Sin Is Still the Issue

I was reading some James and Proverbs this morning and was struck with an intriguing thought: Sin is still the issue.

God is still the solutions, our love and our hope. But sin is still the issue.

Sometimes, in my pursuit of God, I get caught up in, well, God. … forget

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the problem is still sin.

In our youth ministry: Issin the issue? Are we striving to help our students still up a rightous frustration, even anger towards sin?…

November 9: IDOP for the Persecuted Church


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try not to use acronyms as much as possible, but “International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on November 9, 2008″ was just too long for a blog title…

Christianity in the U.S. is dead

I apologize in advance to all those that think this is too much “doom and gloom.” I trust that America, and the world, is in God’s hands, and that I am a simple partner in His

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work here on earth. And I believe that if things are going to change, He is the one that will make it happen.

But these stats stand for themselves and are worth noticing.

How to USE a Purpose Statement

youth ministry coffee shop purpose statement strategic planningDid you know that 84% of purpose statements don't significantly impact a youth group the way they could? And did you know that 95 of statistics are made up on the spot? ;)

Writing a purpose statement is always an exciting time. It's inspiring to dream and pray about what God could do through the youth group.

But no matter how inspiring a purpose statement is, that does not guarantee that it will make an impact. We've all made banners of purpose statements and hung them up with all the fanfare, only to let them sit and collect dust. The hard part is actually using them.

Here are a couple tips to help bring your purpose statement to life so that you can use it to strengthen your ministry and disciple students.

Set clear goals to accomplish your purpose statement. Start as far out as possible, like with a 30 year BHAG. Then break it down to goals for the next 5 years, for this next year, and finally for this quarter. It's hard work, but it pays off.

LIVE by those goals, every week and every day. Keep them in front of you and use them to set your agenda each day. Constantly ask yourself, “Is what I'm doing right now accomplishing this quarter's goals?” If not, don't do it!

Review all of your goals each quarter and set new quarter goals. Did you accomplish last quarter's goals? Why or why not? What did you learn?

Revise everything annually. Your purpose statement and big goals may not change much, but always be ready to make adjustments as you go along. Don't keep goals just because you used to think they were a good idea. If they're not a good idea anymore, change them.

Involve others in the process. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). Don't do it alone. Find wise counsel and listen to their opinions and advice regularly. And talk with your senior pastor to align the youth group with the rest of the church.

Pray, pray and pray. In each step of the process, ask the Lord to direct your steps and to give you wisdom and insight. Just “doing ministry” doesn't change hearts or lives. We need to remind ourselves of our need for Him, especially when we think we have it all together.


Nathaniel Dame is leading a new online training opportunity for youth pastors to study how to lead on purpose, make the most of every discipleship opportunity, and develop a committed, engaged adult leadership team.

Youth pastors will also learn how to create and live by a purpose statement to make a deeper impact, and they will be given a simple yet effective 2 Page Strategic Plan template.

This online training is a unique small-group experience titled Creating a Movement of Student Discipleship.

A new session starts soon–register by THIS FRIDAY for the best rate. To learn more visit or email

Nathaniel is the president and founder of Called to Youth Ministry. He lives with his wife Christa and his son Josiah in Woodstock, IL.


Planning: Why Bother?

student ministry planning“I tried making an annual plan for my youth group, once…”

So what's the big deal about planning? Things never quite happen like you expect, so maybe it doesn't seem worth the effort. And life + youth group is already crazy–why add one more thing to the to-do list?

A truly effective plan for youth ministry doesn't just take up time. It helps you save time and make the most out of the limited time that you do have. In fact, effective planning should be front and center in every youth ministry.

1000's of Ideas
Right now you can run into any Christian bookstore, lay down $20, and walk away with hundreds if not thousands of youth ministry ideas in your hands. Is that a good things?

In the end, it might not be. We all love sifting through ideas and looking for the good stuff–it's important to always learn & try new things. But what happens when we're driven by ideas more than vision?

It's easy to let happen. Instead of running after that God-inspired vision for ministry, uniquely fit to the church and community we minister in to reach and disciple students, we're just scrambling for something to do this week.

Ideas are helpful, but we need to be driven by vision. And that takes planning.
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Jesus lived purposefully, on purpose, while constantly staying connected with the Father. He knew where He was headed, and He was constantly praying and listening to the Father for direction for the future.

To make the most of our short time on earth, we should be planners, too. That doesn't mean we need to figure out our 30 year goal, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Plans change as we learn, adapt and grow, but pro-active planning keeps us focused and at the top of our game.

Leading purposefully is the only way we can make the most of the unique opportunities we have as youth pastors. And the “hard work” of planning always pays off.


Nathaniel Dame is the president and founder of Called to Youth Ministry, and he leads a new online training opportunity for youth pastors titled Creating a Movement of Student Discipleship.

During this unique small-group experience, youth pastors learn how to lead

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on purpose, make the most out of every discipleship opportunity, and develop a committed, engaged adult leadership team.

A new session starts soon–register by August 6th for the best rate. To learn more visit or email




Emergent Church Humor

A friend sent me this link, funny stuff!

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I appreciate some things the “Emergent Church” movement has to offer, such as a strong focus on social justice. But there are many things in the movement that worry me greatly, such as the deconstruction of absolute truth, and little emphasis on the forgiveness of Christ.


The Jones Toaster

youth ministry toasterI love my in-laws. In fact, we have a great relationship, and I've enjoyed not only marrying their beautiful daughter, but becoming a part of their family.

But every family has it's quirks, and one of the Jones quirks is their toaster. It always makes me smile.

Toast is the most popular breakfast item in the Jones household, and they have one of those long toasters that holds four slices of bread at a time. The trick is getting it toasted just right.

Since time began, every morning after the toast pops up, Mom or Dad Jones would press the level down again because it's never quite finished the first time. Then usually mid way through the 2nd cycle, they hit the cancel button and the toast comes out just right.

Why not just change the settings on the toaster to make it toast more the first time? Well, the toaster fits neatly in the corner by the stove, and in that position you never see the dial because it's pressed up against the wall.

For a while they even forgot that dial existed, and when I discovered it I was forbidden to touch it. That's because the dial is set to the lowest possible setting. The whole family has an ingrained habit of toasting everything twice. If anybody changes that dial and forgets to set it back, tomorrow morning the toast is going to get burned.

So when you talk to my wife about toasters, she thinks about her family's toaster that she grew up with. In the same way, when she began to learn about her heavenly Father, she thought about her own father (fortunately she had a great example).

My point is this: Every family has it's quirks. Do you know your students' families? Have you taken the time to try to learn about their past?

In youth ministry, so much of our students' perception of God is put through the “filter” of what they learn at home, whether good or bad. If we don't take the time to learn what “filters” they see the world through, we may not know what they need so that the seed of God's Word falls on good soil in their lives.

Take time to ask questions about your students' family and past, and then listen. It's an easy task, yet one with great rewards.

“But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Matthew 13:23


Training in Chicago, and Why I’m Passionate About Youth Ministry

I believe it was John Maxwell who first coined the phrase “leadership cup.” (This is the same John Maxwell that was arrested for bringing a handgun through security at an airport. Don’t believe me? Google it. I dare you. Funny story. It’s true, and it was an accident.)

A person’s leadership cup is their capacity to lead others. Some people have a huge leadership cup. John Maxwell has sold over 13 million books and trained 2 million leaders worldwide. His leadership cup is massive (although we all make mistakes now and then). Other people have leadership cups of various sizes. How big is yours?

The great thing about your leadership cup is that you can grow and make it bigger. Some people are born with big leadership cups and a natural ability to lead others. But if that’s not you, most of the skills and traits of a good leader can still be learned, and that’s good news for all of us. That means we can always grow our potential.

Man do I love youth ministry. (Did I mention I’m bad at transitions?) I love fighting for students, blessing them, serving them, walking with them, and showing them what it means to know Christ’s love and walk with Him.

I love getting together with youth pastors because we have so much in common, even if we’ve never met. Nothing needs to be said: We’d give it all for students.

And I love youth ministry because, unfortunately, we are sometimes the last line of defense for students. If there is nobody else praying for the students in our communities, we won’t give up. We’ll keep praying, keep loving, and keep serving, in Jesus’ name.

What’s that got to do with your leadership cup? One of the hardest parts about being a youth pastor is balancing your passion for the “one” and for the “multitudes.” Jesus said He would leave the 99 for one lost sheep (Matt 18:12). Another time, when crowds of followers were begging him to say, He told them He must continue on to preach the good news to the other towns too (Luke 4:43).

As disciples of Christ and student leaders, we often have to make similar hard choices: How much time do I devote to individuals, and how much time do I devote to the “multitudes”?

You can grow your leadership cup and reach more students. As a youth pastor, I understand that you are giving everything you have to reach and disciple the students you have today. But you also have a heart to impact the hundreds and even thousands of students in your town that still don’t know the Lord. God’s heart also yearns for both those in your group and those that don’t yet know Him. The good news is that you can grow your leadership cup to make an even greater impact in the future.

Be encouraged. Through prayer, learning, and practice, you can grow your leadership cup—and help grow the leadership cup of your leaders—to reach more students tomorrow. And as we grow closer to Him, we will better understand and fulfill God’s heart, “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Training Event in Chicago
On Saturday, January 30th, 2010, Called to Youth Ministry is hosting a powerful training event for youth pastors and youth leaders in northwest Chicagoland. This will be a great chance for youth pastors to grow their leadership cup.

After the event, each youth pastor will receive two freebies which we pray will be a huge blessing for you and your students: 1) A free one-on-one youth ministry consultation with a youth ministry coach to discuss the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of your youth ministry, and 2) two months of additional youth ministry training and coaching.

In addition, several local area youth pastor network leaders will be at the event. If you have not yet plugged into a network, this is your chance.

For info and to register online, visit

I hope you can join us! If you have any questions, feel free to call or email me.

By God's Grace,


Video: One More Reason to Celebrate Him (Louie Giglio)

Wow. Laminin. So amazing!

We will never fully grasp the endless aspects of God. And He gives us so much to marvel at in His creation. Here's just one more reason to praise Him this Christmas season!

(If you can't see the video below, click here.)