Name That Christmas Movie (FREE Game)


To all the Youth Pastors out there, here is a basic Up Front style game I used recently in my Christmas Series.  Just simply about 11 video clips from famous Christmas Movies.  Students have to guess the correct title for 2 points, and for a bonus 3 points they can guess the correct year it was originally released.  Just something fun and simple… And FREE!

Click here to download

If you like this kind of stuff, check out other stuff like it, as well as some messages I’ve released for purchase at

I Love Cleaning Up After Students!


As a Youth Pastor with no Janitor on staff, guess what my second job is?  Yep, I get to sweep the floors, take out the trash, and even clean the bathrooms (that’s another blog post altogether!) after a crazy night of Youth Ministry.  But honestly, you get a real sense of students when you clean up after them.

Sure you see what drinks are popular and what candy is a favorite because of all the empty cans and wrappers.  But what is real eye opening is when you see the notes and doodles they leave behind.  They leave behind doodles of a tattoo they my like, or a phrase that has meant something to them in a tattoo font, or even silly pictures of Jesus with muscles and tattoos… Ok tattoos seem to be a big deal.

But I saw someone’s notes from last night that I am keeping.  It reminds me how students think and what is important to them. Check out this outline from last night:  Image


If you’re interested, heres some of the meaning behind the notes, From Top to bottom:

  • “Drop the cross…wub, wub, wub” relates to the anachronistic story I told of Levi throwing a sweet dance party and inviting Jesus.  This “note” made me chuckle at the thought of Jesus and dub step.
  • “Jary-sus” no idea here… just being goofy. 
  • The underline verses, with notes, “The Pharisees weren’t healthy either.” is actually pretty insightful.  I never said this, but it is a truth to draw out of what Jesus said!
  • “Religious people are sick, too.” This drives the point home that we all need Christ, even those that can act the part.
  • Circling “perfection” because I told everyone to do that.
  • Underlined “so none of us can boast…” This must have spoken to the person taking notes.
  • The fill ins, “‘imPerfect”  I am assuming this is written this way because we somethings mis-think that we are supposed to be perfect, but Jesus is the one who makes us perfect, not ourselves.
  • And then the phrase at the bottom, “Paul wrote a crapload of the Bible.”  Yep, I actually said that, and thats what I heard most people talking about last night.  It was a total side note to the whole message, so I am glad that the last thing written on this outline was…
  • “Pursue Perfection.”  That is the key point.  We aren’t perfect, but we cant stay imperfect.

I tell you, after seeing this note page, I am refreshed that someone is “getting it.”  I guess my only concern was that it was left for me, and not taken home… But that’s OK.  I’ll keep it posted on my cork board for a while to remind me that what I say in my messages does matter!

Student Ministry School Year Plan

CalendarAs a Youth Pastor, I tend to look at the School year in 3 teaching segments.

Fall Season:
September-November is the Fall Kick off, where most of the anticipation is in the air.  This is usually our biggest time of year as there is still a freshness and excitement going on.  We are high on our relational building time and usually try to do a few teaching series that will really capture the attention of those checking the program out.  We do not have any big outside events that happen during this season.  I have done a series on…

  • Relationships, using the Facebook backdrop and theme.
  • Culture, looking at popular movies
  • Truth Is… Using the common Facebook status to look at real Truth.

Winter Season:
Usually we have a week off for Thanksgiving, then a short December series that is somewhat Christmas related.  Because we follow the school calendar, we typically get 2 weeks off at Christmas and New Years.  After the long Christmas break, there is a definite shift in everyone’s mood and attitude.  This Season usually only lasts from January-March but is augmented by two of our largest events all year–our Winter Retreat and our All Night Event.  I usually try to do at least one series this season that is straight Bible teaching, such as an overview of a book, or a person in Scripture like…

  • Jeremiah, Using his teachings today
  • Stand, The Armor of God

Spring Season:
This is the “After Easter to the End of the Year” season, typically April-June.  This has always been my hardest season to stay on pace.  Excitement begins to wane and students are less intentional about inviting friends.  Senoritis sets in (for all grade levels!) and spring sports really take a bite out of attendance.  This causes me to be a bit more intentional about doing some series pointed at the believer, while trying to also have an intentional time for students to invite friends.  No major events happen, but we try to do a Student Led night (high ownership usually causes good attendance!) as well as a specific Invite Night where students are directed to invite friends to hear the Gospel.  Being strategic keeps momentum going as best we can.  Some series ideas are…

  • Transform, For the Christian student, becoming more like Christ
  • Invite Night, Usually a series leading up to it teaching about the importance on the invite
  • Student Led night, They do everything from tech to the message, worship to leading small groups.  High excitement for this night!

Bonus Last Week, Closing Night of the Year:
This has always been one of my favorite nights of the year, not because I know next week I have off, but because of how we end the year!  I probably need to write an entire post about this night, but in short, I simply recap each teachings series (usually about 6-8) for the year and sum up each one in a short 2-4 sentences.  We reshow a lot of the bumper videos or video segments that worked really well the first time and there is a good feeling of “I remember that!” going on in the room.  For the music, we do the best songs of the year and usually redo a special song that worked really well too.  It is pretty much the “clip show” of the year, but works very well for the students!

There is so much more that goes into the teaching year, but my final thought is this.  Have a Plan! I feel like we can be very strategic when we know how to plan for the year.  Plus it helps when those seasons are dragging, to know that there is a new season around the corner!

SO what is you Plan?

Is Megachurch the Goal?

I recently saw some Church Size statistics at the Hartford Institute. No honestly, I don’t know how recent these statistics are and there was so much data, that I really only focused on the one graph that was based off of church size and amount of worshippers who attend.

From the Hartford Institue Research

From the Hartford Institute Research

What I noticed, is that 34 Million, or about 60% of ALL worshippers do so in a church under 500 average attendance.  Add in the next level, up to 1000 average attendance and you have 75% of all people who attend church.

I feel like much of the voice to the Church Leaders today comes from those in the small minority, in the Megachurch (defined as over 2000 attenders)

Although it is easy to say that a Megachurch is successful, based primarily on the reach, ministry, and effectiveness of attracting and keeping people, my question is: Should the goal of a church be to become a Megachurch or even a “pretty mega church” (over 1000 in attendance)?

In my mind I wrestle with the commission of God found in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go and make disciples of all nations…” I feel like the size of the church is never enough, because there are always more lost people to be found.  But then I also feel like there is some great strength in the smaller churches–the ones that actually are reach the majority of those who attend church.

  • Are there things that Majority Churches (or smaller churches) do better than Mega Churches?
  • Should every church strive to become a Mega Church, simply based off the Great Commission?
  • Should there be leaders from smaller churches, speaking and teaching from their successes and failures? 

Networking Pastors

NewtorkRecently I was asked to write an article for, an online conversation of Asbury Theological Seminary.  I was asked to write about Networking, because of my history of being connected throughout my southeastern Michigan area.


One of the most difficult parts of networking, though, is having the Right Attitude.  I have to remind myself that networking is not so that I can get ahead, but so that Christ’s Kingdom can be expanded.  Here is an excerpt from the article:

Ultimately, it is all about Christ’s Kingdom. When it comes to ministry in the church, that should be our heart’s desire. I am sure everyone would agree we want to see God’s kingdom grow, see people’s lives changed, and our churches impact our communities.  However, when it comes to networking we need to check our motives. Some are afraid to get together with other youth workers out of fear of losing their kids. Others network to make a name for themselves (these guys are so obvious—can we just put it out there?) Let’s face it, no one has the corner on youth ministry. Someone else out there may have an idea or resources that will help you be a better leader for your students, and you probably have something that someone else needs.

We often understand 1 Cor. 12 to refer to the local church, but what if it also refers to all followers of Christ? If we zoom out of our own local context we may come to understand that together we all form Christ’s body with unique spiritual gifts. This diversity of gifts is present not just in our local contexts but in the larger network of church communities.

If You would like to read more, please visit the Full Seedbed Article

Using Postcard/Mailers

At Lakeside, we often use postcards to inform our people about the upcoming series. I definitely feel, however, that NO postcard is better than a poor postcard! Companies like make it simple for those with little or no graphical sense to provide fantastic pieces of promotion for your church or an upcoming series.  Unfortunately you are then tied into the titles and ideas they have.  When we print our own, I have used (depending on the special at the time, or the quantity we ordered),, or

Just keep in mind that you won’t get a HUGE return on your card.  Even if you think you have the most catchy title for your sermon, or the most edgy picture, you’ll still only get maybe a 1% rate or less.  The REAL benefit to sending out a card is when you are consistent.  The more people see your mailings the more they are likely to remember who you are and the more people will come check out the church.

A good new alternative could be Google Ads or Facebook Ads. This way you can market to a specific audience, and people have the chance to click and access your stuff immediately, causing better retention.  But again, no ad is better than a bad ad or a link that will take the person to a poorly designed website.  Make sure your stuff is quality, and that you are really representing your church!

Service Openers

We used to use simple countdowns in our Student Ministry to kick things off, but now we lean more toward the “Service Opener” idea instead. Essentially I seek out funny, powerful, worshipful, or totally crazy videos to show at the front of our service. Most of these videos I have totally grabbed off of YouTube, so I’ll post some links below of some ideas.

We still use a basic countdown, but now I just have the same countdown that actually runs 3 minutes prior to service starting. Then our band opens with a song, usually a cover song or new upbeat song. This gets everyone’s attention since prior to the countdown, people are milling around all over–even outside the main room. Then I show this “Service Opener” to act as a good transition into worship or something else. I find it is pretty easy to find good clips online, and I can easily edit them if I need to. Our students enjoy experiencing some of the “viral” YouTube videos once in a while, while also really take to the Worship Opener style videos–it usually depends on what kind of transition we need. Anyway, I try to keep the video to under 1 minute, so if they are longer, I usually edit them. Here are a few we have recently used, none of which I have created! Also, many of the worship ones have a church name built into the ending, which I again, edit out–cutting to a black screen saying “Service Starts Now.”

Rechargeable Batteries

One of the simple questions I have dealt with as a worship leader was wether to use regular batteries or rechargeable ones. Since everything wireless requires batteries, including mics, in-ear monitors, and instrument packs, we were replacing batteries all the time.  I only felt safe using a a battery twice, maybe 3 times before I was concerned with it going out during a Sunday morning. So we weighed the pros and cons to using rechargeables…


  • Always have “fresh” batteries every week. (My current life of our rechargables is about 1 year, then I have to replace them)
  • Cheaper in the long run.  They cost about 4 times a regular battery, but can be used safely about 25 more times!


  • Adds an extra task every week of plugging in the batteries. (If you forget, you are scrambling on Sunday morning…I know)
  • Battery indicators are less accurate (older batteries die faster) so you have to be better at documenting how old batteries are.

I found this great deal online where you purchase 10 batteries and get a free charger.  It is pretty cost effective.  Check out for their deals!

Leading Worship During December

One of the seasons I love is Christmas, but I feel like every year I am faced with the decision of what songs to do during the month of December.  Start Christmas music too early, and everyone gets sick of it by Christmas.  Put it off and people think you are a Bah Humbug.  Between Thanksgiving and Christmas you have 4 weeks, so here is my basic philosophy:

1.   Week 1 – Usually I don’t play any Christmas music.  All of our music is “Christmas Related” by singing of the Glory or Majesty of God, or songs like “Here is Our King” or “You’ll Come” ushering in the presence of Christ.

2. Week 2 – Seeing as we have our Christmas program coming up, we have some “special” Christmas songs prepared and some that we are working on.  Typically we perform one of these songs this week (also acts as a good commercial for our Christmas Program)

3. Week 3 – This is the morning of our Christmas Program so we have another special song prepared.  We also play a few Christmas songs incorporated into our worship set.

4. Week 4 – All Christmas music.  My favorites to play and lead in a worship setting are: Angels We have Heard on High, O Come All Ye Faithful, O Holy Night, and Joy To The World.