Game Plan: Having a successful year of serving!

So you are a volunteer, serving in student ministry. Here are some very practical ways to have a successful experience.


Who: do we serve… [Jesus & Others]
Game Plan: Building your personal relationship with Jesus
* praying for God to give you His Spirit, His desires, His eyes
* spending time reading His Word, Knowing Him through scripture
* talking about Him with older adults and ministry partners

Game Plan: The Individuals In your ministry… (Middle schoolers, parents, team members)
* through Christ like kindness
* through showing care
* one person at a time

How: do we serve… Relationships = Christ centered mentoring relationships
Game Plan: friendship with a purpose: Being there when they (finally) have “Jesus Questions”

Barriers that prevent us from “being there” when they finally build trust and need our help to point them to Jesus:
* drama
* learning their names
* showing them we care
* they don’t seem to care that we care
* they think we are weird
* trustworthiness

* remembering who we serve
* not taking “insults” personally
* continuing to purse the relationship
* prayer
* teamwork: get other students to help you build your family in your team & small group

Why: do we do this…
Focus: You are His Plan A
Nobody else has stepped up to stand in the Gap and show Christ love to our students like you have, yet… He chose YOU, even with your flaws and some of you with your awkwardness and funny spells… Your Plan A to reaching out and showing His love to the students at WCH.

Focus: The Next Generation Needs You
When you think about building a Christ centered relationship with a student at our church don’t think of it as a small thing… The relationships you make have the power through Christ to change futures and generations, as we are where God has called us to be to bring His Hope to this generation…

What Does Success Look Like: Being apart of God’s Plan to draw students close to His heart… 





* This content was presented at WCH: Pinnacle Leadership Event 2014


Everyone was thinking it, Nobody said anything… Hopefully you will listen…

MIDDLE SCHOOLERS: These pictures floating around saying SHARE if you love Jesus… If three of the four pictures do not represent Jesus (examples: porn, Satan, insert inappropriate image)

In no way does the sharing of these photos show you love Jesus…
We don’t prove our love for Jesus through the sharing of a Facebook photo anyways…

PLEASE WATCH WHAT YOU SHARE…. Read Philippians 4:8 before you shareANYTHING if you need a filter….

Better than not sharing, it would serve you well just un-friend those picture sites, and don’t waste time looking at those things…

Oh yeah and… “Shut up and Kiss me” – That phrase is said by NO happily married couple EVER…

You Are A Bad Volunteer… Defeating Lies with Truth about volunteering…

Being a volunteer in student ministry is not an easy job…Often new volunteers jump into student ministry not realizing what they have signed up for. I don’t think anybody realizes how intimidating the process of moving from a new volunteer to a veteran volunteer is or how rewarding it can be.

Student ministry volunteers will often face feelings of worthlessness & overwhelming ineffectiveness with their contribution in the lives of students. Often this is the hard part of the process, and overcoming ourselves(and these lies) is necessary for you to begin to write the story God has called us to. I want to encourage you by identifying some of the lies you might have told yourself. I hope in reading these that you realize your not the only one who has fallen prey to these lies. After acknowledging the lie I hope you hear the truth and a practical way to combat the lie with TRUTH in action…

Here are some of the lies I have seen in the approach to volunteering in student ministry…. People who believe these lies will never find fulfillment in student ministry… It is our choice to choose to believe the truth over the lie… Choose wisely, lives are literally hanging in the balance… No pressure though…

LIE #1: “I am here, students come to me”…

Just showing up is not good enough in the long run, if you want to make a real impact. Take a risk and say hello, ask a question, and most importantly listen to the answer… Standing around talking to adults will leave you feeling unaccomplished at the end of every youth gathering ever…

LIE #2: The youth pastor is more engaging with the students and building relationships comes easy to him, so I the volunteer get a free pass…

The Youth Pastor, no matter how great he “Engages and Builds relationships” with students, IS ONLY ONE GUY… He can’t build a meaningful relationship with every student… He needs you to buy into the reality that you are on the team to build Christ centered relationships with students. No free passes in student ministry, we are only strong when we work together in greeting and meeting and remembering His kids.

LIE #3: It’s my job to keep peace…

Yes, but, peace is better kept when your sitting with or standing with the students rather than the other side of the room… Don’t think you are more effective in the back of the room. No students should be in the back of the room, peace is easy when nobody is there… Walls don’t build relationships, leave them alone, be with the students….

LIE #4: I’m not the “cool volunteer”….

I HATE this lie because, God doesn’t make accidents, you are on the team because one student won’t connect with any other leader, BUT YOU…. Stop Hiding, start Finding the student God has prepared for YOU to impact with the HOPE of Christ…

Satan is the best liar this world has ever seen…. Believing these lies are part of his plan to keep you from being effective in serving Jesus in this most important ministry… Veteran youth leaders know these lies are present and rejects them every time they arise with action. Know your not alone because of Jesus you don’t have to hide behind these lies anymore. The lies are identified and called out… Now the real work begins!!!

What lies have you believed? What is the truth that helped you overcome?

How to Kill Relationships as a “Christian”…

Learning and understanding this will change every thing for your ministry…
People are NOT Projects:

Projects fall through the cracks and are forgotten…
Or worse, you give up on them because they “didn’t turn out the way YOU ” wanted”
Or they are taking to long to change… So you give up…

People who view others as actual people do not let them fall through the cracks…
Because they realize God never gave up on them…
Because they remember people who didn’t give up on them…

How do you view people?

The longer you view people as projects the more you empower them to put up walls that will keep you away from the Truth and Hope they need…

Who are you to give up on people when God never gave up on you… If you are a Christian and you don’t see relationships that way then I would guess you don’t know Gods Grace….


Through the StormBeing a Middle School Pastor I see many students involved in dramatic experiences. I am writing this blog to offer three ways for you the Middle School Student to avoid engaging in drama So here goes:-)

The first understand is THAT: Drama doesn’t find YOU, You find DRAMA… 

To truly avoid DRAMA you must decide NOT to listen to rumors. When that guy or girl calls and you know they have dirt on everyone and they love to share it, Ignore the call!!! Don’t return the TXT message… This will help you because you wont believe all the lies and rumors that are started. BUT this will also help because it will force the Drama King or Queen to stop talking about other people, because nobody will listen to them. Drama finds you every time you listen instead of ignoring the rumor source.

The second: Don’t treat your friendships like cool wrapping paper.

Birthdays & Christmas gifts are awesome but have you ever thought about how you see the presents and they are cool looking… But the moment you get what you want out of it the wrapping paper is tossed and you never want to see it again. To often I see Middle School Students treating each other in this way. Remember: YOU ALL HAVE FEELINGS. The faster you pick up and dump friends the more you get hurt and hurt each other. When you have friendships that hit hiccups and times get rough, communicate with the source, value your friendship enough to speak to your friends directly.

Lastly, Don’t be a Drama King or Queen….

I know this sounds simple and obvious but the truth is… If you want people to like you and you want to be a positive influence in the lives of people, you must be TRUSTWORTHY… You must prove over and over to have the character of trustworthiness… I have heard it said that trust takes a lifetime to build and second to loose. When people tell you things in confidence, keep them in confidence, when you notice things about people that could be juicy gossip, don’t share it… Keep their confidence (Unless its a situation where someone is getting hurt, then you need to talk with a TRUSTED ADULT).

Remember, in Middle School, your world is like the shifting sand in the sea…  Drama will come and go but warning to the ones who allow it to start and those who don’t stop it… You will get a reputation that will be nearly impossible to shake…

Pastor Tom

The Wesleyan Church of Hamburg: Middle School Pastor 

Dump Trucks and Dirt: A conversation about student ministry


Have you ever looked at a dump truck and thought about its job. If you would, humor me for a moment. Inside most dump trucks is often dirt, not always but for the sake of our conversation, its dirt. Do you ever consider the humbling dirt to truck ratio. Again, please humor me. The standard dump truck can carry a load of dirt weighing in somewhere around 32 tons. Everywhere the dump truck travels it will pass, dirt, lots and lots of dirt. There is dirt everywhere. I had a thought the other day as it relates to this daydream. I thought to myself “I wonder if the dump truck often questions if it is really making an impact?” I think its a valid question when you take into consideration, the dirt to dump truck ratio and just how much the truck is outnumbered by the millions if not zillions, tons of dirt in our world.
This crazy day dream illustrates well how some often think about when it comes to Middle School Ministry in the church. We have a few leaders (The dump trucks) and many students (The Dirt). This thinking often leads some to bury their head in the literal dirt and hope the problem figures itself out. Still others see this opportunity as a challenge to make a difference even if for only a small pile of dirt.

Our church is blessed to be infiltrated with many quality dump trucks in our Middle School Ministry. These are trusted adults who Love Jesus and Love our students. Trusted adults who sacrifice their time every week to make an impact in the Kingdom of God. These adults are involved in: Sunday Mornings as Small Group Leaders. Tuesday Nites as Team Leaders, Competition Team Leaders and Hospitality Team leaders. Saturday Nites as Security Team, Dodgeball Organizers, Snack Shop servers and Front Door supervisors. We are very blessed.

Recently, a student was in a disagreement with another student, this disagreement was keeping them from attending DRIVE (Tuesday Nites, 7-9pm, Shameless plug). When confronted about this, I graciously offered that I would move him to a different team if it would bring him back. When given this opportunity the student responded: “Move the other people to a different team, my team leader is awesome.” This leader, this dump truck is doing more than moving dirt around, this leader is making a kingdom impact.
If I could brag about our leaders for a moment. Our leaders care deeply for our kids! They are always coming up with creative ways to help our students know that they are loved. Simple things like: just being present, laughing with them, setting up a volleyball nets to play together, listening to them with passion and conviction to the struggles facing their generation, baking cookies, sending messages of encouragement throughout the week, leading them to God’s word in times of doubt, learning their names, and most importantly building trust to earn the right to speak about the Hope of Jesus in their own lives. Our leaders are on the front lines to see the realities of sin in our world and our Powerful God at work in the lives of our students. Our leaders are committed to helping students take their next steps in following Jesus with a lifelong faith. Because of our dump trucks and their commitment to serving our students our ministry is successful. One thing I can say with complete confidence about our ministry team is that when students attend they leave knowing they are loved here.

Next time you see a dump truck remember that we might not be able to move all the dirt in the world. But that dump truck is not responsible to move all the dirt in the world. No that dump truck is responsible for the dirt it is currently carrying. That is why I love our leaders, because they are committed to Loving Jesus and the students He has placed in our ministry.

There is a lot of dirt in this world, not many realize, there are close to three thousand Middle School Students from: Hamburg, Frontier and Orchard Park combined. The dump trucks we have in our ministry are amazing, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. But as Jesus said “The harvest is plentiful but workers are few”. The reality is we could really use a few more people excited for a challenge, to join in the process of seeing God move students who are far from Him, into a relationship with the Hope of the World, Jesus Christ. If you are inspired to be a dump truck please email me: Pastor Tom I would love to speak with you about how you can join our team!

Disclaimer: In no way is the word dirt meant to be a derogatory statement about our teenagers.  This was just a creative metaphor.

Lies… (Exposing the truth from the relationship lies of our culture) #Part 2

Hey Parents!

I realize this topic of sex and purity is a delicate one and for that reason I have created this post to help you understand what I am sharing, in hopes that together we can partner together to protect our kids from the incredible temptations that are presented to them every day. – Pastor Tom

2nd LIE… “It’s Just Sex”

TRUTH: Purity is a Gift and Purity is to be protected

Things People Never say…

“Its just cancer”
“Its just a billion dollars”
“Its just a scratch on my new car”
“Its just my first child… I have two more”
“Its just a flesh wound” *Ok that one I have heard before 🙂

People don’t say those things because: Each of those examples carries with it incredible VALUE. We protect things with VALUE. Which is the same for our purity, we protect it because it is VALUABLE.

Exposing the Lie: Its not just sex because sex is emotionally connected to your heart and your HEART IS VALUABLE (Proverbs 4:23)

Our purity is our gift from God designed for the person we will stand at the alter and join lives with in Marriage. (Genesis 2:24)  What type of heart do you want to present to your future spouse? We must get on the offensive and protect ourselves from all of the sexual temptations that exist in our culture.

God’s View Of Purity: God wants the best for us in every area and sexual purity is no exception. His plans are better than our own plans.

1 Timothy 4:12

Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. 

Psalms 119:9 

How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 

God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.  Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor—  not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways.

For the message I will be preaching from 2 Samuel 11 (Most likely summarizing it) and will look at Davids sin with Bathsheba and how we can learn to be proactive in Protecting our Purity because it is VALUABLE.


How To Be Proactive In Protecting Yourself From Sexual Temptation: 

1. Talk It Out.

*** Communicate with your parents about sexual questions, If you cant talk with your parents choose a TRUSTED adult. Another middle school student and the internet should NOT be your sounding board for this HUGE questions***

2. Go To Bed.

***Most sexual temptations begin with staying up late when your tired and your defenses are low, Go to bed and if you cant sleep read a PAPER book***

3. Say No NOW.

***Most sexual temptations don’t just jump out at you, it works in layers where if you don’t resist the temptation the temptation only grows and before you know it, you have crossed a line you never intended to cross(Porn & Relationally)****


Living life like God loves YOU: YOU WONT FALL INTO THESE LIES: 

YOU will know what REAL LOVE IS

YOU will know your GOD GIVEN VALUE


God has given us our sexual purity as a gift and we are to protect it. When we are married we will present our gift of purity. We want to present them with our gift in its original beauty.  This is possibly by choosing resist sexual temptation and refusing to be in anyway sexually active.


Parents I hope this will help you think about how to prepare your sons and daughters for dating. If you want to sit in while we are having this talk you are invited!
The dates are February 12th & 17th.
If you would like to talk with me about how to set up relational & purity boundaries I would be more than willing to sit down with you and help you. Also, our next Equipping Weekend here at the Wesleyan Church of Hamburg (March 22-23rd) We will be hosting a seminar about Helping Your Middle Schooler to Make Wise Choices. Be on the look out for more information about that!