Rocking Your Minsitry Resume

Churches are smart. They realize that the possibilities of hiring a youth pastor (or even getting one on the phone) during the summer are slim to none, and hold off posting their jobs and interviewing candidates until the fall. Which means that for those of you in the market for jobs (hopefully not because of a tragic bobbing for pickles in lemon pudding accident), it’s time to work on your youth ministry resume. After having hired several youth pastors and talking to several youth ministry friends who have done the same, I have developed ten tips to help you put your best foot forward in your resume.

  1. Check Your Grammar and Spelling: I wish I didn’t have to write this, but the number of horribly written and misspelled resume’s I get every time I post a job makes me mad. Seriously, you are a grown human being. You should be able to either write complete sentences or find an English teacher to proofread your resume (or both hopefully).
  2. Ministry Oriented Objective (abbreviated): If you include an objective in your resume, make sure it expresses some of your core values as a youth minister, but KEEP IT SHORT. Your resume is about telling us about your experience, education, and skills. Wasting space on a wordy objective is just that: a waste of space.
  3. RELEVANT Experience: So you worked at Chick-fil-a when you were seventeen. I don’t care. I understand that you may not have been paid to do youth ministry for very long, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot of experience. If you are light on staff experience, add in your internships and volunteer experience. And title the section just what it is: Relevant Experience.
  4. Ministry Education: Though it is important to show that you finished (or attended) college, it is equally helpful to list any ministry mentor relationships with a single bulletpoint about how you developed as a minister. And don’t forget to list any youth ministry education conferences you attended (even as a volunteer) like youth specialties, etc.
  5. Skills Make You Shine: This is a great place for you to shine. Even if you haven’t done youth ministry for a long time, you have definitely developed skills that are VERY relevant in ministry. Don’t get too wordy but list your most ministry-relevant skills NOT covered in the earlier sections here including any special software (photoshop, pro presenter) at which you are proficient.
  6. Keep it to two(ish) pages: I know every site online tells you to keep it to one page, but they are talking about business. If there’s one universal thing I heard back from the people I asked about hiring youth pastors it’s this. There is nothing more frustrating then getting a resume that keeps it to only one page, but leaves you needing more information. So, Put your MOST impressive stuff (experience, education, skills, publications) on the first page and then supplement or complete that information on the second. Really impress on the first page so that they will want to read the second. Only split a section between pages if it is too long and un-editable. For example, if your experience spans more than three churches, just put the most recent on the first page and finish it out on the second.
  7. Bullets are Syrup: They make your resume great, but too much is… too much. If you are light on experience, add a couple more bullet points to show that you have the core competencies of being a youth pastor covered. If you have a lot of experience keep it to the two most important and impressive points for each job. And remember, these are bullet points not paragraphs.
  8. Collateral Material: If you are insanely great at something and people besides your mom have told you so repeatedly, include ONE sample as an attachment or link in your email.
  9. Your Cover Email: The days of mailing your resume off are long past, but you want to be careful about the email that accompanies it. Remember, this is your opportunity to make a great first impression. Keep it short. Three or four sentences should suffice: Hello, I found your here. I have these requirements you listed. I think I am a good match for you because. I look forward to talking to you soon. This is where you can also add a line about it being confidential if you have a crazy pastor who will fire you if you interview anywhere else.
  10. References Communicate Confidence: Though it is far from a requirement to include references with your resume, if you have people who you can trust to keep your job search on the DL, a list of references communicates confidence.
  11. A Physical Copy: Though the days of mailing your resume are over, take one printed on nice paper with you to the interview and hand it to them at the beginning. There’s something about the response to nice paper and clear print that puts you on a positive footing, and it looks especially classy to those older adults who never had to email a resume.
Now, go ahead and buy the pudding and pickles you have been thinking about since the first paragraph.

From: Youthworker Movement

God Created Rebels (or Why KONY 2012 Works)

Your phone rings right after the youth event is over. It's a mom. She reads to you from the same script again, "My son/daughter is making everything so hard. We've been arguing non-stop, and today I found out that he/she has been smoking/drinking/sneaking out/insert rebellious action here." You console; you offer reassurances, but the bottom line is: teens are rebellious. That is part of their state of being.

They are rebellious because God created them that way. That's right. God created rebellion. It's not wrong. It's not a sin. In fact, it is a necessary part of psychosocial development for teens. They need those rebellious tendencies to separate from their parents and form healthy egos. If it weren't for our tendency to rebel as teens, we would end up in overly-enmeshed family relationships that would not allow us to function as adults. 

The problem is that, in the developed world, teens are exposed to very little that is worthy of rebellion. Their lives are sheltered and comfortable. They do not experience the terror of bombings or the horror of losing half of the people they know to curable diseases or seeing their family members arrested for speaking out against an oppressive political regime. For many, their largest rebellion is dyeing their hair a radical color or dressing in clothes their parents dislike.

That's why KONY 2012 is so powerful. Regardless of what you think about Invisible Children or the founders, they have done two things quite well. They have raised an issue that is worthy of rebellion and given a method of rebellion that is accomplishable by teens. Students long to rebel, and if we do not give them things worthy of that rebellion, they will express it in whatever trivial ways are presented to them.

This is what I love about youth ministry. We have such powerful tools in our students. There is a passion available to them that is unmatched in any other stage of life, and this passion is paired with this need to rebel. 

Here's the question for the day: how are we guiding that passion and rebellion? What are we lifting up as worthy causes? If the most we can offer is a scavenger hunt or random act of kindness, we have missed an incredible opportunity. 

So maybe KONY 2012 is not your bag. Maybe you don't want to spend all night raising awareness for this cause, but there are so many incredible places to find other worthy causes. I'll be honest, as United Methodists we do a poor job producing great Bible study material. It's true. We don't have a Beth Moore or a David Platt, but we do have incredible justice ministry. We do have ministries engaging with issues worthy of rebellion.

Look at Imagine No Malaria . This organization is working to END malaria in sub-saharan Africa. If you are interested, there's even a church-wide study (with youth curriculum ) that ties in with INM.
In many of the most tragic world disasters UMCOR is the first relief organization to have feet on the ground and the last to leave. What's more they have great hands on ways to support through flood buckets, layette kits and more.  Then, there's the US-2 program and others like it that give young adults an opportunity to serve full-time as missionaries without having to raise their own support.

Don't let this week pass without considering how you will channel the rebellious passion of your students to make the world look more like heaven and less like the messed up place it used to be.

From: YouthWorker Movement

Make an Impact on MLK

I was talking to a friend of mine a couple weeks ago and she told me about this interesting project that RETHINK Church is doing.  It's called America's Sunday Supper.  Basicaly, they're teaming up with Points of Light Institute and HandsOn Network for this program to promote community and involvement around societal issues. 

The event happens the Sunday evening before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  You decide to host a meal and work to bring people from diverse backgrounds together to share a meal and discuss issues that affect your community and possibly serve in some way.  What a great way to get your youth not only involved in community issues, but inviting all sorts of peers to dialogue about what is happening in their world.  

As I understand it, the goal is to get people talking or acting or both.  So how about hosting a dinner that focuses on bullying, cheating, discrimination, civil rights, or... you get the idea.  It is much easier to get non-religious and nominally religious[1] teens to an event with this sort of focus than some Christian band they've never heard of.  To sign up to host or attend one, just go to Let me know how it goes!

[1] Yeah, I stole that great terminology from Church of the Resurrection

Set World Records at Your Next Event

I was watching some podcast Brian Brushwood was on when I first discovered  This is a online, user-generated world record site.  (I almost feel foolish writing anything else because I know your brains are already spinning on this one.)  It’s easy.  After signing up, you post a video as proof.  They review it and then confirm you made or broke the record.
After hearing about this, one of our students immediately went and broke the record for number of times saying “pretty” before “good” in one breath.  He was beaten soon after by a girl from Canada, but rest assured that he considered it a matter of national pride to get this  record back in American hands!
So, we hosted a world record event and set a bunch of great ones that are being verified as I type.  As a fun promo for the event our staff broke several records including my own world record:

From: YouthMinistryGeek

Feature Article Published in Group Magazine

I am very excited to share the news with you all.  Group Magazine, one of the leading Youth Ministry publications has published a feature article written by me on constructing and delivering effective messages to teens in the May/June 2011 issue.  Though I have had several reviews and ideas published in Group, this is my first feature.  The title of the article is, "Top Ten Bonehead Mistakes We Make With Our Messages."  Though I think everyone should of course run out to their local Family Bookstore or Lifeway and pick up a copy (or better yet subscribe on their website), I am glad to share one of the mistakes here:

04 The Blatant Act of Plagiarism

I can't tell you how many times I have heard Louis Giglio's talk, "How Great is Our God," the one with the planets and the cross-shaped molecule, and only once has a person actually given him credit.  Besides the obvious moral problem, you will almost never be as effective giving someone else’s talk as you will giving an original.

There’s nothing wrong with using source material and even those prefab talks you get in a lot of youth ministry products, but make them your own.  Change the order, illustrations, and wording so that it makes sense to you, and if you didn’t write the majority of it, mention let your audience know that.

{the following is not in the article... WEB EXCLUSIVE :-) } I think the motivation to not quote sources is either that the pastor wants to appear smarter than they really are, or they feel like people wouldn't respect them if they are not using original material.  But the truth is, it doesn't matter!  Several weeks ago, I used images of Jesus taken out of a book by Alan and Debra Hirsch in my sermon.  I mentioned them by name before I went into the images and even referenced them on all the slides.  Throughout the week, I got comment after comment of people talking about them as if I had come up with them.  No one faulted me for quoting someone else, and many didn't even remember it was someone else's.  There is absolutely NOTHING to loose by referencing your source material.

Credit Card Payments Everywhere with Square

Every time we have been gearing up for some fundraiser or another, I think (at the last minute), "It sure would be convenient if we could take credit card donations/ payments easily. A couple weeks later I have the same thought about registrations for camp. Each time I remember my research into the cost of machine with the receipt paper, the percentage off each sale it takes as well as the per transaction fee and decide it is not worth the hassle.

Then I stumbled upon Square.

Square is simple. From the little one inch by one inch plastic reader that plugs into the headphone jack on your phone (iOS or android) to the flat 2.75% fee per swipe to the super-straightforward, free app there is one word to describe it: simple.

Did I mention cheap? All you have to do to get the reader is give them basic accounting information and they mail it, at no charge, to your home or office a couple days later. How do they make money? Most places charge variable rate fee from 2.5%-5% per transaction and a $0.15 per transaction fee. Some level the percentage to three or three and a half, but square is cheap and simple. 2.75% per card swipe transaction.

The Square app is super easy to use. All you do is download the app, plug in the dongle, log in and you are ready to take a payment. To do that, you enter the amount and an optional description (we put the budget line item and the event) and swipe their card. They are then taken to a signature screen where they can sign with a finger or stylus if you have one. When they press the continue button, they are prompted to enter a cell number or email address where the app immediately sends a link to a receipt for the transaction. The money is then deposited (one lump sum deposit per day) into whichever account you provide.

You then have access to all that data (minus the full card number) in their clean, user friendly site which will allow you to download it in excel format with a ton of data attached to each transaction.

A couple of weeks ago I was stopped on Sunday morning on my way to the youth area by a member who said that he was sorry that he had not yet brought me his donation for a fundraiser.  He never has his checkbook at church.  I told him that I could take a credit card, and he was relieved.  I plugged in the square dongle, opened the app, swiped his card and it was done.  Brilliant.

Simple, cheap and brilliant, but not perfect. If you want to use this for multiple ministries, it may get difficult. You will have to sort through all the transactions to figure out which one went to which ministry. It would be nice if they could have sub-accounts to break things out easily.

Overall, I am telling everyone I meet to stop whatever they are doing, go to the Square website and start making life easier for them and their members.

From: YouthMinistryGeek.

Good Friday, Cucufixion, Palm Sunday Lesson

This is a excerpt of a curriculum I wrote for the Church-wide series Fearless, The Courage to Question.  Though it deals specifically with the crucifixion, it can be situated to work on Palm Sunday.  To do this, highlight the fact that it is only a couple of days between the "Hosanna!" of Palm Sunday and the "Crucify Him!" of good Friday.  We often live our faith in that fickle way which makes the call to repentance even stronger.

The lesson revolves around this:

What a curious story.  God descends from heaven and is born of a woman.  After a life full of wisdom and peace, the God who has the power to raise the dead and create the sun with a word allows himself to suffer the most excruciating, horrific death imaginable by those he has come to love and save.  It is a moment of total exposure for humanity.  There has never been such a clear moment of depravity than when we crucified our own savior.

It simultaneously reveals the perfection of love that was Jesus Christ.  No matter how you look at this, there is a wise man of peace and love who displays His love in the most dramatic, extravagant way possible.

We share in the blame.  Though we were not living in first century Palestine, we have done the same.  The communion service says it best:
“We have not done your will,
We have broken your law,
We have rebelled against your love,
We have not loved our neighbors,
And we have not heard the cry of the needy.”

There is time for celebration, but there is also time to grieve and repent.  That is the call of the crucifixion.  The hope and joy of Easter is coming, but we have to mourn the tragedy and shame of the cross: shame to Jesus, but even more a shame to us as a people.  This is the moment in this great and curious epic God is telling where a hard light shines on the flaws of humanity revealing to the world all the darkness and brokenness.  That is why we grieve; that is why we repent.

Click Here to Download the PDF.


One Night for Nigeria (Super Bowl with A Purpose)

Our youth and church met an amazing man this past summer. His name is Raphael and he is doing some amazing things in Nigeria. I have explained it in detail here, but the gist is that he is training leaders how to use simple things like gravel and bricks to bring clean drinking water and smoke-free kitchens to their people thereby eliminating two of the top four causes of death in his area.

He only needs $50 per leader to bring them in for two days, feed them, and give them all the supplies and training they need to create one water filter and one fuel efficient cookstove! That should blow your mind... $50 saves a family!

Our youth are making this year's super bowl party about raising money for this essential project. Each student who comes pays $5 (4 of which goes to Raphael). They are all raising money on their own by doing chores, skipping fast food for a couple of weeks, etc.
How Can You Help?
  • Agree to partner with our students by giving a dollar or fifty cents per student who comes
  • Donate some food or other item to offset our cost for the event
  • Send your students and their friends (or bring your friends if you are a teenager) to the party on February 6 at 5pm.
  • Help us Promote the event on Facebook, with email forwards... you can link to this article too!.

Art and the Wailing Wall

The last several months have been great in our youth ministry. We have seen several new ministries started by our teens, and some great creative offerings. Becca has been similarly moved and expressed her thoughts far more eloquently than I on her blog; however, as I was walking through our youth facility today, I swelled with pride for the ministry that they are doing. Below are several pictures that alternate between honest cries to God and artistic expressions by our Photography team that delve into being filled up and poured out.

The wailing wall is something that was suggested in The Kingdom Experiment. We are using this amazing small group resource for some of our life groups, and mine decided to do this community option suggested in it. All we did was tape the words wailing wall to an existing wall along with a cup to hold pens and some post-its. We each posted a prayer request to the wall and allowed God to do the rest. The result is a place where students are crying out like the Israelites in the desert. My heart is broken every time I read the new notes, and I am forced to my knees by the weight of their concerns. I guess my prayer now is, "God hear the cries of your people." Stop by sometime and join your prayers with ours.


There's an app for that.

I have always been intrigued by why some of the weirder stories are in the Bible. Though they are usually quite entertaining, they are not always as easy to apply to your life. I am really excited about this series we are starting this week called iLife where we are going to take some of these stories and allow God to help us apply them to our lives so that we can grow closer to him. The four topics are: Forgiveness, Worship, Prayer, and Mission. Here's the preview video we made for it. I think it turned out really well.

Recruiting Volunteers

Originally posted on

I have heard many ideas on how to recruit volunteers, and tried everything from catchy inserts to booths at ministry fairs to pleading from the pulpit, and all have had marginal results. Why? They are impersonal. When Jesus wanted to recruit, what did he do? He walked up to people and asked them to follow him.

If you ask people in your church why they do not volunteer, many of them will say that it is because they have not been asked. So here is the method I have found to be the most productive at finding volunteers:

The Six Steps

First, you need to have a place to put them. It sounds obvious, but many times we ask people to show up to something and then have nothing for them to do. Develop several types of roles that volunteers can fill that vary in amount of interaction with students and amount of time required.

Second, you need to realize that the people most willing to help with your students are their parents because they have a vested interest in seeing the youth ministry succeed. Ask them first. Then, get leads from you volunteers. Finally, walk around looking panicked after worship and see who asks if you are ok.

Third, when you ask, have a specific task in mind. People get frustrated when you offer too much, wait until they cannot do what you are asking to bring out the whole volunteer menu.
Read the rest...