youth ministries

The Youth Pastors Gift Guide 2013




At youth ministry media, we love two things: lists and gifts.

Honestly, I am addicted to any holiday list out there.   Some of my favorite places to see lists and stuff are uncrate and gizmodo.

Here are some posts that are upcoming, and will feature some awesome resources you might have missed this past year.  We want to make these lists this year practical, and a way to really encourage you and your youth ministry.

Here are the things that we are going to hit this year. 

1. Tech Gear

2. Books

3. Organizational

Here are a few ways you can use this list!  

You can use this list as a guide.  If you are like me, you probably need some help shopping for leaders.  I hope that you are thinking about your leaders this Christmas.  I love to get all my leaders something personal.  It means that you have taken the time to think and pray for your leaders.

You can forward this list on.  Sometimes people don’t know what to get the youth worker who has everything.  If someone dropped off a can of chalkboard paint to my office, I would be thrilled.  Also, I would love any book on Spurgeon, or any old dead guy.

Last year, I dropped hints that I would love a new Bible, and my lead pastor hit a huge home run with a vintage leather bound ESV.  I love preaching out of that Bible.   It is a great gift.  He showed me how to be generous last year, and how that will affect you and people in your youth ministry.

You can be thankful.  We are blessed to have so much stuff.  When I look around my youth ministry I have a ton of junk.  It is sick, and next week I have the awesome privilege of throwing a ton of it out.  How often do you look at your youth room, church, and office and are thankful that you have those things.

I am thankful every time I shut my office door to get focused work done.  I am thankful for being able to use the gifts and talents that God has given me.  I am thankful that I don’t need any of this stuff to do ministry, but it can help me do ministry more efficiently.

If you have any books, leader gift ideas, tech, any other gift ideas please leave a comment below.  Thanks for reading.  

Teens Cell Phone Usage [infographic]

How do you deal with phones during a youth night?  That is a great question that has been generating some discussion in my circles.  Some youth pastors I know, recommend taking all the phones and putting them in a basket until the end of the night.  Other youth workers have tried only to never see that student return.

If I am honest, I am always on my phone.  It is an extension of myself.  We have to learn how to engage students with their mobile phones, and make it a part of the journey.  This could be as easy as recommending that your students read the Bible on an app instead of bringing a paper Bible.  It could mean using a text message system.  We have to do a better job of reaching students on their mobile phones.

Here is an infographic called: Those phone crazy teens.  Here are a few things that stand out to me.  

1. 75% of 12-17 year olds have a phone.  This begs the question for me…do you have a text message system you use?  We use a program called, but there are tons of programs out there.  If I could mass communicate with 75% of my students, and I would be able to know that 100% of those messages go through, I would get that service today.

2. Teens read a ton of texts.  I am tired of hearing that this generation never reads.  I you really think about it, almost all of your students read a lot.  They actually read the equivalent of 1400 pages a month.  That is great.  It might not be War & Peace, but at least teenagers today are reading!

3. 70% of students have received a text from someone they didn’t know.  This is the stat that freaks me out.  I don’t know if teenagers know how to deal with people who randomly text them.  I have had to deal with teenagers in the past who have received a random text only to be manipulated into something.  We need to help teenagers be bold with their phones, and if they don’t know someone, they need to tell them to beat it.

Those  are a few things that stand out to me.   What else stands out?  

teens cellphone usage

3 Programs That You Need




What are your go to programs?  Do you use any extra programs on your mac or pc?  

I am always on the look out for programs.  I recently updated my mac pro to os x mavericks, and I am loving it.  You can read my thoughts on os x mavericks on this post called, ” First Thoughts On Mavericks OS X“.

I am constantly looking for new programs that could help make my computer faster, more efficient, and just easier to use.  Here are 3 programs that you need right now if you own a Mac.  Disclaimer: I don’t own anything pc…sorry.

3 Programs that will make your life easier: 

The first program is called Hyperdock.  This is my favorite program right now.  It gives you the features that should be packaged with mavericks.  I don’t know how I lived without it.   Here is what it does.

You can hover over an application in your dock, and it will give you a preview of what you have opened.  If you hover over iTunes, you can change the song.  Wondering what your schedule is like for today?  Just hover over the calendar application and it will show you all your appointments.  How great is that?

hyperdock application for youth ministry


The feature that I absolutely love is the ability to resize your window by dragging it to the corner of the screen to have it take up 25% of the screen.  I love being able to have to windows open on half the screen.  It is really easy, and all you do is grab the window and drag.

Love this application!

The next program that you need is air mail.  I don’t like mac mail.  It is a weird program to use, it is clumsy to navigate around, and has a layout that needs to be spruced up.  Air mail is what mac mail should look like.

You can sync any email account to it.  It is easy to switch back and forth from each account, or you can just click all accounts.  I love being able to switch between accounts easily.

Air mail fully integrates dropbox and any gmail shortcuts!  This is an amazing, fast, email program that looks awesome.

I will never go back.  At a $1.99 how can you go wrong?

air mail email program review


Onyx is a computer saving program.  If you ever wonder why your mac is slowing down over time, you need to install and run Onyx.  

I have used this program for years, and here is a write up from their website, “OnyX is an all-in-one system maintenance tool and optimizer. It is a very simple and light application that comes with a variety of maintenance tools that can be run to make sure that you are enjoying your system at its fullest.”

Onyx is a free program that will help get your computer back to the fast speed it needs to run at.  Especially, if you have installed mavericks, and your computer isn’t running faster.

Here are my 3 favorite new programs for my mac.  What other new programs are you loving?  

The Unofficial Guide To Canadian Youth Workers Convention




What conferences do you go to each year?  

I am off this weekend to Canadian Youth Workers Convention.  It is going to be an awesome weekend of relaxing, learning, and hanging out.  Some of the sessions I am looking forward to this weekend are: Ministry on Campus: Engaging Students in an Increasingly Hostile Culture by Geoff Stewart, Creating and Casting a Vision that Captures the Hearts of Students, The 21st Century Exodus by Danielle Strickland, and A Theological Response to the Six Burdens Driving Youth Ministries with Dave Overholt.  If you are from Canada and read this blog please find me, I would love to connect with you over coffee, or just hangout.

Here are a few things I am looking forward to this weekend and what I look forward to at each conference I go to:

1. Sleeping in.  It is going to be nice to sleep in past the usual 6am wake up that my kids feel like is necessary torture.  It will be awesome to stay up late with friends talking about life and ministry, and it is equally awesome to sleep in later in the morning.

2. Hanging out with friends.  I love meeting new people, or seeing friends that I haven’t seen in awhile.  This is a great time of just sharing life.  I facebook my friends to make sure that there is lots of opportunity to hangout during the weekend.  These moments with friends have been impactful for me, and have encouraged me to continue on in ministry.  Take moments, and create margin for for people.

3. Buying a moleskine and take a ton of notes.  I want dedicated moleskines for different conferences, so when I come back after it won’t be lost in a ton of other random pages.  I love being able to go back on the shelf and dig out notes to look over.  Another alternative is to use a book like ecosystem notebooks that you can tear off and scan in after the conference to evernote.  I love having everything on evernote.  I would love to use my iPad, but I hate taking notes on the stupid thing with my stylus.  It never works right!!!

4. Eating great food.  I love being able to find awesome restaurants and  splurging a big on a few really great meals.  There are some great dinners for 2 over at travelzoo.   I might see if a few people will buy some with me, and go for a awesome meal out one night.  Meat & Bread is also a must go to restaurant.

I also love being able to drink some of the best coffee in the world.  One coffee shop you will want to hit up is JJ Bean.  Nothing better that an americano that isn’t made with burnt coffee beans (sometimes I am a coffee snob!).


This is going to be an awesome weekend.  I know that God has big things in store for us.  I would love to connect over the weekend.  You can find out more about me on this page.  See you at Canadian National Youth Workers Convention!

3 Ways To Redeem Halloween

Last year I did an outreach in my church called Hallowfest.  It was a way of using culture to redeem the holiday for Christ.  It was a hit, and we saw 20 student come to Christ(exciting!).  Before the two events (jr.high and sr.high) we had  comments from parents, and people that we shouldn’t be supporting the “devils day”.  Not being raised in the church, and not accepting Christ until I was in grade 10 gave me a different understanding of Halloween.  One that is all about candy.  That is what it was about for a sinner like me…and to be honest it is still about the candy!  I have been thinking lately  how Christians give so much credit to something that has already been overcome by Christ.

I found an article on the resurgences called, “what Christians should know about halloween”(for some reason it was taken down this year), and I would send it to people who wondered why we wanted to use Halloween to tell students about Jesus.  I stumbled across this excellent article this year on Justin Holcomb’s blog called, ” what christians should know about halloween“.  It is worth the read, and I love his last statement, “Perhaps instead of fleeing the darkness in fear, we should view Halloween as an opportunity to mock the enemy whose power over us has been broken.”

For the past two years we have worked hard to redeem halloween and use it as an opportunity to tell students about Jesus.

Here are three ways we redeem it: 

1. We plan attractional events.  We want to see tons of new students that don’t go to church, or have never been to church.  Last thursday we ran an event for Jr.Highers, and one for Sr.Highers on Friday.  It was a crazy week, but it is worth seeing lives transformed.  For the past two years we have rented a old run down hall, decorated it, and have thrown an huge party.  There are prizes, games, food, and so much more.  It is two crazy night.

2. We clearly explain the gospel, and how to accept it.  At our event we share the gospel in a simple way that allows students to accept it for the first time and follow Christ.  The first year we did these events we saw students come to Christ, and then discipled for the next 8 weeks.  Some of these teens are on my student leadership team because of this event.  Gets me so excited just talking about it.

3. We engage in the community.  We want our church to be in the community handing out candy, or taking their kids to get candy.  We want to love on our neighbours.  My kids will be handing out candy because we want to know the neighbours next door.

Justin Holcomb shows the need to engage with our culture when he states, “There should be no pressure to participate, but for those Christians whose conscience permits we should view it as an opportunity to engage wisely with our culture.”  We have a great opportunity to reach students and their parents this halloween.  My hope and prayer is that you wouldn’t reject it this year, but you would redeem it.


Freebie Friday: Death To Stock Photos

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Are you looking for photos to use on a youth night, or for a blog post?  

If you are, we have a website that we just found called Death to the Stock Photo.

The beauty of this website is that they email you monthly high-res photos that you can use for free on anything.  How great is that?  We have received only one email, and it was great.  We are looking forward to getting this gift each month of free stock photos.

Check out Death to the Stock Photo here

One Simple Way To Blow Up Your Facebook Page




What is the best way to increase the profile of your youth ministry facebook page?

That is the question that a lot of youth workers are asking.  How can we engage student online, and on facebook.  I know that facebook is slowly dying (or at least all the reports/infographics say that!), but my intern and I stumbled across the simplest way to get tons of people to engage with your facebook page.  It took almost no money, and a few hours to setup, get supplies, but it brought people to our facebook page.

Last spring  we decided it would be a great idea to set up a photo booth, and take photos for a youth night.  The response was crazy.  Everyone made the photos that we took  that night as their profile pictures on facebook.  It was a success, and we started to plan how to make it better the next time.

On our kickoff night this past September we created a duck dynasty photo booth, and it was a hit.  It took a facebook page with 122 likes to reach over 1,400 people.  It is awesome to know that all the students that come out to our youth group were sharing the images with friends, and family.  It also created a buzz in the community about what is happening in my youth ministry.  We are going to do this a few times a year, usually at our big events!

Have you ever done a photo booth?  It is relatively easy to build/setup.  Here are a few tips.

Here is how you can create a duck dynasty photo booth this week! 

1. Get a camouflage backdrop.  We just tacked it to the wall, but if you can’t do that here is a link on how to build a custom backdrop stand.  The stand will set you back $10 or so, but you will have it for ever.

2. Get a decent camera.  Honestly, if you have someone with an iPhone 5, that will do.  We have someone with  Nikon d800 and with a pro flash, so that the photos turn out really nice.  Test the photos first!

3. Purchase and print off the duck dynasty cutouts.  You can purchase them here.  You could make your own like us, but buying a cutout is pretty easy.

4. Post all the photos on your facebook page, and get everyone to tag people.  It is amazing how quickly this explodes a facebook page.  We will still get people liking photos a year later.  This is one simple and effective way to blow up your facebook page.

What are you waiting for?  Create this today.  Your students will love it.  We would love to see what you did with your photo booth.  Either leave a comment below, or share an image on our facebook page of what you did.


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Growing Up With Technology [infographic]

Here is another awesome infographic.  This is talking about how kids are growing up in a digital world.  The students I work with are almost only living in a digital world of selfies, and likes.  It is changing the way a generation connects with each other.   Here are a few things that stand out:

1. 10% of teens say that social media makes them more depressed.  This is a staggering stat.  Technology isn’t supposed to replace relationships, but for a lot of teenagers today they are replacing the real relationship with a digital one.  Teenagers are building identities in a digital world on likes, and follows.  They are more likely to be unhappy in a digital world.  

2. 51% of teens have been bullied online.  This stat gets me every time.  I wish more parents were filtering the content of their kids.  This is one stat that needs to change.

I had a student recently that was being bullied and he posted what the bully said for the whole world to see.  It was pretty humbling, and shocking what people are comfortable to say to each other when there isn’t a consequence.

3.  72% closely monitor their students behaviour.  This really encourages us.  We need to see more parents involved, and connected to what their students are doing online.  This will always be something that the parents will be playing catch up on.  This is where the youth worker can bridge the gap, and help the parent navigate the digital world.

 What else stands out to you?  Please leave a comment below.  


Freebie Friday: Spring and Summer Planning Calendar




Have you been enjoying the free printable youth pastor material?   You can see all of it at, The Printable Youth Pastor Series .  It has been a blast creating all these free resources that youth pastors will use.  I was a little surprised how many youth pastors nerd out over planning resources!  Eventually, I would love to make a legit youth ministry calendar like Nue Year.

I hope that you are looking at your spring and summer calendar.  I like to pencil everything in at the beginning of the year, and allow room for changes on the fly.  I very rarely have my last few events locked in, because it is always nice to be able to plan something that has purpose for the group and the students that will be in my youth ministry this year.

Here are the planning calendars.  Enjoy!

Download the January calendar here

Download the February calendar here

Download the March calendar here

Download the April calendar here

Download the May calendar here

Download the June calendar here

Download the July calendar here

Download the August calendar here

I hope this year you stay focused, and organized for the glory of God! 

How to deal with your email




How many emails do you get a day?

I get a ton of emails everyday.  I used to leave my email program open all day and deal with them as they came up.  I always felt that this was a huge waste of time, and I could be doing other productive things.  I know a lot of youth pastor friends who are bombarded by emails. If you don’t have a plan on how to deal effectively with emails, you can easily become controlled by them.

Here are a few simple tips that we have developed for dealing with email.

Use a program to organized your email.  We like to use mailbox app.  Before I ever answer an email, I organize it.  Mailbox is a great app that at the swipe of your finger you can delete it, archive it, put the email into a list, or make a reminder to answer it later.  I love this program, and it has truly become a time saver if used in the right way.  One of my friends already has ditched the app because the novelty has worn off.  Mailbox is my personal email assistant.

We have set up lists for the email to go.  Every morning when I check my email, the email needs to go somewhere.  I have multiple lists, and a few of them are, urgent, personal, youth ministry, church, youth ministry media.  Making lists of my email makes it easier to quickly deal with the most important emails.

Schedule when you are going to answer emails.  A few summers ago I was reading the The 4-Hour Workweek, and Tim Ferris suggested to only answer emails twice a day.  He suggested 11am and 4pm.  I tried this and personally it didn’t work for me.  So, here is what I do now.  When I get to the office at 9am I organize my emails for 5-10 minutes.  I deal with my emails from 10-11am if needed.  And then at 4pm I organized again with mailbox app and check for important emails, or reschedule them for the next day.  I am not a slave to my emails, and I will get to them within 2-3 hours.  If people need to get ahold of me, they will text me.

How do you deal with your email?  How to you make sure that you aren’t controlled by your email? 

Freebie Friday: November and December Planning Calendar




We have been doing a series called The Printable Youth Pastor Series.  It is a ton of free planning calendars and pdf’s to help you and your youth ministry.

We are going to release one page calendars for free for each month from September 2013 to August 2014. Each friday we will give away 2 months.

Here is what you get with the one month printable planning calendar:

1. Tons of room.  This is like the Fall Planning Calendar or the Spring/Summer Youth Ministry Planning Calendar , but for each month you have a whole page.  Lots of room to write notes, and jot down ideas.

2. Monthly 2 to do list.  I don’t know if you use to do lists, but you really should.  I use an online program called things.  I personally use this one, and I love it.  If you don’t use a program, build a monthly list with this printable resource.  Build a list and check it off!

3. Spot for next month at the bottom.  I love being able to plan for the next month.  At the bottom, I have a space that is broken into two sections.  You can make notes, or a list for the following month.

That is the simple planning calendar!  Enjoy friends.  Have an awesome weekend.  Get your planning on.



Download the November calendar here

Download the December calendar here

Freebie Friday: September & October Planning Calendar




We have been doing a series called The Printable Youth Pastor Series.  It is a ton of free planning calendars and pdf’s to help you and your youth ministry.

We are going to release one page calendars for free for each month from September 2013 to August 2014. Each friday we will give away 2 months.

Here is what you get with the one month printable planning calendar:

1. Tons of room.  This is like the Fall Planning Calendar or the Spring/Summer Youth Ministry Planning Calendar , but for each month you have a whole page.  Lots of room to write notes, and jot down ideas.

2. Monthly 2 to do list.  I don’t know if you use to do lists, but you really should.  I use an online program called things.  I personally use this one, and I love it.  If you don’t use a program, build a monthly list with this printable resource.  Build a list and check it off!

3. Spot for next month at the bottom.  I love being able to plan for the next month.  At the bottom, I have a space that is broken into two sections.  You can make notes, or a list for the following month.

That is the simple planning calendar!  Enjoy friends.  Have an awesome weekend.  Get your planning on.



Download the september calendar here

Download the october calendar here

How media is affecting kids. [infographic]

Here is our weekly infographic.  We love infographics, and it is an easy way to communicate information in a way that is simple to understand.  This weeks infographic is about how media today is affecting kids.  It is changing an entire generation, the questions is how is it changing the kids today.

 Here are a few things that stand out: 

1. 59% of teachers say that media is affecting their students face-to-face contact.  Either we understand and control media, or we let media control us.  According to this infographic the students that we are serving are losing the media battle.  Instead of media extending relationships, it could easily try to replace them.  We need to learn from parents and teachers and partner with them.  This is how we work with students today in a digital world.

2. 73% percent of parents who would like to limit their children’s TV watching.  Why can’t they?  They could just turn the TV off and tell them to get outside.  For some reason parents today are not willing to cut their students off from media, or give them an allowance of time online.

A family that I worked with at my last church set up a timer each day for their kids.  Each kid had 1.5 hours a day online.  It never seemed like enough, but it was.  It forced the students to face-to-face contact with their parents and peers.

Parents need help, and we can be the people to help them navigate the digital world.

What stands out from that infographic for you? Leave a comment below.  


how media is affecting kids




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Free August Planning Calendar

Check out this free printable youth pastor planning calendar for august 2013

Check out this free printable youth pastor planning calendar for august 2013


We love the interaction on twitter.  This past week we released a ton of content to help you organized your 2013/2014 calendar over on the blog post called: The Printable Youth Pastor Series.   We want to help your youth ministry any way possible.

What happened was a youth pastor twitter friend tweeted us.

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We had no idea that people in youth ministry wanted or could use an august 2013 planning calendar.  We had already developed a template  and we whipped up a August 2013 planning calendar.

Here is the one page layout that we are going to do for every month in 2013 and 2014.  We will be releasing fall/winter on friday, and then the following friday we will release spring/summer 2014.

We love your feedback and that is what makes us do what we do.   We are all about youth workers.



Download the august 2013 youth pastor planning calendar here.   

Freebie Friday: 5 days a week planning sheet



How do you plan out your week?  

I used to plan out my week on sunday evenings for 20 minutes.  I found that I was most effective all week if I sat down on a sunday night a book up my evening.  I would print off 20 of these on card stock and fill one out on a sunday night.  The next morning I would stick the weekly layout on my desk as a mouse pad with Scotch Restickable Glue Stick (I love this stuff!).

The best part is if someone called for a meeting, I could look at my week and pencil them in.  I love planning and looking at my week.

Here is the free 5 day a week calendar from youth ministry media.  Enjoy!

Download Here

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