My Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    This is default featured slide 1 title

    Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

    This is default featured slide 2 title

    Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

    This is default featured slide 3 title

    Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

    This is default featured slide 4 title

    Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

    This is default featured slide 5 title

    Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    New Seires- Weird

      I know I haven't been up on this blog much (I've been focussing on my other blog: so, this is kind of a revamp of this blog. I'm back and want to share all the stuff I put together so you can get free content and free ideas and help for your youth ministry!

      Inspired by and Craig Groeschel's series: "Weird" is the new series I am running with my Middle Schoolers here in the inner-city of Pittsburgh.  In fact, I read both the book "Weird" and seen the series "Weird" by and thought it would be a great jump off series for our teens here.  It's all about how being normal (as the World defines it) isn't really working.  In fact, being normal is not what Jesus was nor does he desire us to be that way either.
      Jesus was weird and challenges his followers to be the same.  Weird is Good and Jesus goes to great lengths as to show and tell us how we are to be weird in this world.
      I took from the Weird series, but really shaped it to a Middle School crowd for the kick-off series of the year. I put a good amount of time, prayer and effort into this series and thought it best to share it with you as well.  Similar to how I have done in the past (if you remember) I have posted my work on  In fact most of my old stuff is here:

      I am also recording all of my talks in case you desired to listen to them as well.  I believe in sharing the things God gives us and I also believe in giving those things for free!  Use these things as you see fit and I pray the Lord blesses all of us this coming school year as we delve deeper into the lives of teens, parents and leaders alike!

    Just click the links below:

    Weird Series Sermon Outline

    Weird week #1 Talk

    Weird Series Small Group Questions

    For further questions or thoughts, please feel free to email me at!

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Pinnochio Vs. The Real Boy

    This has been a long time coming, but as of March 20th my book has been out for sale! I can't tell you how grateful I am to those who helped me get this off the ground and the willingness of my family to share our story with the world is an extreme blessing to me!

    I started this journey about 3 years ago when God sparked my heart to do a sermon series on 1 John 1:5-2:2 with my then High School Students in Nyack, NY. Once that series ignited the hearts and lives of those teens, I knew God had a message to share and he wanted me to write this book.

    After writing a couple of chapters, I hit a wall when no publisher desired to print the book, plus I had taken a drop in hours and pay from the church due to the economy and I had to get a second job.

    During this time on hiatus from writing I was working 2 jobs, having a baby (well, my wife was) and working towards my Ordination in the C&MA. I felt that if the book wasn't going to be published, I wouldn't keep writing but something in me woke up after I got a new Pastoral position at ACAC in Pittsburgh, so I finished the entire book (6 more chapters) within 3 months time!

    I looked at the evidence of this and realized God wasn't done yet, nor was my dream of getting this book published. I went back to the ground, re-writing the same publishers who refused my book before and then some. All of them, except one denied me again. The one that excepted me caused me HUGE excitement, so I shared this with the Associate Pastor at my church (John Stanko) who is also an author. He saw the dumpy publishers website and said we could do better if we self-published.

    I had a decision to go with the publisher who accepted my work or self-publish which would cost about $4,000. I prayed and thought about it and decided to raise the money to get published. If God desired the book to be out, the money would come and the book would be printed.

    That is exactly what happened! God proved Himself faithful and the money was raised in 3 months time! Now, after the long journey the book is published!

    John Stanko always said the hardest part was yet to come, meaning once the book is out, marketing and selling the book begin. He couldn't have spoken truer words. This IS the hardest part of book writing...getting your book sold and in the hands of people. You want to share how amazing the book is, without sounding like a self-promoting, arrogant jerk. You desire to see people transformed by the book, the way you were and others who experienced the book were without being pushy and showy.

    This is the tension I now live in. I know God desires to use this book for Youth Workers, Parents and Pastors around the world but I am not enough to make it happen. For people to hear about it, others need to share it. It's now in His hands and the hands of those who read it.

    I am praying for the book to go viral, where people share it, live it and give it. If you have a copy and read it, would you blog about it? Would you review it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble? That would go a long way. If it positively or negatively impacted you, write about it. Write me. I am available to chat about this project, so please email me (, comment on the blog here about it...whatever you feel you need to do. Thanks!

    If you haven't read the book and desire to, Amazon just put it at a 15% discount here:

    So, check it out and let me know your thoughts!

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Taking Your Licks

      In Ministry, it's foolish to think you won't feel like these beat up old shoes to your left...because it's going to happen.

      The past couple of weeks have been that way for me.  I feel a little beat up, bruised and banged up.  I feel as if I could be doing something better with the ministry, yet it still seems to be slipping into chaos. 

      God has been doing some amazing things: we've grown!  Students are hearing the Word preached and some 19 kids have accepted Christ this year!  Those are some sweet, recordable things in ministry.  Some would call them down right milestones.

      Yet, we are in a hurting place.  We lack leaders and with an influx of students, especially inner-city students, this lack becomes a hindrance.  My leaders have been hanging tough but I know it's been hard for them to come and not feel overwhelmed.  I know some Wednesdays they may not want to come, but know they can't not come or we'll be lacking that much more on a Youth Group night.

      This tension has been killing me because I deeply care for my leaders and desire them to love what they do, and I desire to see God grow the ministry so that many more students can hear the Gospel.  I wish I had a manual that said: Here's how it's gotta go.  Yet, no such manual exists.

      What's worse is when someone tries to lead me down a path of correction I get prideful and feel attacked rather than helped.  I know I need to grow, I know what I'm doing isn't always 100% effective and things have got to change in order to make things work better and for kids to desire to come, as well as the leaders to feel blessed it what they're doing.

      I am praying for God to show up in a mighty way and I felt led to share with my leaders what's been going on inside of me.  Below is the email I just sent to them:

    Hey Team,

    The past couple of weeks have been a bit rough. I am under no illusion that Wednesday Night Blast has been a walk in the park for either you or myself. We have all been pulling through and making due with few leaders and a growing population of kids. The reality is we need more leaders and some of you may need more from me as well, and if that is the case I am sorry. I feel as though Student Ministries in a lot of ways is under spiritual attack and I think we need to pray for one another and for the ministry. I am praying for more leaders and for myself to be more assertiveness in kicking kids out and making examples of those who are not doing as they should. I will also be telling a few Wednesday Night students to shift from Wed to Tuesday so we can alleviate some of the pressure. I really covet your prayers because I desire for Middle School to be a place where 1.) Kids come to know Christ and desire to make him Known and 2.) Where those ministering within the ministry feel blessed in doing so and don’t feel like a truck hit them every time we have Wed. Blast.

    I deeply care and love all of you and if there is ever a time you are feeling overwhelmed or have ideas on how we can run things more efficiently I do desire your input. I desire to be open in how we can make Blast fit those 2 desires I have (and I believe you have as well) for it to fit. Today, my prayer time is for you and this ministry. Lastly, I do truly desire to start that prayer time for the ministry I know a couple of you who have been showing up early to pray and if you can make it for prayer, I think that will truly help as well. Lovin’ all of you!

    I know God is going to show up.  We need to cast our cares and prayers unto Him and he will produce what is needed.  It's a time for me to be "Taking My Licks" but I know God is the Victor because he was Victorious on that Cross!

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011


    The Lives of our teens are filled with NOISE, just flat out loud visual, emotional, spiritual and physical noise that distracts them. 

      Noise that takes the form of stupid shows like Jersey Shore.  Noise that takes shape in Facebook, TV, dumb books and and waste-of-time-boyfriends.

      All of this noise, which comes from our common enemy is to distract these teens from having a true, honest and meaningful relationship with their Father. 

    How can we help teach them to quiet the Noise?  How can we help them identify the Noise?  How can we come alongside of them and whisper the importance of solitude?

      That's what this past series has been about for us in the Middle School Ministries at ACAC.  We've been doing a whole series based on these ideas and asking the kids to look at the Bible and what God says about the Noise around us and why we need to get quiet, get alone and listen to His voice.

      The first week, we jumped it off with the Nooma Silence video, which highlights all the Noise that people add to their lives daily with cell phones, books, TV, facebook and so on.  It was a great launching pad to discuss the many things that take up our time and in fact how much time those little things tend to eat out of our lives.

      Last week, we talked about the Story of Elijah and the Noise of His expectations of God.  Elijah ran away after he won a huge fight and he "wanted to die" because he alone was left worshipping God.  God desired to show him that he wasn't alone, but Elijah had some noise of fear and his own agenda that clouded his hearing from the Lord.

      This week (the final week of NOISE) we are discussing the Noise of our Limitations.  In Luke 9:12-19, we see Jesus and a huge crowd of people coming close to meal time.  The dicisples start freaking out and ask Jesus if they can tell the crowd to disperse and go to a town or a village to go eat and sleep.  Jesus looks at the disciples and tells them to give them something to eat.

      They see two fish and five small loaves of bread and say that feeding the people can't be done.  Jesus sees something different...he sees a meal that can feed over 15,000 people!  

      Our teens need to know that with God they can dream BIG!  There is no need to fear limitations we may see in front of us, because He is greater and mightier than any limitation!  We have got to turn down the noise of our limitations and see the possiblities of our lives when God is for us and calling us!

      I've been super excited about this series and have seen it effecting the lives of our teens!

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    The Compulsion of the Gospel

     "We are not in contact with another world. We are happily in contact with this world. But those disciples were other worldly...the Church these days does not have a sense of wonder" (Tozer, The Mystery of the Holy Spirit, pg. 56).

       I've been thinking lately and asking myself why teens have been walking away from faith, trying to see a pattern with what's going on and what Youth Ministry should look like in order to lead students to a life-long journey with Christ and not simply a "while you live at home" or an "until college" journey with Christ.

      One of the things I've noticed is that church for many teenagers is boring, dry and dull.  For them it boils down to moralistic platitudes that some people like to follow out of a need to feel good about themselves.  There is no real excitement about God, or about the Christian faith in the minds of these teenagers.  There is no sense of wonder or other-worldly excitement about them.

     Teens need something compelling.  If we take the compulsion out of the Gospel and numb it down to something boring, natural and fake they will not desire God.

    Teens gravitate towards the things that compel them, why have we taken the compulsion out of the Gospel?  Why have we anesthetized these teens to the Supernatural?  God is BIG, God is mighty, yet teens seem to get the message from us in youth ministry that God is an old man with a long white beard sitting in heaven, trying to keep us all in line.

      That is NOT our God.  He is not boring, dry or dull!  He is powerful, mysterious and altogether supernatural!

      Sadly, I think our teaching on the "naturalism of God" or the "moralistic platitudes" is due to our own sense of losing wonder, we are not living enough in the supernatural to be able to effectively teach about it.  So, we bore teenagers with the things we already have in our heads about God, not the things that God is capable of.

      We take an extremely radical, supernatural God and make him normal and just like our parents who tell us what we can and can't do.  What teen wants to invest their life in a God depicted like that?  What normal human being wants that?  We not only dumb down God's power in and through us, but we de-radicalize Jesus to a "guru" who said a couple of nice things. 

       Kenda Dean  makes this point really well in her book called Almost Christian (which I am now reading) and just recently on Mark Oestreicher's blog saying: "If Christianity is dangerous, then we need to act like it. Teenagers aren’t afraid of risk, but they want to know that Jesus is worth it. Young people are going to demand that we, the church, be who we say we are–people who obviously follow Jesus, which makes us “weird” in a culture based on self-actualization and self-fulfillment–or they’re just not going to bother with us at all" (, 2011).

      Jesus was weird because he was supernatural. He didn't hold to the religious or even earthly and natural constraints we as the church are living in today.  Healings, miracles, prophecy, justice were all a part of his ministry...those are all supernatural or un-natural ways of life and those things can only be accomplished by God and His power.

      We teach a way too safe gospel these days and teens just don't want to sign on to it.  I just recently preached at a Student Leadership retreat and very few of the student knew about the Holy Spirit, much less the power he gives us as believers!  The Holy Spirit is the catalyst for a compelling life!  He is our supernaturally given source of Power to live the Christian life of justice, miracles, prophecy and healing!

      The Gospel, when told rightly is a compelling story that draws one into the narrative.  A narrative that is hard, but supernatural.  When we lose teens because we're teaching a tame, lame and boring gospel, we are doing the wrong thing.

      Let's bring back the wonder in our preaching, living and teaching.  Let's call for radical self-sacrifice, supernatural living, because when teens are drawn into that type of story they won't want to leave, they'll be drawn in and give their lives to a narrative like that one!

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    Uncommon Friends & Peer Pressure- Review

      Recently, I was asked to review some curriculum from Gospel Light and the first one up for review is The Christian Life. This book is put together in a 12 week series, with 6 of the sessions being on

    Friends- Building Relationships; Strengthening Friendships; Serving Our Friends; Gossip; Jealousy and Unresolved Anger

    The second half is 6 weeks on Peer Pressure: Standing Firm; Beware and Be Wise; Get Your Ears on Straight; Go by the Book; Plug into Real Power and Stand or Fall.

       The title of the book is where the curriculum takes you and I must admit Kara does a great job of getting you there. Each session is set up with several different options for ice-breakers and teaching interactions. All of the lessons and activities are well done and very creative.

      After reviewing 2 of the same curriculum types in this series by Kara, I think they will all end up being the same structure.  This, like the other book I reviewed is very well done, very well thought out but heavy on activity.  I enjoy the Scripture used in each section of the book and feel they are the right passages to be studied, I just don't want teens to miss the Scripture for the sake entertainment.

      With any curriculum, you will find this tension I'm afraid, especially when you get to the younger groups in their teen years.  Our society has sadly numbed teens to need constant entertainment in order for them to learn.  However, if the teacher who uses this material is wise, they can be the judge on what activities to use and which to leave out so as not to overshadow the Biblical truths these lessons present.

      Another thing I have found as I lead a large number of Sunday School teachers is that they don't want to have to go and get too much stuff.  For some of the activities in this book, there is a lot of "going and getting" this or that for the lesson, which will end up going ignored.  The teachers I lead want me to give it all to them, so there too, I must find a balance.

      All in all, this is another good book and an excellent resource to help frame a solid 12 weeks of teaching.

    Wednesday, December 15, 2010

    The Amazing Christmas Race

    It is that time of year again and my wheels have been spinning with some new Christmas ideas and I thought I would share what I'm doing this Christmas to see if it can help any of you all out there.

      First off, let me share an amazing resource with you.  Many of you may know this, but Minute to Win It hosted by Guy Fieri is a sess-pool of amazing youth group game ideas and there Christmas ideas are just as potent as their other games.  I grabbed some of my great ideas from this site here: Minute to Win It Christmas.

      Our theme this year is the Amazing Christmas Race (as you can see from the above picture).  BTW We created that logo here in our office, so feel free to steal it if you like.  The key idea of the race is that we all in our lives are racing for something, we live our lives racing around for more money, more gifts, more other stuff and we miss what our life race is really about: Jesus.  Jesus is what we should be living for, racing for and looking forward to.  We have a guest speaker coming in to give an evangelistic message about his race for fame and how God showed him the real race he should've been running for was for Jesus, not for fame.  He will then share about sin, the cross and the meaning of the Incarnation with our students.

      The theme is closely following the show "The Amazing Race" in that we produced a film series of our youth leaders going around our city (Pittsburgh) doing the amazing race.  This project was a lot more work than I anticipated and would've been impossible without our iMac, so just cautioning anyone from trying it without time and a Mac.  I usually would display the videos on youtube or something, but each of them are about 8 minutes long, which is a bit long...but I was stuck with what we shot...

      We will end the series on the night of December 22nd, which is our Christmas Party. Here is the layout of the night (with some descriptions)

    6:45-7pm- Registration, hang out, get some drinks listen to some Christmas music

    7-7:15pm- Grab food, eat, sit at tables and hang out

    7:15-8pm- Games
                      - Face the Gingerbread Man (from Christmas Minute to Win it)
                      - Wreath Madness (from Christmas Minute to Win it)

                      - Total Recall (A video based game where you have (2) 2 minute clips of Christmas films and after each 2 minute clip ask specified questions.  Leaders at the tables have the answer keys and will verify the person who gets all the questions correct)
                      - Santa Beard (A game where you have pairs (as many as you want) come together and one person is "Santa" and the other is the "Beard Builder".  The Beard Builder uses Foam Shaving Cream (must be foam, NOT gel) and they then attempt to build the best Santa Beard they can within 3 or 4 minutes
                      - Cookie Decorating (We are having 300+ cookies for each of our teens to have about 3 cookies per person to decorate)

    8-8:05- Move from Gym to 2nd Floor Fellowship Hall

    8:05-8:30- Evangelistic Message based on the "Amazing Race" theme

    So, that's our Christmas Party in a nut shell.  What are you doing?