Coffee Shop Etiquette. Don’t be a homer.


I spend a lot of time at coffee shops meeting with people.  In fact I am at a coffee shop, meeting with someone almost every week day.  I have had significant conversations with kids, leaders, donors, committee members, etc at coffee shops in our local area.  I know the value of what can happen in these places.

You most likely have had great experiences and poor experiences at coffee shops.  The main thing that creates our experiences is not the coffee shop itself, but the people that are in there.  Let’s try to honor and value each other in these settings.  Here are some things to keep in mind.

Go local.  Your dollar matters.  Even if it is only a few dollars at a time.  I don’t have anything against chain coffee shops, but I want to support local businesses.  Young Life is funded by local donors (businesses and individuals) who care and give to make Young Life happen in our communities.  So, instead of going to the chain coffee shop go to a local coffee shop.  Build a relationship with the people there.  Be Young Life in being relational and loving people well even in these settings.

Right size your table.  Don’t be the guy on your laptop in the coffee shop taking up a table for six when there is a table for two or a counter next to you.  You don’t need all that table space.  Anticipate your group size before everyone shows up.  Change tables if your group is bigger or smaller than you anticipated.  By having the right size table your are valuing other patrons.

Anticipate the conversations you are going to have.  I have seen more than one crying woman in the middle of a coffee shop.  This is awkward for everyone.  If you know you are going to have a hard conversation with a person, find the back corner or an area where there are not many people sitting around you.  This will help you and everyone else that is there.

Order something.  Don’t be the person that shows up to a meeting and doesn’t order anything.  If you know that might be the case for the person you are meeting, buy them something.  Don’t be cheap.  You are using space for other customers.  You are honoring the establishment by purchasing something.

Don’t be overly loud or noisy.  Don’t be the overly load person talking on a cell phone.  Don’t be the overly loud group that people are making faces at the entire time you are there.  If you are meeting kids at a coffee shop, find a non busy time to meet.  I used to meet my Young Life guys at 7pm on Monday nights at a local coffee shop.  There was no one in there each week but us.  It was the perfect time to meet with 8-10 high school guys.

What other coffee shop etiquette needs to be on the list?  Leave a comment.

Music streaming services for your Young Life Club.

Music Streaming

With the launch of iOS 7, Apple released iTunes radio. For those of you who do not know, iTunes Radio is a music service designed by Apple. iTunes Radio uses your current iTunes purchases along with previous iTunes purchases to suggest music you might like to listen to or purchase from the iTunes store. iTunes Radio is all about giving you a chance to discover and purchase more music from iTunes.

As an iOS Power User, you most likely will use iTunes Radio. It is built into iOS 7 and it is free to use. You can’t get much better than that. iTunes Radio lives in your music app on your iOS device. Once you install iOS 7 on your device, when you open your music app, iTunes Radio will be the first thing that comes up.

What if I don’t want iTunes Radio?

  • If you don’t want iTunes Radio on your iOS device, you can hide it on the iPhone, but you can not delete it.
  • Here is how to hide iTunes Radio: Click on your Music app on your iOS Device.
  • Click on the More button on the bottom right.
  • Click on any other red or highlighted icon and drag it over to where Radio is on the bottom.
  • It is most likely in the bottom left as this appears to the default area for iTunes Radio in iOS 7.
  • The two icons should switch on your iOS device. Your Radio icon should be under More in your music app and the item you switched with it should be an icon on the bottom of your Music app panel.

Alternatives to iTunes Radio.

There have been music services on the web ever since the launch of the internet. Pandora is the closest competitor to iTunes Radio. Pandora, like iTunes Radio, is free but there is an option to have a paid Pandora subscription. A few other big players out there are Rdio, Spotify, SoundCloud and Rhapsody.

Should you pay for a Music Subscription?

Although there are many free music services, there are also many paid music services. For most people, a free music service is just fine. However for some people a free music service is not enough and you may be one of those people.

People who should have a paid music subscription:

  • If you are a music lover. If you care about the sound quality of streaming music.  Most free music services have lower quality audio than paid music subscriptions.
  • If you hate ads. All free music services have ads. If you do not want to deal with ads go with a paid subscription to eliminate them.
  • If you want to control what you listen to and when you listen to it. All free music subscriptions have an algorithm that gives you songs or artists based on other songs or artists that you already like. With free music subscriptions you cannot pick specific artists or songs to play anytime you want to play them.
  • If you are using music for more than personal listening. If you use music in your job or presentations, you will want a music service subscription. You will want to have complete control of your music subscription and a paid music subscription allows you to do just that.

What is missing from this list?  Leave a comment!

Tips & Tricks for buying your next iPhone or iPad?


Do you need to upgrade an iOS device (iPad, iPod touch and/or iPhone) or purchase a new device soon? Here are some tips and tricks that will help get the most out of your purchase. Buying an iOS device is not a cheap decision; you want to get the most out of your purchase and enjoy your iOS device to the fullest extent. Here is how to get the best iOS device for your needs.

General Buying Tips for iOS devices:

Know Apples iOS device cycle upgrades.

We can’t know for sure when Apple will update its iOS devices. Apple is a very secretive company especially when it comes to product releases. However, we can evaluate their product cycle history and make educated decisions about when to buy. Check the most up-to-date Apple product cycles.

How much information do you plan to put on your iOS device?

Take a look at your iTunes library to see how much your video library, music library, pictures and other content will be on your new iOS device. If you are keeping your iOS device for two or more years (which most of us do), then I suggest that you purchase an iOS device that is double the capacity of your iTunes content size.

Think through Apple’s iOS software upgrades.

Since its creation, Apple has issued yearly updates to iOS and its mobile software. Generally, Apple supports the two or three previous iOS devices with each new operating upgrade. If you are planning to keep your iOS device for more than two to three years, when you purchase you device will indicate when you can upgrade to a new iOS.

iPad buying tips:

iPad or iPad mini apps can be memory hogs. They tend to be two to ten times bigger than iPhone or iPod touch apps. If you are going to use your iPad or iPad mini to read many magazines in Newsstand, these tend to be bigger files.

Should you get your iPad Air or iPad mini with cellular service?

You will also want to ask yourself if you will want your iPad or iPad mini with a cellular connection. If you buy an iPad or iPad mini with built in cellular, it is $130 more expensive than the same iPad or iPad mini without the cellular service. If you don’t have an iPhone, you might want an iPad or iPad mini with cellular service built in. You can tether an iPhone to your iPad or iPad mini for a nominal monthly fee.

Who should buy an iPad Air or iPad 2?

The iPad is more expensive than its iPad mini counterpart, but you get a larger screen size. If you want the full tablet experience, you will want the iPad with the bigger screen. If you will be doing more intensive work with your tablet, you will want the iPad.

Who should buy an iPad mini?

The iPad mini is cheaper than its iPad counterpart, but you also you will have a smaller screen size. If you are cost conscious and you want an iPad, the iPad mini is for you. The iPad mini is also great for kids. If you are looking to get a device for your kids to share, the iPad mini is the perfect device for them.

iPhone buying tips:

You will want to choose the right network to purchase your iPhone on (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Etc). Most carriers have similar costs for their plans so feel free to shop around. Equally important to cost, is coverage; If you live in a metro area, you most likely will have several options. If you live in a rural area, you will want to find the network with the best coverage for your area.

Locked or Unlocked iPhone?

You have two options when it comes to buying your next iPhone: locked or unlocked.

Locked iPhone.

If you buy a locked iPhone, you are required to use that iPhone on your carrier’s network (most plans are for two years). Also, with a locked iPhone you tend to pay more over the life of the iPhone. The carriers subsidize the upfront cost of the iPhone but they charge more for their service. In the end they will make up their cost on the subsidy in the monthly fee.

Unlocked iPhone.

If you buy an unlocked iPhone you will pay to the entire cost of the iPhone upfront but you are not locked into any specific carrier or service provider. You will be able to jump from one carrier to the next without having to sign a contract. You will be able to shop the prices of different carriers.

Who should buy a locked iPhone?

If your company is paying for your monthly iPhone plan, stay with a locked iPhone. This way you will pay little to nothing for the price of the iPhone. If you cannot pay the full price for the unlocked iPhone, stay with a locked iPhone.

Who should buy an unlocked iPhone?

If you want to continually move around from one carrier to the other without a contract, you will want an iPhone that is unlocked. If you travel often to other countries, the iPhone that is unlocked is for you. You will be able to change out SIM cards for each new country you visit, keeping the same iPhone.

What is missing from the list?  Leave a comment!

Gospel Synopsis for Young Life leaders.

Gospel SynopsisWhen preparing an excellent Young Life Club talk, it is important to know the background of the scripture passage you are presenting.  Knowing the author of the Gospel and to what audience they are presenting it to, will help you deliver a better Young Life Club talk.


  • Audience – Jews
  • Author – Tax collector and apostle. Also known as “Levi.”
  • Date Written – 37-68 A.D.  Probably written after Mark.
  • Depiction of Jesus – King of the Jews
  • Key Words – Kingdom, Fulfill
  • Key Verse – Matthew 27:37
  • Characteristics – Evidence to prove Jesus was the promised Messiah.


  • Audience – Romans
  • Author – Missionary with Barnabus and Paul. Called a son by Peter.
  • Date Written – 40-65 A.D. Probably the 1st gospel written.
  • Depiction of Jesus – Powerful Servant of God
  • Key Words – Immediately, Authority
  • Key Verse – Mark 10:45
  • Characteristics – Fast paced and visual.


  • Audience – Greeks
  • Author – Greek doctor who travelled with Paul. Wrote Acts as sequel
  • Date Written – 59-61 A.D. Probably written after Mark and Matthew. (Luke 1:1-3)
  • Depiction of Jesus – Perfect Savior of Man
  • Key Words – Son of Man
  • Key Verse – Luke 19:10
  • Characteristics – Careful and historical.


  • Audience – Gentile Christians
  • Author – Fisherman, apostle, and elder. Wrote 5 NT books. Died at an old age.
  • Date Written – 80-98 A.D. The last gospel written.
  • Depiction of Jesus – Son of God
  • Key Words – Believe, Life, World, Father, Son
  • Key Verse – John 3:16
  • Characteristics – The gospel of belief.

Download this as a PDF to share with your leaders, HERE.

What is missing from this list?  Leave a comment!

Tips & Tricks for leaders giving their first Young Life Club talks.

145027_logoGiving your first Young Life Club talk can be a scary thing.  I have seen people giving their first Young Life Club talk be excellent or be bad.  But, if you follow the steps below, you can have the confidence to deliver your first Club talk in an excellent way.

Go back to the basics.

Review why we give Young Life Club talks.  Ask your team leader or Young Life staff person to go over that with you again or look through your leader training materials.  Knowing the why behind Young Life Club talks will help you in your preparation and delivery to give an excellent Club talk.

Do you know kids?

If you don’t know kids in Club, don’t give your Club talk.  Instead, spend time in building relationships with kids.  It is much easier to give a Young Life Club talk, especially for your first Club talk, to a room of kids that you know.  We are relational, not event driven.  Make sure you know kids and they know you before you give your first Young Life Club talk.

Prayer. Prayer. Prayer.

This can’t be over stated enough.  Spend a lot of time praying about your talk and see where Jesus leads you in the Scripture passage, personal story and cultural references.  Spending some good time listening to Jesus move around your talk, will give you the confidence to do an excellent job.

Get others to pray for you at the time of your Club talk.

It will give you confidence to know that a certain number of family and friends are praying for you during your first Young Life Club talk.  Remind them of the exact day and time you will be giving your talk.  Ask them to pray for specific things during the time of your Club talk.

Prepare well.

If someone took the notes out of your hand before you gave your first Club talk, could you do it from memory?  This is the level of preparation you should have for all of your Club talks, not just the first one.

Be yourself.

Don’t try to be someone else when giving your talk.  Don’t make up a story or steal a story from someone else’s life.  God created you uniquely in His image and has a plan for you in your Club talk.  If you try to be someone else, you miss out on kids connecting with the real you.

Go over it with other leaders and get feedback.

It is important for other leaders to hear your Club talk before kids hear it.  Make sure the person that you are giving it to, before you give it to kids, has given many Club talks before and can help you with your delivery and any theological issues you might have in your Club talk.

Steal concepts from great communicators.

Study, watch and listen to other great communicators about their approach and delivery.  Some of my favorites are: Andy Stanley, Judah Smith & Craig Groeschel.  You might have others.  See how they use illustrations, voice inflection, movement, etc to engage their audience.  Use some of their best delivery styles integrated with your style.

Practice your delivery.

The more you go over your Club talk, the more you know it and the better it will be delivered.  Go over your Club talk with another leader or your staff person.  Practice in the mirror or in your Club room.

Prepare early.  Leave room for the Holy Spirit to move.

If you are overly prepared early, you make room for the Holy Sprit to move.  If you are rushing to complete your talk right before you give it, you will miss out on this key step.  This is where the gems of your Young Life Club talk comes from.  This is where we see Jesus move in big ways.

What is missing from the list?  Leave a comment and let us know.

9 ways to deliver an excellent Young Life Club talk.

When it comes to making Young Life Club talks excellent, the delivery of the talk is as important as the content of the talk.  I have seen many leaders have great content, but when it comes to the delivery, they fall short.  Make sure your Young Life Club talk delivers well to your audience.

How are you going to engage your audience from the start of your Club talk?

You need to have an interesting hook to engage kids into your Club talk. If you start your Club talk flat, you might have a difficult task of keeping them engaged throughout your talk. You don’t have to be the funniest person, but you can bring energy to the start of your Club talk. If this is an area that you need help in, ask others to help you.

Practice. Practice. Practice. 

If you are unprepared to deliver your Club talk, you will do a disservice to kids in your Young Life Club. You are responsible for practicing your own Club talk. If your notes were lost and you had to give your Club talk without them, could you? The proper response would be to be so practiced for your Club talk, that you could do it without any notes.

Go over your Club talk with someone else.

Your Club talk, before you present it to kids, needs to be heard by someone else that will give you honest feedback. You need to present it to an audience before you present it to your main audience. The more you do your talk in a presentation mode the better you will be. An expereinced leader on your team or your team leader would be great people to hear your Club talk before it is presented to kids.

Know your Club Talk content like the back of your hand.

The better you know your Club talk content the more comfortable you will be in presenting it to kids. The background, audience, apologetics and theology of the talk are important to know when presenting to kids. Do research around the passage. Find a great Bible commentary to use. Ask questions if you don’t understand or know what is going on in the passage of scripture.

Visualize your talk.

Picture the room, the kids in the audience, other leaders in the room, the smell and feel of the room, etc; then go through your talk in your mind or out loud with your eyes closed visualizing all these things. Think through how you want different parts of your talk to come across to kids.

Use voice inflection to control the room. 

Kids will get distracted by the simplest things. You can use inflection in your voice to talk loudly over the crowd or become soft to let the crowd lean in to hear. If you only use the same tone and volume of your voice during your Club talk, you miss out presenting the most important things. Your point(s) can come across better to kids, the more you use inflection in your vioce during a Club talk.

Know what your one thing is.

You want kids to know the one thing you are trying to communicate in your Club talk to them. If a kid goes home after Club and a parent asks them, “What did you talk about at Young Life”, you want them to share your one thing you communicated in your Club talk. Also, weave your one thing throughout your talk. The more times you can hit on it the better your Club talk will be. Also, you can use your one thing statement to be the transitions in your Club talk from part to part.

Deliver your Club talk with Joy. 

I have seen too many Club talks given without joy. We are a new creation because of Jesus. We should have a sense of joy each time we talk about our amazing Saviour and what He has done in our lives. He is worthy to be discussed with passion and joy in our voices.

Make sure the tech works.

If you are using a video clip or a song to highlight or draw the audience in to your talk, make sure it works. Have the sound person run it before Club to know all is good. You don’t want a critical part of your talk to not be presented well or at all if it is not working.

What is missing from this list?  Leave a comment!

What Scripture translations do you use in Young Life ministry?


There are hundreds of different versions of Scripture are available to use in Young Life ministry with kids.  Most people have a preference of what Scripture translation they prefer.  For many of us, our favorite Scripture translation is the translation we first started reading.  This is what we hold close to our hearts.  These Bibles are highlighted, written in and held as sacred.

Relating Scripture to kids.  As Young Life leaders we have a mission to present the person of Jesus Christ the best way we can.  This might mean that you need to use a different translation of the Bible than you normally use.  You need to think in terms of what kids will hear, not what you are comfortable with naturally.

In an effort to connect Scripture to kids, in the best way we know how, we have landed on these three Scripture translations.  Are they the right fit for everyone, certainly not.  But after many hours of getting the right Scripture translations for kids to hear, read and understand; I feel these are the best options for Young Life kids.  Use what you are comfortable with and what related the story of Jesus to kids the best.

NIV (New International Version)

The NIV version of the Bible is the most commonly used version of the Bible.  The NIV has been updated as recently as 2011.  The NIV has a rich history of translation and has been translated into over 100 different languages.  The NIV is also the Bible translation we give to kids at Young Life camp.  For many kids this is their first Bible.  This translation will transform their lives.

NCV (New Century Version)

The NCV version of the Bible has a middle between the NIV and The Message.  It preserves many of the contexts of the NIV translation, but offers many modern day words and terminology that The Message offers.  The New Century Version (NCV) puts biblical concepts into natural and easy-to-understand English terms.  The New Century Version aims to make the Bible easier to comprehend, so that even those who own multiple Bibles can relax and allow God’s message to clearly, accurately, and eternally reach their hearts, and read the Bible for the sheer enjoyment. (1)

The Message

The Message is a translation from the ancient Greek in common day language.  Some consider it as a paraphrase of the Bible.  The intent of Eugene Peterson is that this would be a Bible translation in modern day language.  He originally translated it so people could easily read and understand it for themselves.  Is this not what we are doing with Young Life kids?

What Scripture translations do you use in Young Life ministry?  Leave a comment!

Young Life Club talks and Campaigner lessons for Spring 2014.

Young Life Club Talk Master - Spring 2014 Cover

We are starting a brand new semester of Young Life ministry.  Do you feel prepared?  If you don’t, here is a free semester of Club talks and Campaigner lessons.  Over, 1,200 people downloaded our Club talks and Campaigner lessons from the fall.  We love sharing these free resources with you!

What is included in these docs:

  • 11 Club talks and Campaigner lessons – intro talk, person of Christ talks, Sin talk, Cross talk, Resurrection talk, Appropriation talk and Walking with Christ talks
  • Background on the passage
  • Setting the scene of the Scripture passage
  • How this relates to kids
  • Campaigner questions and Campaigner questions 2.0
  • Media you can use in your Club talk or Campaigner lesson

Below are the themes and Scripture references for these Club talks:

  • The Beginning – Genesis 1
  • The Boy Jesus at the Temple – Luke 2:41-52
  • Attempt to Stone Jesus – John 10:24-39
  • The Parable of the Lost Sheep – Luke 15:3-7
  • Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand – Matthew 14:13-21
  • A Man with a Withered Hand – Matthew 12:9-14
  • The Woman Caught in Adultery – John 7:53-8:11
  • Peace and Hope – Romans 5:6-11
  • Jesus and The Doubts of Thomas – John 20:24-29
  • Do not Worry – Matthew 6:25-34
  • Messengers of Jesus – Matthew 28:16-20

Download these Club talks & Campaigner lessons in four different formats:

* Use PDF files in Adobe Reader ONLY.  Do not use Preview on Mac.

We would love your feed back or how you will use these.  Let us know!

Technology resources and tricks for Young Life Club.

The use of technology has changed dramatically over the last 10 years when it comes to Young Life Club.  When you think about how much we have become mobile influenced and reliant on the internet in Young Life Club.  There are so many resources that change quickly.  How do you stay up on what people are using in from technology in Young Life Club?

Collecting Kids information.

When it comes to collecting kids information at Club, there are a bunch of different options.  Many are moving away from the traditional Club card to a mobile or internet option.

  • Use a Google Form on a smart phone or tablet.  It easy to set up.  All members on your team can see the info.  I also like that the registration is time stamped, so you know who registered and when.
  • Check out YL Help‘s digital Club Card work flow.
  • Text to join, text message service.  Have kids text their name, cell and email to a number.  Then they are connected to a group around your Club.

What to look for in a video projector?

If you are in the market for a new video projector, think HDMI.  Only the last few years have we seen reasonably priced video projectors with HDMI.  It is the new standard.  I always go mid range pricing on a video projector.

If you are looking for a cheap and super mobile video projector, check out this one.  Thanks @CurtisAtkinson for the suggestion.

Video projector or tv monitor?

If I had the choice in a fixed Club room space, my choice would be TV monitor over video projector.  Kids are used to screens.  It is more engaging.  And with the price of large TV monitors getting cheaper each year, it has become a reality.  You can also have a TV monitor on a mobile cart, creating another resource tool.

Mobile Club room:

The main question in a mobile Club room is internet access.  If you change locations often, you might want a hotspot.  If you have set up and tear down each week, you might have access to internet.

Fixed Club room:

If you have a fixed Club room, you should have a fixed set up for visuals and audio.  If you are a Mac, iPhone or iPad user; consider setting an Apple TV to your projector or TV monitor(s) and to your sound system.  Whatever you decide to use, make sure non tech people can easily use it.

Apps & Software

Dropbox – You can set up a free account, up to 2 giga bytes of space.  Your team members can contact to the folders you share or can sign in with your Club’s username and password.  You can share all files.

Keynote – This is the best mobile presentation software for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.  It is now free on all new iOS devices.

Keynote Remote for iOS – You can control a Keynote presentation on your Mac or another iOS device (iPhone, iPad & iPod touch).  Here is a tutorial for just that.

Connect the Keynote Remote for iOS to your Mac or other iOS device from Dan Johnson on Vimeo.

Spotify – All of our music for skits, games, etc are in Spotify.  We have pre made playlist and are always creating more each week.

Take screen shots after Club.

I spend sometime after Club each week, looking at Twitter, Instagram and what kids text me.  I take a bunch of screen shots to use everywhere else in Young Life.  You can also encourage the people on your team with them.  They can be fuel to the fire.

What do you use for technology in Young Life Club?  Leave a comment.

Technology tips and resources to run your Young Life ministry.

Technology can be your biggest asset in Young Life ministry or it can be a thing that challenges us or frustrates us.  Technology should always make our lives easier.  Don’t let technology master you, you master it.  Below are my go to technology resources in our Young Life area.

Emma – The Young Life service center offers Emma at a very cheap price.  Some people use Mail Chimp, but the integration Young Life has already set up with Emma, makes it a win.  We send out an area wide Young Life email newsletter twice a month (on the 1st and 15th or each month).  We also send it out to our leaders and committee each Monday for Young Life stuff for the week.

EZ Texting –  Text messaging is not just for kids.  It is a main way in which most people (leaders, parents, staff, kids, committee, etc.) all communicate.  You can create different lists, keywords, ect.  It is not free, but you will be glad you have this account.

Evernote – You need a place where you can put ideas, thoughts and actions.  Evernote is that solution.  Evernote has every capability you could image.  You can place photos or videos into notes.  Now Evernote has a prevention mode, so you can present right out of Evernote.  You can also share different Notebooks with different people making it a collaboration tool.

Wunderlist – You need a shared To DO list in Young Life; at any level of Young Life ministry.  The best cross platform solution I have found is Wunderlist.  It is easy to set up and easy to share list with each other.  It is great for meetings and action steps.  You can have many different lists and share your list with different people.

Google Drive – You will need a place for collaboration and Google Drive is the best solution for that.  You will need to place to share word docs, excel docs and presentation docs.  Your whole team can be in a Google Drive doc at the same time cola berating.  You will also need a place for people to register for things from time to time and creating a Google form is easy and powerful to help people do just that.

Handbrake – You will need pull video off DVD’s from time to time or change the formatting of video.  Handbrake is by far the best solution to that.  You can export video to any file format or device.

Instashare – You will need to move pictures, docs, videos, etc from one device to another device.  Instashare is the best tool for that.  Say you have a presentation on your Mac that you want to get on your iPad, use Instashare.  Say you have pictures and videos from Club you want to get from your smartphone to your computer, use Instashare.

What technology do you use in your Young Life area?  Leave a comment.