Personal Focus

To cut through the fog in your thinking today, fill in these two blanks.

At the bottom line …

what Iʼm really trying to do in life is summarized by the phrase …

____________ ING ______________ WHAT / WHO

(e.g. Teaching Children … Strengthening Christian Leaders … Growing Wheat, etc.)


The Barna Group recently came out with spiritual statistics (2008 research). If you’re interested, check it out by clicking the picture below.

American Spirituality Gives Way to Simplicity and the Desire to Make a Difference


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by mike kupferer

Everyone who ministers will do it at least once. There are a few who do not, but that is rare. Leaving a ministry is part of being in ministry.

Every exit is different, unique in its details, but there are similarities. Here are some tips on leaving a ministry. Maybe they will encourage, make you laugh, or give you resolve to keep going.

  1. There is never a good time to leave. Regardless of what you might think or feel, it is never a good time to leave. When things are going well, you don’t want to miss out on the joys and growth. When things are going bad, you feel like you are just running from something that is difficult.
  2. There is a God time to leave. This is the “time” where God leads you to leave. It could be when things are going well or it could be when things are not going so well. (Like a youth minister I know who got forced out because the senior minister wouldn’t resign after moral failure.) But when it comes to God time, you can’t plan it. You don’t know when it is coming until it gets there, but you need to be ready for it.
  3. There is a difference between being a minister and doing ministry. One is the job title and one is a lifestyle. You can leave one, but you can’t get away from the other.
  4. It’s hardest to leave the students. Now don’t misunderstand me on this one. Saying goodbye to the adults and parents is difficult. But, for me, saying goodbye to the students is even harder. On some level, the adults understand the process more and adjust to the situation (either good or bad). But it’s hard to respond to students who say things like, “Have you thought about staying in the area?” “Why do you have to go?” “Don’t forget to stay in contact,” “What am I going to do without you around?” Leaving those students who have allowed you to enter their worlds is one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do.
  5. Awkwardness is normal. Most people do not know what to say. The other people can’t really say what they are thinking because they don’t want to really hurt your feelings or they just don’t want to talk to you. Because of this, it is awkward to be there on the Sunday after it is announced you are leaving. I think that even though you may feel, as the youth minister, you are the only person feeling awkward; you need to remember that others are feeling awkward, too.
  6. You have to trust God. You may know where you are going next. You may be clueless, without any leads. No matter what you know, you have to trust God to take care of you. This trust might with your finances, with your job, with your reputation or something else. Regardless of what happened (good or bad, right or wrong), God is bigger than the situation. God is bigger than your worries. God is bigger than your bills. God is bigger than everything. He will take care of you. It may not always be comfortable, but God will provide.
  7. Integrity is crucial. When leaving a ministry, always act above reproach. Do not say hurtful or harsh words about others (even if it is the truth). Do not try to stir the pot. Maintain a level of integrity that brings glory and honor to God. Finish strong. Whether you will see anyone from that church again or not does not matter, you must continue to act in a Christlike manner. Whatever your situation, leave well.

The end of the soccer season has come and gone. It was a great experience for the boys and a learning opportunity for dad, the first time coach. In the picture we see that Jakin finally got to play goalie. He played at tough as he looks.






Asher also got to play goalie again. He did well. So well that, at one point, he stopped a goal, threw the ball to a teammate, looked at the referee, and exclaimed… “This is too easy!” Here’s a picture of the medal each of them received for playing.


Our family went to an all-church picnic and hayride gathering. We had a pretty good time despite the cool weather. (Of course, any time you get to make and eat s’mores, it’s going to be a good time.) Here we see Eli snuggling up to Mommy (who’s trying not to sneeze from her horse allergies) to stay warm.





Speaking of the beautiful bride, last night we received some free tickets to the Kansas University men’s basketball game. (They won the national championship, you know.) We had a good evening but, as you can see, every time we go to a sporting event, Kara has to flirt with the mascots. Paging Dr. Phil. Should I be concerned?  (Sorry it’s a bit blurry, but I was dealing with a bit of jealous rage at the time.)


 Finally, my laugh of the week was when I went to meet a female youth worker and we were essentially dressed alike. What are the odds of that happening? The rest of the week I told people that I dress like a girl.

Such a good (and simple) article that I thought I’d cut and paste it a bit and post it here for you. Enjoy!




Veteran Youth Ministry Advice:

3 common mistakes to avoid


What are the youth ministry lessons I have learned over the years that would have been helpful at the beginning? I finally settled on three lessons to share, which I think will help you set a solid foundation for the rest of your ministry career.

1. Connect with parents

The first lesson I want to share is that you need to connect with parents…. [D]o not forget to connect with the parents of those students. I don’t mean just on Sunday morning or before a big trip. I mean visiting them at home, having them over to your house, dropping by their workplace (when you can), or anything that is a one-on-one type of interaction. As you get to know them better, you will know how to better minister to them. The more you know about a student and his parents, the better you can minister to the family.

2. Be yourself

This second lesson is a little more personal: you have to be yourself. God created you as an individual with specific gifts and abilities. You are not like that high profile youth worker or that nationally-known minister, or even the previous youth worker. If you have the gift of compassion, use it. If you are musically talented, make music a big part of your contribution to the ministry. If you are not a great speaker, find someone who is and have them do the upfront teaching. Do not pretend to be someone you are not – it will only harm you and the ministry. You will never be your most effective (determined by God) in youth ministry when you are focused on being someone you were never created to be.

3. Value God’s opinion most!

The last lesson I learned, and want to pass on to you, is that you have to be more concerned about what God thinks than what Timmy’s parents think… When you are spending time in God’s Word and prayer, you are learning to listen to His guiding. As a youth worker, listening to God and following His leading is far more important than making Timmy’s parents happy with you. As you follow God, people will see His hand within your youth ministry. When people begin to see God working in the lives of the students, they have a tough time arguing with a petty difference of opinion.


Mike Kupferer has been in youth ministry for over 7 years and still loves it. He loves students and desires to see their lives changed because of Jesus. The only thing Mike loves more than youth ministry (and God, of course) is his family.

Tim Schmoyer has done it again. Actually he did it a while ago, but I just read through them today.

130 Youth Ministry Tips and Ideas is an e-book geared for volunteers in smaller churches. However, I think it has great ideas for all.

Click here for the link.

It was between cute and crass. Cute won the day. (What’s wrong with me?)

“Capture The Flag” -Unhinged!
by Eric Wheeler

Here’s a familiar game with some additions that your kids will really enjoy! This game works best when played with two larger teams vs. multiple smaller groups. 

The goal is to capture the other team’s flag without being hit by a water balloon or flour grenade. Designate people from each team to be “Human Shields,” “Snipers,” “Runners,” and “Defenders.” Each team is limited to two “Defenders.” The playing field can be set up to fit the shape of any convenient outside area. Have both teams make up the same number of water balloons (water + balloon) or flour-grenades (flour + cheesecloth). Make the “Snipers” stand around the outer edge of the boundaries you set up, making sure your “Snipers” do not cross on to your playing field. Each sniper gets at least 5 grenades. Have the “Human Shields” from each team spread out around the playing field. If possible, issue them garbage can lids to deflect the incoming flour-grenades or water-balloons. Have the “Defenders” at either corners of a designated home base area, guarding their flags. The goal is to have the “Runners” sprint from human shield to human shield without getting hit by a flour-grenade or water-balloon. Whichever team reaches the opposing side and retrieves the flag first, without getting hit, wins.

Have any idea for a Ministry Tip of the Week? Submit it to and win $20 if we use it.

Here’s my second use of this fun website. I was promoting an upcoming meeting:

Now, here was a response from one of the youth workers I know.

Apparently I am having an impact on some people.

If I would only use my powers for good.

I thought I’d get pictures on the blog before Halloween, so here goes…

This Saturday is the final day of soccer in the Lefto home. It’s been a great run. Last week Asher finally got to play goalie. After he stopped one of the shots, he threw the ball to his teammates, turned to the referee, and exclaimed… “This is too easy!”

Next week’s devotional focus: humility.



 Eli did his first attempt at rock climbing. I thought he did pretty well for a three-year old. My guess is he (with help) got up to about seven feet at one time.

(I was practically lying on the floor to give this picture better perspective.)




Our son (I wrote that for those who weren’t sure by just looking at the picture) Jakin discovered long hair can be useful for more than flopping it around to look cool. Here he is getting ready for Crazy Hair Day at school.





Finally, a picture of my beautiful bride next to the man of her dreams. His name is “Wushock,” the mascot of the Wichita State Shockers. A shocker, for those scoring at home, signifies a shock of wheat.

Apparently all the cool names of animals on the great plain were already taken.

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