Focusatwill Giveaway

I recently posted about a new service that I was using and how much it was helping my producitivity. It really has reshaped how I use an hour. Shut the door, put on my huge headphones and dig into my work.

With focus@will, I’ve gotten much more done than previously, especially when I think about my study/writing time.

So I contacted the wonderful people at Focus@will and they offered me two premium accounts. I really wanted to just take one for myself but I’m offering it up to you guys.

I highly, highly recommend trying this thing out!

Imagine, sitting at your desk and getting more productive just by changing the sounds that come through your earbuds! It really has been working for me.

So enter the giveaway below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What is usually streaming to your ears when you are working?

Vision Casting alone

I was going through my blog drafts this week and found a few posts that never saw the light of day. Sometimes, that’s just because they are for me to think about and might be a bit too personal for me to share, but I’m learning, those are the things that I need to share the most. So I’ll be posting a few older thoughts that haven’t seen the light of the internet yet.

Here we go.

One of the things that you hear so much about is the ability to cast vision. You must be able to describe the vision/mission in such a way that people are compelled to action. Painting a desirable picture is only the first step. But have you ever thought about some of the pitfalls associated with an incredible vision?

Recently, I was chatting with the father of one of my volunteers, who is from Germany. He was talking about how different church was in Germany compared to what he just experienced. I told him that it’s very different and that we love what we have going here. I also expressed that Boenhoeffer is one of my heroes who made a huge impact in Germany. He shared that yes, but after he died, there was no one to take his place.


One I was shocked… I love Boenhoeffer and reading about his life and his accomplishments. His comment made me think about my leadership. What a difference it would have made if there was a successor to Dietrich Boenhoeffer in Germany. But it’s where most leaders fall short. He also made similar remarks about Luther.

I think you can argue that the work, or the picture that you paint, will by it’s own merit bring the next leader, but we all know that leadership is more complex than just a great mission. However, I think for whatever reason, we spend less time on the people taking our place, rather than the work itself.

Very interesting to say the least.

We consider our day to day work more important than the work that will last beyond us.

So don’t just paint the picture, get others to paint it with you. It will help others dive into the vision and will allow you to see who is in it for the long haul.


A new vision

So this blog has been in existence for a long time. Since high school, long time… yikes! I’ve been toying with the idea of doing something new for some time and there is a little bit of fear involved and also some obstacles that are personal and hard for me to overcome.

But I’ve decided to go for it. My wife has probably been waiting longer than anyone for this to happen, as she is my biggest fan and most loving (including some tough love) companion. 

So I’m not ready to totally reveal it yet, but I will have a new project coming soon that has been brewing for probably the last 2.5 years. It’s going to be a resource for leaders in ministry. Not necessarily pastors, but those that lead in ministry. I’m excited to share what I’m learning and how we can lead more effectively as leaders of the greatest message in the world, a loving God who redeems sinners.

As for this blog, it’s not going anywhere. The focus will be shifting a bit and I will be introducing an email list soon so you can keep up with my family and me and get some advice on being a young leader.

But I’m excited and incredibly nervous. Putting this in blog-o-sphere makes it more real and makes me more accountable to people. 

Any advice for someone taking on a new venture? What are some things that I need to know and prepare for?

Want to see your team grow together, faster? Here’s how

Everyone wants their team to be on the same page. However, sometimes it seems like we just don’t have the time or the margin to make that happen. In my experience there is one thing that can help bring your team together in an unbelievable way, pretty quickly.

Reading a book together.

I know it might seem like pulling teeth, but if you lead the charge (and buy the books for your team ;) ) they will follow suit.

Orange has written a few new books that released earlier this year that would be a great start to getting your team together.

My friends over at Orange Books are offering some great deals this week. You can get any of the deals, but only through tomorrow. Here’s one that’s sure to help you get your on the same page and growing together:

Buy the Book Club Bundle (5 or more copies each of Creating a Lead Small Culture, Make Believe, or Married People), and get all of the following:

  • “What Is Orange?” (Orange Conference 2014 breakout by Reggie Joiner, audio file)
  • Do for a Few: A Training Event in How to Lead Small (a training and event guide)
  • One ticket to Orange Tour 2014

Plus, when you tweet or share on Facebook any of the deals using the hashtag #OrangeBooks, you’ll be entered to win a prize.

Go to to learn more.


I’ve recently been toying with a few apps/websites that have me really excited. I’ll share one with you today.

It’s called focus@will.

This site has dramatically increased my productivity over the last week of trying it out. I’m currently on a 30 day trial.

Here’s the thing about it:

Focus@will designs playlists of music that will increase your focus. It doesn’t use music that will distract you.

Here is an explanation from their website:

Here’s how it works:

Most people can only concentrate for a maximum of about 100 continuous minutes before needing to take a quick break to stretch, move about, maybe get a drink of water, and so on before they resume for another session.

The focus@will system makes it easier for you to get into the concentration flow, and then keeps you there. It works in the background by subtly soothing the part of your brain, the limbic system, that is always on the lookout for danger, food, sex or shiny things.

We’ve learned that people working or studying tend to take about 20 minutes to acclimate to their environment enough to really focus on the task at hand. It takes time for your brain to get used to a stimulus and start “tuning it out” in a process called “habituation”.

Each piece of music phase sequenced by focus@will has a specific role in influencing how your brain habituates, enhancing your focus and reducing distractions. Characteristics such as musical key, intensity, arrangement, speed, emotional values, recording style, and much more determine what is played where and when.

And I can honestly tell you that it has increased my productivity, especially when it comes to writing. So I’m pumped about it and you should definitely check it out.


Camps are over. Can we all just let out a collective sigh of relief? I love camp but they are energy draining events. 

I’ve had a few days off and am getting ready to roll into a new year. Just some encouragement. Take some days to unwind. Listen to some good music. Eat some good food and hang with the people you love.

Looking forward to a new year of ministry!

Leader or Youth Pastor

So I’ve recently been listening to the Parent Ministry Podcast put on by It’s been the most practical ministry podcast that I’ve ever listened to. Andy Stanley’s Leadership podcast is probably the best on leadership but no necessarily practical for ministry at all times.

So back to the Parent Ministry Podcast, Kurt Johnston was on and he talked about being a great youth pastor learning to be a leader.

I’ve learned that I’m a leader and I’m learning to be a youth pastor. My strength is helping people take next steps and learning to process the environment around them and how they can take responsibility. Thinking ahead and thinking strategically. 

However, our students need more and while I’m getting world changers as staff people and volunteers to cover those weaknesses. It’s still an area of growth for me. 

So just thought I’d have you ponder this today. Our students need leaders and youth pastors. So which side of the pendulum do you swing? 

Are you a leader learning to be a youth pastor or a youth pastor learning to be a leader?

What do you do when your students don’t show up?

So what do you do when the kids in your small group don’t show?

1. Know that it’s ok

Your students will move along and will be inconsistent. It isn’t always a reflection on your leadership. Sometimes, students just can’t make it. 

2. Contact them

If they came to your group, they are a part of your flock. Treat them like they are your student, rather than a flighty kid. Care before you share.

Shoot a quick text, or mention them on social media to let them know that you missed them at group or service.

Caring for your flock goes a long way.

3. Care for those that did attend

While you are there, care for those that came. Invest in them, love on them, show them God’s word.

Don’t judge the effectiveness of your group by the numbers. Before you get crazy discouraged, get a hold of yourself and ask God to do what only He can do.

You + God = unbelievably effective team. So minister like crazy to the students in your care.

4. Gain a long term perspective

It’s easy sometimes to view your success on a week to week basis. Unfortunately, a lot of youth ministry leaders view themselves as good as their last week. 

I’ve been at my church for more than 6 years. My ministry gains effectiveness the longer that I’m here. Treat your students as if you will care about them for the next 4 years instead of the next 4 weeks.

So don’t get stressed when the kids don’t show. 

Care for those that God brings you.

How to post to Instagram from your Computer

If you’re like me you love the potential of Instagram for your organization. The ability to share key thoughts and increase the visibility with young people is something that is very interesting to a lot of leaders. But it’s limiting to you because it’s a mobile only application. While creating content on a mobile device is better than it’s ever been (can you even have imagined you could create graphics on your phone 10 years ago!) it’s not as robust as a computer. And if you’re like me, you are more comfortable working on a computer and can crank things out much faster than on your phone.

So I’ve been looking for a solution to post and manage an Instagram profile from a desktop computer.

This is pretty much the best thing that I’ve found.

Latergramme is that solution.

You can schedule posts with pre-edited photos from your computer and they will sync to your device.

It works like this…

1. Sign up for a Latergramme account,

2. Download the Latergramme app

3. Connect Latergramme and Instagram

4. Create a graphic on your computer

5. Schedule it in Latergramme

6. When your schedule arrives, you’ll get a notification and you can put the picture into Instagram at the push of a button.

The process isn’t without issues.

  • You have to be logged into the correct account on your Instagram account before the scheduled time.
  • You have to download the latergramme app for your phone.


But all in all, it’s been a great solution so far. Hoping for a Hootsuite type integration for Instagram soon.

What does your process look like for posting to Instagram for your ministry?