planet Wisdom


With this kiddos all tucked in bed, or at least in their rooms,I find myself wanting something to do at 12:15am.  I know I should sleep, but it is hard with a room to myself and I haven’t gone though the night time routine with Eden and Katie. 

Because the gym was closed I took some time to make a little reading nook (a more mature way of saying fort out of sheets) where I am going to crash and read. 

I am just reminded that this small group of students we have with us is such a blessing.  There are time in ministry where I really feel blessed to be a pastor.  Sharing this weekend journey with them is one of those times. 

The 85% Statistic is Back

 Activity-MonitorI saw this post the other week and I thought that it was really interesting.  It has been rolling around in my mind along with a quote from Kenda Creasy Dean that says that, “youth ministry is the R&D of the church.”  Makes me think about how youth are a great barometer for the health of the church.   Perhaps the exception to this is Churches like National Community Church in DC where 70% of the congregation is single twenty somethings, and in a very transient area. 

Take a look at the article, I found it to be some great food for thought.  Follow the link and scroll to the comments to read  other people’s thoughts on what Kara Powell wrote. 

You’ve perhaps heard the infamous statistic that 80-85% of people who become Christians do so before age 14.  We youth workers especially love quoting that data when we’re asking for a larger ministry budget.

There hasn’t appeared to be lots of hard data to back up that stat.  But maybe that’s changed.

Sociologist Dr. Christian Smith and his team at the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR) have studied teenagers of all religious persuasions (Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Religiously Indifferent, etc.).  He reports in his new book, Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults, that 85% of those 18-23 who have ever made a commitment to God did so before age 14.

Remember, the study includes teenagers and young adults of all religious persuasions, and it’s not entirely clear from the book what students mean what they say they have “made a commitment to God”.

But nonetheless, this is the best data I’ve seen in a while that supports that 85% statistic.

The 85% Statistic is Back — and Pretty Strong Actually | Fuller Youth Institute

Guess Who?

guess whoOver the Christmas break I was able to watch as some kids at Katie’s winter break camp played games.  On of the games was a favorite of mine back in the day.  It was “Guess Who”.  This is the game where you try to guess through a process of questions and elimination which person your opponent has chosen.  There was always a little self-satisfaction as you swipe down an eliminated candidate with a thwack of the board.  The only downside was if you got a girl (there were about 4 in total )or someone with a hat (maybe 5 total).  Soon you would realize that the game would be coming to an end because of the lack of diversity in the game. 

Regardless of that, I saw the importance of coming up with good questions so that you could weed out the losers from the winner.  I think the importance is true with youth ministry as well.  We need to be able to ask great questions and follow-up questions to get at the heart of who our kids are. 

I have tried to come up with some of my thoughts about asking questions, but i would like to hear yours too.  I know that I am very bad at this and so it has taken some work and effort to get to the place where I am.  Here is my brain dump of question asking:

  1. Start slow: Start off with something easy.  Ask for some information about a student that isn’t really taxing and so you can get an idea of where they are located in life.
  2. Open a Door: Ask open ended questions where there is no “yes” or “no” answer.  This will make them think and give you something else to talk about. 
  3. Care by listening: Allow the conversation to build on what they have already talked about.  Don’t just ask your questions without thinking about what the students are saying.  Asking follow-up questions will show that you are listening and that you do care.  Having an adult really listen is something that many students lack in their lives and is meaningful. 
  4. Repeat:  Check back in with them the following week about something that they shared with you (a sporting event, test, birthday…).  I have to write these things down or I forget.  But, it is always cool when people remember what is important to you from week to week. 

What are some other ways you have found to ask great questions?

Homeless for a Night Recap




An Article by Carlee Lammers

The youth of Middletown United Methodist Church held a Homeless for a Night event on Dec. 5-6 to raise awareness of homelessness and hunger not only in the surrounding communities, but across the United States.  Approximately 82 children in Middletown live under the poverty level, 1,140 people in Frederick County face homelessness every year, and nationwide as many as 3.5 million people experience being homeless.

After being confronted with these hard facts the youth of MUMC challenged their congregation to make an impact in regards to this immense issue. They started the event off with a door-to-door canned food collection asking for items that were in great need by the Middletown Food Bank.  The youth were able to collect over 650 canned food and personal care items.

For dinner they traded in their usual pizza and soda, for a simpler diet of rice and beans, which is very similar to what two-thirds of the world eats on a daily basis.  Members of their congregation came to share their own personal testimonies of their experiences with homelessness and hunger.  The members shared their eye opening experiences of being out on the streets, stereotyped, cold, hungry, and worst of all lonely and empty.

“(I think) the worst part is the treatment they receive and the emotional pain from knowing that no one wants you- your family, your friends, no one,” said member of MUMC youth group Sayre Posey.

The youth then broke into groups, and each group was given five-dollars to purchase healthy food to feed a family of four for one day.  They then realized just how difficult it is to feed a family a healthy meal on such a limited budget.

” It made me realize how quickly you can spend 5 dollars and not even have a full meal, which made shopping really hard,” said MUMC youth group member Meagan Parker.

The whole MUMC congregation raised five-hundred-sixty-dollars to be donated towards heating homes in the local area, packed 142 shoeboxes with Christmas presents for children around the world, and given gifts to men at the Frederick Rescue Mission.

The youth along with their congregation aren’t stopping now. They made plans to continue to raise awareness and be in ministry to the homeless and hungry community.

Homeless for a Night Recap :

Bummer for the YM community


Marco is one of the most influential youth workers I have come across.  Recently he wrote the book youth ministry 3.0.  this has been a book that has provided me with some great reflection about the way that i am currently in ministry. 

Youth Specialties let him go as a result of a differing opinion as to where Zondervan would like to see youth specialties go.  I am anxious for what this means for youth specialties.  Yet, I know that Marko is going to find fruitful ministry along the next chapter of his faith journey. 

I am excited to see where God leads Marko and he is my my prayers. 

YS removes Marco from his position as the president of Youth Specialties.  The full Youth Specialties press release is right here.

Book Review: Unleashing God’s Word

As i have been thinking about the books that i have found useful there has been a torrent of books that i have thought about as I have begun to try and resource youth workers with some of the better youth ministry books. 

Unleashing God’s Word in youth ministry had been a really great resource for me in developing studies for youth, young adults, and adult study.  Also Shafer has some really great and unique thinking about ways that we can invite students to inductively study God’s word.  He outlines a number of different ways to read through scripture so that you can digest the text layer by layer. 

He also has a number of different suggestions for a scope plan so that you are not just studying the parts of scripture you or youth group prefers. 

Barry also has put the tools into practice through a collection of inductive studies.  I have the one he did on the gospel of John and it is very good.  I am always skeptical when there is a book about how to study the Bible because I tend to look for the author’s hidden agenda or theology. 

I would suggest that you check out this great resource. 

Final Grade: A


Get Lost!!! :


farmville copyHey come to the corn maze with MUMC and get lost with us.  We are going to Lawer’s farm corn maze.

Cost is $5 and kids under 5 are free.  A flashlight, warm clothes and old shoes are a good idea.  Extra money for snack, and if you would like to do the pumpkin cannon would be a consideration.

We are asking families meet us there at 4:30. The youth group will be leaving church at 4 to take youth kids.  The address for the farm is: 13001 Creagerstown Rd., Thurmont, MD 21788.  The web address for the farm is

it will be great fun hope to see you there

Get Lost!!! :