- D.Min. Youth and Family Ministry, Fuller Theological Seminary, 2008
- M.Div. magna cum laude, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, 1976
- M. Div. Studies, Duke University Divinity School, 1974
- B.A. in Psychology, The University of North Carolina-Charlotte, 1973
Areas of Research
- Youth Ministry
- Cultural Exegesis
Intro to Youth Ministry
I think this is the most significant mission field for the church to address. This is the beachhead where the battle will be won or lost.
Church, Culture, and Context
We can’t communicate with an audience we don’t understand, and we can’t understand our audience without understanding something about the cultural soil in which their lives are rooted (cf. Acts 17: 23; Matthew 13: 18-23).
Communicating the Gospel
Good news communicated badly can still sound a lot like bad news. Good intentions do not guarantee we’ll get attention. Good communication requires good listening, a clear message, an engaging delivery, and hard work.
Leadership and Administration
It’s not enough to believe that healing can happen at the feet of Jesus. Someone has to be willing to do the tedious work behind the scenes of getting people to the feet of Jesus (cf. Mark 2:1-12). That tedious work includes planning, administration, budgeting, team-building, working through conflict, legal issues, decision-making, etc. Nobody ever gets into ministry to deal with these questions. But, a lot of people get out of ministry because they didn’t learn how to deal with these issues.
Good communication takes practice, coaching, and careful theological/practical reflection.
What is the most important piece of advice you give students to help them succeed?
Ministry is not about you and your people; it’s about you and God. Everything else in ministry flows out of that relationship.
- This Way to Youth Ministry: An Introduction to the Adventure, Zondervan/Youth Specialties Academic.
- Youth Ministry: The Basics and Beyond co-edited with Deon Kitching (Youth Specialties - South Africa)
- Enjoy the Silence, co-authored with Maggie Robbins, Zondervan/Youth Specialties
- Speaking to Teenagers, co-authored with Doug Fields, Zondervan/Youth Specialties
- Building a Youth Ministry That Builds Disciples, Zondervan/HarperCollins
- Youth Ministry Nuts and Bolts (Revised), Zondervan/Youth Specialties
I became a Christian through the ministry of Young Life in my freshman year of college. That set me on a life-long adventure of doing life and ministry with teenagers. And, like any adventure, it’s been marked by hard places, tough climbs, scary moments, and discouraging days when it felt like it was all uphill. But also, unquestionably, there have been moments of immense beauty, great fun, stunning scenes of forgiveness, redemption and discovery, and vivid encounters of the goodness of God. To borrow a line from Mr. Beaver (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis), life and ministry have shown me time and again that “God isn’t safe, but he’s very, very good.”