Bryce Kelley-Five things I wouldv’e done different in highschool!!

I’m trying something new.  I want to allow students to speak to their peers and share some very relevant wisdom.  My prayer is that a student is encouraged or inspired by whatever is written.  My first student guest post is from Bryce Kelley, a former member of my youth group. He is a freshman in college now and is actually going to school to be a youth pastor.   I asked him to share somethings he would’ve done different in high school.  Check it out!!

Six weeks.  I’ve officially been at Point Loma Nazarene University for six weeks now embracing every moment of this new chapter in my life.  I am loving working towards my major in Youth Ministry and minor in Non-Profit Business. Even though I am in college now, through friend’s posts on Facebook and Instagram’s, I feel very much connected to Trabuco Hills High School still.

To say I enjoyed high school would be an understatement.   I was involved with sports, clubs, student government, and academics to the fullest.  With all this going on, I was still able to balance a life in church as well.  I led a small group for junior high boys for two years, went to my own personal small group, and attended multiple services every weekend.  I was known as one of those “very involved kids” and I loved it so much.

When I think back to experiences in my past four years of high school, I am very blessed because these situations and events helped shape me to the man I am today.  But when I see stuff my younger friends are doing, every once in a while I say to myself, “I wish I would’ve done that in high school”.  Here are my top five things I wish I would’ve done in high school:

  • Procrastination – I wish I wouldn’t have developed the habit of procrastination in high school because believe me, it does catch up to you.  Any student reading this: do not get in the habit of procrastination!  Even though I wasn’t horrible at procrastination, it did cause me some late nights that could’ve been avoided.
  • Befriend Younger Students – Looking back, especially now, I wish I would’ve befriended some of the underclassmen at my school.  I was Student Government President my Senior year, so most students knew who I was.  I knew the majority of the Juniors and Seniors, but I wish I could say I knew most of the underclassmen too.
  • Stress – I am a very stressed person by nature.  I always tried to micromanage everything in my life.  It wasn’t until about senior year when I fully realized that God was in control of my life.  I wish I would’ve given everything to Him in all four years of high school, not just the last one.
  • Road Trip – I’ll admit this is cheesy, but I always wished I had gone on a road trip with some of my friends to wherever!  Some of my buddies and I had made plans to go on one, but plans always fell through.
  • More Comfortable – I feel like the majority of believers my age tend to just keep their faith to themselves.  I’ll be the first to admit, I always felt awkward shouting my faith to others!  I was still good at it and have done in it in the past, but I wish I would’ve worked at it, so it would come up more naturally, not me shouting about how involved I am at church, or how spiritual I am.

So there you have it! The five things I wish I would’ve done in high school.  If one student or youth pastor reads this and takes advantage of it, then it was worth it.  Please learn from my mistakes and benefit yourself.  God is working and doing amazing things in this world, and I only hope I am being a vessel to His Kingdom.

Blessings –

Bryce Kelley

For Students: 7 Ways To Make Summer Camp The Best EVERRR!!

If you are going to summer camp this year this post could be helpful to you.  Students go to summer camp for all types of reasons.  The most popular reason would be to hang with friends for a week.  Which is awesome and was definitely one of the big reasons I went to summer camp.  Since camps are right around the corner here are a few things that you could do to make this the best camp ever:

  1. Take advantage of the fact that you have a whole week to focus on your relationship with Christ.
  2. If you are going to summer camp and you are still investigating who Christ is, take advantage of having a leader in your cabin and ask them the questions you have.
  3. Think about your current relationships.  Do you need more people in your life who are genuinely following Christ? Start praying now that God will bring those people into your life at camp.  My favorite part about camp is seeing new friendships formed.
  4. Think about the mentors in your life or the lack there of.  Camp is a great opportunity to build a great student/mentor relationship with your cabin leader that could surpass the week at camp.
  5. Take advantage of the cabin debrief and share your thoughts with your group, because you never know who needs to hear what you have to say.  God can use anything and anyone who’s willing to be used.
  6. Keep a questions list.  If you hear a speaker say something you don’t understand don’t let it go. Write it down and ask your leader later.
  7. Last but not least start PRAYING today that God would do something amazing in your life.

Hope it helps

HAve FUn!!!!!!!

Parent Ministry: Are We Ministering Or Just Advertising To Parents?

We had one of our Summer Camp speakers speak recently in our youth group services.  It was awesome!!! He recited the whole sermon on the mount.  Our students heard three chapters of scripture in one service.  I’ve never heard that much scripture preached in one service before and it was GREAT!!  As I was listening to him speak, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that most of the students that were there would not understand most of the stuff he was saying.  I also thought about the fact that Jesus wasn’t concerned with sending the kids off to hearing an age appropriate message on the sermon on the mount.  He said the same exact thing to everyone who was under the sound of his voice.

It really got me thinking about youth ministry, but to be more specific parent ministry within the youth ministry.  Reading through scripture, it clearly points to the parents as the main force in spiritually impacting their children’s lives.  There are a lot of verses that we could look at but I want to focus on Deuteronomy 6:7-9 (NLT) “7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

In this passage God was instructing the Israelites how they should train their children concerning the things of God.  I love how detailed He was in His instructions to parents.  We must remember that the most influential people in a student’s life are their parents.  It is the way God ordained it and we should celebrate, because no matter how crazy culture gets parents will always have more influence.  In light of what I believe God has laid on my heart concerning parents being the primary spiritual leader in our student’s lives, we really should think about parent ministry.  I even believe how we decide to partner with parents could potentially make a difference in the statistics that suggest that a high percentage of students are leaving the faith.  Helping parents fulfill Deuteronomy 6:7-9 is a conversation worth having in youth ministry.  What if we devoted time and effort into actually promoting and helping and even dreaming with parents on ways to do Deuteronomy 6:7-9 better or at all?  We sometimes assume that because parents go to church that they are doing this or know how to do it.

Just to be clear I’m not talking about doing away with youth ministry.  Youth ministry is vital to the church more now than ever before, and my prayer for this post is that we don’t view parent ministry as just another task.  We need to view parent ministry as vital.  Having a strong parent ministry is the difference between doing good youth ministry and great youth ministry.

Parent ministry today consists of youth ministries informing parents on what they are doing. I think that’s a good thing but what if it was more than that?  What if we created a culture that said to parents that this is a partnership and we want to partner with you influencing/guiding your children in their spiritual walk?  Youth ministries are probably the major investors in the student’s life spiritually.  The idea would be for parents to be the majority and for us to reinforce the parents role as the students spiritual leader.

I do understand that we try to do stuff for the parents and they don’t want to be a part of it.  Some of you may say, “They barely show up at the easy stuff, if we start asking for more then we will really be wasting our time or we could become annoying”.  If our goal is to see the child’s faith strong and lasting post academia and we know that parents are vital in this process, we have no choice but to continue figuring things out.  We need to think of the quality of our parent ministry.  We have to ask ourselves a few questions:

  • Are we really doing parent ministry or are we just advertising our ministry to parents?
  • Have we communicated to parents how important they are in the spiritual development of their child or do we just assume they know?
  • If a parent reached out for help in this area would the ministry be ready to help them come up with strategies concerning Deuteronomy 6:7-9?
  • Does our youth ministry function with the mind set as primary or with the mindset of being reinforcement?(a critical look into your parent ministry should render the answer)

Here are a few ideas I came up with in terms of parent ministry just to get the ball rolling:

  • A parent focus group – layout your vision for a parent ministry that includes helping parents to be more intentional in practicing Deuteronomy 6:7-9 and how can the ministry come along side them in doing so.  Allow the parents to help you shape what it will look like.  Remember we should not assume parents are not doing it or even know how.
  • Small group leaders meeting with parents as partners.
  • Workshops for parents- few suggestions:
  • –“Help! My children want to know about sex”
  • –“Help! Porn is taking over”
  • –“Help! My child is out of control”
  • –“The Blended Family”
  • An invitation for your staff to meet with parents who’s kids are not in a small group.

I hope this encourages you to look different at how you do parent ministry.  Would love to hear how your ministry is doing parent ministry already.

hope it helps


For Youth Workers: God Changes the Heart!!!

I think sometime this concept can easily be forgotten.  A lot of times we know the answers to a student’s problems before we know the whole story or the cause of the problems.  So we stop listening and we start focusing on our response.  We start trying to lay out our response so that it touches the very core of the issue.  Meaning we are trying to recall every sound bite that has had a high impact in our lives.  We want what we say to touch the students so much that they start to cry and scream out “ I’VE HEARD THE VOICE OF THE LORD AND I AM FINALLY ON THE RIGHT PATH”. Haha….

So what’s the issue with that?, you might ask.  Well, one point I made earlier is that you stopped listening.  The very thing that the student needed you to do, you stopped doing.  When we intentionally sit and listen to students, we say to them that they are more than just someone broken in and needing to be fixed. Listening intentionally to a student says to them:

  1. Someone cares about me.
  2. Someone thinks I’m important.
  3. Someone thinks I’m worth their time.
  4. Someone cares about my feelings.

Listening intentionally will earn you the right to speak the truth of God’s word into their life.  I advise when meeting a student for the first time that you are going to give guidance to, that you don’t even give any guidance on the first meeting.  Allow the first meeting to set the tone for the rest of the meetings.  Here is how you listen intentionally:

  1. Listen with great eye contact and body language. It makes a difference.
  2. Ask questions about the things they really care about in the situation. Even if you think it’s silly or  shouldn’t matter as much as it does.
  3. Affirm when you can. You never know how many people have already made them feel stupid, crazy or ashamed before they spoke to you.  Affirming them doesn’t mean you have to agree with them.  It just means you validate the fact that the issue they are going through is something that should be dealt with.
  4. Start and End with prayer. Let them know that you are working on behalf of the only one who can actually help them.  God changes the heart.Ezekiel 36:26-27

The bible talks about how we can do nothing without Christ.John 20:15:5  If you really think about it that should take a lot of pressure off of us, knowing that we have to rely on Christ to power and orchestrate the life changing work we get to be apart of.   We are just vessels being used by God to spread his love, mercy, kindness and grace to students.  I’ve learned that when I don’t remember this I screw things up.  Because my focus is not on doing my job as the vessel, it’s on being the power source.  The vessel’s job is to house the power and give it something to do.   So when we try and be the power that changes people lives we frustrate ourselves when things don’t work out the way we think it should.

There has been times when I have forgotten that God changes the heart, and I feel the burden to be perfect in that moment so that students are changing.  I must rest in the fact that God wants to use me to do one thing and that is to spread the gospel (God’s message of love) to students.  He did not call me to do his job (which I can’t even do in the first place).  So I would encourage anyone in ministry to be at peace knowing that changing the hearts of students is not your job.  God commissioned you with sharing his gospel (God’s message of love).

Any thought?

hope this helps!


For Students: How Far Is too Far?!?

Well, I’ve been asked this question a few times and so I thought I’d post about it.  It’s really tough to talk about this question with out first examining what this question is really implying.  You are basically asking, “how much can you get away with before you’ve reached the line of no return?”.  So while I applaud anyone who asks this question with the intent of glorifying God in your relationship, I must say that you have asked the wrong question.  This is one of the areas where we, without consciously knowing it, follow culture blindly.  Now, I know there are some people who ask this question who feel like they are sincere.  I definitely understand that and hopefully by the end of this post you will understand my point.

From the music that’s played repeatedly to TV and movies there is a consistent message that says explore your sexuality and that in relationships you must make sure the two of you are compatible in every area.  So it says it’s OK if you explore and be intimate, that is what we are suppose to do.  We are fed from every avenue of media that sex outside of marriage is OK and if you haven’t done it yet you are the weird one.  Without even trying, you feel like you are suppose to be OK and free with exploring sexual acts in and out of relationships.

Now, you are probably thinking I’m not talking about sex at all.  I’m talking about doing the “other stuff”.  You are probably thinking I just want to express myself in a way that is natural because we all have these feelings.  You are also probably thinking it’s human nature to want to act out this way so help me know where the line is.  My favorite is that God knows what we go through. He created us and he understands.  The big issue with this question is found in:

Romans 7:11 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. – This verse is saying that sin will use the commandment “no sex before marriage” to deceive us.  You might say “how AC”? Glad you asked.  Because it knows the body wants to go where it has been forbidden.  It also know that apart from Christ we are weak and can’t stand against sin; we lose 100% of the time.  So deception is the weapon of choice.  Sin deceives us into believing that it’s OK to do all the other stuff as long as we don’t have sex.  We are deceived into thinking that we can play with fire and not be burned.  We are deceived into thinking that we can overcome the temptation of going all the way even though we are playing at the edge.

Here is a scripture verse that I think pretty much sums up my point:

1 Corinthians 7:1-2(NLT) 1 Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to abstain from sexual relations. 2 But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. – Paul is clarifying information they already know.  Paul did not hint to the fact that there is anything in-between.  Paul understands that there is only “too far”.  So he prescribes marriage because that’s where it is made right before God.  The question how far is too far suggests that there is an area where you can play around with no consequences.  That is not the case.  Sexual immorality is still destroying lives, families and churches.  As innocent as the question sounds, there are a lot of Christian’s who are reaping the consequences of thinking they could answer this question.

God was not trying to stop you from having fun when he set sex in the bounds of marriage between a man and a woman.  He’s was saving us from the harm it does outside of marriage between a man and a woman.  Just like the end of Romans 7:11 says and through deception of the commandment I was put to death, that is exactly what it wants to do to you.  So what’s a better question?

  1. The better question is always motivated by the fact that you don’t have any faith in the fleshes ability to do anything right.  So what steps can we take to make sure we don’t fall into temptation?
  2. The better question will be about a shared responsibility. How can we motivate each other into keeping our personal convictions to stay pure?
  3. The better question will be motivated by the fact that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.1 Corinthians 20:19-20  How do I gain and keep a high level of respect for my body?

These questions say that you want to follow God’s plan for sex and intimacy and not cultures plan.

hope it helps!! Repost


Training for our Weekend Leaders

Had the privilege of training our weekend leaders this past weekend.  We are taking our leaders in a new direction.  They will completely be a part of our weekend team.  They will no longer be just available but will be initiating connections with students.  Thought I would post what I shared with our leaders.

The duties of the weekend leaders (Pastoral Care Team) will be to meet, greet, connect and pray for students.  Our goal as the weekend pastoral care team is to reach out to students that are disengaged and also care for the students that are a part of the ministry.  We are a part of the weekend team, so we will be fully engaged in the weekend programming.  We want to bring the level of relational ministry on the weekend to a higher level of importance.

Here are 6 ways you will serve on the weekend:

1. You will be introduced to the students so they know that you exist and understand your purpose. This will give you the license and confidence to speak into the lives of the students and spiritually lead them.
2. You will also have the opportunity to be a part of the service (could be a video, announcement or handling communion).  We want students to know that you are a part of HSM leadership and getting to know you is just like getting to know staff.
3. You will be assigned a zone in the theater during the service you attend.  You will scout out those students who are sitting alone and sit with them or assign student leaders to sit with them.  You will also control the noise level of the zone, making sure students are being respectful of each other.  During Saturday 430pm service and Sunday 9am service we want all of the students sitting in the lower level of the theater.  Please remember the students in your area who race to sit in the back alone and be sure to greet them after service.
4. You will intentionally connect with students.Instead of standing around waiting for students to come and get prayer, we will be actively pursuing and connecting with students so we can meet, greet, connect and pray.

  1.  Meet – We want to meet students.  We will meet students instead of wait in a corner for them to come to us.  We will reach out to them instead of waiting for them to reach out to us.
  2. Greet – We want to make sure that we genuinely greet them.  Refer to the hand out “Hand Shake Hi to a Hug Goodbye”.
  3. Connect – We want to make sure that we are intentional about our conversation with students.  We want to look for ways in the conversation to suggest a next step.  For new students we want to guide them towards community.  That could range from life groups to serving opportunities within the ministry or summer camp.  You can even suggest grabbing coffee, lunch or ice cream with them at the refinery sometime.  For students who are already in life groups, you can suggest serving in a ministry, missions or summer camp.  We want to make sure students are getting connected.
  4. Pray – We want to pray for students.  While you are connecting through conversations, once an area of struggle, pain, disappointment, hardship and trial appears offer prayer.  We want to avoid saying “I’ll be praying for you”.  Pray for the student right there on the spot.  Even pray for the core students you already know that have been met, greeted and connected.  Go deeper in conversation and pray for them.  Just because they are a part of our core students doesn’t mean they have everything together.

5. You will also be a part of the follow up team. We want to get them connected. If you meet a first timer make sure they fill out a response card so we have their info.  We want to make sure we are able to keep them updated on what’s going on in HSM.

  1. Hanging out with first timers. – We will send our first timers to the growth booth. You will then escort them to the VIP lounge where they can sign their name and get awesome snacks! What if we had KING SIZE snacks…even bags of cotton candy?!  You simply take two minutes sharing about our ministry and how much we are glad they are here.  Tell them to make sure they don’t leave without saying hi to you the next time they come.
  2. Following up with first timers. – Contact the student just to see how things are going. Finding out how can we help them get more connected is our goal.

6. We will have an after service event.  We will do a hang session right after all four services.  The Saturday services can be different from the Sunday services.  Basically, we will have an activity after each service that we will help slow students down so we can connect with them.

how are your weekend leaders active on the weekend?

hope it helps


Conversation Tactics for: Youth Workers

Having a conversation with a new student can be like pulling teeth.  You get all hyped to greet them to only have them give you the least amount of info about themselves.  Getting their name and letting them know you’re glad they came would be a success, anything more is a bonus.  I would say the success to a “bonus” filled greeting would be open ended questions, follow-up questions and being intentional.  So I want to give you a few steps in this area.

In the early stages of the conversations you really want to ask questions that you can refer back to in the conversation.  Examples: family, sports, school, their church history and etc… I do this so that when I hit a dead end I can ask more questions about one of these areas.

Open ended questions are great because you can gauge their level of commitment to the conversation.  A closed ended answer to an open ended question lets you know where they are…not interested. If it’s a more elaborate answer you know they are somewhat committed to the conversation.

Examples of Open Ended Questions:

What has been your biggest struggle in high school and why?

Do you have a crazy coach and how do you manage his craziness?

What are you planning on majoring in college and why?

Are you close with your parents and how supportive are they about (fill in the blank)?

What are some struggles you’re having in your walk with Christ?

How long have you been coming to church and what’s got you coming?

What’s the attitude towards Christianity in your family?

Follow-up Questions:

Listen with the mindset of asking a follow-up question.  The best follow-up question is one that challenges a student to reveal more of them self through the conversation.


So how did you feel about your parents saying that or doing that?

So how has your decision to commit your life to Christ changed you?

Why do feel your life is so stressful right now?

The above are just a few examples to get your mind going.  Each encounter will be different so you will have to make them up as you go.

hope it helps