Why I Am Not The Best Youth Pastor For Your Teen

I’d like to confess something to you. It’s a dangerous confession, but one I think you need to hear.  I’m not the best youth pastor for your teenager. That’s right, there is someone much more qualified, better equipped, and who has exceedingly more influence over your teen than me. At this point, some of you are thinking, “Duh, Brandon, I’ve seen you at work and figured that out a long time ago.” First, thanks for the encouragement. Second, let me be clear, I’m not talking about making an upgrade at my position. So who is the mystery person I’m talking about?

Big reveal: you. You are the best youth pastor your kid will ever have. Let me explain by breaking it down numerically. I get your kid for about 48 hours a year, for some of them it will be a little more, some will be alittle less.  Parents, on the other hand, spend thousands of hours a year with their children. Your student will be in our ministry for 6 years, he or she will be in your house for 18.  Your son is not coming back to my house for Thanksgiving after graduation. Your daughter is not calling me for more money. You and your kids are tied together for a lifetime. You, as a parent, have enormous long-term impact on the direction of your kid’s life, much more than any pastor.

Its not just the numbers, either, The Bible actually places the responsibility of discipling the next generation, not on the church (or any religious instituion), but on the family. Deuteronomy 6:5-7 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Wow! The most influential person in your child’s life is you. Maybe you’ve never thought of yourself as a spiritual leader to your family. Maybe you are more of the ‘drop them off at church and hope something good rubs off on them’ kinda guy. My prayer is that you will embrace your position as your kid’s best youth pastor and lead them well. The good news is that it is never too late to begin spiritually investing in your family.

for His fame,


Speaking to People Who Aren’t There

One key step to great preaching is knowing your audience. I can’t tell you how many times my Bieber jokes have fallen flat or my application steps were off base, simply because I didn’t think through who my audience was. A few months ago, I filled in on a Sunday morning for our senior pastor. One of our morning services is predominently older church members. My Lord of the Rings illustration, predictably, bombed. Bad idea.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to speak not just to my audience, but to the audience I want to have. In other words, speak to people who aren’t actually present in the room. I know, weird, right? But here is why, as a student pastor, I think this is extremely important.
I want to set an environment that is conducive to my students bringing friends. I want my students to leave thinking, “I need to get my lost friend here, because that message would have been perfect for him.” But if my students don’t think that my messages will apply to their friends who don’t know Jesus, then they won’t have much incentive to bring them. They’ll leave thinking, “My friend wouldn’t get this at all… it must not be for her.”
Here is the thing, often the environment will trump the message. I could speak every week about my students bringing other students, but if my students think their friend will be embarrassed by what I talk about then they aren’t going to bring them.  If they think that their friend won’t connect with the message, they won’t bring them. Or worse, they might never even think about bringing their friends simply because the environment doesn’t facilitate it. Think about taking a vegetarian on a date to Outback. Who would bring a vegetarian to Outback? Exactly, why? Because the those two things don’t fit together.
Listen, I’m not saying drop the Jesus message and talk about One Direction for 25 minutes. I am saying that we need to think through who could be in the room and make sure our messages connect with them. We need to make sure we clearly present the Gospel and not assume people know it. We need to address real problems that real students have.
So I have to preach to people that aren’t in the room yet. The last thing I want is for my students to leave thinking, “Boy, am I glad I didn’t bring my friend who needed to hear about Jesus today.” I want them to trust that when they take a risk to invite their friends, that I will do my very best to make sure I teach the Bible so that their friend can connect with it.

Why Small Groups Are For Parents, Too

I love our small groups! I tell my leaders all the time that I believe small groups are the most crucial aspect of our student ministry. Don’t get me wrong I love teaching students the Bible every Wednesday night, but I’ve come to see that small groups make a much bigger impact than anything I could ever say from the stage. As a parent I think in a strange way that our small groups are also for you. What I mean is that your kid attending a weekly small group will actually benefit your relationship with your student. Here are a few reasons why I believe that.

1. We teach our small group leaders to partner with parents. Our goal is not to work against you, but to work alongside you. Our small group leaders want to be another encouraging voice in the life of your student. You want the best for your student, so do we. As a parent, if you think a little help in guiding your child would be a great thing, then our small groups are for you.
2. Small Groups teach students about relationships. This generation of students is more connected via technology than previous generations, but they also feel more isolated. A small group is a great place to help your student learn how to develop great relationships over time. I think most parents want healthy peer relationships for their kids, which is one of our goals in our small groups, too.
3. Small Group Leaders are clutch in crisis situations. When a crisis hits your kid’s life, having a caring adult who is there for them and willing to listen to them is crucial. Its a great comfort to know your student has a great encourager in their corner when life gets messy. But you know those types of relationships are built over time, so having your student actively involved in a small group prior to the crisis is the key.
4. Small Group Leaders talk about Jesus. I believe (and I hope you do, too) that the most significant relationship in your student’s life is his/her relationship with Jesus. In fact, I believe that relationship influences all of our other relationships. The best thing for your relationship with your student is for them to have a growing relationship with Jesus.  Priority number one for small group leaders is to point your student to Jesus.
So, these are just a few of the many reason why I think that small groups are beneficial for parents, too. I know you’re busy. I know you’re family schedule is nuts. I know your student has homework, school activities, and traveling whatever. But I think small groups are important enough for you to make time for Wednesday nights, 715-800. If you need to make a choice, skip The Link, skip my teaching, skip worship, or skip summer camp to make time for small groups. I honestly believe small groups make more impact on our students lives than anything else we do. To register your student for a small group click here.
If you are a parent who loves your kid’s small group leader, please post a comment below and tell us why.

DiscipleNow Prayer Partner Instructions

First, thanks for being a prayer partner for DiscipleNow 11//Awaken. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” We believe that God is going to work as we prayer together for our students this weekend. So thank you for being apart of what God is doing in the hearts of our students.

I’d like to share a few instructions with you regarding exactly what you’re be doing.

1. We will (or already have) sent you a text message with a list of student’s by first name, and their cell phone numbers. Please delete those names and numbers after the weekend is over.
2. Send the students on the list a text message that introduces yourself (first name only) and let them know that you will be praying for them the entire weekend.
3. Feel free over the weekend to text the students and let them know that you are praying for them. You can send them any encouraging words, or verses.  Three texts is probably a good number for the weekend (You can definitely send more)
4. Don’t become a distraction by having lengthy conversations with the students. Again, the purpose is to encourage them. If they have some questions or issues they want to talk about please direction them to their leader.

Here is a brief schedule of the weekend, so that you will know what is going on while you’re praying.

7:00pm-830pm Corporate Worship & Host Home Meet and Greet, Text

7:00 pm-11:59pm  Bible Studies in Host Homes

8:30am Students Having Devotional Time
10:45am Corporate Worship
12:30pm Lunch @ CBC
2:00-5:30 Bible Studies in Host Home, Free Time
7:30pm Corporate Worship
10:30pm Bible Study in Host Home

9:00am – Students in 9am Worship Service
10:30am-Student Testimony Service in Youth Room

Thanks again! If you have any questions feel free to contact me, brandon@centralalive.org.


Lead Like a Pharisee

In Matthew 21 Jesus tells the Pharisees a parable about an owner of a vineyard, who rents his land out to some tenants.  The agreement seems to be that the tenants will work the land, harvest the grapes, and the press the grapes and the land owner will get a cut.  When the land owners sends some servants to collect his cut, the tenants run them off and even kill one.  The land owner sends more servants with the same result. Finally, he sends his son, yet the tenants kill him also.  Jesus then asks the Pharisees what the land owner should do, and they respond that he should kill those tenants and get some better tenants.

And then, the ah-ha moment happens and the Pharisees realize that Jesus is talking about them.  They are the ones who refuse God’s authority by rejecting God’s servants, like John the Baptist, and ultimately by rejecting His Son, Jesus.  Needless, to say they are pretty hacked off that Jesus totally embarrassed them and decided to find a way to get him arrest.  But the Bible says there was a problem, “And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet” (Matthew 21:46). The Pharisees were scared to act because they were scared of what people might think or do.

Here is “leading like a Pharisee” principle one, be overly concerned with what other people think.  The Pharisees were controlled by their fear of the crowd.  They were deathly afraid of public opinion.  In fact, their entire lives were centered around making sure they looked good in front of crowds.  They prayed loudly to draw attention to themselves, they obeyed the letter of the law when people were looking, they wanted everyone to know how much money they gave, and they drew attention to their good behavior.  But, their leadership style was based out of fear, because there is only one way to live when your life revolves around people’s perception of you – constantly afraid of looking bad in front of others.  Everything they did was to maintain the appearance of righteousness and leadership.

You and I can fall into this trap, too.  Focusing too much on how other people perceive us will lead to trouble every time and it will prevent us from leading effectively.  We all have areas of leadership,from families to jobs to ministry. If we get caught in what people think, then we are destined for failure.  Instead, lead out of a confidence in Our Father.  Our goal should be to honor and obey God above all else and when we’re placing him first, then what others think will be much less important.  When we seek God first, we can be confident that He will provide for us every step of the way, no matter what others perceive.

Lead well this week.