A 15 Minute Devotional Format for Busy Students – Try “PALS”

Cafe open - PALS 10 Minute Devo

One of the highlights of my week is when I meet at a nearby cafe at 6:45 a.m., Friday mornings with my son and 8-12 of his friends who are high school juniors. All we do is drink coffee, eat cinnamon rolls, and spend 15 minutes discussing a passage of Scripture and how it might relate to their lives and their school.

Students are busy these days. I wish I could change that, but just like surfing… its not very effective to fight against the wave, it usually works out better to just ride it. So I’ve started using a 10 Minute Devotional format I call “PALS.”

5 Priorities for Mentoring Chinese Church Leaders

If I had a thousand pounds China should have it- if I had a thousand lives, China should have them. No! Not China, but Christ. Can we do too much for Him? Can we do enough for such a precious Saviour? -Hudson Taylor (circa 1900)

5 mentoring needs of leaders in China

The church in China has been growing rapidly for many years. We know some things about the development student ministry in China but it is still somewhat of a mystery to the outside world. Yet one thing that China has a lot of is students. So what challenges will the Chinese church face in the coming decades as they raise up the next generation of young leaders? How will they provide the needed mentoring to grow the church and reach the millions of Chinese who do not yet know Jesus? Here are 5 current needs for mentoring among Chinese church leaders…

8 Ways to Recruit and Retain More Volunteers for Your Church or Non-Profit

How to recruit and retain volunteers

Non profits and churches depend on volunteers. A non-profit organization without a growing community of volunteers is like a ranch without enough ranch hands. Things break down and eventually the ranch goes belly up. A great vision or cause gets a non-profit started or a church planted, but without teams of healthy, motivated, volunteers to help, you will likely not go the distance. To finish what you have started you need a steady stream of volunteers joining in and remaining on board.

Volunteers freely offer to undertake a task. They want to do what they are doing or they wouldn’t be doing it. So can you recruit and retain more volunteers for your mission? Here’s how…

Burned Out? Ministry Longevity Depends on Proper Motivation

burned outDid you know that the average tenure of a youth pastor is somewhere around 9 months?  My friend Mike Dodge, with Canterbury Youth Services tracked the ministry of youth pastors for several years in New Zealand and he verified this statistic. It doesn’t take a rocket science to look at that number and think there must be some sort of a problem in the system.

If you invest in young people as a parent or youth leader, if you are a youth pastor or know a youth pastor, then this article is for you. I could suggest many reasons why youth pastors and youth workers on average don’t last very long in ministry, but I would rather approach this from a more positive angle. Young people in every culture and every city need committed leaders to pursue them with the Gospel. We can’t afford to avoid the topic of sustainability in youth ministry because it is one of student ministry’s greatest threats.

15 Ways to Help Students Find Peace they are Longing for through the Gospel…

photo by Anthony Testa - Into the Wilderness - Torino, Italy

The world has many questions but not very many answers to our deepest needs. Students, ages 13-25 in particular are beginning to shift from a totally concrete view of the world to a more abstract perspective.

10 Ways Your Parenting Might Be Crippling Your Kids’ Leadership Potential

Kathy Caprino’s recent article in Forbes highlighted 7 ways parents may be contributing to the stunted growth of their kids’ leadership potential. She interviewed a guy named Tim Elmore who has written some books on leadership. From the article, he seems to have a pretty good pulse on the current generation of youth and parents.


  1. We don’t let our children experience risk
  2. We rescue too quickly
  3. We rave too easily
  4. We let guilt get in the way of leading well
  5. We don’t share our past mistakes
  6. We mistake intelligence, giftedness and influence for maturity
  7. We don’t practice what we preach

I love this list and it really challenges me in some of my common parenting mistakes (the article really fleshes this out, I recommend reading it).


As a parent and a youth worker I thought of three more things that I would probably add to this list. These are 3 common ways we stunt the leadership potential in our kids:

  1. We subtly communicate the false notion that we are more different from one another than we are alike.
  2. We fail to show respect to our kids in ways they need it.
  3. We unknowingly communicate that we are doubting they have what it takes.

If you’d like to delve further into ways you can avoid these pitfalls, please read my post: 3 Things Teenagers Need to Hear from Adults.

To read Caprino’s full article, “7 Crippling Parenting Behaviors That Keep Children From Growing Into Leaders,”  just follow the link below from my Twitter feed.

3 Things Teenagers Need to Hear from Adults

 Teenagers in Nepal

Distance is what adolescents often feel from adults. They think adults don’t understand them, are vastly different from them, and don’t struggle with what they struggle with. This could not be further from the truth. Here are three things that teenagers need to constantly hear from you through verbal and nonverbal vibes…

Youth Devotions that Capitalize on a Mountain Top Experience

photo by Thomas Haines

Every student ministry organization wrestles with the quandry of what to do with mountain top experiences. Young people are impacted by a retreat or leadership camp and the idealistic side of them is tapped. At the summit of their emotions and desires they want to change the world. This is normal and good. All of us need mountain top experiences from time to time to gain new perspective or to be reminded of things God has already spoken to us that we have forgotten. Here’s how…

5 Bible Study Tools to Improve Your Small Group Meetings | The VISION Inductive Study Method

VISION Inductive Bible Study Method

They key to a great Bible study and discussion with young people is helping them discover the truth in the passage. There is an art to writing good questions that will invite participation. These Bible study tools take time and effort. When you start out it can be overwhelming to try to write well-crafted questions that will help your group understand the meaning of the passage and how to apply it to their lives. That’s why I put together the VISION Inductive Bible Study method. It’s one of the simplest Bible study tools you can find. It helps you take any passage of Scripture and write compelling questions that will help your group learn its meaning and the implications of what it teaches to their lives. Here’s how…