New Worship Album Spotlight: Nicole Crosby, The Project & Sathiya

Nicole Crosby “Your Way” 13087226_10105098159963412_9019238403535185028_o

Nicole grew up in a small Florida town and now resides in Nashville Tennessee. At 8 years old, she sang her first solo in church and by age the of 12 she was asked to join the worship team! Nicole has always felt a sweet connection with God through singing. Nicole’s desire is to see people transformed by the love and power of Jesus Christ through music! Her debut single “Your Way” is an upbeat, feel-good anthem that declares Christ as the King of Glory & is layered with driving drums, bright synths, crunchy guitars & Nicole’s powerful voice! Buy on iTunes

CoverThe Project “Mystic Chapel” 

“The Project” is a collaboration of musicians under the leadership of Michael Glen Bell and Duane W. H. Arnold from Indianapolis, Indiana. Their sound is very diverse and refreshing and ranges from acoustic folk to rock n roll! Their latest release “Mystic Chapel” is music created around lyrics drawn from ancient liturgy that asks the question, “What if we still believed?” Michael & Duane offer this album as a “love letter” of sorts to the body of Christ. Buy on iTunes


Sathiya “Deeper”nIF73P0-

A self-taught musician based out of Ontario, “Sathiya” has released his debut album “Deeper.” With a strong understanding of both theoretical & practical elements of worship and Influenced by musicians such as Andrew McMahon, Matt Redman and Jesus Culture, Sathiya’s music comes to life from his private encounters with God! He hopes his songs and the stories behind them will launch others into radical God encounters and inspire them to use their own creative gifting. Buy on iTunes

Dog Sitters, Car Mechanics and the Power of Small Groups


Several weeks ago we ended our winter term of small groups where my wife & I hosted a weekly group in our home on Saturday nights with 15-20 amazing people. God did incredible things within the life of our small group family in the span of time that we gathered together! Here are just a few of the many benefits that we personally experienced by being in community & belonging to a small group that we would not have otherwise…

Friends Found
Kevin & Stefani are a young couple that we first met at our favorite coffee shop. They began visiting our church right around the same time our winter small groups were launching, so we invited them to our home to be part of our group. After several weeks of eating, laughing, talking & spending quality time together, Kevin & Stefani are no longer just acquaintances, they are friends! FACES in the CROWD become FRIENDS in COMMUNITY. Small groups are powerful because relationships are powerful!

Needs Met
I was driving my car downtown not so long ago when it suddenly stalled at the light & decided it was done working! After parking it for a few days & dreading the thought of paying big money to a mechanic shop, my wife reminded me that “Clarence,” from our small group was a mechanic! As a new friend, Clarence was glad to stop by to take a look at my car. In no time at all, he fixed the issue & had it running like a champ! Needs met by caring friends is a natural outflow commitment to community in small groups!

Another example: We are the proud owners of a large Bullmastiff named “Chloe” who thinks that she is our child! It’s not always easy finding a dog sitter for the 100 pound beast when we go out-of-town, like we had planned after our group term ended! But thanks to our new small group friends “Trent & Dawna,” finding a dog sitter was an easy task as we found out that they were fellow dog loving owners & offered to watch her gladly & spoiled her all week!

Faith Strengthened
When you gather together weekly in groups to pray, read the Bible & worship, everyone’s faith rises! It’s been so rewarding to see all of the different couples who were part of our small group, now hanging out as friends & worshipping together at our Sunday services! Weekday SMALL GROUPS transform weekend WORSHIP SERVICES into unified-faith-filled LARGE GROUPS

3 Keys to Engage Teens in Worship


#1 Know Your Audience
In any worship setting, knowing the people who you are trying to take with you into God’s presence is so important! Now, I’m not saying you have to be personally acquainted with each student at your gathering, but rather that you should have a general idea about the type of group you’re leading. Every group of youth will have a different flavor, a unique style, and its own set of challenges that you’ll need to break through. For example, the teens I currently lead in Fairbanks, Alaska are a different breed than those I previously led in Sacramento, California! All groups of youth are unique. When you look at it this way, your eyes will be opened to how the Lord would have you lead the specific, unique group of teens He has called you to.

With this in mind, pay attention to the little things – for example, the way your teens respond to certain songs. Take notice of the styles they prefer. Don’t be afraid to change things up! And don’t take it personally if you try something new and don’t get the reaction you were looking for. Of course we’d hope for our teens to press through and worship no matter what, but let’s be realistic. Sometimes teenagers need a little bit of extra help to engage during worship. So pay attention to the way your teens respond (or don’t respond). Learn from them and let it grow you as a leader!

#2 Don’t Be Afraid to Go Deep
Your teens want to go deep, trust me. As the Psalmist so eloquently states in Psalm 42:1 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” There is an innate desire and longing in every human being to know and experience God’s love and power. You are actually depriving your teens if you only “skim the surface” and never lead them to the depths of God’s presence that they long to go to.

Of course, you aren’t capable of leading someone to a place you haven’t first been yourself. As a worship leader, don’t deprive your own spirit. Deliberately spend time in the presence of God daily. Allow Him to take you to deeper depths than you’ve ever been. As you do so, you’ll see how this directly affects your worship leading. There have been many instances in my life that I can specifically pin-point when God did a special work in my life, and immediately following there was a dynamic shift in the worship culture of our youth group. I’m telling you, whatever is in you will leak. It affects your worship team, and it affects your teens. Go deep. Take them with you.

#3 Invest in Your Worship Team
I’ve been on several different worship teams, beginning in my junior high years. Some experiences have been amazing, while others were less than impressive. What made the difference didn’t so much have to do with the songs we were playing, the skill level of the musicians, or anything like that. It had everything to do with the community of people I led worship with. I’ve played with several teams that were inwardly focused, not inclusive of others, and very much cliques. This stunts growth in a team and keeps others from reaching their full potential in using their God-given gifts to glorify Him. You must keep the doors open, and your eyes open, so that others are included and your team grows! When a team is inwardly focused, the atmosphere can be dull, versus a team that is community-oriented and focused on leading others into the presence of God with them. The latter will cultivate a free and inviting atmosphere where others desire to participate in worship.
Also, pour into your team as much as possible. Invest in them. Duplicate yourself so that the next generation can carry the torch when it’s their turn. Equip them spiritually and practically. Set them up for success. See them as your very own disciples that God has placed under your leadership for a specific time and purpose! When they’re well-equipped and they begin to take ownership, it definitely encourages the youth in your service to press in even more.

Don’t forget – you are making more of an impact than you know! Let the Holy Spirit lead and guide you as you continue your journey of leading the next generation in worship!

IMG_2872Kayla Kitay is an Intern at Fairbanks First Assembly & oversees the worship ministry of Vertical NextGen . You can Follow Kayla on Instagram.

16 Youth Ministry Ideas to Try in 2016


Here are 16 ideas to help make this your best year of youth ministry ever! (In no particular order)

#1 Get A Coach

  • If you want something you’ve never had this year, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done before! Invest in yourself & take your leadership & youth ministry to the next level by getting an expert coach in your corner. Youth Ministry University launches in March by youth ministry coach Kevin Moore. From my time being coached by Kevin, I would highly recommend registering ASAP!

#2 Harness the Arts

#3 Cast Vision for Campus Clubs

#4 Grow Big by Growing Small

  • Youth ministry is all about relationships! Empower your leaders & build deeper relationships between your students by integrating small groups into your ministry! Here’s how: 4 Payoffs for Building Prolific Small Groups

#5 Don’t Take the Summer Off

#6 Deputize Your Leaders

  • To reach the hundreds & thousands of students in your city you are going to need a large & diverse leadership team to serve alongside of you! Recruit them, honor them, equip them & empower them! Here’s how (With sarcasm): 4 Ways To Shrink Your Volunteer Leadership Team

#7 Impress Parents 

  • “If you are not ministering well to parents, you are not ministering well to teenagers.” – Kevin Moore. Start by making sure your youth gathering is a safe place for teens & then continue by communicating with parents weekly via email to update them on calendar events & sharing resources. Here’s more ideas: Youth Pastor Tips – Working with Parents

#8 Feed Your Guests Cookies

  • Give your best effort to make your first time guests feel like a million bucks! Have your door greeters warmly welcome them as they enter. Honor them from the stage & have everyone cheer for them. Create an environment to meet them personally & give them a gift. We feed our guests fresh-baked cookies & raffle a gift card for one of them to win. Here’s how: Youth Ministry Essentials: 4 step visitor follow-up strategy

#9 Party With Old People

  • At least twice a year we take our students to minister to the elderly of our community in assisted living homes. I’m always amazed to see how some of our shyest students shine the brightest during these outreaches! Just sing a few carols or hymns, pass out handwritten cards & then equip your students to sit & visit with the elderly. It’s a simple way to teach your students what it means to give.

#10 Build a Bridge with Your Kids Pastor

  • Bring unity & alignment between the kids & youth ministries by dreaming & planning with your kids pastor on how to effectively begin building relationships with your new incoming middle schoolers & their parents. Ideas may include picking a promotion date & having an open house night during your youth gathering for new middle schoolers & their parents to come & meet the youth staff.

#11 Don’t Go with the Flow

  • Don’t get stuck in the rut of predictability. It’s a new year & probably time to try something new during your weekly gathering! Keep things fresh & your students engaged by taking your flow-chart or service order & changing up the sequence.

#12 Take a Day Off

  • Work hard, but also rest hard! If you desire to make it for the long haul & have the greatest impact possible on your students, then you better actually take a full day off to rest, hear from God & have fun. There may even be times that you need to let your students, leaders & fellow staff members know of your boundaries!

#13 Enjoy a Spring Staycation

  • Yes some students & their families will travel for spring break, but many of them don’t! Therefore, enjoy a spring staycation by planning a fun & affordable activity or event to enjoy with your students each day of spring break week! Meet for lunch, go to the movies, etc. This is a great way to make connections with new students!

#14 Send Snail Mail

  • In this age of texting & high-speed internet, students rarely receive any snail mail. So order some bulk postcards with your youth ministry logo & info on them & write hand written postcards to your new guests each week thanking them for coming. Also write them to your core students & leaders telling them how awesome they are as often as you can. It’s crazy how something so simple & small can do something so big!

#15 Get New Eye Balls

  • We all develop blind spots over time. Therefore, humble yourself & invite in a trusted pastor or leader who is familiar with youth ministry to watch your weekly youth gathering from start to finish & give you constructive criticism on anything & everything! From games, to transitions, to your message, to how you welcome guests, etc. Taking this kind of inventory will only serve to strengthen you!

#16 Give Your Pastor Kudos

  • Randomly stop by your Pastor’s office & thank him for believing in you & for allowing you to be part his team. Find time to honor him in front of your leaders & students & thank him for his heart to reach the next generation! This will bless him & bless you.

Top 5 Youth Ministry Posts of 2015

Are you a Youth Pastor or Youth Leader?! If so, get equipped & inspired by reading our top 5 Youth Ministry posts of 2015!

IMG_1129#1 Campus Awakening: 7 Keys to Mobilize Your Students to Launch Dynamic Christian Clubs

  • Everything you need to know to mobilize your students to begin launching Christian clubs on their campus in the new year!

#2 Free Youth Sermon Series: “Rise of the Misfits”12027121_826270374157245_1746226890870031274_o

  • Need some fresh new material for the new year that will inspire & equip your students to rise up & be the World Changers that God created them to be?! Then click the link above!

Jeanne1#3 15 Jeanne Mayo Quotes for 2015

  • 15 inspiring quotes on faith, leadership & ministry from one of America’s top Youth Pastors!

#4 3 Components To Creating A Buzz Around Your Youth Ministryvertical black

  • The title says it all! These are 3 components we have found that will help you to create excitement & momentum around your youth ministry!

stock-footage-apple-trees-with-red-apples#5 Maturity Matters – 3 Foundations for Building Mature Leaders

  • This post wrestles with the topic of maturity & asks the questions “How can we as Christian Leaders grow to fuller maturity & how can we better equip the emerging leaders under our care to grow to fuller maturity?