August 2020

Click the links below to go to the article for each ministry.

By: Jody Livingston and Chris Trent of The Longer Haul in Youth Ministry

When I am approached by someone who is feeling they may be called to be a Youth Pastor I tend to always tell them the same things. Some of these are things I have learned the hard way over the years, and others are things I was asked when I started searching for direction in this area. Addressing and answering those things are in my opinion what will enable you to not only be effective as a Youth Pastor, but make sure you stay in Youth Ministry. There is one thing though that is hands down the number one thing I tell people who want to be a Youth Pastor (or in ministry of any kind really):


I almost always tell anyone thinking of vocational ministry this. When I was a senior in High School and approached my Pastor about feeling “a call” to ministry, this was the first thing he said to me. To be honest, I had no clue what “a call to ministry” was and I phrased it more like…”I think God wants me to do what you do.” His words have saved my ministry more times than I can count. He told me (paraphrasing here), “You need to run from this. Go home and pray through this some more. When you are certain there is nothing else you can do with your life…then come back and we will talk.” I’ll never forget the feeling I felt leaving his office. I felt confused and somewhat defeated. I had no way of knowing the importance of what he was challenging me with. He was not telling me not do be obedient to God’s calling on my life. This was no real life object lesson from the book of Jonah. No giant fish were involved. He was not telling me that I was not cut out for or able to do ministry. He was telling me to be certain this is what I was to do. I did in fact take time to search and reflect on what I felt God was doing in my life. When I came back to him a few weeks later, he was my biggest fan and one of my greatest helps. I cannot tell you how many times over the last 16 years this one conversation has kept me from quitting. I am so grateful for that man and that conversation. It would have been easy for him to have been eager to throw me out there and brag about what God was doing through his ministry, but he did not. With such great wisdom and care, he patiently led me. James gives us a similar warning:

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” – James 3:1


When anyone tells me they want to be a Youth Pastor I always start here. So many people come into Youth Ministry disillusioned as to the reality of what ministry really is. They know they loved their time in Student Ministry. God used that time in their life so profoundly. I am so grateful for their heart for Youth Ministry. I am so grateful that God used their time in Youth Ministry to influence their life. The calling to any vocational ministry though is difficult, and one that most are unaware of. Think you want to be a Youth Pastor? Run. Okay, well stop and really consider if it is what God is really calling you to do me be. If you fail to do this, you will fail in ministry.

By: Stanley Cosner

Identifying the three keys to a successful children’s ministry.

Welcome to the exciting world of Children’s Ministry: where no day is like the next! Some days you feel like the ring leader of your own personal circus, and other days you feel more like a referee in a boxing ring or a judge in the most unusual of cases. However, there are those glorious days when the stars align, God’s favor shines, and you can sense the kids leaning into the lesson that is being taught.  Those moments are why we do what we do!

Wouldn’t you like those moments to happen a little more often in your ministry? I know I would. Below are three practical keys that have the power to unlock excitement in your kids to learn about God’s Word. Some principles, however, are better shown than told. So this month I would like to share a story with you, and I pray that its lessons would remain with you throughout your journey in children’s ministry.

Meet the Earnest Family:

They were new to town and new to church, or at least they wanted to be. You see, they hadn’t really been involved in any church for many years, but now that their children were getting older they really wanted to make sure to find a church to attend. A new town was the perfect opportunity for a new family journey…to church. At least that’s what Mommy Earnest kept saying. Daddy Earnest said he would go to any church that Momma wanted to, and Mommy Earnest wanted to attend one that was good for her kids. So the decision on what church to attend, as it usually is in most households, was up to the three Earnest children.

The oldest, Hardly Earnest, was 12 years old. As you may guess, he really didn’t care much about anything that wasn’t inside his phone, tablet, or video game; and he was pretty sure those things weren’t allowed in a church. Truly Earnest was their darling girl. She was 9 years old and had a genuine interest to learn all about the world, even the Bible, though she wasn’t sure if she had ever read it before. Then came their baby boy, Lil’ Bobby. He was 5, and no, “He was not a surprise. We just ran out of names that end in ‘ly’.” is what his parents often had to explain. Anyway, Lil’ Bobby was in his usual spot right behind his older siblings Hardly and Truly, and they were on their way to visit the first church.

Church number one was a fairly easy first choice. It was right on Main Street, and most people around town used it as a landmark to tell people when to turn or if they’d driven too far. “Wow”, said all three Earnest children as they walked into the main lobby. There was no guessing where the children’s area was. It looked like Disney was spilling out of the hallway at the top of the stairs, and there was even a slide that dropped right down to a children’s pickup area. Hardly and Truly’s heads were literally spinning as they ran up the stairs to see the rest of the children’s area, and Lil’ Bobby was right in tow.

After service, the three Earnest children came rushing down the slide with huge smiles and arms full of prizes. Like most kids, they were met by their parents with a simple question, “How was kids church?” “Awesome,” shouted Hardly, “The pastor could ride a unicycle and do amazing tricks!” “We played such fun games,” giggled Truly. “Look at my prizes,” shouted Lil’ Bobby as he jumped with excitement and dropped half of them on the ground. Daddy Earnest gave a nod of approval as he thought that they had quite easily found a church to attend. “This is great,” said Mommy Earnest, “But I have just one more question.” “What did you guys learn about today?” Hardly just shrugged as Truly dropped her head. “I.. I was having so much fun..” she said softly, “That I forgot that we came here to learn about the Bible too.” On the drive home Mommy Earnest shared her thoughts with her three kids. “I’m so glad that you had fun today at church,” she said. “Church should be fun I think, but we came here because I know that we need to learn more about what the Bible says. That’s really important to me. I think that we should try another church next week too.

As the following Sunday approached, Earnest’s neighbors stopped by to welcome them to the neighborhood and gave then a plate of cookies. They quickly began talking about their church with ringing endorsements such as, “Our family has been going here for three, no, four generations.” “The pastor brings a strong word.” And, “You won’t even know your kids are here as quiet as Sister Susan keeps them.” They soon left with a smile and a wave, and the next morning all five of the Earnests were loaded up and headed to church number two.

The second church was a little outside of town, but still close to their house. As they arrived they were greeted by an elderly gentleman who seemed pleased, and a little surprised to see them. “Three kids,” he exclaimed, “Let me introduce them to Sister Susan.” Before Truly could even ask who’s sister she was, it was time for the church to start.

A short time later, the service was over and Mommy Earnest was picking her kids up from their classroom. “Are you going to ask us what we learned again today?” Asked Truly. “Yes,” replied Mommy Earnest. “Oh no!” Said Truly. “Well… I learned that there are a ton of important verses in the Bible, but I’m not sure if I remember any of them. At least they sounded important sometimes, but our teacher mumbled a lot.” “Yeah, I think her reading made her sleepy,” said Lil’ Bobby. “She put herself to sleep twice while reading some book written by her brother, Mark.” “I learned something,” declared Hardly. “I learned that there are 128 tiles on the ceiling. I counted them three times just to make sure.” “So who remembers the Bible story?” Asked their mom. Both boys threw their hands in the air while Truly made a serious face, paused, and said, “I think it was all of them!” Daddy Earnest chuckled and said, “Well, it looks like we will be heading to Church number three. If the teacher can’t stay awake during her own lessons, then I don’t blame you for not remembering what she talked about.”

Church number three had sent them a welcome to town letter in the mail. It seemed pleasant enough and mentioned their Children’s Services, so that’s where they were headed the following Sunday. As you entered the lobby of the third church, you could clearly see where the kids were meant to be. Truly pointed and said, “Look, you can see all their next Bible stories hung on the wall! It looks like a giant movie theater entrance!” “Yes!” Said Hardly. “I see arcade games too!” Truly and Hardly both ran towards the children’s area with hopeful expectations as Lil’ Bobby followed closely.

“Don’t ask, I already know.” Was the first thing out of Truly’s mouth when she saw her parents after service. “Our Bible story was about Jonah and a huge whale. Jonah didn’t want to do what God asked, so God used a huge whale to take him to where he needed to be and a lot of people got saved because of it!” “You won’t believe this!” said Hardly. They had a gigantic whale on stage that everyone got to walk inside while they told us the story! It looked like a huge bounce house kinda thing that one of the leaders made.” “Can we come back?” asked both Hardly and Truly in unison. “It sounds like it,” smiled Mommy Earnest. “What about you, Lil’ Bobby?” asked Daddy Earnest? All four Earnest heads began to swivel around as no reply was heard. “Oh no, let’s split up and find him,” said Mommy Earnest. After 30 minutes of frantic searching and little help, they heard a faint hello from the kids’ bathroom. “Bobby!” Mommy Earnest yelled as she rushed in. “I think a kid locked me in the stall somehow.” Said Lil’ Bobby. “And no one ever came to check on me.”

Mommy Earnest was getting angrier and angrier as they made it to the car to leave. “We will not be back,” she said. “I don’t care how much you learned or how creative the story was, I will not send my children anywhere that I feel is unsafe!” “But Mom!” Said the two oldest Earnest Children. “I don’t want to hear it!” She replied as they pulled out of the parking lot.

To be honest, I don’t know what church the Earnest family will try out next week; but I hope it is the one you are at. Well, that is if you learn from these three mistakes. 

Not all parents are like the Earnest Parents, but all Children’s pastors should have the same concerns. The first church was excellent at engaging their children, but in their will to engage they glossed over any parts of the lesson that had the power to impact their audience’s lives. At the second church, Sister Susan’s message was literally full of the impactful, life-changing Word of God, but it was presented in a way that lacked all ability to engage its audience. The third church, however, was both engaging and impactful, yet lacked basic safety procedures.

The bottom line is this. You can’t practice just one or two of these principles; you have to have all three. If you lack engagement, the children will never remember what you are teaching. If you lack impactful moments, then what lasting value does your entertainment provide? However if your children’s area lacks safety, then no one will care about how engaging or impactful your lessons are. You must have all three. No matter your church’s personal vision, if you focus on having all three principles at work in every area of your ministry, then you will have the key to unlocking God’s best for your children’s ministry.

Thanks for reading. I believe the saying is true, “Leaders are readers.” So I would like to suggest a couple of books for you. These books inspired the style of this article, and use creative stories to teach you lessons on perspective and vision. 

“The Noticer” by Andy Andrews

“The Traveler’s Gift” by Andy Andrews.

by: Janelle Webster

This is such a simple and quick question but coming to an answer is not. There is an easy answer. Missionaries are people that have been sent by God to different parts of the world to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The hard but beautiful answer is that God has given, created and spoke beautiful gifts and talents into each person when He creatively created us. Each of us are given a different measure of gifts and talents and He so deeply wants us to use them to be missionaries.

Many times, when on the mission field I used my ministry training. I taught many women the powerful words of Jesus. There were several late nights of staying up, drinking tea and talking about the differences of Jesus in the Bible to the Jesus they had heard about. One of my favorite places to share Jesus was at my Crossfit gym. I would go to the late class and stay after. There were about 20 of us that would sit in a huge, sweaty circle on the floor of the gym and share what each other’s religion taught. If I didn’t have ministry training this would have been impossible. If I didn’t have any ministry training, I would have never felt confident to sit and speak about this Jesus that has so deeply changed not only my life, but my eternity.

But it was my love of cooking for people that led women to my house on many nights. I would introduce them to tacos and Jesus all at the same time. For many years I was unhealthy. I didn’t take care of myself and when I finally realized that I am the temple of the Holy Spirit, I started Crossfit. It was my passion to keep my temple in good health that led me to sitting in that sweaty circle and sharing my faith. Over the years I have developed the ability to start conversations with people that I didn’t know for the sole reason of sharing the Gospel with them. This gift grew when I was learning a foreign language in a foreign land and I had to use only the words that I had learned. I used a lot of simple phrases like “red book” and the “tall man” and did a lot of fingering pointing while asking the question, “what is this?” It can be annoying at first when not understanding what anyone is saying around you but pushing through and using the season you are into your advantage really develops relationships. These relationships grow when you press through the uncomfortable and unknown and are able to get to a point of trust and authenticity.

Save I say all of this because I learned very quickly that my ministry credentials will be helpful on the mission field, but that I needed to be “Janelle” on the mission field also and use what God had put in me to be authentic and real. People love authentic and real.

So, I will turn this question back on you. What gifts and talents do you have? Some you will know about, but the best is that when you are serving Jesus in any capacity, others will pop up and surprise you. How are you using them now? How are you developing them now? Because Jesus wants to use YOU, the authentic YOU, to reach the lost people of this world.

That’s what missionaries do!

By: Ben Pitman

“If you died today, where would you go?”

Sounds kind of awkward. What is wrong with this conversation? It seems premature in a lot of places. Whenever I have led teams in outreaches, there is always someone stumbling through the delivery of the gospel message. For the last 7 or so year, I have led teams in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. We get out on the streets, about forty of us, and you can spot the newbies a mile away. They look like deer in the headlights. The longer they stand there, the more scared they get. Surrounded by sinners! I have the truth, but I seem incapable of sharing it!!

I think I can break it down in a way that will genuinely help you.

I remember my first time realizing the 4 major hurdles of sharing the gospel with someone. I was looking at a college freshman, a young girl from somewhere in Alabama. She was almost crying out there on the street. I was trying to encourage her, but she just kept watching strangers walk by. Every bystander marked another failure, every person passing her was more proof that she was incapable of sharing her faith and life with God. So I asked her, “Have you been able to share the gospel with anyone yet?”

“No,” She almost whispered back to me, incapable of hiding her despair and frustration.

“Have you prayed with anyone?”

“No,” She said, the frustration in her voice rising further.

“Have you talked to anyone about God at all?” I enquired further.

“No,” Her voice cracked at the recognition of her utter failure.

“Have you even talked to anyone yet?” At this point, my question did not even expect an answer, I knew it before I asked, she was utterly useless in her mind, and this was definitely not for her.

Now I have had this conversation with many men and women, young and old. The problems I have seen with people sharing their faith can be described through these 4 obstacles. You may struggle with one or all of these, but when you have wrestled with these things, you will have great opportunities to pray with people and see them give their lives to the Lord.

OBSTACLE 1 – Get people to stop

When talking to strangers on the street, this is necessary, getting them to stop. Get in their line of sight, smile and ask them something simple and non-intrusive. Some one liners I have seen work include:

“Where are you headed?”

“Can I pray for you?”

“Where is a good place to eat around her?”

“Are you a (Sports team) fan?”

There are plenty more. The goal is to hit someone’s interest, so you can talk to them about things that matter. These questions are not only useful in stopping strangers in the street, these questions will help you make new friends in any situation. We could all use a little help in making new friends, whether in our schools, or in our own churches.

OBSTACLE 2 – Talk to people

I know this seems like a bit of a given, but not if you are an introvert. Some people struggle to talk to people, so think of conversation like a tennis match, the goal is to constantly hit the ball back into your new friend’s court, to get them talking. If someone isn’t comfortable talking, chances are they are even less comfortable opening their heart to you about Jesus and the intrusion of the gospel. So find something they love, even better a common ground, something you both enjoy. This will be the best conversation piece.

OBSTACLE 3 – Share your story

If you have met Jesus, you have a story to tell. You need to tell it. What did Jesus save you from, because as Christians, there is a very real salvation we have encountered and a very real God we have come into a relationship with. I can tell you very clearly how he delivered me from the power of lust, pride, laziness and more. Not to mention stories where God showed up with provision, healing and more, for me and those around me. These stories matter. As a believer, you need to learn to tell the story of what God has done for you.

OBSTACLE 4 – Share God’s Story

If we are called to be followers of Jesus, that is going to be very difficult if we do not actually know what he did. Read the gospels! Read the letters by Paul and the other disciples! Study the story of the Old Testament, figure out what God is all about, so you can tell people about it. This is not rocket science, but to become a great witness of the Lord, you need to be able to tell his story, because it is a powerful one.

All of this could happen in 1 minute, or it could happen in over an hour, every interaction is different. If you get to this point, or if you get cut off at any point, you can ask a very simple question. “Can I pray for you?” Most people are happy for you to pray for them.

If you actually get past obstacle 4, ask someone, “Have you met God before?” Would you like to invite him to take charge of your life? He offers forgiveness and an ongoing relationship with him.