One of the things I appreciate about our ministry partners at TIU and TEDS is that they are creating pathways for young emerging leaders designed to maximize their training AND minimize their costs. Dr. Bill Donahue leads an innovative pastoral leadership program at Trinity that will equip your students for a life of ministry! In just 5 years – instead of 7 – they can complete their college requirements and graduate with a Master of Divinity Degree from one of the finest seminaries in the world – TEDS!

It’s affordable, focused, developmental, and time-saving. Clearly costs for higher education continue to rise, putting stress on students and families alike. Thanks to some generous donors and TIU scholarship funds – and some very creative thinking – TIU and TEDS have crafted an approach that reduces costs by 60% and gets students started in their ministry career two years early.

I encourage you to go to the TIU website and get the details. As a key influencer in the EFCA and mentor in the lives of your students, Dr. Donahue and the TIU/TEDS leadership believe that you have a good grasp who may be interested in this unique pathway to ministry.

There are still a few slots open for this year’s cohort. Dr. Donahue would love to connect with any students who you believe would be good candidates. You can contact him at or the Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Jordan Bryant – at (847) 317-7000.

Help Students Think Critically

Reach Students – April 21, 2014 Leave a comment

The Noah movie created quite a splash in the Christian blogosphere. I’ll admit I have not yet seen the movie and am not sure if or when I will.

I appreciated Dr. Brian Mattson’s very informative post entitled, “Sympathy for the Devil,” along with his follow up posts (they are linked to the bottom of his original post). If you’ve not yet read or seen Mattson’s critique of the move and admonition to Christian leaders, I would encourage you to do so. Continue Reading…

Bigger is not better, but it is often more complex. This is why we specifically designed Momentum for leaders in large youth ministries—regular attendance of 100+ in high school or middle school.

This 48 hour round-table gathering is built around three values that I think help to make it effective, helpful, and fun.

Connection – We want everyone to walk away with at least one person they can call anytime during the year and ask a question. There is lots of space for relationships.

Conversation – It’s structured around dialogue rather than presentations. In fact, it is the participants who create the agenda. This way we’re only spending time talking about issues that those in the room really want to discuss.

Collaboration – We always start our time by saying that “there is nothing to lose and nothing to prove.” No one in the room has it all figured out. We draw on one another’s experience, knowledge and strength. The parts are only as strong as the sum of the whole.

If you’re currently seeing 100+ students in either your high school or middle school ministry, we’d love to have you join us around the table this coming November. 

For more information contact Kelly at or register here!

Faith Strengthens When It’s Given Away

Reach Students – April 7, 2014 4 Comments

blog give it away.001None of us stepped into student ministry so we could run a program. We all long to see a genuine movement of disciples developed, empowered and released to make disciples. What gives us all incredible joy in student ministry is seeing a teenager walking closely with Jesus and sharing that relationship with others.

This current generation, the Millennials, is the largest generation in history (Check out this book on Millennials). Not only are they quickly becoming one of our largest mission fields, but they also have the capability to be an incredible sending force. But we can’t keep simply doing youth group. We have to have a clear disciplemaking vision coupled with a process that develops sent-ones rather than groupies. If we don’t shift from being primarily a teaching organization that delivers information to an equipping organism that excels in imitation, then we’ll never see the disciplemaking movement Jesus always intended.

Strengthen It by Giving it Away

We all want to see our students’ faith strengthened, right? What if the way to strengthen their faith is by helping them learn to give it away? Can you imagine teenagers, youth workers and parents partnering together to take responsibility for those that God has placed in their sphere of influence?

We’re losing students in upper high school because, as Greg Stier of Dare2Share ministries often says,“they’ve played it, sung it, and heard it—and they are bored.” Have we unintentionally trained them to be consumers rather than releasing them to be contributors? At times, we’ve all lost our missional focus by concentrating more on our seating capacity (attendance) than on our sending capacity (mission). Training students in solid biblical theology is a must. But if it is truly biblical theology, then that theology will bring them to encounter the missionary God, who, just as he sent his Son, is in like-manner sending his church (Jn. 20:21)—young and old.

Our Missional Milestone

This is what is burning in the hearts of our ReachStudents team. So we’ve put a stake in the ground together as team. In the next 15 months we are praying and working to see 300+ churches introduced to Evangelism is Relationships, resulting in 5000+ students being trained and coached to actively cooperate with God in their friends’ journey toward Jesus.

Evangelism is Relationships was designed by our ministry partners at Cadre Ministries. They gave me the opportunity to be a part of updating it with them. If you are familiar with our Disciplemaking is Relationships training (Jesus-like disciplemaking made simple), then you’ll love Evangelism is Relationships. It’s all the same values and priorities.

The Heart of God

We know it is God’s heart that His church – including teenagers – are ones who have their hearts set apart with Christ as Lord AND are prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks them to give the reason for the hope that they have (1 Peter 3:15). If we miss the “AND” then we have missed the very heart of God (Mark 12:28-34).

How are you intentionally equipping students to give away their faith?





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A Communication Idea

Reach Students – February 26, 2014 Leave a comment

Communication is critical in ministry.  It’s not just the WHAT that  parents and students need to know its the WHY. There are some things a newsletter, Facebook post or text just can’t communicate.   

Brandon Early from Valley Church shared with us one way he is seeking to overcome this problem.   Below is an example of how he shared with his ministry community about the Challenge Conference taking place in Kansas City this July. 

What are some of the ways you communicate events like Challenge?

A Simple Planning Process

Reach Students – February 19, 2014 Leave a comment

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Several years ago a mentor introduced me to a simple planning process that has changed my leadership. It brings incredible clarity. It’s simple. It is scalable. Honestly, it’s been a gift that has helped me take visionary ideas and help them become reality.

It’s Time to Call the DOCTOR!
Called the D.O.C.T.O.R. process, it was created by Bobb Biehl, and is unpacked in his book Masterplanning.


As a leader, you need to know what you are trying to accomplish—what problem you are aiming to solve. Identify what the purpose and key objectives are for the ministry, project, or event, and how it serves your overall mission and vision.

Until there is crystal clarity on where you want to go and why, you are not ready to move on in the planning process.

Key Questions: Where are we going? What needs to happen next? Why? Continue Reading…

Coaching Others

Reach Students – February 14, 2014 Leave a comment

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In a survey done last year in the EFCA, many younger leaders identified what they needed most in their development was coaching. I hear the word coaching thrown around a lot. Do you hold in your mind a simple construct on how to coach others?

Steve Addison, in his free Start-Up Guide to Coaching, offers four simple questions that will help you be a coach that empowers others to G.R.O.W.

Goal: What do you want?

You want to help the person identify something they want to change or grow in. You can’t make a person grow who doesn’t want to grow. Help them identify a specific goal to be reached or a problem to be solved. Continue Reading…

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