Being a Student Pastor in a Money World

A Money World

Let’s be honest (and this may be a new concept to some people) but the world of a student pastor can be quite the juggling experience.  My next 3 posts will be all about the world of the student pastor and the things he or she juggles.  From a student ministry budget, to social media, to just plain business, all these can wreak havoc on the life and effectiveness of a student pastor.

So let’s start with what may be one of the more stressful areas in church life…the student ministry budget.

Here’s my example…My first church was an awesome country church in a small town in West Tennessee.  My memories of the people of that church swell with joy.  My memories of my student ministry budget however, lead me to tears.  Understandably by budget was small, but as we grew our budget did not.  I can clearly remember going into a deacon’s meeting to make a request to purchase pencils for a Wednesday night…PENCILS!!

So how are we supposed to grow and keep up with that growth with a budget (in our minds) that may not meet those needs.  Well…what do you spend your budget on?  Where does it go?  If you’re like me, a majority of you budget goes towards events like camps and disciple nows, as well as mission trips.  So how are we supposed to make our other ministry opportunities excellent if your budget is tied up in those major events.

Allow me to encourage you for just a second, less expensive doesn’t mean less excellent. That is determined by how you approach everything you plan. You can do excellent even if it’s free.

Let me stop for just a moment and be a little transparent…my office administrator will laugh the moment she reads this blog…she knows this is my struggle.  So let’s looks at some areas of the student ministry budget and see where we can still be effective with less money.


Wednesday Nights

I don’t know what your “main event” is for the week in your specific ministry, but I’m going to assume your direct your students to one focal gathering for your students.  Ours is our midweek worship service for students and we want to constantly make what we do on Wednesday nights better and the struggle is how we can effectively use our budget to enhance our midweek worship experience.

This is just a list of things that make up our Wednesday nights and where we spend our money.

Series Design: If we spend money on our message series design it may be on fonts or subscriptions to to sites where we can download images for backgrounds.  There are websites where you can download fonts for free (just make sure they are relevant and current).

Stage Design: Hello Pinterest!  Pinterest is FILLED with ideas that can help spark the creative juices in your mind.  Pinterest isn’t there for you to steal other ideas, but to learn and inspire you create something awesome for your ministry.

Games: If you have students who love games, may I suggest Jimmy Fallon or Hollywood game night.  There are great examples of free or cheap games you can incorporate into your specific ministries.

Other Events

Like it or not you have to do more stuff with your students other than Summer camp, disciple now, and a mission trip.  So how can you do these things without breaking the back?

Well, remember when you were a kid and you had to play outside with your friends?  What were some of the things you did them? We used to play whiffle ball, kickball, basketball, and football.  Why not play some of those games?  Those are extremely inexpensive.

You could also do something like a Messy Game night, go bowling, or have a pool party at someone’s house.  Then have another pool party and just call it a Luau…that’s sneaky…and cheap.


Getting the word out can be expensive sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be.  Your students are on social media…well, most of them are.  If your student ministry is in the social media world too, then getting the word out can be absolutely free. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc..

Email is free too, it just takes time to gather everyone’s information.

If printed information is a must, then I would encourage you to go to places like Next Day Flyers. This is an inexpensive place for you to get a large amount of printed material (post cards, flyers, posters, etc.) at a not so expensive price.


Student Ministry can be expensive, and some events are simply going to cost money for you and your students, but I want to encourage you to be creative.  Just because you are finding ways to cut the cost in some areas, it doesn’t mean that you have to expect less from those events or experiences.  Make a list of what you do in your ministry…where can you use your budget more creatively and effectively?

What are some things you have done to cut costs for your students?




Dear Student Pastor (Part 1)

I’ll admit it…it’s getting more difficult every day to pastor students today.  I think it’s this growing difficulty that is causing student pastors to change their mentality of ministry or even in some cases it’s caused pastors to change who they are.  Believe me, I know those urges, but I think it’s something that we have wrestle with if we’re going to continue to lean into the lives of students.

My next few posts will be specifically to student pastors as encouragement to not just lead, but to lead strong.  In order to do this, there are some things we have to overcome.

FIGHT THE URGE: To Tippy-Toe Around Certain Topics In Order to Not Upset Students or Parents.

I think it’s important for to remember what we have been called to do.  The world of a student is complicated and we are supposed to partner with parents and lean into the lives of their student(s) with the love of Christ.  But for some reason, we have equated leaning into the lives of students with encouraging, but not challenging.

The last thing we want to do is upset someone.  We don’t want them to be mad at us, and to some degree, we don’t want them mad at God; so we speak to them and craft messages that may be excellent and biblical, but we avoid topics that may challenge a lifestyle and/or decisions they are making.  We avoid topics like homosexuality and abortion with students because we think they can hear that on Sundays from the pulpit. We would rather speak on topics like missions and how to live a radical life, and avoid topics that may cause heartburn.  If this is your mentality you are mis-understanding the task at hand, because avoiding (or ignoring) hard topics could very well lead to tolerance and acceptance of sin.  Let’s be transparent for a second, how many of you have students who have friends who struggle with Same Sex Attraction (SSA) and instead of speaking truth into their lives with love and truth, they avoid the topic and show acceptance of both the sin and the lifestyle?

How will students know how to lovingly lean into the lives of those struggling with SSA, or even someone who is thinking about having an abortion, if you haven’t been speaking the truth of the Scripture into their lives.  It’s not an “every-once-in-a-while” conversation, because these topics are shaping culture.  We must speak truth while encouraging students to reshape the culture they live in by that same truth which has so radically changed our own lives.  This is the truth that breathes life into the dead.

It’s not a bad thing to be bold.  It’s not a bad thing to speak truth.  It’s not a bad thing to speak truth into a culture that is confused as to what truth really is.

Some topics aren’t as controversial: Sports, time management, the stuff we listen to, the things we tweet. Challenge students on some of these topics and see what happens. I promise you’ll get some huffing and puffing and maybe even an unfollow or two on Twitter. But if you don’t challenge them, who will?

Dear Student Pastor, don’t tippy-toe…walk normal and speak loudly!


What are some topics we avoid as to not offend students and parents?

Helping students live sent where they are…


One of the more nerve-racking experiences for a student (and adults for that matter) is sharing their faith with others.  I wish I was exempt from this feeling, but I’m not…neither am I exempt from sharing my faith simply because I’m afraid of what others will think of me.  As someone who leans into the lives of students for a living, I believe I am supposed to help them, encourage them, and show them how we can help with the task of sharing the Gospel with those around us less terrifying.

I’m not about to offer a discipleship strategy or a message series on how to share the Gospel, but I do have a few ideas on ways we can encourage our students to make much of Jesus and share their faith with their friends without the use of “Jesus is my Homeboy” t-shirts (pet peeve…Jesus didn’t raise from the dead to be your homeboy…He did that to be your only hope for salvation).


Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Snapchat, Instagram…This is the world of a teenager and it is literally at their fingertips.  It doesn’t take long to scroll down someone’s timeline to see what is important to them.  Just look at their “instas” or read some of their retweets and you’ll pretty much know what’s going on in their lives.  They’re an open book and they don’t even know it.

What if we helped students use these social media outlets as tools to invite their friends to church or promote what’s going to happen on a Wednesday night in your student ministry…or even share the Gospel.  Create a special hashtag to promote a series or an event and encourage your students to tweet with that hashtag…for example:

Christ  died, Christ rose, He’s coming again!  #noONEgreater

It may be my naivety, but I believe we can use social media to make much of Jesus.

**Warning:  This will work better if you avoid all the Facebook drama


Invite Cards:  Do you have a special series coming up or an event, create a card and put it in the hands of students.  Believe it or not, a few of them will actually hand them out.  Handing out these cards may possibly begin a spiritual conversation where students can share the Gospel.

The LifeBook:  This is a great FREE resource that students can take to school and hand to their friends and talk with them about the hope they have in Christ.  It gives a brief synopsis of the Old Testament and then entire Gospel of John.  It also includes answers that students may ask pertaining to different passages.


Sometimes all it takes is a gentle reminder.  Encourage your students to continually invite people to your worship gatherings or events.  I am not encouraging students to invite their friends to come and see anything, but do want them to invite their friends to come and know Jesus.

I’ve always been told, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”  If this is the case then I want students squeaking all over the place.  The likelihood of guests just showing up are slim…your chances are better if they are invited.


Sometimes we need to be reminded that we are a sent people, and the best way to be sent is to live sent.  When we believe in Christ, the commission of Christ is grafted into our spiritual DNA.  It’s more that what we are supposed to do, it’s who we are supposed to be.  If we are going to encourage students to live sent, then it’s up to us to help them overcome the anxiety that may come with sharing that salvation comes through Jesus alone in a world that believes there’s more than one way to get anywhere.

Train your students…help your students…send your students.

How are you encouraging and helping students live sent where you are?




No one really asks what I’m listening to…

…but I’m going to share it with you anyway.  Why?  Because I believe my life and my ministry need really good music.



Ben Rector: The Walking In Between

I can not listen to this album enough.  Whether I’m at the house reading, studying in my office, or riding in the car, at some point I will be listening to this album.  “Life is not the mountain tops, it’s the walking in between, I like you walkin’ next to me.” Thank you Ben!  I don’t know you, but I would assume we would be pretty good friends.



Andy Mineo: NeverLand

Anyone who can put FUBU and Chewbacca in the same prose has a gift.  Maybe you’ve never heard of Andy or maybe you’re a part of the underground 116 movement, either way this would be a great album for your playlist.  It’s a staple for us while we wait in the drop off line at school.  Not sure what Yeye’s teacher thinks when she walks in saying, “Say I won’t rock FUBU sucka!”

I would include more, but for the past two weeks, this is all I’ve listened to.  Seriously…that’s it.  Well, except for the NEEDTOBREATHE iTunes radio station (which still includes Ben Rector).

Seriously Ben, I’m in Nashville quite a bit…yes, I like coffee…yes, I like to talk…have you’re people call my people!

What can you not stop listening to?


Staying Creative in Student Ministry

If I am completely honest with you, ministry can be monotonous at some times.  The same can be said for weekly message preparation, but I don’t believe it always has to be.  I’m of the mind being created in the image of God means He shares certain attributes with us, and one of my favorite attributes of God is His creativity.  In essence we were created to be creative for His glory…I like that.

I have to keep this in mind when studying, preparing, and dreaming for messages or message series.  There’s a lot involved in prepping for these things but I love the fact that I can dream big dreams because that’s how we are designed.  My encouragement for student pastors would be to dream big when studying and developing a message or series.

Here are just a few helpful thoughts that have helped me along the way:

DON’T BE AFRAID TO GAIN INSPIRATION FROM OTHERS – There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being inspired by the works of others.  There is; however, everything wrong with stealing from others.  Some give full freedom to use whatever you want to, but that’s not a universal rule for everything you find online; but I do believe you can be inspired by someone else’s creativity.  Let’s be honest, Pinterest is a great resource.  If you’ve been avoiding Pinterest like the plague for fear of what men with mustaches might think of you, then it’s time to grow yourself a beard and join the movement.  Go take a gander at my boards if you feel the urge.

READ SOMETHING THAT STIRS YOUR IMAGINATION – History, a biography, fiction…what stirs your imagination?  I like to sit down next to a fire and read some good fiction.  Right now I’m reading The Fiddler’s Gun by A.S. Peterson, but I also enjoy anything by Ted Dekker.  It’s fun to get lost in a world that is not your own while living the life of another, even if it is only for a glimmer of time.  The sole purpose of this is to remain creative.  I’m good with reading books that are helpful for your line of work, but that can sometimes get stale and stunt creativity.  It’s when I’m imagining that I find myself being more creative, so enjoy some books that bring about something new.

LISTEN TO NEW MUSIC – Sometimes it’s a good thing to try something new.  I for one get a little tired of listening to the same thing all the time…unless it’s overwhelmingly good.  I’m just saying try it, if you don’t like it move on, but sooner or later you will find someone else to add to your playlist.  I really like listening to strong song writers like Ben Rector, Andrew Peterson, Aaron Ivey, and NEEDTOBREATHE, but sometimes I branch out and find something different that I don’t normally listen to like Justin Timberlake (I’m late to the party) or Bruno Mars (amazing voice, lyrics need a little toning down).  I would also suggest getting Spotify and listening to some of their suggestions (then going out and buying some of that artists music).  Spotify can be a great resource for trying something new.

HAVE A CHANGE OF SCENERY – Get up and get out of the office!!  If you’re always looking at the same wall, same art, same desk, same books, it’s no wonder you’re creative genius is stumped!  Get up and go somewhere.  A park, a local coffee shop, your back yard, a movie (this serves two purposes); I don’t care where, but get up and go!  You’re office can be a lonely, boring place sometimes…make it interesting!

CARRY AN “IDEA” NOTEBOOK WITH YOU – You never know when you’re going to be hit with the greatest idea ever!  We all have one of those ideas that would be revolutionary, but we forget it within 10 minutes never to be thought of again.  Sooner or later I’ll have one too, but I’m gonna write it down.  I also like to draw out designs and write down quotes that would go great in a message or a series.  I never know when I’m going to be inspired, so it’s good to have something to record that inspiration in.

KEEP THE GOSPEL AT THE CENTER – Don’t lose sight of this one.  You can be the most creative person in the world (and you may even see fruit from your creativity), but it’s in vein if you forget the Gospel.  Are you trying to show others how creative you are or are you showing others how creative God is!  Let’s face it, there’s nothing more out of the box then God becoming flesh to save His creation and bring them back to Him.  That’s the story we are telling…nothing more, nothing less, so do not believe the lie that you can make it more creative and pretty!

Stop saying you’re not creative!  You’re the most creative person I know, so use it for God’s glory!  Maybe these will help you…maybe they won’t…but at least give it a try!  You have been created in the image of God…be creative!


What helps you be creative?