Get my new book for 85% off!!!

book banner 2

 This weekend Simply Youth Ministry is doing a massive sale on their digital books … including MINE! If you act fast you can get it for less than two bucks. That’s crazy. It’s a youth ministry book, but honestly, I wrote it for everyone with some specific illustrations that relate to ministry workers. Here’s the description the marketing people came up with for my labor of love …

When it comes to your health, God wants you to be selfish.

Crazy idea, right? But it’s totally true.

Far too many of us in church ministry choose to sacrifice our personal health because we’re deeply dedicated to our family, our ministry, or other people’s needs. But if we don’t make our health a priority, no one else will.

Veteran youth pastor Matthew McNutt knows what it’s like to be “too busy” for a healthy lifestyle—but he also knows the rewards of changing course and practicing this good kind of selfishness. A former contestant on The Biggest Loser, he’s ready to help you discover some powerful lessons about spiritual and physical health—and what it all means for those of us called to student ministry.

Scripture speaks of our bodies as the holy and sacred dwelling place of God—the temple of the Holy Spirit. That’s why a healthy you honors God. Plus, a healthy you benefits your family and close friends. And a healthy you guides teenagers toward a God-honoring perspective on food and exercise.

Your ministry will survive if you give time to yourself—in fact, over time it’ll be stronger because of it. And you will have modeled something powerful to the people you’re leading.

You can buy it here – but act fast, the price goes back up after the weekend!

 

Thoughts on writing

I love to write. I’ve written dozens of articles, had a column, contributed to two books, and blogged somewhat regularly for years. Even as child I would compose stories. As a teenager I kept a journal and was known for my short stories. In college I wrote scripts that were always well received. I am a writer.

My lifelong dream? To have a book of my own.

Which is probably why I always put it off. Dreams are sometimes easier unachieved. Not because it’s enjoyable, but because it’s safe. Without risking, the safety of never knowing failure is there.

Which explains why it has been somewhat challenging to finally start penning my first book. Is it inaccurate to say penning? Technically there are no pens involved … gotta love the digital age.

Either way, it’s finally starting to flow. I spent a couple days psyching myself out, having writer’s block before I even started. Which is amusing because it’s based on material I’ve already written, just finally being collected, rewritten, and connected in a way I’ve intended to do for a long time.

Anyway, I’m excited about it and looking forward to sharing it with everyone in the months to come. The goal is to have the manuscript completed in the next few weeks in time for a spring release.

Incarcerated Teens (my latest article)

The final entry in my three part series on ministering to adolescents facing court and/or incarceration went live today over at YouthMinistry.com! It was a challenging series for me to write; the first one dealt with ministry to young people facing a judge from the perspective of the youth worker, the second from the perspective of the family in the midst of it all (probably the most difficult article I’ve ever written due to the personal nature of it), and the third one is more of a practical how-to guide to visiting and ministering to teens who are incarcerated. Anyway, here’s the opening (you can find the full article here):

Incarcerated adolescents. Easily one of the more forgotten segments of our population. Without access to cell phones, texting, Facebook, or Skype, they feel truly cut off, whether they’re in jail, juvenile detention center, group home, or whatever else the terms of their sentencing require. They are cut off from the world and the reality is, as much as their friends and even family may promise otherwise, they oftentimes find themselves alone with an empty mailbox and no visitors. It is brutal.

It’s amazing. That same kid that ignored your talks, caused problems on retreats, and generally behaved like someone who would eventually end up where he is, will be an entirely different person when you show up to spend an hour with him. He’ll listen, open up, be excited to see you and reluctant to say goodbye. He’ll write letters to you, ask you to pray, and want to know when you can make it again.

We are wired for community and connection, and our correctional system starves young people of both. To me, it seems like a non-negotiable that we be present for these young people, whether that means finding someone to connect with them and is willing to view that connection as an ongoing ministry, or being that person ourselves.

Find the rest of the article here, and let me know what you think!

Guilty! (my latest article)

The second in my three part series on ministering to students facing court and/or incarceration went live today over at YouthMinistry.com. It was by far the hardest of the three to write, mostly because of how personal it is. I hope it can be a benefit to others. You can read the whole thing here.

My brother agreed to plead guilty in exchange for lessening and dropping some of the charges. We were naively hopeful. What we thought would be a quick appearance before a federal judge, most likely some sort of suspended sentence and a celebration afterwards turned into something else as the prosecutor unexpectedly started ripping into my brother, demanding a harsher sentence than what they had alluded to. This hadn’t been part of the deal.

It was our worst nightmare. And my brother had already pled guilty.

Those moments will be seared into my memory for ever. The judge sentencing my baby brother to two years in federal prison. The gasps of shock from others present. My mother sobbing, my dad sitting there in helpless shock. My brother looking numb, choked up. He had been a top athlete, class president, school president, active in our state politics before things fell apart in college. The kid I used to wrestle with, play in our fort together, and babysit when our parents went out was going to be locked up with who knows what kind of criminals, the worst our society has to offer, in a prison that wouldn’t be disclosed to us until later.

Read the rest of the article here.

Order in the Court (my latest article)

My latest article just went live over at Simply Youth Ministry. It’s actually the first in a three part series that will trickle out over the next couple months. It’s something I’ve wanted to write about for a while simply because of my own experiences with ministering to teens facing trials and convictions, as well as being on the other side of the issue with family members who have found themselves facing the judge. Anyway, here’s the intro … you can click through to read the rest and leave a comment so I know what you think!

It probably happens more often than you realize. A student you are connected to is arrested for some offense—or multiple offenses—and faces a court appearance. The odds are, they and their family are trying to keep it quiet.  Maybe you hear through the grapevine, maybe they actually tell you. Either way, it’s time to be assertive. Don’t wait to be asked, instead offer, repeatedly if needed, to be present, to come to the trial, to write a letter to the judge asking for leniency, to help in any way they need. If they weren’t the ones to tell you directly, let them know you heard about it and want to be available in any or all those ways.

For the student and their family, this is a months long process of fearful waiting interspersed with moments of terrifying court appearances. They will have meetings with lawyers who paint hopeful outcomes and worst possible scenarios. It literally consumes all their thoughts and will keep them awake at night. There is shame, embarrassment, anxiety, anger—a whole mix of emotions boiling throughout the entire family, not just the student being charged. And for the most part, during this time when they most desperately need others, they are probably going it alone. Read the rest here.

A Beautiful Mess | Mark Oestricher

I finished reading Mark Oestricher’s new book, ‘A Beautiful Mess,’ this afternoon. It’s not huge, so it really only took an hour or so to read, but I really love it. In a lot of ways, it felt like a natural progression from his book ‘Youth Ministry 3.0’, which I also love.

I found myself highlighting my way through the book, saving quotes to use for later.

I appreciated his affirmation of smaller, under resourced church youth groups. I agree with his observation that too many fall into the trap of thinking a showy program with expensive toys is somehow better. The reality is – we’ll never be able to compete with the glitzy stuff the rest of the world is putting together. It will always be cooler, hipper, and more incredibly cool to young people than what we can pull off, no matter the budget. Relationships truly are where it’s at. Being those loving adults in a young person’s life that they hunger for.

I think one of the strengths of the book, as opposed to so many books that identify the problems in youth ministry and come up with fixes, Oesstricher instead focuses on what he sees working throughout the country. It’s simple. It’s solid. And it’s affirming, both to the calling of youth ministry and that there are great things happening all over the place whether we realize it or not.

One quote that I am grabbing and using in my youth leader training was this:

Let me be clear about the thre three things that are necessary for great youth ministry:

  • You like teenagers.
  • You are a growing follower of Jesus.
  • You are willing to live honestly in the presence of those teenagers you like.

I love it. It sums it all up so eloquently and simply. It’s easy to remember, easy to pass on, and opens the door to a lot of great training conversations. You can find the book in both digital and physical formats here; and for a limited time, the digital versions are FREE. Grab it!