Calibrate Church Ministries Conference

There is still time to register your church leaders and volunteers for the Calibrate church ministries conference and the IGNITE pre conference banquet.

When: October 13, 2012
Where: Sioux Falls First Assembly of God (map)
Cost: $35 per person (group discounts and scholarships are available, registration form


Friday, October 12th
IGNITE Pre Conference Banquet at Sioux Falls First A/G
6:30-8:30PM Supper & Networking with Dr. Paul Alexander 
(for lead and staff pastors & spouses)

Saturday, October 13th
7:45AM Registration & Check In
8:15AM Opening Gathering in Sanctuary
8:30AM Workshop Block 1
9:45AM Workshop Block 2
11:00AM General Session with Dr. Paul Alexander
12:15PM Lunch
1:00PM Workshop Block 3
2:15PM Workshop Block 4
3:30PM Conference Concludes

Areas of Focus:
Children’s Ministry 
Youth Ministry 
Worship Ministry 
Technology and Media
Life and Leadership
Young Adult Ministry (We apologize as these workshops will not be available)

Visit for a complete schedule and list of workshops

Leadership vs. Management

Leadership says, "Put the ladder against the wall."
Management says, "Put the ladder against this wall."

It is one thing to inspire people into action - that's leadership.  However, we must also help to chart the course and point them in the right direction - that's management.  Both are important, both can be learned, and both can be used effectively in ministry.

New Royal Ranger Commander Announced

I am honored to introduce you to James Dye, our newly appointed District Royal Rangers Commander. James Dye has served as the local outpost commander for Rapid City First AG and has led with excellence.

James’ passion for Rangers extends well beyond merits and camping. He uses Royal Rangers as a tool to mentor future men. His vision is to see our churches excel in reaching the boys inside and outside the church walls through motivating men/dads in the church to pour into the boys.

James is a veterinarian by trade and loves the outdoors. If you are looking for a way to involve the men in your church to reach the boys in your community, please invite James Dye out for a dream session where you will discover ways to use the talents and passions already in the men of your church!

James and his wife Rachel live in Rapid City where he runs the Autumn Hills Veterinary Clinic.  Please take a moment to welcome James as the district commander by sending him a note at

Download James' Vision Statement (Pastors' Version | Outpost Commanders Version)


MOMENTUM is a chance for youth leaders from across the state to come together and sharpen each other, reconnect relationships, regain focus, and gain valuable ministry perspectives.

We know you minister in your church and community every day. You’re always on call, and your schedule is always full. This is our chance to minister to you.

Be sure to register before January 3.

Full Details Here

Calibrate Speaker: Jeremiah Johnson

I am a worship and young adults pastor at First Assembly in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I am married to an awesome wife named Rachel. I have two daughters named Zoe and Elle.

Jeremiah's self-produced album "You're the One" containing several oringal songs has been well received by the congregation at First Assembly of God in Sioux Falls. His "God-Inspired" lyrics are used weekly during worship services. Attendees at his sessions will be inspired by his focus on touching the heart of God.

Jeremiah's Sessions:
Songwriters Session: Some of the most powerful worship experiences come when we worship purely from the heart. Discover ways to harness the thoughts and emotions of personal worship and introduce them to your church. (WORSHIP MINISTRY)

Worship Team Dynamics: Every participant on a worship team has a different personality and level of experience. Discover ways to lead these teams without losing your mind. (WORSHIP MINISTRY)

We are happy to have Jeremiah as a workshop speaker at Calibrate 2010.

Calibrate: Sessions For Youth Workers

There you are, working with teenagers.  Balancing life, family, work, and youth ministry.  Sometimes it's nice to get a little "shot in the arm" of assistance to help navigate the waters of reaching teenagers.  You can find that at Calibrate.

Below is a list of a few of the classes we feel will be of benefit for people working with teens.

Missions Extreme: Extended Missions Opportunities
Reaching Teen Girls: Getting Into Their World
Mean Girls: Raising Nice Girls in a Mean Girl World
Twilight & The Supernatural
Youth Ministry Health Evaluation
Building Community in Your Youth Ministry

Download the full class list
View the Calibrate Conference information

Calibrate Speakers: James & Bruce Dye

James and Bruce Dye are a father-son team who have been mentoring and discipling boys through Royal Rangers for several years.

They come highly recommended from children's leaders and will bring great experience and excellence to you through their session on reaching boys.

Bruce and James minister at First Assembly of God in Rapid City.

James & Bruce Dye's Session:
Mentor and Disciple Boys

James and Bruce will be workshop speakers at Calibrate 2010.

Calibrate Speaker: Heartland Masters Commission


Based in River of Life Church out of Cold Spring, MN, Heartland Master's Commission is focused on raising up the next generation of leaders ready for small town ministry.

Directors Adam and Amber Haugen have a passion for small town ministry and a desire to disciple the next generation to reach this vast mission field. Adam served on the leadership team at Cross Current in Rockford, IL under Jeanne Mayo and Jeremy DeWeerdt before receiving his BA in business form Souther Illinois Univerity. In 2004 he moved to Cold Spring and began working with Breakthrough Ministries. Amber received her MA from St. Cloud State University after finishing three years of service with Rockford Master's Commission. Amber began working at River of Life Church in 2003. The couple married in 2005 and have one son (Mataeo).

We are excited for the opportunity to team up with Heartland Masters Commission for Calibrate 2010!

Calibrate Speaker: Matt Wilkie

Matt serves as the director of Convoy of Hope’s Internship program and has a passion to see people involved in serving God by meeting those in need all around the world. I love Jesus, my family, serving internationally (and in this country too), Convoy of Hope, sushi, Johnny Cash and a good cup of coffee.

Matt’s Sessions
Pressure Gauge: Avoiding Burnout: (Super Session) Serving a compassionate Christ: How He feels about you--We work hard serving others by showing compassion. What does our Savior think of us? We'll discuss what He says about people like you.

Building People Through Compassion Ministries: We can build our people not only through challenging them with the great commission of Matthew 28, but through God's command in Matthew 25 to "do unto the least of these." Matt, who serves as a missionary with Convoy of Hope, will discuss ways of building students as they express the heart of Christ to those in need.

Missions Extreme: Extended Missions Opportunities (Student Session) So, you’ve done a 10-day missions trip. You don’t think full-time missions is your thing, but you want to do something more. You’re not alone. Thousands of students and young make the choice each year to spend a few months or few years serving in missions. See what’s involved and the ministries that need your help.

Preparing Your Ministry for Compassion Outreach: Just because you aren’t the pastor doesn’t mean you can’t coordinate compassion outreach. Lean creative ways to involve your small groups, children’s ministry, etc in meeting the felt needs of those in your community.

Video Interview with Matt

Calibrate Conference: Matt Wilkie from Mark on Vimeo.

We are so excited to have Matt as one of our workshop and super session speakers at Calibrate 2010.

Calibrate Speaker: Ryan Moore

Ryan is the National Young Adult Ministry Coordinator for the AG. Ryan moved to Springfield, MO in March of ’09 in an effort to equip and encourage existing and potential young adult ministries throughout our national network.

Ryan has ministered to young adults in both Florida and Oregon. He spent 3 years in Ocala, Florida serving full-time to youth and young adults before moving across the country in May of ‘06 to pastor young adults in Portland, Oregon.

His passion is to help develop emerging leaders and propel them into their God-given destiny. He also enjoys a good book, a cup of coffee, and game to watch on TV. Ryan is married to the love of his life and best friend, Alyson and they have one 3 year old girl, Alyza.

Ryan's passion as the National Young Adult Ministries Coordinator is to encourage and equip existing and potential young adult ministries throughout our fellowship. Ryan is a Central Bible College graduate.

Ryan's Sessions:
Understanding Young Adult Culture

Creating a Young Adult Sensitive Church

Re-Capturing the De-Churched

We are excited to have Ryan as one of the workshop and super session speakers at Calibrate 2010.

Calibrate Speaker: Rick Allen

Rick Allen has been a nationally appointed U.S. missionary since 2001 and currently serves in the Center for Leadership and the AG Trust Development Team. His assignment for the Center for Leadership focuses on local church leadership development and strategic missional involvement.

Rick functions as the National Coordinator for the Church Transformation Network. The Church Transformation Network is leading the effort to equip local, small membership congregations to discover and pursue God’s vision for health and vitality. Through key journey points which include being a fully Spirit Empowered church, focus on Biblically Based values, creating a Transformative Leadership team to equip believers for growth and Spirit Directive Strategic plan for ministry to every individual regardless of their place in life; the Church Transformation Network is dedicated to assist today’s churches for tomorrow’s future.

Rick will be one of the Ignite Speakers at Calibrate 2010

Did You Know?

One of the four pillars* of Youth Alive is the Campus Club.  These student-led groups are encouraged to meet weekly on the campus of the public school in an effort to serve their campus and make a positive impact on their classmates by spreading the love of Jesus Christ.

However, sometimes students have a hard time knowing how to lead these clubs and know what to share on a weekly basis.

Did you know that the Youth Alive website has enough resources to lead a club all the way through Jr High/Middle School and High School?

Here is just a sample of some of the topics:
- Being Different
- Crisis Care
- Dating
- Destiny
- Dream for the Future
- Friendships
- Giving
- Leadership
- and more

Check them out! Use them each week to help make your club more than just a gathering.  Make your club a positive impact for the Cause of Christ! > Resources > Campus Club Meeting Guides & Campus Club Monthly Meeting Guides

*The four pillars of Youth Alive are Prayer Zone Partners, Campus Missions, Campus Clubs, and The Seven Project


No matter how you spell it 10/10/10 is going to be a Sunday to remember!

In cooperation with the national STL office and youth ministries around the nation we are casting the net to challenge our students to do something unprecedented.

I am looking for 100 people who will set a crazy goal to personally give/raise $1,000 and give it on October 10th, 2010 (or other date close to that if your Sunday mornings make this difficult).

I know that some of our teenagers are just the people who would step up to this challenge and watch God help them make this goal.  To sign up click here.

You will never receive a bill but this will help us to announce how many people are on board with Ten and then to celebrate with you as was watch God bring it in as each person works hard.

Here's the great news... there are already 3 SDAG leaders on board with this and I'm sure there will be more on the way!

Let's make history on 10/10/10.

NOTE:  The national campaign challenges students to give $10 a week for ten weeks.  We are looking for these students as well as some students who will set a larger goal of $1,000!  Let's get both!

What Millennials Want in Leaders (Thom Rainer)

The Millennial generation is the generation that has grabbed my heart. I know that my preference is largely related to having and loving three Millennial sons and their friends. But I know that my favoritism also stems from the attitude of hope that this generation brings.

As I have shared in other writings, my son, Jess Rainer, and I just concluded writing a book about this generation with the basic title,
The Millennials. The book will be released in January 2011. Our work was based on a massive research project led by LifeWay Research, where that team asked 1,200 older Millennials dozens of questions in multiple categories. The responses were fascinating.

Who Are the Millennials?

As a reminder, the Millennials are America’s largest generation, over 78 million in number. They are slightly larger in number than the well-documented Baby Boomer generation.

The Millennials were born between 1980 and 2000, though our research included only the older portion of this generation, those born between 1980 and 1991. The study included demographic sampling that well represents the generation in total.

The Leadership Factor

Though we asked relatively few questions about leadership in our study, the intensity of their responses provided clear indication that this subject was one of great interest to many in this generation. At the conclusion of our study, we found four major leadership foci among the Millennials. We dubbed them simply “What Millennials Want in Leaders.”

1. Mentoring. This generation has great respect for those older than they are. Most of them have good relationships with their parents. They have learned from older people all their lives, and they don’t want to stop now. They want to be led and taught in their places of work, in their churches, and in their families. They particularly want to learn from couples who have had long and successful marriages. Many Millennials see such examples as heroes to emulate.

2. Gentle spirit. This category is easier to describe by what Millennials do not want in leaders. Divisive, loud, and acrimonious persons turn them off. They loathe politicians and political pundits who scream at each other. They are leaving churches to some extent because they see many Christian leaders as negative and prone to divisiveness. They are repulsed by business leaders with harsh and autocratic spirits.

3. Transparency and authenticity. I wish Jess and I had counted the number of times that Millennials used the word “real” to describe leaders they want to follow. As one Millennial told us, her generation “can smell phony and pretentiousness a mile away.” They don’t want phony; they want authentic. They don’t want pretentious; they want transparent.

4. Integrity. The Millennials are weary of politicians who don’t keep promises. They are tired of Christian leaders who fail basic moral standards. They are fed up with business leaders who are more concerned about personal gain than serving others. They want leaders with integrity.

Looking for a Few Good Leaders

The Millennial generation has much to offer. As a whole, they desire to serve others. Most of them are very family oriented. And they really want to listen and learn from others. Indeed they are looking for a few good leaders to follow. When they find them, they will follow with commitment and enthusiasm.

Our study of this generation was one of the most encouraging research projects in which I have been involved. I found great hope in the Millennials. I see great promise in many of them. And I found among them a hunger to learn from leaders they respect.

May we who have come before them be that type of leader.

The largest generation in America is watching us closely.

From the Blog of Thom Rainer

New Summer Intern

I am proud to announce the arrival of JaNae Stevenson as one of our summer interns.  She will be working with us in preparation for summer camps as well as in a partnership with the children's and youth ministry at Brandon Valley Assembly of God.

JaNae grew up in Howard, SD and was very involved in school athletics, was a part of several summer missions outreaches, and sat behind a buzzer for Teen Bible Quiz.  She is a student a Trinity Bible College.

Please take a second to send her a note of welcome!

What Are Examples Worth?

"A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words - But An EXAMPLE is Worth A Thousand Pictures"*

Is your life a living example to those around you?

We must realize that we are setting an example for those around us whether we know it or now.  The key is to realize what kind of example each of us is setting.

*Quote from a Preschool session at the NACMC in St. Louis.

Ten Stupid Things

Ten Stupid Things That Keep Churches From Growing (And How Leaders Can Overcome Them).

Geoff Surratt shares his personal experiences as a pastor and shows how several "stupid" mistakes can have a dramatic affect on the growth of a church.  Though the ten mistakes are relatively simple at a glance they can be more difficult to spot when you are in the middle of the ministry and even more difficult to correct if you find yourself committing one of them.

He addresses the following issues:

  1. Trying to do it all
  2. Providing a Second-Rate Worship Experience (but promoting it anyway)
  3. Settling for Low Quality in Children's Ministry
  4. Copying Another Successful Church
  5. Letting Committees Steer the Ship
  6. Favoring Discipline Over Reconciliation.
He covers more than just these topics, but the above list really hit home with me.  Either having committed these in my time in ministry, or watching pastors make these mistakes and not realize it.

I recommend this book for every new and veteran pastor.  This content, though directed towards lead pastors, will be beneficial for every church leader to read.  It will help you steer your church and leadership team toward healthy growth.

Selling Bulletin Ad Space

When it comes to recruiting and advertising for different events most churches default to two basic forms of communication: The church bulletin, and/or pulpit announcements.

While these forms of communication have their place.  I would like to pose the question:  If church bulletins were as affective in getting uninterested people to give up their time and resources as most church leaders think they are, why doesn't the marketplace start purchasing ad space each week?

If you are in need of workers for your local ministry don't stop at thinking just because it's in the bulletin, on the slide rotation during greeting time, or mentioned twice from the pulpit that people will start signing up in droves.

Is there an easy solution to this problem?  No.  Keep using the bulletin.  Keep finding time for the most impacting announcements during your service (I recommend only announcing things that affect more than 50% of your listeners)

But don't stop there.

  • Take time to create events and outreaches that are worth talking about and then make them easy to talk about.
  • Invest in crafting the vision and purpose before you ever try to get people on board.
  • Take some time as a leader to get alone with God to seek His help in getting it done.

On the flip side... people have become so "information saturated" in our culture that just Spamming them with church events with no clarity of form and purpose will not generate the desired results.

Be intentional with every communication that comes out of your church and ministry.  Just because email is free doesn't mean it doesn't cost you something every time you send out a message.

The attention of your readers is valuable.

Raise the level of your communication in bulletins, announcements, mailers, and email and you WILL raise the level of attention of your readers.

Is Your Youth Ministry Healthy?

Ever wonder what kind of scorecard to give the health of your youth ministry?

People rate you on a variety of different criteria: were you funny, was the church van cleaned and gassed up, did you make budget, are the numbers growing, etc.

Wouldn't it be nice if you could find a better way to evaluate the health of your youth ministry?

There is.

Check out (volume III) under the Leadership section for a variety of evaluation resources.

Oh, and if you're an AG church leader who has not received access yet - contact your District Youth Director for a list of your FREE access codes!

75th SD District Council

Information about the 75th Anniversary District Council has been posted.  Be sure to make your reservations and plan to attend!

Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive

Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive (by Patrick Lencioni)

This was a re-read for me, but well worth the refresher course.

As leaders in our organization we are focused on two primary areas:
1.  Making our organization smarter
2.  Making our organization healthier

It's quite a bit easier to notice when our organization is getting smarter or has come to a screeching halt as it pertains to improvement.  There are metrics in place to show signs of growth or decline.  We measure bottom lines and "customers."

On the flip side, health is much more difficult to gauge.  It takes a concerted effort to REALLY know how healthy your organization is.  However, as leaders in our organization we MUST be intentional about creating a healthy environment.

In his leadership fable about the Obsessive Executive, Lencioni calls out four areas of focused intentionality.

1. Be cohesive
2. Be clear
3. Over-communicate
4. Reinforce

Don't let the simplicity of these four obsessions fool you.  There is much to be learned by reading this book and a cursory review of this blog will not do the book justice.  My hope is that it has whet your appetite for learning how to make your organization healthy and you'll dig into this book.

Family Focused Ministry Podcast

I've posted my session from the North American Children's Ministry Conference.  Feel free to listen in.  My notes and keynote slides are available as well.

The audio file is just over one hour in length.  The goal of this session is to inspire children's ministers to focus a measure of energy on expanding their influence into the home as well as give some practical ideas to help accomplish this goal.

25 Ways To Win

25 Ways To Win With People (Maxwell & Parrott)

I believe one of the most mis-valued things in life is our relationships.  As leaders, we must always be doing what we can to maximize the value we place on others.  In 25 Ways to Win with People, we discover some great insight to what leadership guru John Maxwell uses.

Here's a sample.

1: Start with yourself.  You have to become a winner.  Before you can truly give value you have to be healthy and growing.

2:  Practice the 30 second rule: Say something nice to everyone you meet within the first 30 seconds of your conversation

4: Create a memory and help visit it often:  Find ways to make memories and use tokens, images, and stories to relive those highlight moments

8: Encourage the dreams of others:  Too often we are trying to get people on board with our dreams.  But the reality is, if we are truly going to win with people we must invest in their dream and try to get them on board with ours.

19: Remember a persons story: Listen to their story and remember it when you talk with them

22: Learn the mailman's name: SAVE Method (S) Say the name three times in conversation, (A) Ask a question about the name, (V) Visualize the persons prominent physical or personality feature, (E) End the conversation with their name.

25: Help people win!

The full list of 25 is worth the read.  Enjoy!

My Reading Secrets

I don't claim to have the silver bullet for getting through books, but each year I am surprised at how many books I complete.  A few people have asked why I read so much and how I get through so many books.

Three years ago it was good if I completed one book in a year.  Last year I completed 23 in 12 months.  Pastor/Author Mark Batterson reads about 100 books a year.  So, I'm not tooting my horn here... just giving some perspective and hoping to inspire you.

Here's the response:

1.  Readers are leaders.  I'm sure you've heard that one before, but it's true.  If we want to lead we must be growing.  One of the best ways to grow is to read.  Not just books, check out blog posts, podcasts, tutorials, newsgroups and more.

2. Reading keeps your mind open.  Want to learn something new, gain a new perspective - then become habitual in your reading.

3. Reading give us information to recall when someone needs assistance.  Once you've read/studied the information in a book it comes back to you at different times and helps guide the decisions and actions you and your organization will make.  Without that you are limited to only your personal interactions and experiences.

4. Mentorship: There are some amazing leaders and thinkers that have walked this earth.  We would love to be mentored by them - by reading their works or about them, in a sense we can still be mentored by them.  In most cases this mentorship costs less than $25.00.  Now that's a great deal.

1.  Read Faster:  There are some tricks you can learn to help you read faster.  Work on gradually increasing your reading speed.  You may need to reduce the number of distractions in order to accomplish this but it's worth it.  Practice over and over.  Create a habit of increasing your speed.

2.  Read In Chunks More Often:  Don't have a full hour for reading, no worries.  Take 15 minutes and read a chunk.  Try setting a goal of a chapter a day or five chapters in a week.  Read more frequently.

3.  Make Use of Abridged Versions:  On occasion you will benefit from the abridged version of certain books.  This helps you get the focused 20% of the book that contains 80% of the content.

4.  Maximize Your Travel Time:  About half of my books are read to me while I drive.  This makes it a little difficult to review the highlighted portion and go back just to find one chapter or one segment, but it beats wasting that time while I am on long drives.

5.  Read A Variety of Topics and Authors:  Each year I set a personal growth curriculum.  During this process I try to find a topic of growth that is valuable to me and find three different authors who address that issue.  This helps me grow as well as give me different perspectives on that topic.

My hope is that you will fall in love with reading.  Why?  Because you are the lid in your organization.  If you want to help the people in your organization grow, you must also be growing.

My Library
Reading Now Bookshelf

Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership

If I were to ask you what the following individuals have in common: Jimmy Swaggart, Bill Clinton, Abraham Lincon, and Rick Warren; It may take you some time to find the common threads.  So here you go - They are/were all leaders and they ALL have a dark side.

In fact I could throw your name into the mix and the same would be true of you.  According to McIntosh and Rima every one of us has a dark side.  Not in the sense that we immediately think of in Star Wars - an evil Darth Vader set on destroying us.  But rather an often unexplored and unmanaged part of our personality.

The difference in the leaders mentioned above is some of them were acutely aware of their dark side and managed it while others were completely unaware or chose to ignore it.  In Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership, McIntosh and Rima help the reader understand the power of their dark side as well as provide a battery of tests to help you identify what your dark side is.

Here are the Five "Dark Sides" identified by McIntosh and Rima
1. Compulsive
2. Narcissistic
3. Co Dependent
4. Passive Aggressive
5. Paranoid

The truth of the matter is that we all possess some level of these "dysfunctions" in our personality, however in Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership you will learn which one(s) is most severe and the possible ramifications if it is left unchecked.

In reality, if we understand our dark side, are willing to confront it honestly, and put in the work to manage it our dark side can become an asset that drives us on to further success rather than blindsiding us and our tract of leadership.

A must read for every leader!


We are all faced with dozens of decisions each day.  Some of them carry a weightier consequence if it's not the right decision.  For those decisions we tend to take more time gathering information, polling people, checking our research, and more.  But what if we could trust the first two seconds of time when presented with the decision?  What if we could prove that more research doesn't always lead to better decisions?

Here are some of the questions addressed in Blink by Malcom Gladwell:

  • Can doctors make better decisions in diagnosing heart attacks simply by running more tests on chest pain patients? 
  • Did Coke do the right thing in responding to the reports from the "Pepsi Challenge" in the 80's?
  • Can you observe a 20 minute conversation of a young married couple and accurately determine if they will be together in 15 years?
  • Does more information guarantee better military decisions?
  • Does packaging and aesthetics really make certain foods taste better?
  • Can we trust a poll of the public vs the experience of the expert?
Maybe the content of the book won't appear to relate immediately to your ministry location.  Allow me to pose some questions where the content of this book may help strengthen your ministry?
  • Does the color of the carpet, cleanliness of the sanctuary, and attire of the pastor/staff really matter?
  • When hiring staff and recruiting volunteers does previous history of that individual and personal appearance really affect our judgement?  Or is talent and calling really all we look at?
  • Can encouraging people to smile more and think positive really make a difference?
  • Can the verbiage of our written materials unconsciously create moods and change the actions of our congregants?
Blink will address the foundational principles to answer these questions and more.  I trust you will find this book fascinating!

Readers caution - Blink is not a religious work and sometimes the language and view point of the author will reflect this.

My Growth Curriculum

I've posted the books I've chosen to read in 2010.  Feel free to read along and discuss them with me throughout the year.  Others may be added to the list as I go along.  My goal this year is to complete 24 books before December 31.

I've chosen the following for specific reasons:

Reading With Other Leaders:
The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive
The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization
Jim & Casper Go To Church
They Like Jesus but Not the Church
Ten Stupid Things that Keep Churches from Growing
Communicating for a Change

Relationship Development:
Relational Intelligence
Click: Ten Truths for Building Extraordinary Relationships
25 Ways to Win with People

Developing Creativity
A Whack On The Side of the Head
How To Get Ideas
The Talent Code

View other books I'm reading or have completed
See my full library and check out a book for personal growth

New Year Again

It seems just yesterday I was wondering if I had stored up enough food and should have purchased a generator for the Y2K mass computer malfunction!  I'm thankful the worst that came out of that scare was an over abundance of "lightly used" generators at garage sales that summer.

So here we are at the beginning of a new year again.  Will 2010 be a repeat of 2009 for you?  Will you begin every day the same way you did last year?  Will you maintain the same habits you did, spend the same amount of time in the same routines?  Or will this year be the year that something changes in you?

Will you choose to grow even further in your walk with God.  Will you decide to make personal growth a part of your regular routine.  Will you strive to become more efficient, more passionate, more intelligent, more caring, more generous, more disciplined, more like Christ?  Will you live your life in a way that will inspire children and teens to follow God more earnestly?  Will you love more, forgive more, smile more, laugh more, pray more, care more, trust more, and serve more?

That's my goal, I hope it's yours as well.

If growth is a part of your 2010 plan - please consider participating in Signet (applications deadline extended through mid January).

You Need To Grow!

Signet is a cooperative journey of leadership development. Signet employs reading, communication, and a cycle of goal setting to encourage leadership growth. Only a small number of people will be accepted to Signet annually. Applications will be received through the end of the year.

Signet Values
Hunger - the desire to grow
Humility - Jesus first, others second, you come in third
Excellence - attention to detail, planning, deadlines, preparation, raising the bar

If these sound like you:
Learn more about Signet
I’ll be accepting applications through the end of the year.

Visit the official Signet page


2010 Notes: If you are a youth leader in South Dakota you are invited to be a part of MOMENTUM, our annual youth leaders retreat held in January. Join other youth pastors and spouses for three days designed to help you relax, refresh, and renew.

Location: Comfort Inn (Mitchell, South Dakota)
Register by January 4
Download Information Sheet
Begins: January-14, 2010
Ends: January-16, 2010
Registration Deadline: January 4, 2010 - Bring your payment with you when you arrive
Cost: $95 Single/$145 Couple (plus lodging) - Includes all meals and sessions (if you are unable to attend because of financial limitations only, please let me know)
Kids: We will set up a "nursery" in our room nearby the meeting space for infants. We recommend toddlers and older stay with a friend or family member during the weekend. If childcare is requested we can assist you in contacting someone.

Need More Info?

MOMENTUM Youth Leader Retreat

2010 Notes: If you are a youth leader in South Dakota you are invited to be a part of MOMENTUM, our annual youth leaders retreat held in January. Join other youth pastors and spouses for three days designed to help you relax, refresh, and renew.

Location: Comfort Inn (Mitchell, South Dakota)
Register by January 4
Download Information Sheet
Begins: January-14, 2010
Ends: January-16, 2010
Registration Deadline: January 4, 2010 - Bring your payment with you when you arrive
Cost: $95 Single/$145 Couple (plus lodging) - Includes all meals and sessions (if you are unable to attend because of financial limitations only, please let me know)
Kids: We will set up a "nursery" in our room nearby the meeting space for infants. We recommend toddlers and older stay with a friend or family member during the weekend. If childcare is requested we can assist you in contacting someone.

Need More Info?

Pastors Ought To Attend Camp...

Leaving a Legacy of Impacting Campers:  For years we have encouraged pastors to be a part of the camping environment.  Here's one inspiring story of a pastor in Illinois who did just that -- for 30 consecutive years!  I hope it inspires you as well...

(reprinted with permission from also featured in Pentecostal Evangel, 10/18/2009 edition)

On Monday, July 20, opening night of the final week of 2009 Illinois youth camps, more than 900 students, counselors, and Illinois ministers joined in a late-night tribute to Phil Schneider, who is completing 30 consecutive years of camp ministry and leadership. He has served either as a counselor, Activities Director, or other leadership position for all weeks of camps these many years, which varied from one to three weeks per year.

Phil's testimony was, "38 years ago, as a student at Illinois youth camps, God called me to ministry. I am here because of that, and because God has great purpose for each of you."

Pictured are current Illinois DYD, Paul Hinzman (left) with Phil Schneider (right). Paul is introducing former DYD Ron Heitman who gave a tribute to Phil over the phone.

Phil has served as pastor of Cornerstone Assembly of God in Bethalto since 2002, when the church was formed by a merge between First Assembly of God in Cottage Hills and Gateway Worship Center in Bethalto. He served as pastor at Cottage Hills from 1991 until the merge. Previous ministry included serving as youth pastor at East Peoria/Glad Tidings AG and senior pastor of Litchfield Assembly of God. He also serves as an Executive Presbyter of the South Region of the Illinois District Council.

“I've always believed that pastors ought to attend camp with their kids,” Phil says. “I began attending youth camps while a youth pastor and continued after I became a senior pastor. A love for teenagers and youth pastors/youth leaders has kept me coming back.”

50 Ideas

Recently I participated with a group of five leaders who's assignment was to harvest 10 ideas during the month of August.  With their permission I've re-posted their ideas.  Some of them may spark a solution for a problem you have been facing.  Other's might just give you a chuckle.  Regardless, I hope they inspire you to generate your own ideas.
  1. Group's new curriculum "Buzz"
  2. Book Think Orange by Reggie Joiner - about joining the forces of church (yellow) and family (red)
  3. "Believe it or Not" series in kids church - exploring the AG statement of faith
  4. "Will it float" segment for this series - something fun to break up the more serious segments
  5. Kids leadership team - have 4th & 5th grade kids take on some leadership responsibilities in kids church (ex. check-in, take offering, greet new kids, prayer team, etc)
  6. Interactive walls in kids church (lego boards, twister game, white boards, magnetic sections of wall)
  7. Computerized check-in for all kids areas
  8. Interview parents about how they are following through on being the spiritual leaders of their home - find out what's working, what's not, how they incorporate spiritual truths in their everyday lives
  9. Start a parenting small group just for nursery/toddler parents - start talking about being the spiritual leaders of their home while they and their kids are still young
  10. Caribou Friday - every Friday the staff get coffee :o)
  1. AIM Checklist for participants
  2. Ministry Direct Sermon Resource
  3. Schedule Kids Convention at the same time as JBQ District Finals
  4. Signet 2010 with Home Missions Pastors
  5. I should run the Sioux Falls 1/2 marathon on September 13
  6. I should NOT run the Sioux Falls 1/2 marathon on September 13
  7. Change the Ignite session from time with Joel Hunter, to Networking with all of the out of state presenters
  8. Have a missionary speak during HS camp
  9. Encourage pastors to use the 52.3 sermons on Sunday and the youth leader use the discussion groups on Wednesday (for churches with no f/t leader)
  10. MOMENTUM Lite - a one-day youth leader retreat for the volunteer. district or section based.

  1. Coffee and Worship. Need I say more? If you don't have a coffee bar at your church, invite a local coffee shop owner to come and prepare caffeinated concoctions for your youth ministry. Agree on a price and give away gift certificates. Let your worship team decide how the evening will flow. Invite youth from other churches in town. Make your youth room environment like a coffee shop.
  2. Let your pastor preach on a Wednesday night or arrange an activity such as a cookout at their home; give your students opportunities to rub shoulders with him and his family outside of Sunday AM.
  3. Outreach idea: Do a school supply scavenger hunt at the beginning of the school year. Deliver the backpacks full of school supplies to needy families or schools that can distribute them.
  4. Volunteer to be a tutor at a elementary, middle or high school.
  5. Volunteer to visit students at a local Juvenile Detention Facility. Pastors are often allowed visitation privileges not afforded to others. Some students can go an entire stay without a visitor.
  6. Utilize the Prayer Zone Partner resources available at Send an occasional prayer update to those who sign up to be PZPs. Also give them names and needs (with permission of course) of specific students to be praying for throughout the year.
  7. Enter the text from your next message at It will create word cloud for you and help you to clearly see if your main point is being communicated. (View this post in wordle)
  8. Now that school it back in session, write your children's and spouse's activities into your calender - in ink! (or bold, red, CAPS if you use a digital calendar.) Or set up a separate family calendar in applications such as Outlook, iCal, or Google calendars.
  9. Take an evening with your youth to prepare care packages and encouraging notes for college students who have just left the youth ministry.
  10. When interacting with kids, students or parents, keep the cell phone tucked away. No texting, or answering calls, or looking to see who called or texted. Give undivided attention; or as someone once said, "listen with your face." (Has also been know to work with family.)

  1. Host a workshop called "War of the Worlds" - focused toward parents and families (but open to anyone); providing balance of Biblical perspective about serious cultural issues that we're facing today (i.e. reality of sexual culture in our high schools, effects of relativism, homosexuality)
  2. Have a special "crowd" service once every 1-2 months. Evangelistic in focus (perfect time to bring friends) - lots of student involvement - great worship - possibly a Sunday night - open doors at 6:00 for concessions/hang out.
  3. Set a consistent week for small groups on Wednesday nights. Sort them by age. Since we don't have the resources to split jr/sr high, this is one way we can have some same-age peer interaction.
  4. Establish some kind of process for measurable growth for students. Saddleback uses a baseball diamond to show markers of completion.
  5. Assign student leaders to read one book a year that I choose (if they want more, great).
  6. Have a youth/children ministry fair during a Sunday service - maybe 2-3 week series. Expose congregation to need, priority, and opportunity.
  7. Have an "Ardent Open House" BBQ night for incoming 7th graders before school starts. (thanks FiftyTwo)
  8. Schedule a meeting with regional worship leaders to brainstorm about the benefit of a network across the state.
  9. Poll some students and get ideas for PURSUE nights - then I could plan PURSUE for the whole year.
  10. After every camp, convention, retreat, or other special spiritual focus event, have a worship night within a few days of getting home to revisit what God has done, share testimonies, encourage one another, etc.

  1. Sioux Falls Teen Podcast- This is a podcast I've wanted to do for some time now. The show would highlight various local events for teens, topics that apply to them, and interview homecoming king and queen, athletes, - possibly help bridge the gap between the principal, teachers and students by interviewing them. Basic idea is to have a non-Christian based local teen radio "show" that would connect kids, engage them, give a platform for various topics/issues that apply locally, and give the church/youth ministry another contact point or publicity with city teens.
  2. Bus surcharge on all trips- We all know church vehicles break down. Ours are heading that way fast. With not much money set aside to replace them I thought of adding a $5-$10 surcharge to any event cost that uses the church buses to start raising money for replacement vehicles. It helps when the time comes and also shows the church that the youth are doing their part.
  3. Bulletin Board of Needs: Based on Acts 2-"They were without need"; If a person has a need, specifically a felt need (financial, work on their house, ride to college, etc.) they could turn in a completed form. The top half would have their contact info, the bottom half would have their need listed. The bottom half would be ripped off and placed on a bulletin board in a commons area of the church. Others in the church would be able to go by and pull something off the board, take it to the office and fulfill the need. If it is something where their needs to be a connection between the two parties (work at their house, run an errand for and elderly person) the office could make the connection. However if it is not necessary that the parties know each other (financial needs may be processed through the church) it may be kept confidential since it is run through the church office. The body of Christ needs to take care of one another - were supposed to be the most loving place on Earth!
  4. Community Arts Festival- We were made by and worship the ultimate creator so shouldn't the church be leading the charge to celebrate the arts? Have an annual Arts Festival open to the community (small participant fee??) that will include any and all kinds of art (providing it's appropriate). Music stages for local artist, art galleries, poetry readings, shops with sculptures and items for sale. Potentially a great outreach to community. "Hey, isn't that the church that's all about the arts?"
  5. Skate Park outreach- Many communities have a skate park these days. In Sioux Falls we have one in the park next to our church. Each summer the city sponsors a couple of skate tournaments that bring out a lot of teens. For us we could have a concert in the parking lot right next to the skate park. Music, prizes, possibly free food to draw the kids over after the tournament and have an opportunity to share the message. OPTION: Sponsor your own city skate tournament. You run it, you promote it, you give out prizes, provide the music during the competition, AND still do some kind of a concert afterwords.
  6. Help a neighbor- Have church members go to their neighbors and have their bills brought to the church to be covered by other church people. Great ministry during these difficult financial times.
  7. Extreme Makeover Home Addition: Have church remodel one room, exterior, lawn, or, etc. Have church people build, donate supplies, fund the expense, etc. Great publicity and great ministry to the community. Will increase your value in the eyes of your community. We spent $10k on an outreach last summer that had little to no impact on our community. We could have used that money, even less, for this ministry idea.
  8. Staging your messages: Decorate stage/room, play themed music, have video throughout based on your message or series. This will involve students in your message before you even get to the sermon. I know I've seen some ministries do this to some degree but when I was in Orlando we went to Islands of Adventure & Universal Studios and on every ride, the story started the moment you walked in. By the time you actually got on the ride you were already immersed in the experience and the story. This just reminded me of this great ministry application, the importance and the effectiveness of it!
  9. Twitter Attendance: When the pastors leave our church during the day they are supposed to let the secretaries know and when they will be back. However, this doesn't happen as much as it should and the secretaries are left hanging when people come asking where someone is. And when the pastors do go in they can potentially get stuck talking/planning/helping for a while and it is a time/schedule killer. To fix this have a Twitter app (tweetdeck, spaz, etc.) open on secretaries computer with an account that all the secretaries can access from their various computers. When a pastor leave the church they can DM the office account (or have a creative hashtag and search window open) that they are leaving/returning and what time they'll be back so it comes up on the secretaries app. Pastors can "check-in" on the fly, from anywhere, aren't distracted, and anytime someone comes asking for them the secretaries can simply look at their twitter stream to see the latest post from that pastor. If the pastor is out and plans change they can update the twitter stream without tieing up the phone lines or interupting the secretaries day.
  10. Substitute Teaching/Lunch Room Supervisor - always looking for new and creative ways to get on the campus and be involved. Have tossed around the idea of getting on the Sub list and this year I volunteered to come in at least once a week (possibly more if they need it) to be a Lunch Room Supervisor. Otherwise the teachers have to do it and they have to skip their lunch as well as any planning or prep they normally have to do during that brief time.

Minister's Retreat

2009 Minister's and Spouse Retreat

Featuring H.B. London

H. B. London, Jr. is Vice President of Church and Clergy Outreach for Focus on the Family, a Colorado Springs-based ministry whose primary reason for existence is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That objective is accomplished by a commitment to nurture and defend families worldwide.

Focus on the Family's founding president, Dr. James C. Dobson, believes that pastors and their families must remain strong if we are to successfully resist the downward moral trends which threaten the very foundation of our nation and has asked H.B. to represent Focus on the Family in supporting clergy families worldwide.

As first cousins who grew up more or less as brothers, it is a dream come true for them to have an opportunity to serve God in a joined ministry. Rev. London's ministry continues to be people-centered -- "When you find a need, you fill it." He operates by the slogan, "God loves you as though you were the only one in all the world to love -- and that makes you a very important person." H.B. and his wife, Beverley, have two married sons and four grandchildren.

Retreat Info

Location: Best Western Ramkota, Pierre, SD
Date: September 28-30
Time: Begins Monday at 6:30 PM with a general session
Ends Wednesday around Noon


All events take place at the Pierre Ramkota
Ramkota - - $78/night - - 605.224.6877 - limited rooms available
Comfort Inn - - $86.39 - - 605.224.0377
Governors Inn - - $85 - - 605.224.4200
Days Inn - - $73.99 - - 605.224.0411
Super 8 - - $58 - - 605.224.1617

Calibrate Sessions (developing)

Working list of classes for 2009 Calibrate Conference (full details)

Oil Change: Spirit Empowered Ministry (Super Session)
Test Drive: Implementing New Ministries (Super Session)
TEC: You and the Word
Building People through Compassion Ministries
Empowering Rural Youth Leaders
Building the Generations
Mentor and Disciple Boys
Impacting Girls
AIM 2010 (Student Session)

Speed Traps: Growth Pitfalls Ahead (Super Session)*
Pressure Gauge: Avoiding Burnout (Super Session)
TEC: You and Your Mission
Strength-Based Leadership
The CAUS of this Generation (Student Session)
Children's Ministry in the Small Church
Help Them Stay: Overcoming obstacles to visitor integration
The 411 on the Millennial Generation
Worship Team Dynamics*

11:00 General Session with Joel Hunter

12:15 Networking Lunch

Pit Crew: Team Growth Strategies (Super Session)
Horsepower: Prayer Strategies (Super Session)
TEC: You and Your Students/Groups You Teach
Preparing Your Ministry for Compassion Outreach
Turn Off the Scoreboard
Live Above (Student/Parent Session)*
Creative ways to Include Parents in your Kids Ministry*
Songwriters Session

Reinventing the Classics: Tradition and Relevance (Super Session)*
Overhaul: Changing Your Reputation (Super Session)*
TEC: Excellence in Teaching
Unlocking Spiritual Health Through Church Engagement
Lasting Fruit in Ministry
Missions Extreme: Internships and other Missions opportunities (Student Session)
10 Keys to a Successful Children's Ministry
Young Adult Ministry Essentials

3:15 Informal Dismissal

NOTE: All class times are not finalized.  Expect some changes to the final schedule.
*Pending Confirmation.  Please view for the most current conference schedule a

Problems With Reading

I have learned that when it comes to reading through the slough of leadership books available to us there tend to be two kinds of readers.

The first are those who read looking for content they already know and that confirms what they are doing.  This is the most common and the easiest way to read.  Upon completing your book you put it down and say "I liked that author" felling good about who you are and what you know - walking away changing nothing and maintaining status quo.

The second are those who read ready to learn a new perspective, find a different way to approach a subject, discover something different, better, approach, tackle projects, invent, minister, etc.

This way of reading is much more difficult.  You must wrestle with concepts, information, test strategies, refine, and search for missing components to what you learned to discover if what the author conveyed to you will work and bring improvement or if it should be discarded.  This way of reading takes time and ultimately changes the reader to some degree but is far more beneficial in the long run.

Be a reader? Yes.  But read to learn and discover not simply confirm what you like and know.

Idea Drought

When was the last time you had an idea?  What did you do with it?  Did it evaporate as quickly as it appeared because you thought no one would listen, it seemed too impossible, you didn't have the skills or drive to make it happen, or because people might think you are crazy?

There are two problems with ideas:
1.  We don't have enough of them.
2.  We don't know what to do with them when we get them.

Here are some thoughts:

Keep an idea journal.
Ideas can come from anywhere and at any time.  Have a good way to log your idea and save it for additional processing down the road.  Most people have more ideas than they realize, it's just that we are not looking for ideas so they come and go without much notice.

Determine your threshold.
What boundaries do you have that will cause you to not launch or announce your idea?  Something that is too risky, too embarrassing if it fails, too expensive, too complicated, too simple, too... whatever.  But at the same time, an idea that falls into one of these categories might just be the idea that needs to be launched!

Take 10 minute today and start your idea journal.  While you are at it, try to think of one idea to start your list.

And the Winner is...

We would like to congratulate New Life AG leadership team for their "over and above" work to organize their camp registrations and payments.

Each year we select one church that does the most work to ensure everything is correct and complete before they send in any paperwork or payments.  This church then receives a special gift as our thanks for their efforts.

This year there were several churches that stepped up their organization, however, New Life AG in Pierre covered everything from paperwork, to payments, to staff - and it was all done in a timely manner.

As our thanks for your work, New Life AG leadership team will be receiving a Cheesecake Factory (pictured above) gift to be shared next week.

Enjoy it with our thanks.

Next year... it could be your church!

Never Delegate

Leadership requires we learn how to delegate and oversee people who are working with us.  But are there somethings we cannot ever delegate?  Absolutely.

1.  Passion - people may learn the techniques and be able to replicate the action, but never delegate the passion.  Inspire others, but keep your passion alive!

2.  Standards - use grace with those you lead, but keep your standards high and above reproach.

3.  Growth - help bring growth to others, but never stop growing.  One of the best ways to grow is to set goals and action steps, read, and submit to accountability

4.  Grace/Mercy - there will be plenty of opportunities for discipline and punishment - yo won't be lacking in those at any time.  But if you give away the freedom to exercise grace and mercy you will become a bitter and angry dictator.  Bring out the best in people!

5.  Family - learn how to be more productive with the time you have, maximized the manpower when they are around, find ways to create family time without robbing your ministry.  do whatever it takes - but remember, no one else can/should ever become the parent to your kids or the lover of your spouse.

I hope you grow in your delegation abilities in order to inspire others to greater success in ministry.  But in the process, remember there are some things you must always carry!

Jack of All Trades

Are you a specialist?  - You know a lot about one subject

Are you a Jack of All Trades?  You know a little about several subjects?

Both are important.  Both need balance.  In reality we should be educated in many things BUT become passionate about only a few!

What are you educated in?
What are you passionate about?

When your passion and education intersect you have the key ingredients for success.

Where's Can't

Go ahead, look it up - is CAN'T in your dictionary?  It is in mine - "contraction of cannot."  It's in my dictionary, but I hope it's not overly abundant in my life.

Far too many people in use the phrase "I can't" when in reality what they should be saying is "I won't."

  • Sure they CAN teach the class - they just may need some training.
  • Sure they CAN host the small group, but it would mean giving up some personal time.  
  • Sure they CAN drive the bus, but they need their license.

At the same time, what are the things you say Can't be done?

  • You CAN pray and read your Bible, you just need to stop hitting the snooze and going to bed late
  • You CAN learn to play the piano, you just need to practice
  • You CAN become fluent in another language, you just need the lessons and time
  • You CAN lose weight, you just need a workable diet, exercise, and accountability
  • You CAN forgive, you just need some time and the freedom to talk about your hurts

Do you find yourself using "Can't" more often than finding a way to make it work.

Let's be a part of the solution rather than prolonging the problem.

What Did You Do Today?

In the ministry it's easy for people to assume all you do is... well, let's just say, I don't think most people actually ever verbalize what they think ministers do all week.

You are busy with meetings, planning outreaches, calling on shut-ins, visiting homes and hospitals, selecting songs, writing Bible studies, reviewing financial reports, caring for the lost and hurting, oh, and if there's time - preparing your Sunday message.

Minister's today have more on their plate than most people realize.  So why add Twitter as one more thing to do?

Simple, by sharing some of the tasks you do all day long you help the people in your congregation know that you are a real person (pulling weeds in my yard, fixing the leaky toilet), you are a busy person (just prayed with a family that lost their son, preparing for the outreach this weekend, had a great staff meeting), and that you are dealing with life just like they are (stuck in traffic again, just stocked up on toothpaste - found a great deal).

Twitter can help you connect with your congregation.  Please remember there are some things that should never be twittered (just went to the bathroom, thinking of quitting my job, my congregation has so many problems).  Just because you can - doesn't mean you should!

Welcome to the twittersphere.

I Want A Promotion

It's easy to look a the job/role that another leader has and say "I wish I could do that."  We gaze out the window (imaginary window in some cases) and long for a life of that is somewhat different than where we are right now.

So what does it take to be found fit for a larger area of responsibility? Or a greater level of influence?  Does it involve the right people?  Does it involve playing the political game?  Some would say "Yes."

However, in my experience people who are moved to a greater level of responsibility and influence have are reaping the benefits of dedication and hard work - not kissing babies and dropping business cards.

If I were looking to hire someone who could type 150 words a minute, I wouldn't start looking for people typing with one finger at 20 words a minute.  I would start at the top because they have already proven their ability.

It's the same with other areas of responsibility.  Look at those who are doing what you would like to do (not to take their job, but seeing their influence and responsibility), then emulate their principles, standards, passions, and effectiveness to the best of your ability.  Learn everything about them.  In fact, don't get caught up on following one person, but rather, find several leaders and take notes on them all!

You never know, when the chance comes, you may be seen as the 150 wpm typist because you've been practicing and preparing all along!

Stop feeling bad about where you are and work at becoming the best at what you have in front of you right now!  Hold nothing back.

JBQ Produces Leaders

Ready for a ministry for children that create leaders?  Then you are ready for Junior Bible Quiz.

Watch the 700 Club's "Church of the Week" feature then get more information on how you can use this great ministry to train up today's leaders!

Ministry Information
South Dakota Information

AWD Marathon: Post Race Summary

This marathon has been a great journey.

My marathon started last night with a pasta meal at Bravo's in Brookings.  While we waited 60 minutes for our food we discussed the marathon and whether or not "Veal" was baby cow, lamb, or as the hostess suggested, "raw deer meat."

Saturday morning we were up at 5:00 AM to get ready and go.  It was about 35 degrees with a light breeze.  I like a brisk run - but this was down right cold.  It warmed up to 41 degrees by the end of my run, but the wind had picked up as well.

I was joined by a crew of other Speed the Light fanatics as we started the run at 7:00 AM.  Though several had complained of physical issues during training, no one had any major medical issues that kept them from participating or finishing!  [Pictures]

Check out the comments, my story and giving goal, and the race and the results (below).

In all we raised over $10,800,* covered 176.6 miles, between 15 runners we raised $4.08 per mile for every mile run! (*Not all runners reported totals raised)


Runners: Dale Bragg, Celina Bragg, Jason Linton, Arturo Bragg, Patience Linton, Scott Holzemer*
Finish Time: 5:09:11  -  Pace 11:48/mile
*Scott also ran an additional 7+ miles to ensure a complete half marathon distance.

Half Marathon

Jerad Thomsen - 2:05:01  -  Pace 9:34
Devin Thomsen - 2:27:02  -  Pace 11:13
Mark Entzminger - 2:32:07  -  Pace 11:37
Natalie Patton - 2:55:18  -  Pace 13:23
Tyler Tufte - 2:55:18  -  Pace 13:23
Shawn Roberts - 3:18:32  -  Pace 15:09
Krissa Randall - 3:18:32  -  Pace 15:09

Full Marathon

Tom Brantner - 4:07:45  -  Pace 9:27 (Fastest pace for the day)
David Bauchspiess - 4:32:25  -  Pace 10:22

I am so proud of all of the runners and would like to thank all who supported financially and in a variety of other ways.  We run so that All Will Drive!

Race Results

Half Marathon, Men Age 30-34

My Race Stats

Weather Detail

Weather Underground

Follow Our Marathon Journey

AllWillDrive Official Site
Speed the Light Official Site
Twitter #allwilldrive feed

Use the Marathon Tracker to have results sent to your mobile phone ($1.00 charge) - select the half marathon and search for my name during the sign up process.

Send prayers and cheers to 605-321-0222 and Christie will forward them to me during the race!  All prayers and encouragement appreciated!

Leadership Is

Recently I had some leadership thoughts swimming in my head during a drive across Minnesota.  I jotted them down and wanted to pass them along to you.

Leadership is NOT: simply pointing out  the average pretty flowers during the field trip to the market.  That's a tour guide and we have plenty of those.

Leadership IS: knowing where the best flowers are and having the influence to convince your followers the detour is worth their time and energy.

Some Things Might Take a While

I enjoy a round of golf when the weather gets nice, but I've never had a hold in one...yet. I know that the more I practice and play, the better my chances become.

Results in ministry often seem beyond our control. Some say it's luck, others say it's who you know, many believe its a matter of reading the right book or attending a certain conference.

Sometimes, it seems everything you try ends up off course, in the fringe.
Stick with it, you don't know how or when the effort will pay off. The seed planted today may take weeks, months or years to produce fruit. As one person put it: "the harder you work the luckier you'll get."

In God's economy we must pray a lot, listen more, do our best,
keep swinging, and leave the results up to Him.

One Week To Go!!!

A week from today I'll be strapping on my running shoes for my 13 mile run in the Bookings marathon.  I've been "training" (I use that word loosely) consistently for about 5 months and I think I'm ready.

This run is a part of the All Will Drive campaign launched 16 months ago by national youth director, Jay Mooney.  My goal is to raise $15,000 to pay for the purchase of a VW Camion (truck) to be used by Uruguay missionary involved in helping men get free from addictions to drugs and alcohol.

Sponsor Update:
My goal is $15,000.  So far $5,000 has been committed for this project.  I am looking for 50 people who will agree to give $100.00, and 100 people who can contribute $50.00.  Of course any amount you want to pledge will be received graciously (Contribution instructions are at the bottom of the post).

Thanks for considering partnering with me to make a difference in the lives of men entrapped in drugs and alcohol in Uruguay.

Here's how you can be involved:
1:  Follow my run on Twitter
2:  Follow my run on your mobile phone (text "follow MarkEntzminger" to 40404)
3:  Follow all AWD runner's updates
4:  Contribute to the purchase of the VW Camion

Also running for STL as a part of the All Will Drive Marathon are: David Bauchspiess (Aberdeen, Full Marathon), Tom Brantner (Huron, Full Marathon), Jerad & Devin Thomsen (Sioux Falls, Half Marathon), Tyler Tufte (Sioux Falls, Half Marathon), Natalie Patton (Sioux Falls, Half Marathon), and a Relay of runners from Huron: Patience and Jason Linton, Brittney Bragg, Arturo Bragg, Scott Holzemer, and Dale Bragg.

Should you choose to contribute, please make your check payable to SDAG and mail it to SD Assemblies of God, PO Box 91750, Sioux Falls, SD  57109.  In the memo write "All Will Drive" for proper routing.

Not My Job

Recently I hit the drive through and placed a simple one-item order.  As I pulled ahead to the final window I noticed two other cars waiting to receive their order.  I was amazed as I saw inside a few people casually walking around while one guy tried to hand out drive through orders through the window and to the cars parked ahead.

Shortly after he left for the parking lot my one-item order was bagged and set by the window ready to be handed out - but I had to wait until the one "presenter" made it back from his two parking lot deliveries.

Why?  IBecause it was one person's job to bag the food, and the other person's job to hand it out.  "I would have handed it to you, but it's not my job" was the thought that crossed my mind.

Here are some observations I came away with from that encounter.

  1. People we serve don't care who's job it is.  If there is a job that needs to be done, get it done the best and most efficient way possible.
  2. The line moves quicker when everyone pitches in.  Life has far too many spectators and needs more participants.  We must all do our part to make a difference.
  3. Chicken tastes better fresh.  
How many times do you hear or say "That's not my job."  Are you concerned that you'll do too much work, others will think you're trying to run the show, or you'll offend a co-worker for helping out?

"That's not my job."  Should be eliminated from our excuse book.

The Starfish and the Spider

One of the required readings for Signet is The Starfish and the Spider (web | purchase).  This was recommended by Steve Mason (Alabama DYD) and was a great read.  The book deals with "The Unstoppable Power of LEADERLESS Organizations."

Starfish/Spider gave new insight into a method of leadership that is virtually untouched in the corporate world and only talked about in our churches - leaderless organizations.

The big difference between a starfish and a spider is this:  if you cut off an the head of the spider - it will die.  But a starfish has no obvious head.  Additionally, if you cut off a limb the remaining starfish will replace the limb and in some species, the separated limb will generate an entirely new starfish.

How many churches "die" when the obvious leader is no longer present.  How many churches "fight" the leadership model.  Why?  The church was designed to be a Starfish with the obvious head being Christ, not man.

Pastors - we should be a Catalyst not the CEO.

Here are some of my main take-a-ways of this book.

  1. Most organizations resemble spiders, most MOVEMENTS resemble starfish.
  2. If you are a part of a starfish (decentralized) movement you are expected to contribute.
  3. True Starfish organizations can't figure out who to blame or who to thank - there is no obvious head!  Just a group of passionate individuals who want to make a difference.
  4. Many "starfish" movements, when threatened will become more centralized and turn into "spider" type organizations.

In all, both starfish and spiders have their value and can co-exist together.  But a starfish movement has no visible head and has the quality of an unstoppable power!

Pick up your copy today!

Teacher of the Year - SD

This past Sunday I have the honor of presenting the 2009 Teacher of the Year Award to Josephine Defender of McLaughlin, South Dakota.

The following was submitted by her pastor:

"Josephine lives and ministers in one of the most difficult areas in our country - on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  Our particular community is a violent, alcohol and drug infested one.

Josephine grew up in an alcoholic home and endured all types of abuse and neglect.  She totally identifies with the children of this reservation.  She has children in her Sunday afternoon class that witness all sorts of horror - suicide, assaults, and alcohol and drug abuse.  Nevertheless, she will not give up on any of them.  She fearlessly goes into these homes and encourages not only the children but the adults.

Josephine is known community-wide as a loving, generous, and compassionate person."

We would like to congratulate Josephine on being selected as the 2009 Teacher of the Year and thank all of our faithful classroom teachers.  You are making a difference!

Do you have a teacher in your church you would like to nominate for the 2010 award?

Filing for Bankruptcy

It seems these days the media has been consumed by the "failing" economy of this county. The latest event in the saga being the filing of Chapter 11 bankruptcy by Chrysler. Whether it's poor management of the company, poor management of finances or simply a lack of providing a product needed by the American people, the company was unable to pull out of their downward spiral. We could all weigh in with our opinions, but here's what strikes me. Chrysler didn't fall apart over night. There were many factors in place months, perhaps years, ago that could have indicated this. But the government invested over $4 billion in trying to save this struggling company (and others like it). $4 billion of tax payer money sunk into a company following a strategy that predicted it's failure. They tried to re-group, they tried to restructure, but still came short and filed for bankruptcy.

So here's my point: How many of us are investing valuable time and resources into programs or ministries that are failing? How many of those programs are simply dead horses we are dragging around, hoping if we put enough money or time into it that they will succeed? I'm not saying all programs should be dropped, but if there is no interest in it or it's simply a good idea (and not a God idea) that we had and we're the only one's investing in it, it's not going to work.

I think of what my college professor said. It's like spinning plates. Every plate needs a push (spin) from time to time to keep it going. But there are some so wobbly they're not even worth saving. Because by trying to save that wobbly plate, you will not have the time to spin the plates that are going strong, causing the downfall of ministries that are working well.

So perhaps it's time to evaluate what we're doing and what kinds of resources are being used and let some programs go while we're still ahead.

Better Presentations: Bonus Round

At district council I had the honor of sharing a session titled "Preaching Off the Wall."  This session was designed to help Pastors maximize the effectiveness of a PowerPoint presentation used during their preaching.  In case you missed that session: Download the Notes or the Slides for review.

I received a blog post by Seth Godin that helps to reinforce the concept I tried to communicate: A Presentation is Not an OBLIGATION - It's a PRIVILEGE.

Here's his [original] post:

The Hierarchy of Presentations
A presentation is a precious opportunity. It's a powerful arrangement... one speaker, an attentive audience, all in their seats, all paying attention (at least at first). Don't waste it.

The purpose of a presentation is to change minds. That's the only reason I can think of to spend the time and resources. If your goal isn't to change minds, perhaps you should consider a different approach.
  1. The best presentation is no presentation at all. If you can get by with a memo, send a memo. I can read it faster than you can present it and we'll both enjoy it more.
  2. The second best presentation is one on one. No slides, no microphone. You look me in the eye and change my mind.
  3. Third best? Live and fully interactive.
  4. Powerpoint or Keynote, but with no bullets, just emotional pictures and stories.
  5. And last best... well, if you really think you can change my mind by using tons of bullets and a droning presentation, I'm skeptical.

A presentation isn't an obligation, it's a privilege.

And to you Seth Godin... I give a Hearty, "Amen."  :)

Ding! You Are Now Free to be Creative

I've never flown Southwest airlines...but I want to.

I hear that in this age of fees for checked bags, long delays, and disgruntled passengers, Southwest works hard to make flying simple, affordable, and enjoyable.

Three things struck me about this video that I believe contribute to their oasis of success in a desert fledgling airlines. I think they could benefit your church or organization too.

  1. The message may be sacred, but the method of delivery is not. Don't be afraid to try something different.

  2. The team benefits when members are given creative liberty. Individuality + passion = people actually enjoying what they do. It's contagious. Let your team loose and enjoy the results!

  3. If you do something ordinary in a remarkable way, people will take notice and tell others. Almost 1.3 million have viewed this video in one month. Southwest's TV spots are legendary (Wanna get away?). Go ahead and try to recall one of United or American's ads.
Yep, I can't wait to fly Southwest, let's just hope the flight attendant isn't a country music lover.

Congratulations for Credentials

I would like to offer congratulations to the following individuals who received a ministerial credential from the SD Assemblies of God during our 2009 District Council in Aberdeen:

Ordination: Danny Winter (Pastor, Sturgis, Crossroads AG)

License to Preach:
- Charles Bauman (North Sioux City)
- Brittney Bragg (Huron)
- Ashley Cole (Sioux Falls, First AG)
- Jennie Evenson (Sisseton)
- Lynnette Istre (Mission)
- Kathryn Murray (Sioux Falls, Crosswalk)
- Gregory Robinson (Rapid City, First AG)
- Isaac Smith (Sioux Falls, Calvary AG)

Specialized License: Julie Weller (Rapid City, First AG)

Certificate of Ministry: Julie Bauman (North Sioux City)

We are honored to recognize God's call on your life minister to your community.

Purple Cow

I recently read the book Purple Cow by Seth Godin, in which he discusses the concept of being and doing something remarkable. Black and white cows are mundane and boring, but a purple cow is worth looking at; worth taking note of.

I recently discovered a brand new coffee shop here in Sioux Falls, "Coffea". I'm here at 3:00pm on a Thursday afternoon and I could hardly find a place to park. The seating area is filled with students, ladies meeting for coffee, pastors hard at work and the like. So what makes this place so attractive? What causes people to spend over $3 on a soy decaf mocha? Here's what I've come up with:
  • It's new. People want to see and experience the "new thing" in town. And because it's a great place to be, those who do try it tell their friends about it. That's why I'm here.

  • It looks great. The building is brand new, modern and appealing to look at.

  • It smells great. Even from the outside, I smell the beans roasting. There's no better way to attract a coffee addict than to engulf Louise Ave with the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans.

  • They make lattes that look like this. So noteworthy, I took a picture. And it tasted just as good.

So this is what draws people to a coffee shop. What draws people to church? Here are some questions I asked myself:

  • Are we providing a ministry that is new and attractive to people? Is our church noteworthy enough to cause some chatter in our community?

  • Does our church look great? Are people impressed with the way the exterior of our building looks?

  • Is there something that is drawing people in, the way coffee draws people into a coffee shop? Are people compelled to enter and see what this place is about?

  • While we may not be serving lattes to the folks who enter our doors, we are providing a service, so to speak. People want to come and meet with Jesus. Do we prepare our services with an attitude of excellence?

Just something to think about ...

What Every Volunteer Secretly Wishes the Youth Pastor Knew

I've never heard a youth pastor say he/she had too many quality volunteer leaders. Here's some helpful reminders I picked up at a workshop that will help you recruit and retain volunteers. Three things volunteers wish their youth pastor (or any pastor for that matter) would remember.

1. Remain Humble. Don't get so caught up with the dream of the perfect program that you end up doing everything on your own and fail to accept help. Volunteers are there to assist and they will be resourceful if you let them. Ultimately, if you don't use someone, they will go somewhere where they feel useful. Remain humble by not leaning on your position, education, or your wealth of experience. Use "we" instead of "I" or "me".

2. Everyone has the same number of hours in the day. It's easy to forget that volunteers also have needy children, full time jobs, and demanding schedules. Volunteers truly sacrifice to be part of your ministry. Find creative ways to make it easier for them, such as arranging child care for those who need to come early. Try seeing the ministry from their point of view.

3. Never underestimate the value of good communication. When you cast vision; take time to make sure your vision is clear and consistent, not vague or constantly changing. Communicate clear and practical steps for achieving a goal and follow up. Design meetings that overflow with substance, making it worth the volunteer's time to attend. Communicate meeting times well in advance and be on time.

Above all, it's about relationships. Take time to notice, empower, and appreciate volunteers. Do the little things that help them to love teenagers. Your leaders will flourish, the youth will benefit, and great volunteers will be knocking at your door to be involved.

I guess you could say I was in the right place at the right time.  Where?  My computer desktop checking my email! (how unusual is that???)

Several months I was in the right place and right time when I found Seth Godin's book Tribes on iTunes for $0.95 (still less than $6.00).  During my shopping experience I learned of a closed network of leaders created by Seth for the sole purpose of inspiring and connecting leaders.  I was in the right place, just at the wrong time: the group had been closed for several months and they were not opening it to new members.  Bummer!

But today that window opened back up and I was invited to participate in a network of leaders and marketers who share ideas, offer solutions, and inspire greatness in each other.  In order to seize that moment I needed to be a reader of his blog and be able to produce the receipt from the book I purchased.

This, for me, was a great opportunity, one I grabbed as soon as I could.  I look forward to learning and contributing in this forum.

You never know when you'll be in the right place at the right time.  But when you are will you be ready to seize that moment?

PS - there's a good chance that by the time you read this post the membership will be closed again.

Biblical Motivation

Here's a list of responses groups should be able to make when leaders unleash biblical motivation, according to Arlo Grenz, author of The Confident Leader. How many of these statement reflect the way you motivate your volunteers?

You've given us a sense of belonging.

  • You've showered us with attention.
  • You've taken interest in our personal lives.
  • You've praised, recognized, and rewarded our achievements.
  • You've remained loyal to us in defeat as well as in victory.
  • You've expanded our responsibilities.
  • You've displayed a positive, optimistic attitude.
  • You've urged us to strive to excellence in all we do.
  • You've appealed to our emotions as well as our logic.
  • You've helped us remove obstacles and deal with problems that get in our way.
  • You've supported us by providing the tools, training, and money that we need to do our jobs.


In January 2009 we launched Signet, a leadership growth journey.  We have a full group right now and the growth I have experienced and seen in the other leaders has been encouraging.

However, Signet does take a significant amount of time for reading books on pace for discussion, setting goals, and achieving those goals.  I know the time requirement for Signet makes it very difficult for every church leader to participate.  Yet my desire is to help facilitate growth in even the most busy leaders.

Welcome to SignetLite!

SignetLite is a growth pattern for busy leaders.  Like Signet there are books to read, accountability conversatsions, and a goal setting/action step sequence to be followed.  The difference with SignetLite is that the leaders grow at their own pace.  SignetLite will work best for leaders who are self-motivated and have a stong desire to develop leadership skills.

Here's how SignetLite works:

1.  Select a book from my library (pay only return shipping) and read it within 30 days.  Upon completion, set up a time for a book discussion with me.

2.  Use the growth form (pending) to write your book review, set goals and action steps, and show how you are demonstrating the values of Signet (Hunger, Humility, Excellence)

That's it!  SignetLite costs you only the amount of shipping to return a checked out book once you have completed it.

To get started - view the library and check out a book today!


Here's a solid leadership lesson for you and your team. This video teaching from Craig Groeschel is based on his book "It: How Churches and Leaders can Get It and Keep It". He talks about the necessity of failure in ministry. That's right...the necessity.

If there's one thing I fear being labeled, it is: a
failure. A few things Groeschel said in this video stood out for me:

The fear of failure limits our future.

Failure is not an option. It's an absolute necessity.

What works was often born out of something that did not work.

You Try... You Learn...You Fail...You Adjust.

Bookie from on Vimeo.

Why will this work?

I was once told by a ministry friend that when someone poses a question either to you or in staff meeting, instead of coming up with reasons it won't work, start talking about how it could work. The idea may be against the norm or seemingly unreasonable, but when you start dialoguing about how it could actually work, it opens the door for great new possibilities.

I've recently put this into practice as our church is planning to expand into new space. Classes and people need to be shifted and plenty of ideas have been offered as to how to make these changes. Our youth pastor made one suggestion and the rest of the staff were quick to dismiss it as "undo-able". Then we swallowed our pride the next day as we humbly admitted that she had the best plan all along.

So the next time you're faced with a challenging proposition, remember to first think through how it could work, before you decide that it won't.

Did You Know?


There is no shortage of books, blogs, podcasts and articles that will help to make you a better leader. There is value in most of these.

After all has been said and written, no one says it better than Jesus. Simple, profound, always relevant, cutting to the heart of the matter.

Matthew 20:25-28
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” --New Living Translation

You don't have to look far to see examples of how not to lead.

different today.

Failure: The Secret of Success

This eight minute video produced as a Honda Documentary is a great resource for leaders and ministries.

The Cage of Guilt

In a blog post last November, Pastor Mark shared thougths from Mark Batterson's new book  Wild Goose Chase.  His intent was to encourage readers to order a copy and experience this inspiring work firsthand. I ordered mine and was not disappointed.

In the book Batterson describes six cages that keep Christians from realizing their full potential. Here's some thoughts that impacted me from chapter five, "The Rooster's Crow: Coming Out of the Cage of Guilt."
  • "...for most of us, it is far easier to accept God's forgiveness than it is to forgive ourselves."

  • "We become so fixated on past mistakes that we forfeit future opportunities."

  •  "...if you focus all of your energy on past failures, you'll have no energy left over to dream kingdom dreams or pursue kingdom purposes." (let that one settle for a bit)

  • "If you want to impact someone's life, love them when they least expect it and deserve it."

  • When we put our faith in Christ, somehow our spiritual debits are transferred to Christ's account and His credits are transferred to ours.

  • "Nothing is as freeing as confessed sin.  Nothing is as isolating as a guilty secret."

  • "Guilt has a shrinking effect.  It shrinks our dreams. It shrinks our relationships. It shrinks our hearts. It shrinks our lives to the size of our greatest failures.  Grace has the opposite effect."
If you want to expand your vision, bust out of the cages that are holding you back and know what it means to be an adventurous follower Christ, purchase a copy of Wild Goose Chase

The Importance of Leadership

We must be leading.  We must be growing.  We must be allowing others the opportunity to be challenged by our growth as we lead them.

Effective ministries are those that have leaders in a constant growth pattern.  Their ministries grow (not always measured by numbers) because the leaders are growing.  Personal growth is not a guarantee of ministry growth, but I challenge you to find one growing and healthy ministry where the leader is not reading, setting goals, and in a community that fosters continued growth.  It does not exist.

Do you need some places to start:
  1. Recommended Reading:  These are books I have read and recommend for continued growth.
  2. Follow the Signet blog:  This year I have begun a growth journey with four other leaders from across South Dakota.  We will be logging our growth and invite you to encourage us and be challenged in your own pattern of growth.  
If you are leading a ministry or organization, be sure you find a way to begin your own systematic pattern of growth!

In the words of my former McDonald's manager:  "If you're green you're growing.  If you're ripe you rot!"

Do Winners Quit?

Winners Never Quit:  True of False?

I remember hearing that from coaches, teachers, youth pastor, and parents.  I know I've said this from time to time.  And though the encouragement received helps people  persevere through hard times to achieve success.  There are some things that should be quit.

Winners quit.  In fact winners quit all the time!

It's just that they know what to quit and when to quit it.

Here are a few principles that may help you evaluate what to quit.

1.  Is what I'm doing helping me acheive my goals and job description? 
2.  Are these things just personal passions and time wasters?
3.  Is what I'm doing propelling me in the direction I need to go?
4.  Is there something that I should pass off to someone else who is more talented than I am or will add value to them and our relationship?

If you want to win - you need to quit!  But you need to know what to quit, and when to quit it.  For more info on this topic, you may enjoy The Dip by Seth Godin.

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Date Completed: January 22, 2009

Items of Impact:
  1. Any one of the five dysfunctions can derail a team
  2. Any one person on the team can exhibit a dysfunction and derail a team if not held accountable
  3. There is a balance in caring for the individual and protecting the health of the team. Sometimes tough decisions will need to be made.
How will these items affect the way I lead my team?
  1. Bringing awareness of the five dysfunctions to the team members over time.
  2. Become more passionate in the area of holding team members accountable for both responsibilities and upholding the values of the team
  3. Being willing to make the tough leadership decisions when they need to be made.
Dysfunctional Teams Posses
  1. absence of trust - people are not open and vulnerable about themselves and their mistakes and weaknesses, lack the trust in the other team members purpose behind making decision (are they in it for themselves or the good of the team)
  2. fear of conflict - lack of trust means no passionate and unfiltered discussion of ideas. Instead veiled discussions and guarded comments.
  3. lack of commitment - because their opinion is not shared during the idea step, buy-in on decisions is limited.
  4. avoidance of accountability - hesitant to call team members on actions that are counterproduvtive to the good of the team. This is even harder when the person dropping the ball seems to be excelling in other areas or is a "nice guy."
  5. inattention to results - put personal goals and ego above the good of the team.
Cohesive Teams Posses:
  1. trust that decisions that are made are for the good of the team
  2. engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas
  3. commit to decisions and plans of action
  4. hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans
  5. focus on the achievement of collective results

Have you contacted a hero lately?

Last week at our district youth leaders retreat we were reminded how vital it is to make contact with students transitioning from high school to college within the first two weeks of their first semester. It's an easy way to remind them that they are not alone during what can be a difficult time.

I know how true this is as I remembered a letter that I received from my youth pastor in the fall of 1996 as a freshmen at Trinity Bible College. That note of encouragement reminded me that one of my heroes knew where I was and was cheering me on. It could not have come at a better time for me. I still have that note.

See, I was a shy sophomore in high school when he asked me to be on his team for a game of foosball during my first visit to his youth group; suddenly I felt accepted, and I returned every week after. He was the one who encouraged me to go on my first missions trip even though I felt way less than qualified. The three missions trips I took in high school had a profound effect on my decision to pursue full time ministry. The examples of his impact on my life are numerous.

These reflections caused me to realize that I had not made contact with Pastor Mark in more than 12 years. So this morning I called him to let him know where I was, what I was doing in ministry, and how much he impacted me with that letter and in many other ways. It was a joyful time of reconnection and I look forward to continuing the conversation.

How about you. Is there a coach, pastor, teacher, parent, or youth pastor that believed in you and affected your future in a profound way? Have you taken time to let them know? Pause a moment to write a card or place a phone call. Don't wait 12 years like I did. You might be the encouragement they need to continue influencing lives for years to come.


What an incredible weekend of relaxing, refreshing, and renewal.

Thank you to Terry and Sam Allen for sharing your hearts, challenging our leaders, and making us laugh.  Your gifts of communication and ability to connect with the heart of our leaders is amazing.  You are a quality leader.

I would also like to thank Toby Schneckloth, Tracy Paino, and Jake Koenes for sharing during one of our breakout sessions.  We will remember the challenge and fundamentals of youth ministry, transitions, and youth alive that you shared.  Your investment here will have a lasting impact.

We would also like to thank the church in Mitchell and Diana Kjerstad for arranging childcare for the retreat.  You are a blessing.

Christie and I have loved every moment of our time together and are so happy for those who could be a part of this retreat.  Thanks for making this a priority, and thank you to he pastors and churches who helped to make this possible.

Here are links to the notes from the weekend.

Terry Allen
- Your Attitude in Ministry - Thursday Night
- 27 Diamonds - Friday Night
- Dreams - Saturday Morning (coming soon)

Toby Schneckloth - Process and Preparation
Tracy Paino - Transitions of Students to College
Jake Koenes - Campus Missions (coming soon)

Hope to see you next year.

I Should Have Known Better.

Recently on a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for BGMC my son and I were walking to a restaurant on the marina.  In typical fashion we were approached by many people trying to sell jewlery, hats, cotton candy, and more.  Saying "no gracias" does it and we are on our way.

As we get closer to our dining destination we see a guy with two iguanas.  He'll let you hold them, put them on your head, and then take pictures of them.  Colby and I thought this would be fun.

We let the guy put them on Colby, I snapped a couple pictures of him and then he said - $4.00 please.

Huh???  What???  I should have known!  This wasn't a thing he does just because he likes bringing a smile to peoples face and has nothing better to do.  He does it to make money.

I don't like those kinds of surprises.  I don't like feeling like I've been snookered, bushwhacked, or blind-sided.  Most people don't.  They feel taken advantage of and like suckers.

What do you do in your ministry to ensure people don't feel like I did on the boardwalk of the marina?

3 Questions

It's a new year and a time to set goals for yourself, your family, and for your ministry. Here's some questions posed by Reggie Joiner, originally directed toward parents to ask themselves of their kids, but I've adapted them for the ministry.

  • Where do you want your ministry to be?
  • Where is it now?
  • What do you need to do to get there?

They seem like basic questions, but given some serious thought and consideration, we could really create some effective goals and strategies to win kids and students to Jesus. There's a goal for 2009.

New Years Stop-olutions

A New Year brings a lot of resolutions and goals.  Why not take a different approach this year and create a "Stop Doing List?" 

Let's face it we cannot continue to add more and more things to our plate without giving up on something else.  Why not choose what you will elminiate before you add something new. 

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Stop auto checking your email and set it to come in manually or at long intervals
Stop using a credit card and use only cash
Stop "eating on the run" and make family meals a priority
Stop the media overload and set limits for how much media you will consume
Stop taking your work home with you
Stop leaving your cell phone/smart phone on 24 hours a day
Stop cleaning the plate and finishing your kids' meals when at restaurants
Stop saying you'll start tomorrow - start today - and with that, why not start your "Stop Doing List" now.

Hope you have a wonderful 2009 when you stop doing a lot of things that slow you down.

More than coffee

Recently I sat down for coffee with a youth pastor who is just starting in his first church. The coolest part about this encounter was that he sought me out and came prepared with written questions. The plan was to get to know each other and talk about ministry. The result was much more. We have decided to get together about once a month to continue the conversation.

I didn't realize it at first, or maybe I had forgotten; but there is something invigorating about pouring into someone who is just starting out.
I came away energized knowing that God had used my experience to help a friend. And something was rekindled in me; fresh ideas and renewed passion for ministry. I was reminded that God never intended for us to do this alone!

Talking with young leaders is something that I enjoy but do far too little of. It's easy to get too busy or feel like you have nothing to offer. The truth is you have way more than you realize. God wants to use you and your experience. You don't have to be an expert or have all the answers. Be available and watch what happens.

Someone invested or is currently investing in your life. Who are you investing in? Don't wait for someone ask, give a younger leader a call and buy them a cup of coffee.
If someone does seek you out, make time for them. Find out how they are doing, offer encouragement, share your successes and your failures, pray for them, or just listen.

Pour the coffee and pour into the life of another leader.

MOMENTUM: Registrations

Registrations for the annual youth pastor retreat are due January 1.  Please bring full payment with you when you arrive in Mitchell.

Event Details

MOMENTUM Update: Jake Koenes

I am thrilled to bring Jake and Rachel in to our MOMENTUM retreat in January 2009.  Jake is the Campus Missions coordinator for 1Cause youth ministry in Aberdeen.

As a part of his involvement in CM's he has put together some research information about the need to reach the campuses across South Dakota.  He will be sharing this information with us during one of the worshop sessions at MOMENTUM.

Signet: Launching Soon

Signet (a leadership journey) will be launching in January 2009. I am anxiously awaiting the first applications to come across my desk in the next two weeks.

The first team will be limited to four people yet I believe this will create a close knit group of leaders who will have the ability to challenge and spur each other on to a greater level of growth in leadership.

Signet Development Progress:
  1. Group values have been established (hunger, humility, and excellence)
  2. Annual reading plan has been laid out
  3. Applications and information have been delivered through digital format
  4. Purpose and goals have been defined - Cooperative Leadership Growth
  5. Books have been selected and ordered for the first team
  6. Blog ( is live and ready for use by the first team of participants
Signet is open to anyone wanting to grow in their leadership ability and effectiveness in ministry. It's not about specialized ministry skills -- simply leadership. Will I be getting your application in the next two weeks?

Is Signet For You?
Applicants demonstrating signet values (hunger, humility, and excellence) are more likely to be selected over those who do not. Signet is not about creating the desire for growth, it is about creating a process that accelerates and focuses growth.

College Choices

We must be an informed resource when it comes to advising people about choices for their post high school education.  This decision will not just about an education and a school bill, but about spiritual development, growth, and health. 

One of the best ways to help guide those seeking a post-high school education is to not only expose them to the options they have, but help them think through the culture in which they will be learning.  College is epensive.  But the financial cost of school is dwarfed to the spiritual impact a college campus, faculty, and staff will have on these young adults.

In my opinion it is important that students attend an Assemblies of God college or university.  Regardless of what the student wants a degree in, there's sure to be an institution that can assist them if even for a year or two.

I'll throw my endorsement to the following regional schools - I have seen what they produce in their graduates and have been very pleased!

Trinity Bible College (Campus Visit/College Days - April 2-4, 2009)
North Central University (Campus Visit/College Days - March 26-27, 2009)

Apply for a scholarship here.

MOMENTUM Update: Terry & Sam Allen

Our MOMENTUM youth leader retreat festures Tennessee DYD (and DYD-Diva), Terry & Sam Allen.
Terry Allen is a “one mom/dad” pastor’s kid who grew up under a church pew, backslid on the church steps, and returned to God at 17 through the influence of his parents in the church parsonage.

“Sam” Allen is a military kid who survived then thrived through multiple father relationships after being saved and filled with the Spirit in a Louisiana kids camp.

We are high school sweethearts who have enjoyed ministry together for the past 26 years and marriage for 23. 

18 years as youth pastor, 1 as Sr. Pastor, and the past 7 as District Youth Directors for the state of Tennessee.

We are the incredibly proud parents of one son.  Dane is a 17 year old, 2008 High School Senior who is gifted in guitar and leading worship.  He plans to pursue a degree in youth ministry next fall.

In short...we love building relationships and leading leaders of every age in every setting.  Informal or formal. 

We feel incredibly blessed to have been able to influence over three generations of students and two generations of leaders.

MOMENTUM Update: Toby Schneckloth

Nebraska DYD, Toby Schnecloth, will be joining us for our annual youth pastor retreat in Mitchell.   Toby will be sharing a leadership workshop on Process and Preparation.

Process and Preparation deals with the spiritual preparation of the
leader and how we combine that with the specific process of developing a group and preparing for weekly ministry.

Toby is a great communicator.  We are looking forward to having hims with us.

Read his blog here.

I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas

I suppose I'm a bit of a traditionalist in that I wait until after Thanksgiving to put up the Christmas tree and break out the Christmas music. But now that Turkey day is over, let the yuletide carols begin. I was sorting through the multitude of Christmas Cd's we own and stumbled across a little known album titled "I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas". It's a Swedish Christmas album, sung by Yogi Yorgesson in the thickest Swedish accent you can imagine. (to hear for yourself, go to My husband, being as Scandinavian as he is, thinks it's great, but it's a dread of mine every year and was tempted to make it "disappear" upon finding it. But, despite my protests, it was loaded on the iPod and proudly played throughout our home.

And so I started thinking. There are small disagreements that arise in our home from time to time that need solutions. And there's disagreements that come about at church as well. So how do we handle these disagreements? When do we stand up for what we want and when do we allow other's opinions to prevail? How do we reach a conclusion that all can suit all parties involved? I've found a few things to be helpful when assessing a situation in which a small conflict occurs.
  • Ask "What is the issue at hand?" Decide up front what is the root of the disagreement. It becomes much easier to reach a solution.

  • Ask "What are the consequences if this is not resolved?" Is it a safety issue? Will it make things run more smoothly?

  • Ask, "Is this worth arguing over?" We find ourselves quarreling over some of the simplest things, and most of the time it has no significant impact on our lives or ministry. Sometimes it's just easier (and more time efficient) to avoid the headache of a disagreement versus making a small issue into a large one just to prove a point.

  • Ask "How can we reach a compromise?" People will be willing to give a little if you give too.

  • Ask "Who will this affect?" By arguing that things need to be done "my way", what relationships will I affect? Who will be hurt? Is this someone I have constant interaction with? That changes things. Understand that feelings may be hurt in some arguments, but is it worth it over a petty disagreement? Refer to Questions #2.

I pray that you all have a conflict-free Christmas and that Yogi Yorgesson never makes his way into your home.

Signet Book List 2008

Following are the leadership books we will be reading in the first signet group.

Leadership Books: (Included FREE for Signet Members)*
AX-I-OM - Hybles
The Purple Cow - Godin
5 Dysfunctions of a Team - Lencioni
11: Indispensable Relationships - LenSweet
Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership - McIntosh/Rima
Starfish and the Spider - Brafman/Beckstrom

These are the additional books I will be reading during the year:

Personal Growth:  Husband/Father
Help! I'm Raising my Kid while Doing Ministry - Mayo
A Chicken's Guide to Talking Turkey with your Kids About Sex - Leman
Sacred Marriage - Gary L Thomas

Focused Learning: About the Mind
A Users Guide to the Brain - Ratey
Patterns of High Performance - Fletcher
The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy: Rebuilding the Human Brain - Cozolino

*Purchased by Signet Leader for the team

MOMENTUM Update: Tracy Paino

We are happy to announce Tracy Paino has been confirmed for a workshop during our MOMENTUM youth leader retreat in January. 

Tracy is a professor at North Central University and a member of the leadership team at the Center for Youth and Leadership.  He will be sharing a workshop on helping to successfully transition students from High School to College. 

Tracy is a participant at the Youth and Leadership Podcast and a writer on a blog.

Leadership Books

In 2008 I read/listened to nearly 20 books. That's more than I read in a year's time since I was in college.

What I learned was; it feels good to learn.  I also learned there are a lot of books out there waiting to be read, so where do I go from here.

Many of my book choices are based on personal recommendation from friends and other leaders.  The following list are recommendations from leader friends from around the country.  I asked them to respond with their one or two top books on leadership: this is their reply.

Listed in the order of their reply, not alphabetically, or any other way - that requires too much thought.

UPDATED: 12/1/08 at 2:50 PM
A Sense of Urgency by John Kotter

*I have read this book and would agree, it's a great book for leaders.  Here is my bookshelf.

Purchasing books via these links generates profit for BGMC and STL through Amazon Associates.

Wild Goose Chase

After having read "In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day" I new Mark Battersons Sophmore release, "Wild Goose Chase," would be inspiring and challenging.  I ordered a pre-release copy and got one that was autographed by the author -- pretty cool.

Here are some of the top things I picked up from WGC:
  • "I wonder if some of us are living such safe lives that not only are we bored, but so are our guardian angels." page 7
  • There are six cages that can keep us from the adventurous life-pursuit of God and what He has for us - Responsibility, Routine, Assumption, Guilt, Failure, and Fear.
  • "When God puts passion in your heart... that God-ordained passion becomes your responsibility." page 20
  • Many problems of boredom come out of the fact that we have never defined our goals, values, or passions.  Essentially we are out of touch with our heart's desires.
  • "When Christian ity turns into a noun, it becomes a turnoff.  Christianity was always intended to be... an action verb." page 29
  • Sometimes we should stop praying and become the answer to our very own prayer.
  • We all need a "stop-doing list."
  • "Hurry kills everything from compassion to creativity." page 57
  • "The word diaper spelled backwards is repaid." page 126
  • "Getting where God want's me to go" isn't nearly as important as "becoming who God wants me to be" in the process. page 137
  • Pastor Mark and the staff of NCC did the Napolean Dynamite dance in a packed Atlanta Airport a few years ago. page 141
  • "The way to stop sinning is to get a God-sized vision that consumes all your time and energy." page 161
I hope these "teasers" will entice you to pick up the book and read it.  It spoke to me in so many ways, I know it will do the same for you.

What Would You Like?

There are times in working with a team that expectations go unmet. During those times how you communicate with the team is essential.

Here are the most common responses that I have found take place...
  1. Observation: "I noticed xyz wasn't completed like I thought it should be."
  2. Question: "Why wasn't xyz completed like I expected it to be?"
  3. Request: "Instead of xyz on this project, I would like to have abc instead. Can you make that happen."
You'll have to weigh out wich one you like the best, and make it fit your situation. But I find a drastic difference in tone from in the third method.

Here's some ways that could play out;
  1. When you are planning to come in late could you please call the office so we know where you are?
  2. If I've assigned a project and you know you cannot make it happen by the deadline, can you inform me in enough time to help you avoid missing the target?
  3. Can you make sure when using the church vehicle you clean and gas it when you are done?
Next time your expecations are not met instead of questioning what was done, stating what you observe, stop and think what do I want to have happen instead. Formulate it in the form of a request and everyone will be a whole lot more efficient.

Then, if your teammate doesn't respond appropriately other steps may be required.

Offering Sermons

Here's a simple tip that is very effective in teaching principles of stewardship and at the same time increasing the amount given to support the project you are working on (I recommend BGMC for kids and STL for teens).

During your weekly meeting utilize offering sermons.  These mini-sermons last only about three to five minutes in lenght and teach principles of money management, stewardship, how to be a good employee, sowing and reaping, avoiding debt, budgeting, different global projects, using what you have to help others, and more.  These life-principles should be taught at an early age and modeled by the leadership.

By taking a few minutes each week you can help your kids and teens become more responsible in their community, have a proper perspective for money and possessions, and a greater contributor to meeting needs all over the world.

For the next six weeks on Wendesday I'll be posting offering sermon templates that deal specifically with Speed the Light.


Inbox Clutter

How full is your inbox? How long does it take you to reply to email? How often to you check your email?

The status of your inbox is one of the signs of the effectiveness of your time management and communication with those who are depending on you.

I'm not claiming to be perfect, but over the past few months I have started to really work on improving my inbox conduct. These simple steps have helped me improve staying on top of projects and get things done in a more efficient manner. I hope that you will apply these or try some of your own out to help you manage your time more effectively.

After all we are all equal in how much time we have each day... but we are not all equal in how efficiently we use those precious minutes.

Here's my inbox tips:
  1. Unsubscribe: Initially it was very cool to have my inbox ding every time I had activity on Facebook and a host of other sites. Typically these were deleted without reading them, but it was distracting and wasted time. Unsubscribe from as many of these subscriptions as possible, or turn off the auto send from items you don't read.
  2. Minimize Inbox Filters: Many email programs have "rules" that will automatically file your new mail for you. A very sophisticated system of rules to automatically file messages can be very appealing, but items needing your attention can get overlooked if they are not flagged properly. I use my inbox as the "not yet completed" messages of communication. If your program files it for you, you might miss replying to an important message.
  3. Turn Off Auto Check: Experts agree that having your email automatically delivered is a huge time waster. The audible or visual signal goes off which distracts you. Even if you don't check it the curiosity of what message just came my way can keep you from giving full attention to the project at hand. I have mine set to check every hour. When I'm in the middle of a project I can complete it without getting distracted.
  4. Daily Inbox Process: Whenever I check my email I have a very simple process. First, I read/skim each new email and file appropriately if no action is required. If information from me is all that is needed I reply immediately then file. If time is required on my part to reply with correct information it stays in my inbox and I will come back to it later in the day. Regardless of the amount of time or energy required on my part I try to reply to every email with at least a "thank you for contacting me" message right away. This lets the sender know I received it and I understand they are now waiting on me to complete my part of the conversation.
  5. Route: Sometimes email will come through that needs to be routed to the appropriate person for follow up. When that happens I always reply to the originator while CCing the new individual. This invites the new person to participate in the conversation and project to efficiently handle the situation.
  6. Skim: I subscribe to several blogs and get information daily that is useful. It just might not be useful at the current time. I usually don't read all of the details of these messages but after skimming the contents it gets filed Evernote or in a folder so I can search it out at a later date when it's needed.
Maybe this will help put things in perspective. Email allows hundreds of "mini-conversations" every day. Treat them like that. We wouldn't walk away from someone we were talking to without at least acknowledging their comments. Similarly we would expect that if someone came to visit us they wouldn't interrupt us if we were in the middle of something important.

Email, if managed properly will assist you in accomplishing your mission. If managed poorly or not at all it will scatter your attention and bury your effectiveness.


 I had the opportunity to complete Tribes - the latest release from Seth Godin - as he challenges people to lead their own tribe.

"Already an Amazon bestseller, the book is short and small and simple.  It argues, as clearly as I am capable, that leadership is the best marketing tactic to any organization - a company, a school, a church, a job seeker.

Our role today is to fine, connect and lead tribes in order to make change happen."*

Here are a couple of highlights I picked up from the book:
  1. A tribe is a group of people connected to each other, their leader, and an idea.
  2. A tribe only needs to things: a shared interest and a way to communicate
  3. You cannot have a tribe without a leader and you can't have a leader without a tribe
Leaders can increase the effectiveness of the tribe by:

  1. Transforming the shared interest into a passionate goal or desire for change
  2. Provide tools to allow members to tighten their communication
  3. leveraging the tribe to allow it to grow and gain new members
Although I took several notes, I still want you to get the book and read it for yourself and then pass it along.  But here's one more leadership tip I gained from his book:

  1. People don't believe what you tell them
  2. People rarely believe what you show them
  3. People often believe what their friends tell them
  4. People always believe what they tell themselves
The job of the leader is to give the tribe stories they can tell themselves.  Stories about their future and about change.

Enjoy the book... lead your tribe.

*Quoted from the Tribes lens on Squidoo 

Choosing to Cheat

Andy Stanley has written a great book reminding us to prioritize family. All people in our life would like more of our time -- our family, our employers, our personal time, even our household chores -- but we have only been given 24 hours in a day. So in the battle for our time, who wins?

At 125 pages this "must read" is an easy read. Our family (spouse and kids) may not win all of the time, but they must not be the losers in this battle!

After all we will not retire from our family one day to finally be able to spend time at work - don't sacrifice them in the process.