a better a way.

I want to cover two areas of failure that I think we can learn from this story.

1. Why do we fall?

The scriptures say, “but Peter was following at a distance.” I believe that if Peter had been in the same room as Jesus, he wouldn’t have denied Him. And if Jesus would have been sitting around the fire with Peter, he wouldn’t have denied Him.

When you follow Jesus from a distance, you position yourself to fail.

A major key to holiness is living with an awareness that Jesus is with you at all times. And your proximity to following Jesus will directly affect your ability to stand strong in the midst of temptation. 

That’s why I love the promise that Jesus gives the disciples at the last supper, “But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.” John 16:7.

It’s to our advantage to live with the Holy Spirit in us rather than the physical Jesus beside us. There’s never a separation, and the power to walk in righteousness is always there.

2. How do we get back up?

Rather than learning from Peter’s experience, let’s look to Jesus for this one. Jesus prophesied that all would desert Him then immediately says, “But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” This is when Peter speaks up about never denying Him — we all know the story.

Let’s fast forward to the fall, Luke 22:61, “The Lord turned and looked at Peter…” This is when Peter runs away weeping. It would be easy to confuse this look with a, “I told you so” but this look was no doubt one that was full of grace and mercy. The actual character of Jesus. 

Once Jesus is resurrected he says to Mary, “tell the disciples and Peter, I’ve gone ahead of them to Galilee.” Jesus will always look at you with eyes of love and tell you in the midst of your failures, “I’ve gone ahead of you.

  • You messed up big time — Jesus has gone ahead of you.
  • You fell miserably — Jesus has gone ahead of you.
  • You broke your promise to Him — Jesus has gone ahead of you.

So what happens when they meet up at Galilee?

Peter recognizes Jesus on the shore and immediately jumps into the water, clothes and all. He’s no longer satisfied with following at a distance. Once on shore, he has breakfast with Jesus around a new campfire.

And everything is alright.

I want to encourage you. If you’ve failed miserably, Jesus knew and has already gone ahead of you. Close the distance gap and choose to follow him closely.

He’s waiting to see you again, with breakfast.

— Daniel Maddry

Praying Practically

By Prayer, Spiritual

“I’m giving you $630.00 over the next three weeks…”

I stood there amazed by God as she walked away. My hand was clenching what would be the first installment of the money she had promised. More than money, I was holding the answer to a prayer I had been praying over the past week.

See, our church was going through 21 days of prayer and fasting and one seemingly small prayer I had consistently prayed was that God would help me buy tires for my car. It’s not that I had no money. But new tires would definitely have to come out of my savings.

It turns out, after returning my tithes to God I had just enough for the new tires. Thank you, Jesus, for another answered prayer.

I want to set a foundation for this blog.
• God is good and He loves you.
• God enjoys answering prayers.
• No need of yours is too big or small.

Armed with that knowledge you would think that more people would pray regularly. But they don’t. I think it’s partially because praying seems complicated. What do I say? How long do I pray? How do I know He hears me? So I want to give you three keys to praying effectively.

Three Keys To Effective Prayers

1. Pray Privately

Matthew 6:6
6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

If the only time you pray to God is at church and before meals then it’s no wonder you feel defeated. More than not being seen, praying in private allows you to connect with God in a more intimate way. Fruitfulness in your public life stems from intimacy in your prayer life.

Praying privately postures you for honesty and vulnerability, which is the best soil for a true connection with God.

2. Pray Short

Matthew 6:7
7 “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.

Another reason why I think so many people give up on praying is that they spent an hour or two praying about everything once and didn’t see anything change. Because of this, they come to the conclusion that prayer is time-consuming and ineffective — a lie from Satan.

Praying short allows you to clearly communicate your needs to God while not carrying the burden of having to carve out a huge chunk of time.

3. Pray Consistently

Matthew 7:7
7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

This one is the most important of all.

I grew up in the country which means we didn’t buy firewood, we cut it ourselves. The process of cutting firewood isn’t easy, it can be exhausting and defeating. Until you learn a better way. If you strike the wood at the same place long enough it will soon split open with ease. The satisfaction of the split almost seems to cover the labor it took to get there.

Praying consistently creates a rhythm of faith and expectation that allows you to see prayers answered. It also seems to diminish the accumulated hours it took to find resolve and breakthrough in your prayer journey.

I want to encourage you. Don’t buy into the lie that prayer doesn’t work, it’s complicated, or it’s not worth it. Prayer is a privilege and it’s to our advantage to connect with God in an intimate way every day.

Summer 2018: Southeast Conference Guide

By Summer Camp

It’s summertime and for whatever reason, your youth group isn’t signed up for camp! Whether your new on staff or just behind because of the craziness of youth ministry, we’re here to help! If you’re in the southwest here are some camps and conferences that still have spots available!

Wave Student Conference 

  • Location: Austin, Texas
  • Dates: June 13-15, 2018
  • Cost: $119
  • Line Up: Robert Madu, Mosaic MSC, Lisa Bevere, Mark Pettus, Andy Mineo, Joe Champion, Tanner Lee
  • Website:


Gateway Student Conference

  • Location: Southlake, Texas
  • Dates: July 18-20,2018
  • Cost: $90-110 
  • Line Up: Ben Pirtle, Rich Wilkerson Jr, Kari Jobe & Cody Carnes, Bianca Olthoff, Robert Madu, Tedashii, Sadi Robertson
  • Website:


Motion Student Conference  

  • Location: Birmingham, Alabama
  • Dates: July 26-28, 2018
  • Cost: $85-95
  • Line Up: Louie Giglio, Rich Wilkerson Jr, Chad Veach, Charlotte Gamble, John Cameron, Micahn Carter, John Crist, Jackie Hill Perry, Mark Pettus, Chris Hodges, Hillsong Young & Free, Passion, Crowder, Tedashii, Trip Lee, KB
  • Website:

How to Host a Guest That Makes Them Want to Speak for Free

By Guests, Hosting

Have you ever visited a friend, consulted at a company, spoken at an  event and been overwhelmed by how welcomed and valued you felt? That is the result of someone intentionally exercising the art of hosting. Would you like to make your guest, visiting colleague, or guest speaker feel the same way? Here are some tips for being the best host you can be on any budget!

1. Think about your guest’s needs in advance

Take a moment and think about who your guest is, who they are bringing with them, what they are here for, and what difficulties or challenges they might require.

The all popular welcome basket serves (or should serve) an important function. When you are in a hotel room or house that is not your own, grabbing a quick bite or snack can be challenging. A basket of a few snacks, especially if they take into account preferences and allergies, and a bottle of water can be a great way to say, “We are glad you are here!” 

Do they need wifi passcodes? Instead of waiting for them to ask, write the code out on a card and put it in their room. 

Will they be on their own most of the time? Include a list of local attractions, public transport options, or restaurant suggestions. There is nothing like seeing a city through the eyes of a local!

Do they have small children? Borrow a pack-n-play or remember to ask the hotel for a crib. Include snacks for little people or a small toy or book from your city. 

Will they need a way to and from the airport? Plan a ride or make sure they have all the info they need to get where they are going. 

Because you can’t anticipate every need, make sure that you ask questions along the way.  And if it is a corporate event, provide a single person point of contact for any issues that might arise. That will save your guest a lot of stress and will help your guest know in advance it is okay to ask for help sorting the details of their stay. 

2. Over communicate

If you are having an event, the easiest way to do this is to send a detailed agenda of the weekend in advance and then include a copy in the room. Remember to include when your guest will have free time and when there are scheduled events to attend. If some of the events are optional, make sure to mention that as well. 

For a house guest, maybe take the time to draw up your own family schedule or even customs. If you guys all go to bed at 8:30, that would be good information to have at the beginning of the stay! Let your guest know when you will be gone so they can plan their own time accordingly. If you are taking your guest with you to an event, make sure they know what to wear, what to expect, how long it will last, and what (if anything) you expect of them. And if possible, give them a way out in case things feel a little awkward. 

Ask lots of questions! Don’t assume your speaker likes a handheld mike or wants to speak behind a podium. Obviously, if that is your custom, you can communicate that, but if there are options let them know. Ask if something will need to be printed. Ask if they have any questions! So often our guests have questions or issues but feel uncomfortable voicing them because we haven’t given them permission by asking questions ourselves. 

And when you think you are over-communicating, communicate again! 

3. Do the small things

For speakers, put a bottle of water by their chair or provide a quiet space for them to go before the event. Put their name on their seat, so there is no doubt where they are supposed to sit. Double check the pronunciation of their name. Ask if they’d like to show pictures of their kids. Assign someone to them after the event in case they get lost, forget which way the restrooms are, or just need a moment alone. 

For guests in your home, make sure there are fresh linens on the bed and two fluffy towels folded nicely for their use. I remember one friend who kept a suitcase caddy for guests. It made living out of my suitcase so much nicer for the week and reminded me that she really did want me in her home. 

You don’t have to have a million dollars to make your guest feel special. Just do something small. 

4. Go the extra mile

If you really want to be a super host, go the extra mile. Find out their favorite food and make sure you go there to eat. Buy one of their favorite chocolate bars and put it in the welcome basket. 

We had one host who drove us around the city pointing out all the secret things we wouldn’t know as tourists. I fell in love with his city and was so grateful he (literally) went the extra mile. 

5. Follow up

Texting your guest to make sure they arrived at their next destination safely is such an awesome finishing touch. And a handwritten thank you note for the visit is a whole other level of awesome. Followup can make a one-time event into a life-long friendship. 

— Destiny Deas

Destiny Deas is a lawyer, marketer, and co pastor of Northpoint Community Church in Bossier City, Louisiana. Her and her husband Phillip have three girls and live a life of adventure. You can follow Destiny on Instagram at @destinydeas or read more of her articles at

Four Essentials for Effective Campus Ministry

By Evangelism, On Campus

Doing ministry in North American public schools is both a science and an art. There are common denominators among ministries that are successful, but the external factors that govern specific school environments vary greatly. 

For example, some schools or schools districts have strict guidelines and interpretations of federal law regarding religious expression and local church involvement on campus while others adopt a more permissive or casual stance on the same. Additionally, every local school contains a widely varying racial and socio-economic demographic of students. 

In my region of the United States, Christian clubs on school campuses are common. Although rarely do they accomplish much more than meeting together for the sake of meeting. Approximately 20 million of the 25 million teenagers in the US (80%) will attend a public school each weekday in 2018 (, Given that approximately 33% of Generation Z in North America is engaged in a Christian faith community (Barna 2018), I believe that local public schools contain the greatest potential for reaching the remaining nearly 17 million unchurched teens. And without an effective ministry strategy, that potential is wasted.  

Here are four essentials for effective campus ministry that benefit students, schools and the local church.

Essential #1: Passionate Student Leadership

While some campus ministry does function consistently with adult leadership, federal law does not protect any free speech or exercise of religion in public schools except for that of students. The Equal Access Act of 1984 provides the same right to Christian clubs as that of other extracurricular clubs in public schools, but only if they are student-led and student-initiated. While this may sound inconvenient, isn’t this how we are supposed to go about the Great Commission of Matthew 28? Aren’t we more effective as student pastors when we equip our students to evangelize and do the work of ministry? Effective campus ministry will fail without student leaders who genuinely love God and share His heart for the nations. 

In order to build a ministry on the shoulders of students, those students must exhibit some level of desire and competency for the joy and responsibility of leading their peers. While faculty and non-school persons are not given the right universally to lead religious clubs in public schools, clubs do need a faculty sponsor and a meeting location with permission by the school.

Essential #2: A Clear Strategy

Out of these four essentials, a clear strategy for campus ministry is the only thing that we often lack for measurable results. Great strategies arise from asking the right questions: 

  • What is the overall goal? 
  • How will this goal be achieved? 
  • How can we empower student leaders to lead, invest relationally in their unchurched peers, and accurately articulate the message of the gospel? 
  • How can we construct a pathway from our local school to our local church? 

A clear strategy makes all the difference. One excellent organization that exists to assist Christian students and local churches with an effective evangelism strategy in middle and high schools is First Priority of America ( Their strategy and potential partnership is worth exploring for any student ministry worker.

Essential #3: Resources for Implementation

Just like our weekly church programs require resources to implement, so does campus ministry. While students must provide club leadership themselves, churches can support that leadership with resources. 

Does the club require food, bibles, or a sound system? 

After providing some basic needs for club operation, the next step is making training and curriculum resources easily accessible to student leaders. One way First Priority does this is by providing the First Priority of America app, making most of their resources available in one place for students to download on their smartphones. 

Essential #4: A Local Church Connection

Campus clubs obviously need student leaders and resources, but there is another reason why a local church connection to campus ministry is essential. Without the partnership of a local church, students who are evangelized on campus may not make the transition to long-term discipleship and integration into a faith community of God’s design. 

Often, when campus ministries decide to remain independent of local churches, they end up competing with churches for the same students, events, and resources rather than working together for the Kingdom. 

The partnership between campus ministry and the local church will work best and be most sustainable when both of the parties mutually benefit from the relationship. Speaking of mutual benefit, campus ministry also benefits the Kingdom most when multiple churches partner together, combining student leaders, resources, and options for new believers to find a church to attend. This means that student pastors must lay down their pride, build trust, work together, and refuse to dominate the realm of ministry in the community. 

Unity isn’t optional when doing mission work and we are better together. 

If your student ministry does not officially have an evangelism strategy for the local public school, I encourage you to begin praying about what the strategy of your ministry should look like in the future. Pray for direction, cast the vision, empower and equip students to lead, and finally, implement.

— Phillip Cole

Phillip Cole is a communicator and director of First Priority ArkLaTex in Shreveport, La. He and his wife have two boys and love doing ministry together. You can follow Phillip on Instagram at @phillip.cole or learn more about their organization at

Don’t Do Youth Ministry Alone

By Community

I was talking with another youth pastor recently about ministry and being in community, and he said something I won’t soon forget. 

I don’t want to be the LeBron James of youth ministry. I want to be the Golden State Warriors. 

Whether you’re a fan or not, the Golden State Warriors seem to play basketball differently. They have assembled a lineup of all-stars. And they’re better because of it — who doesn’t want to be on a team like that?

In youth ministry, we can try so hard to build our brand, our ministry, and get our name out there that we forget that we’re better together.

There are weights you carry that only another youth pastor can understand. There are problems you face that only another youth pastor can walk you through. Instead of trying to carry the weight of youth ministry on your shoulders, like LeBron James did the Cleveland Cavaliers, try teaming up with another all-star in your community.

You can start by reaching out to other churches in your city. Send an email or make a call to get in touch with the youth pastor. Set up a time to grab lunch or a coffee — take some time to sit face to face and learn their story.

Before you ask any questions about ministry size, philosophy or service flow, find out who this person is. 

  • Where do they come from, do they have a family?
  • What makes them tick, what are their likes and dislikes?
  • What are some recent wins that you can celebrate with them? 
  • What are some hard things they’re walking through so you can pray for them? 

If nothing about youth ministry comes up in that first conversation that’s okay! You need people in your corner who understand you before they understand your ministry.

As youth pastors, we also need to continue growing and helping others grow. I believe there are two types of ministry relationships that you need in your city:

  1. Youth pastors who are further down the road than you are.
  2. Youth pastors who can look up to you. 

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in ministry, find someone who is doing it differently than you and learn from them. Bring in some young youth pastors as well; they have new ideas and fresh perspectives. Before you know it, you’ve got a few youth pastors you can invite to lunch one day where friendship and unity can happen naturally.

We weren’t made to live life on an island. God didn’t ask us to build our kingdom. He’s called us to build His Kingdom. We are better together, and together we can see the gospel transform the lives of young people in our cities. 

When youth pastors are willing to stop competing against one another and begin competing alongside one another, the church of today and tomorrow wins. When we team up youth ministry all-stars that transcend denomination, size, and background, the world takes notice! 

So before the day is done, get outside of your comfort zone, pick up the phone, send that email, or slide into those DMs — whatever you have to do to connect with other youth pastors around you!

To check if there is already an active network of youth pastors in your city, visit

— Danny Tuxhorn

Danny Tuxhorn is the youth pastor at Christian Life Cathedral in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He helps to coordinate a network of youth pastors from around Northwest Arkansas to help them make friendships, grow, and unify for the glory of God. He can be reached at or on social media @dannytuxhorn.