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Recently you and Brian Wangler mentioned a Reggie Joiner sermon using shopping carts. Anyway you can link me up to this? All in a small town of about 2, people. I have to say the suggestions Carey makes are exactly right, if you want to see your church grow you have to be willing to make some changes. Carey, I just heard you speak at the Activate Conference and really enjoyed it. Can you break down the strategy piece a little? What is your strategy?

Have you written some posts on it? I know you use Deep and Wide, but can you give an example of some of your strategy? I pastor a church in academia, near to Harvard called Journey Church. We are clear on our mission and vision and somewhat clear on strategy but this is the piece I could use the most help on. Thank you Carey. Thank you for always sharing. You just covered chapter of my book for me. Great Essay. What is most interesting and telling, is this compulsion to bring other people into your delusional fantasy world.

The poor deluded Christians never stop trying to effect change with their incantations…er, I mean prayers. Right on. Obviously in some small communities there are churches under I was very involved in many activities and in leadership roles at our church. In the past two years I have witnessed much of what you recommend in this article executed at our church. Some of this shift also has to do with my perception of your general approach, which I suspect has been utilized nearly point-for-point at our church. This formula can be seen as very cynical and corporate-like numbers crunching.

Furthermore, some may become disenfranchised not just with their current church, but with organized religion as a whole, which is where I feel I am now. And those numbers represent real people on a journey together, and who experience ups and downs. Just one perspective. I actually lives through these principles and led a church through change.

Many stayed with it throughout. Many more people are in a relationship with Jesus because of it. This is not a cynical ploy to manipulate people. He wants some solid scripture to back it up. A member church, among dozens of other member churches in a community of less than 4, is NOT a dying church. The article sounds more like someone from Hollywood trying to make his MBA degree look good than someone from a religious seminary. Not one single aspect of the article was Biblically based or even supported. I may well be wrong…but please show us the scripture proving that America has been doing its rural and suburban churches wrong all these years.

Every time churches listen to this non-Bibically based nonsense, they celebrate their 14 new big screen TVs while another food and medicine distribution program bites the dust. So many communities are suffering because a new wave of young ministers are isolating themselves from these ecumenical groups and trying to duplicate or compete with programs that already exist in the small community 20 churches fighting over members in a town with only 3, people in it.

I do recall Christ teaching the early disciples of his church how to witness, share, and spread the news the news to be spread is pretty well covered in the New Testament. Your reply is well-thought out and I enjoyed reading it. The advice is for churches that do have a problem or soon will, and they know it.

I agree with the thesis of the article itself, and I think Carey only has the best intentions with the article. In hindsight however, I realized most of my Amens were more about practical, business, and political matters than spiritual and theological ones. My Amens were mostly wishful thinking that humans and their communities would be easier to manage into my personal world view.

What drew my tangent is the way those with questions or warnings for organizational experts are handled. Well…if someone misinterprets, or finds a hole…plug it with solid scripture! Fault finders in and outside of a church do have a purpose. That form of comment fielding deflecting back to the commenter and taking a self defense stance made me re-read the article a number of times, searching for what ever it was that seemed to bothering GenXer.

I do understand that pastors do not have the time and stamina to dig through their Bible and convince every single nay-sayer in person. Much of Urban Canada would be considered the same. It fits where he is, it fits where I am, it fits where many of his readers are.

I do not think Carey is targeting communities of 10, people with 50 churches of people like you see in many areas of the South East US. This is not about killing various small churches to build one big one. It is about organizing ourselves in a way so that we do not hinder the expansion of the gospel. We know this, or at least we should. Disciples are being made. People are being saved. Lives are being transformed. God is being glorified. Greetings to you in mighty name above all other names Jesus Christ.

Im very much happy to write to since i have went through your website and have seen great work on which you are doing by the grace of God to spread the true gospel. Am pastor Wilfred Kerosi from East Africa Kenya of Ribate fellowship christian church with 63 members ,55 Children whereby 34 among the children are poor orphans under my care. I hereby request for affiliation to partner with you in spreading the true gospel of which you are doing as the say that ; go to all nation and preach the gospel to every creature on earth.

Hey Carey, as a lay person volunteering at a church, why do you think there is so much push back against being strategic or changing structure based on comments on this post? Hello Carey, My question is a little different. When dealing with volunteers and paid worker in the church, is it a good idea to give them equal treatments? We are in the process of ordaining some faithful volunteers and someone brings a suggestion that one of the paid workers should also be ordained.

My stand on the issue is that this may discourage the faithful volunteers, seeing that some are being paid and more so they are coded differently under the Fair Labor Act. Ummm, ordination and pay are two different areas of church decision-making. The administrators get paid per month as well as the worship pastor. This is what we can afford. Everyone else is a volunteer. Four of the volunteers are being made deacons — two are being considered for the eldership. This is up to the discretion of the elders and church council. That is sad that someone getting paid by the church expects to hold an ordained role as well.

Other than that…like I said, an accountant — or a tech guy or the janitor — you may pay them, but ordination should only be a serious thought by the eldership and the church council. They should not be two conflated categories. But you probably already knew that. Many people in these churches ALSO have an MBA or higher…and have run businesses and organizations since long before the minister was born. That is where the pastor is supposed to have the upper hand when it comes to organizational strategy and leadership. It makes you look foolish and naive. I have been a full time pastor at two different churches over the past ten years.

The first church I was at had an organizational structure much like you just described. The pastors were subject to a board and most any new ideas were placed on the table for discussion, and then simply tabled for months, sometimes years on end. Some would say that this was wisdom the elder board was made up of men with more degrees than California in the summer, and most of them were at least 55 or older.

We got very little accomplished and saw very few come to Christ because the status quo remained as such and the young pastors with less education and less wordly experience as you called it were told to simply wait. The problem I have with your assertion is that it completely flies in the face of the New Testament church that I see in scripture.

The disciples were young men who had been called by Jesus to be a part of his mission. They were mostly uneducated men who went out with the Spirit of God and started a movement with the Gospel that would change the world. So…are you multilingual? If not…. Get out and meet Christians who speak the language and will assist you in ministering to them. Are you equipped and prepared to deal with this? They each set out into the world to minister to these different cultures in very unique ways.

Get to know as many pastors in your area as you can! Communicate with your area ministers on a regular basis, and serve your community as a strategic group front. If you find a Hispanic family that needs a Christian ministry…. If there are no churches in the area that can minister in Spanish, then it makes rock solid sense to push your own to start building programs for them. Set the example, show some success, gradually introduce the new culture to your old church and THEN start asking for more support.

If there are already 3 churches in your county that are well equipped to minister in Spanish, then it makes the most sense to call one of those pastors and send the family to him. In short…. There are many different sizes and types of Church models for a reason. Each one serves a purpose in an ever changing fabric of humanity. God wants it that way. Churches do change every single day as the balance and makeup of the population shifts.

Stop asking old churches full of members who have already raised their kids to try to act like what they are NOT…a church full of 30 somethings raising kids. Understand your community, and use its currents to your advantage. The sad truth is that the older people controlling out of balance churches generational balance eventually will pass on, and their homes will be sold to a younger generation and in many cases even a radically different CULTURE. At that point…. Take your time…because it took generations for them to build it all….

Instead of over-fighting it…look at the tools they have for very different, but equally important types of missions. You can drive yourself crazy trying to fight the Cycles of God…. You seem to be arguing for 1 for reasons that quite simply I disagree with vehemently and saying that the only other option is 2. Our church is multi-generational and we have seen over two hundred people go from having nothing to do with God or church to responding to the Gospel and trusting in Christ for salvation and new life over the past 6 years For His glory, not ours.

Why is this happening? Because our leadership made the decision to stop catering to comfort and challenge our people to get on board with the mission of the Church. Sadly, we lost quite a few people. We are called to go and make disciples. You said at the end that not every church is geared to be an evangelical power house….. Again, not certain what you mean. Every church should foundationally be about the Gospel and making that Gospel known to as many as possible in their community.

Just to play out an extreme: If every person in that community is reached which i would venture to say happens extremely rarely , then begin brainstorming other ways to reach even farther small church plant etc… , but never get off the boat of our mission. What do you think a church is supposed to look and act like? Because I believe a church is a community of people tied together in the Gospel on mission to make that Gospel known to any and everyone. Make changes necessary to be a part of that mission. A dying church is simply that: dying.

How is that a radical change that requires board approval and strong arming changes in congregational leadership? I still maintain that just because a church has fewer than does NOT mean it is dieing. I know of quite a few that have NEVER had more than memebers, but have been going strong for nearly years.

I can think of a pocket of about 12 of them in Texas that have put air bus hospitals in every international disaster zone with missionaries since Built dozens of home for people in need. They simply do a different kind of outreach and mission……. Some of us are NOT cut out to witness face to face, and do far more damage than good when sharing our walks with Christ with others. Some of us are much better equipped to play supporting roles. Some of us are better at quietly providing Bibles, homes, and refuges for worship. Very long deflection and refusal to own a simple problem.

I simply refuse to agree with you that a church should sit and get stagnant. This will be my last response as it seems you have dug your feet pretty deep into your defense and it is not a good use of my time to continue the conversation. Every Christian is called to be a minister and an evangelist…. Not sure why you disagree with that either. I never disagreed to your PS. I just happen to believe that there are many missions and styles that contribute to that purpose.

A youth group 4 from a 50 member church can pass out 4, Bibles in Guatemala and not grow a single member back home. Some churches have big programs to help the elderly and infirmed, as well as the incarcerated. The goal is to foster and create opportunities for people to know about the Word of God and come to know Christ. Pushing a church to grow past is not really superior to doing ecumenical missions that have a very high probability of helping different churches grow by 2. What I have thought over the years is a lack of strategic planning when it comes to hiring the next person.

I believe it needs to be a generalist. Someone who can work in several areas at once. Back in the day the second position would be a youth pastor. The church would grow by another 75 people, but not enough to add a third staff member and continue to grow. It couls be just that simple as well. Yours are all noteworthy and true Carey. Just throwing in another factor in my opinion. Blessings, Dave. Great question. I think it often has to do with the entire community the church serves. What are the demographics of the area? Some areas might be terribly undeserved in every respect, and any direction you go can lead to growth.

Some areas might be very culturally segregated by race, economic class, etc. Is your intent to go with the flow, or do something different and less segregated? I could go on hours with things to consider. When you realize the challenges and opportunities of the entire community, it can shine a light on the type of ministers and pastors to seek out and hire. What I mean is his people repenting of their sin, humbling themselves before him, and having him raise them up.

It is grace from top to bottom. And when his people humble themselves, repent and seek the Lord, he blesses. Isaiah 58 is a great example of what I am talking about. And yet, God tells them why he does not answer them, hear them, or acknowledge what they are doing. He says in v. But if they would repent of these things, this is what he promised he would do for them in v. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched place and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in. Now that is what the church needs! And that is what would cause the church to explode in America. And once he does, we will have to apply all this stuff just to minister to the multitudes who are being transformed by his grace! Dean…you are so right. The basis for all true growth in the Kingdom is reliance on God. With it, you have the foundation on which to apply the skill that often makes our effectiveness greater.

Thank you! Ephesians Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. We should be raising up other pastors to help with the work of the Lord. One main thing we should be doing is discipling, to many think the church is a one man show, the body is made up of many parts and each has its purpose. So the alternative is to raise up other pastors to help with the ministry.

Laypersons can be trained to do many other jobs, but there are limits. If these small churches raise up other pastors, which often they do, then these new pastors are called to serve other congregations, fulfilling the Great Commission. The church I currently attend has three pastors.

All of them preach, though their qualifications can be labeled in ascending order. The second eldest one has several masters degrees. Many in the congregation consider him the best preacher though he has stepped aside to let the youngest pastor preach 3 Sundays a month. These are the dynamics in the pulpit, not to mention the behind the scenes with church planning, decision making, and accountability and prayer partners.

They also split their time meeting one-on-one with the different families in the church. They can do a lot and still have time to be with their families, which is a benefit to having responsible brothers right along side of them. The requirements for doing funerals vary widely from state to state. In some states, literally anybody can officiate a wedding. The link did not work.

What is the book? Sorry Gary. The link still works on my end. Gary…thanks for the Tim Keller reference. I had heard about it but never read it. So good! How would prayer not fix all these things? Violence in the streets rough. If that were true, I could probably, by faith, have Lamentations and Numbers memorized! A lot of people want to be a servant to the Most High God.

I get the feeling a lot of the time Paul and the other Apostles looked like fools to their followers. Always having to take the low road and look weak. I never thought before I became a Christian that credibility with the world was earned with a flogging stick or actual chains. Not fuzzy diamond lined bracelets but actual chains. Good stuff. I especially resonate with empowering volunteers. Hi Carey, thanks so much for this article.

I definitely agree with your first 4 points so much! It was a bit disheartening to learn over the years that no matter the suggestions or desires from the congregation and even the volunteer experience and leadership some had, they were not used or else it was too late like 5 years later for something to come forth from it.

BOTH are needed. I flip-flop between wanting to go to a church that is a smaller community both on Sunday and every other day of the week, to a large church that I can disappear in and not volunteer ever again. For 5, we had the opposite problem, which is why I felt the need to pull away. And as someone mentioned below, I definitely miss the salvation message being preached.

Although small, do you think these churches still need it in some way? Thanks for this Alyssa…I appreciate your perceptive and empathize with your frustration. As to the Gospel message. I enjoyed your article. The you for sharing it. I would like to add, though, that some of this could be attributed to resource constraints, both financial, and lack of skills and knowledge. What if we turned this problem around and looked at it from a different angle? Could we shift this paradigm? I think a lot people who attend church want a small, intimate feel.

Maybe , or is just right for their needs. Could we look at this in a different way? What if churches grew by adding many small congregations? Is that what the denominations are doing today? To understand this we would need to see data from the denominations to really know what is happening out. Also, what if growth from the inside was more important than growth on the outside? Are attendance numbers really the ultimate measure of success? Are spiritual needs being met?

Are people growing in a relationship or in a religion? Does this change as more people fill the church building? My dilemma is simply this. Truly healthy things grow, and the thrust of the mission of the church is outward. As a result, growing past should seem inevitable. At least from where I sit. Hope that clarifies a bit. Thanks again! I agree that reproduction should be an outcome but maybe we need to keep an open mind that a specific number in one congregation may not be the critical measure of success. We need to embrace other growth measures and not exclude individual growth.

What are the members doing and how are the impacting lives of those around them? Is bigger really better in this situation? I agree. Demographics must also be a consideration. We live in a small town with a very high number of churches per capita. We strive to make a difference in the community, even if those people we serve do not ever attend our church. Great thoughts here, especially in terms of strategy and scaling.

A healthy organism grows and a healthy church, in theory, should grow. But how do we measure growth in terms of discipleship, impact on the community, depth of relationships, and etc. I am convinced strong organizational leadership will lead to numerical growth, i. Willow Creek was very strong organizationally, hence.

Also, I do wonder why Jesus did not create an organization of weekly attendance in the Gospels although he did have organizing principles, i. I am honestly searching and asking hard questions, not trying to be negative or critical. I think discipleship can be measured in different ways. Bottom line, I think our understanding of discipleship is broken. The biggest question for me is whether people look more like Christ or less like Christ years into their journey.

If they look more like Christ growing in faith, knowledge, love and wisdom then your discipleship strategy is probably working. The church in Corinth makes Willow look mature, and yet the church in Corinth was a church God loved, God used and God called to keep growing. Hope this helps! Carey, I have not read your book. I only hope that, unlike your article and 8 reasons, it has some references to the main reasons that churches reach a cap.

As old fashioned as it may seem today, I believe that the issue is really a lack of kingdom-growth motivation. By that I mean there is no reason for a church that is sold-out to the Great Commission to ever suffer from plateau syndrome! We have the keys to the kingdom and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to witness to those around us and the whole world about the Lord Jesus and His salvation. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

The true Church is the body of Christ which carries on the goal of Christ…to seek and to save that which was lost, namely the souls of men. A simple testament to the Christ-likeness of any church fellowship is: how many members does it take to produce one convert?

Pretty scary for most churches! Many of these observations are true in larger churches, too: I am the interim pastor of a church with 1,, which is less than it was ten years ago. Many people here are involved with congregational care, yet I still believe it is important for some of my time to be available for pastoral counseling and homes and hospital visitation. It is one way I feel the spiritual pulse, and it grounds me when I have to make difficult or unpopular decisions. I am a Congregationalist and I believe the Holy Spirit is revealed through group process, and can be diminished by hierarchical structures of authority.

They all have value; some lack intention. Might I add the following: Marketing. This is assuming the church is rock solid, sermons are inspiring and Christ-centered. The congregation old old and dying off and I find this alarming. There is acknowledgement that the younger generations are passing us by yet the leaders will only allow a pittance ea. The result is a church that is dying not through lack of Christ, but through age and mortality.

I pay very little attention to marketing possibly because I currently live check to check how well does church marketing work? In my view, great marketing helps a great idea or product spread, and it makes a bad product fail faster David Ogilvy. I cannot imagine any non-believer motivated to check out any of the churches I hear advertised on the radio. I suspect the only effective advertising for a church is word of mouth coupled with the community seeing the church working in the community.

I suspect advertising to the wider non-believer community would be more successful for events such as Christmas Carols, Easter or ministries like Alpha which help them more with questions they are asking rather then a church program. It is alarming to me the lack of Christians who do not see money changing in the Temple. Evangelicalism has become idolatrous. Look at the mega churches! When did our ruler for success start to pattern the world? I started reading this article and God spoke Ezekiel chapter 8 to me—idolatry in the temple. The great commission is not God. They talk about the Word of God, about prophecy, and they salt their soothing messages with a lot of Scripture.

But there is a falseness in what they preach. They are not preaching the Cross or holiness and separation. They make no demands on their followers. They seldom speak of sin and judgment. They abhor the very mention of suffering and pain. By that notion, the early church would have had to be shut down.

It grew by in a single day. The Holy Spirit moved. The early church also had dysfunction stemming from any number of issues we still have today. Structure is all over the scriptures…Exodus 18, Acts And if you study the universe, God is a God of math, order and meaning. Big churches loose site on the sheep and relationship. Big churches cannot disciple as God intended.

Big churches are more about to the business affairs of the building and not the burdened affairs of the body. When God saved the multitude, it was to show His power to the community that He is God. Today things have not changed. Man still wants what he wants when it comes to the business in the man made temple called church that God does not dwell nor has any part in.

Sin will have to come to a head before His return. It would be in our best interest to go to the streets to seek the lost, help them grow in the faith of our Savior and to be ready Spiritually at all times.

Youth and Discipleship – Finish Commitment

This is better done without the interference of religion. In fact spreading the gospel and discipling sheep will be better achieved without idolatrist mindsets. Its up to the faithful to GO and obey. What we see in churches today that have gone the way of the world with their ministries and church growth movement ploys, I believe is the great falling away from the gospel and faith in Christ to lead His church.

God is in the business of reaching His people and leading His people home by His Spirit, not seeing how many come to a church building. God is way bigger than mans ideas to do anything of material substance. This is where the Focus is lost. Thank you for this article. I read the book you recommended about breaking the two hundred barrier back when I was a youth pastor anticipating moving to the lead pastor role.

Now that I have just begun as a senior pastor I am re reading this article and I am convinced you hit the nail on the head. Thank you again. I wish every church leader read it! A great book and one to keep on your shelf and close at hand! Great article by the way. Let God take care of the growth, our churches have enough to do learning how to love people as God loves them.

Love the sentiment behind this Jim, but even the early church had to reorganize to respond to growth Acts 6. So did Moses Exodus 18 , and clearly Jesus was concerned with organization and impact, dividing his many disciples into groups of 70, 12, 3 and 1. Be bold with that truth, Jim. When Jesus started preaching a hard Gospel to swallow many of his disciples deserted him. I am so sick of hearing about strategies, programs and anointed worship leaders. We need the Holy Ghost with us at all times. For that reason, we should choose carefully the music we listen to and the dances we attend.

Let the Spirit be your guide, and when you have doubts about the music you are listening to or the circumstances you are in, have the courage to act so the Spirit can remain with you. This article originally appeared in the September Liahona and New Era. Breadcrumb Articles The Influence of Music. Topics : Music and Dancing , Holy Ghost. Error in form submission. Make sure all field are filled out properly and try again.

In this episode, Bryan and Erik talk about the difference between continuing education and professional development, effective ways of developing skills in ministry, and whether you can get away with taking a class in bread baking. Starting a new job in youth ministry can be like drinking from a firehose. So how do you get started in a new congregation without losing the trust of the parents and volunteers?

How do you set yourself up for a long and effective ministry? Faith vs. Creation vs. For a while it seems that the scientific community and Christian communities have been at odds. Is that really true? Does it have to be? Young people are studying science every day in school and hopefully coming to church once a week. In this episode, Bryan, Erik, and special guest, Pr. Eric Carlson, discuss why performance reviews are critical to ministry success, how to get them started in your context, and who should be doing them hint: everyone.

Summer, summer, summertime! A time for water games, mission trips, and…well, pretty much anything you want to do, right? Well, maybe. From graduating seniors to confirmands and the end of youth group, the final months of the youth ministry program year is full of opportunities to acknowledge and celebrate the kids in your ministry.

But how do we differentiate a graduating high school senior from a kid who just finished confirmation? Can we use budget money to buy our volunteers a thank you gift? In this episode, Bryan and Erik talk about honoring students in worship, how graduation and confirmation Sunday sometimes deliver unintentional messages, and how to throw a really good end of the year party.

Ideas for Refreshing Your Youth Ministry: YS Idea Lab with Virginia Ward

Bryan and Erik have heard your voices and they have responded! What do you do about noise in worship? Should you have a job description? In this episode, Bryan and Erik style, profile, and answer your questions to the best of their ability. In this episode of the podcast, Bryan and Erik talk with Dave about the theology of mission trips, ways to prepare your group for the experience, and how to avoid some of the common mission pitfalls.

Leaving a ministry position is never easy. Breaking the news to students, families, and other staff members is hard, as is the process of interviewing and starting at a new position. How do we value and advocate for ourselves in the job search process? How do we sift through the various job advertisements to find one that will complement our gifts and experiences? In this episode, Bryan and Erik talk about changing roles, how to communicate openly and honestly, red flags in a job search, and one of them realizes people listen to this podcast.

Rachel Kurtz is a Minneapolis-based songwriter, performer, and recording artist. She shares personal testimonies of tragedy and triumph with a vulnerability that captivates her audience. Discipleship is a word that is often used in youth ministry circles. But what does it mean? How do we make it a part of our ministries? And how do we tap into a word that has such diversity of meaning and practice? Jesus Christ Superstar is a rock opera that has inspired and excited audiences for close to fifty years.

Youth Ministry: 3 Keys For Dealing With the Busyness of Students

Following the passion narrative, Jesus Christ Superstar gives us an opportunity to experience that story in a different way. But what does it say to students? How can we use it in youth ministry? Should we use it in youth ministry? In this episode, Bryan and Erik talk about how Jesus Christ Superstar impacted their lives, discuss where it goes wrong theologically, and try not to act like fanboys. Holy Week is coming. What are you going to do with your students? In this episode, Bryan and Erik discuss six practical ways to help students engage with Holy Week and offer up a challenge to listeners.

To submit your joke, go to: www. Every youth worker has grumbled about basketball tournaments on Sunday mornings or show choir concerts on Wednesday nights. The culture no longer props up the church by encouraging people to attend worship and not scheduling anything that conflicts with church activities. As youth workers, how do we respond?

Do we keep grumbling? Or do we innovate? And if we do change, does that mean basketball and church are equal? Has church become an extra-curricular activity? How do you deal with unruly students? Does a kid need to go to confirmation in order to make a public declaration of faith? And what makes a youth worker, a youth worker? The brokenness of the world is not hidden from our students. They see it in their communities, the schools, and in their daily lives.

As youth workers, we have the opportunity to walk alongside students as they think about, talk through, and begin to understand tragedy and suffering. All Are Welcome! Often times churches fall short in their ability to truly welcome people with disabilities.

Youth Group Membership Resources

What barriers exist in youth ministry for kids with physical, intellectual, or emotional disabilities? In this episode, Erik interviews Molly Beck Dean, veteran youth minister and current Director of the ELCA Youth Gathering, for an honest conversation about common misconceptions about relating to people with disabilities, offers some ideas for how congregations can be a safe and welcoming place for everyone, and discusses life as a parent of a child with Joubert Syndrome.

Every student who comes into your youth group is different and knowing these differences—knowing some of the background personality traits that may or may not affect behavior—can be an important part of youth ministry. There are plenty of — ahem — personalities in your youth group. I know the answer, please pick me! Each comes to youth group with their own set of aspirations, insecurities, and personality quirks. But how do we make sure this socially diverse group of kids all feel engaged, welcomed, and loved?

In this episode, Bryan and Erik are joined by special guest, Carla Barnhill, to discuss the Enneagram personality inventory, why it is important for youth workers, and how Carla is the boss. Each year, youth workers face a question: should we have a Super Bowl party or should we have youth group?

And if we do have a Super Bowl party, what makes a good one? Where are the potential moments of tension for both students and parents? And how many pizzas should I order for 15 hungry teenagers? In this episode, Bryan and Erik discuss how to throw a meaningful party, whether you need to have a spiritual component, and realize they may have alienated a potentially important podcast sponsor. How do you do it effectively?

When should you ask the parents to kick in? Should the church finance these trips? And maybe most importantly: is youth ministry a never-ending capital campaign?

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Church should be a safe place for everyone—especially children and youth. There are lots of ways to make our buildings and events safe for kids, but having a thoughtful and robust child protection policy is integral to that work. With the coming of the new year, a few things are certain. Decorations need to be taken down, football games require watching, and — for some — resolutions will be made. You love them. You hate them. You love to hate them. Wherever you land on the topic, lock-ins have been a staple of youth ministries for decades.

But what makes a meaningful experience? How do you fill those 12 hours in a way that not only encourages kids to come back, but also gives them a discipleship experience? In this episode, Bryan and Erik discuss their successes and failures, offer up some practical skills, and try to figure out exactly who is responsible for the rise of lock-ins in youth ministry. Everybody loves Christmas music. Well, almost everybody. What makes a great Christmas movie? Is it the story of that one special gift? And what about Jesus?