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Language Matters | Josh Sperry

Language matters - josh sperry

I recently read a book that I highly recommend called Axiom by Bill Hybels. It is full of powerful leadership proverbs that are both moving and challenging.

But one chapter in particular captivated my attention. The chapter was simply called Language Matters. Bill Hybels will take weeks to come up with one word that will change a vision statement from a slogan to something that captures the heart and attention of every individual that hears it.

For example, the 3 core values at his church are evangelism, discipleship, and compassion. We have heard these all in different ways in the church. But the core value of compassion is explained this way: “to unleash unprecedented amounts of compassion into our broken world.” This statement captivated me! It makes you want to be a part of putting it to action.

Our language and the words we use matter. Our words can take a crucial conversation with a coworker from being offensive and changing the relationship negatively to being a crucial conversation that gains respect and also results you were hoping for. Our language can take a conversation in discipline with our children from being hurtful to bringing hope and positive change. My language as a pastor can bring a vision statement from being something people have heard before to a vision statement that captivates the hearts of the church and moves them to action for God’s kingdom. Language matters.

“My language as a pastor can bring a vision statement from being something people have heard before to a vision statement that captivates the hearts of the church and moves them to action for God’s kingdom.”

I am reminded in James 3:3-5, “We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mount. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot wants it to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way,

the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.” Our tongue is the most powerful tool we have in our arsenal. But used wisely, it can do incredible things. Today, think about the words that you use in conversation and life. They have the power to do great things and make an eternal difference. Spend the time today to think through the power of your words. Our language matters!

Today, think about the words that you use in conversation and life.”


Josh Sperry is the youth pastor at Life Church Tricities

Follow him on twitter: @joshuasperry

By |February 4, 2014|Blog|0 Comments

Never Do Ministry Alone

This past weekend I had the incredible privilege to preach God’s Word to 14 different youth groups from all over Wisconsin and Illinois at a camp in northern Wisconsin called Silver Birch Ranch. I would say that it has to go down as one of the greatest ministry experiences in my 15 years of working in student ministry!  And it may not be for any of the reasons you might think.  God did show up, and students did find hope in Jesus, and gain a passion for their friends who are far from God.  However, for me, some of the greatest joys in ministry come from doing ministry WITH my students.  From the very first retreat I ever preached until now, I have never done ministry alone.  I ALWAYS, and I do mean ALWAYS, travel with a group of our students and interns.  Sometimes, camp restrictions, distance, or costs prevent me from bringing a team, but I will always bring at least one student with me.  I can’t possibly ever imagine doing it any other way!   

You may not travel and speak at camps just yet, or ever have the desire to do so, but the principle is transferable. Are you planning your own retreat or camp? Don’t do it alone! Ask your seniors to help you dream, and plan, and prepare, and even do the work of the ministry at it!  Are you feeling a creative block? Don’t struggle alone! Invite a small team of your most creative students to be a part of your creative/brainstorm team for your ministry! Are you preaching on a weekend for your main service? Don’t do it alone!  Involve several of your students in your message or during the service in some creative way.  One of the easiest ways, is to strategically involve students testimonies into your message.  This is ALWAYS powerful and I usually hear people say that was their favorite part of my message!  The point is… we should NEVER DO MINISTRY ALONE!

Here are a few reasons why I propose to never do ministry alone:

1. Ephesians 4:12 clearly lays it out for us that are job is to equip our people to do the work of the ministry.  Sometimes I think we get it messed up and think we are called to equip ourselves to do the work of the ministry.

2. Your students will be discipled and grow exponentially in the process.  It’s no secret that Jesus didn’t do his discipleship in classrooms with the latest DVD curriculum from Group Publishers.  Discipleship for Jesus, was the roll up your sleeves, let’s do ministry together, and get dirty kind of stuff.

3. Your students will find their unique gifts and their calling. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have watched students come alive while doing ministry together at camps & our youth services.  Several of our students have realized & heard their calling to full time ministry through us giving them the chance to minister!  Specifically in my last two camps, our students who have come along, have commented that doing this was some of the most rewarding moments of their lives.  My desire and vision is that our students would become addicted to doing the work of the ministry!


4. It’s FUN!  There is not many things more rewarding than doing ministry with my students!  I absolutely thrive off of empowering them to use their gifts and seeing them minister to other students!

You may choose to do ministry alone, because you think it gets done just the way you want it, but for me…

How about you? I would love to hear some feedback on creative ways you have involved students in the work of the ministry.



Jon Brown serves as Lead Student Ministries Pastor at Kenosha First Assembly near Chicago, Illinois overseeing a half dozen employed staff, dozens of youth workers and hundreds of students each week as part of H2O youth.  He has served this church and ministry for nearly a decade, seeing it grow numerically and in spiritual depth, making a vital impact on the surrounding unchurched community.

Twitter: @pjon


By |June 7, 2013|Blog|0 Comments

Parent Resources by Brian Spatz

I absolutely love parents! Here are some of the resources that I am using to help our parents, grandparents, and guardians at Shoreline Community Church.

1) A Dedicated “Parents Page” on our Website.
With the approval of Pastor Bob, I began developing a youth website on Tumblr, (only $12 for the domain, per year). As I began developing, I added a simple “Parents” page, This has grown in becoming one of the single most impactful actions I took to bridge the gap with our parents. We have  included on Parent’s Page a range of information:

- Upcoming Events: For big events like Camp, Evoke, and Mission’s Trips, we developed individual webpages with trip specific information to help parents find what needs to be packed, when to drop-off and pick up, etc. But we have a one or two sentence summary of date, cost, and location of each event.

Weekly Teachings: We briefly describe what we are teaching at our mid-week gatherings and our Sunday growth groups. For more detailed information our parents visit,, which shows weekly what is being discussed and if we have sensitive topics we indicate it on the week it is discussed with an “*” and note it in our monthly email. This has saved us from offending parents of younger youth.

Parenting Resources: We break it down by Websites, Books, Free Downloads, and Seminars on subjects such as, “Purity & Contemporary Issues”, “Bible”, “Parenting”, etc. We took the time to add active links and keep updating when we find great material. We have a separate “Resources” page for our students,

Overall, our website has been time consuming process and this is just the specifics on our “Parents” page. The time put into it has greatly helped me long-term. Whenever I have parents ask about specific events or what is being taught, I simply point them to this website. If they are new, I verbally tell them first, then write on a notecard our website for parents so they can read more. According to Google Analytics, it’s been our most viewed page after our home page.

2) Monthly Email Updates.
Many decide on weekly emails but I do weekly reflections on our website for both parents and students to be up to date. This also helps generate traffic from sources such as Twitter and Facebook. Here are some key things we include in every Parent Email: “What’s Been Going On”, “Upcoming Events”, and “Quick Reminders”. On every email, we include active links out to our website and various social networks. I always end with this signature, “Your Biggest Fans” and sign my wife and I’s name. The main thing I want them to remember is Krista and I are for them and love them, not just their kids or money.

3) Bi-annual Parent Huddles and weekly Parent Coaching.
We intentionally use verbiage and phrasing that are used in team sports. We want to subtly remind parents that Krista and I are on their team.

- Parent Huddles: Twice a year we host our parents after our last morning gathering to a free lunch full of giveaways, pertinent information, and encouragement. Throughout this event we have pictures from our events rolling through on the screens, we have a free, quality lunch, and have our youth staff team intentionally connecting with all of our families at each table. I share with them some information on why we exist, how things have been going, remind them of our resources both online and in house, give away free books and Starbucks gift cards, and we pray for them. We open it up for questions and constantly are pointing them to our “Parents Page”. We also give them a postcard with the date and time of our next Huddle with the approximate cost, dates, and name of upcoming events that are coming up the next 6 months. Click HERE to view photos from our event. If you have a youth ministry budget, be generous, your parents deserve this. If you do not have a budget, do a potluck style and make it as significant as your resources will allow.

Parent Coaching: I hesitate to inform you all about this, because I do not want to seem like I’m trying to be a YouTube sensation. I do not. Stuttering has a strange way of making you leery of any recording. But for the sake of helping our parents, I’m working through it and creating videos that are released every week. They last between 5-12 minutes and aim towards coaching our parents on issues teenagers face. This is providing a pastoral perspective and walking the tension of being both the parent’s and youth’s advocate. Essentially, I have the conversation I would have with them in my office or at Starbucks if they would want to talk with me about these issues. We have them broken down by mini-series, with the current one being, “What Do I Do When ___________.” If they have any questions, we are always available.

All of these items have helped to develop an incredible amount of trust and credibility with our parents. We are striving to find more ways to equip, disciple, and love our families. If you have any questions on developing your own webpage on Tumblr, want a sample of our Parent Coaching, or want to learn more about our Parent Huddles, let me know,

By |May 21, 2013|Blog|2 Comments