SYMC 2016 – Real World Family Ministry


This weekend I have been at The Simply Youth Ministry Conference in Chicago, IL. It’s been a great weekend so far and I have been so encouraged by the conversations, new connections, and inspiring worship and teaching.

In addition, I have had the privilege to invest in and encourage youth and family ministry workers as they seek to partner with the family to reach the next generation.

As promised, here are two links to .pdf documents I covered in my two sessions as part of the Real World Youth Ministry Half Track. 

They are available only until October 15th 2016. Contact Phil Bell if you are attempting to download after this date.


Phil <><


4 Healthy Defaults for Balancing Family and Ministry – Part 2

Balancing Family MinistryIn a previous post I talked about the importance discovering a new vision for balancing family and ministry. Ultimately, trying to find balance often feels like a moving target, so it’s essential that our family has a clear God-given vision of what is needed for the long haul. While finding balance is a moving target at times, it does not mean we shouldn’t try to discover healthy defaults.

In my last post, I talked about how imperative it is to create a healthy spiritual default that allows us to minister to our own family as well as the family of God. In this post, I want to focus on the importance of seeking and finding healthy relational defaults. Too often it’s easier to say “no” to our own family and friends, while saying “yes” to ministry.

While the following relational defaults are mostly for married couples with kids, I would encourage you to take note no matter what season of life you are in. Ultimately, it’s essential that we encourage the families in our own ministries to seek after these defaults…

  1. Cash & Calendar: For us, cash and calendar is a meeting we have every two weeks, where we pay bills and schedule. While paying bills and scheduling might seem to have nothing to do with relationship building, it helps us to tackle the bills and all that stressful calendar stuff without bleeding into our relational times. It used to be that our date nights were dominated by stressful topics until we began to implement this “business meeting.” It also helps us schedule in essential dates for our family and ministry, and for me to communicate the ministry calendar far ahead of time. Below are some essential times we schedule together: 
  2. Family nights: While our family gets quite a lot of opportunities to spend time together, we have found family nights to be an incredible opportunity to laugh and play with our kids. Often we will ask them what they want to do (within reason), and look to plan the night a few weeks in advance. In the crazy seasons, it’s always good for my kids to know they have some quality time to look forward to. Typically, we have about 2 family nights a month.
  3. Date nights: Before we had kids we could have a date night once a week. These days it’s about once a month and it’s not always a date night out. Sometimes given time and resources, we have to get creative and have a date night in! Either way, date nights are essential for Lisa and I and it’s crucial our kids see what a priority marriage When is your next date night scheduled for? Is there a day of week or certain time to make dates count?
  4. Daddy / Mommy / Child Dates. Our kids love to go on dates with us. Just this week my nine year old gave myself and wife a note saying she is looking forward to her next date with us. Over the last few years we have created a schedule whereby Lisa and I share taking the kids out on a special parent / kid date. The key is find something to do that is on their “turf.” While one kid wants a picnic at the park, another kid wants to shop at the mall. As long as it’s within reason, we try to do something that communicates an interest in them and what they want or need. In my experience, some of my most memorable conversations with my kids have come out of a date. You see, sometimes our kids just need time to “warm up” and open up to us. Having regular dates not only builds great memories, it helps nurture faith…
  5. Mentor time: If you follow this blog, you have likely read about my mentor Ron in the past. Ron is the guy who has poured into my life for the past fifteen years. It began with me seeking out a godly guy to grab a coffee with and ask questions about ministry and marriage, and turned into a mentorship.

I could also expand on the importance of personal friendships and being a part of a small group, but I wonder if you already hear that in your own church? For now, I want to encourage you to start at home and consider how you can make your calendar reflect your relational priorities. What are some relational defaults you have found to be helpful? What are you doing to be creative in dating your spouse? What kind of dates your kids would love to go?

Phil <><

photo credit: Get the Balance Right via photopin (license)

Announcing: Team Up! The Family Ministry Playbook for Partnering with Parents

Team Up! About a year ago I began writing Team Up! The The Family Ministry Playbook for Partnering with Parents with GROUP Publishing. Today, I am excited to announce that it is available for purchase!

Why Did I Write It? About 15 years ago I realized that my ministry impact was limited if I only focused on the kids in my ministry and failed to include their parents. You see, our time with kids is limited, while the time parents get with them is much greater. In addition, and most importantly, God calls parents to be the primary faith equippers of their children while we are called to partner with them… If you have been around for even a short period of time in ministry, you have already heard this philosophy… So, how is this book different? 

It addresses the disparity between the philosophical need to partner with parents, and the practical application of what that looks like for children’s and youth workers in the local church.

For the last 15 years I have sought out practical ways to partner with parents and help them to become the spiritual champions of their kids. What is written on the pages of the book is a journal of practical ways that will help you and I partner with parents with greater effectiveness!

“So many books will give you a way to do ministry that is specific to their context, that it requires you and I to clone our ministries after them. My hope is that after reading this book you can keep your ministry identity, while also effectively partnering with parents as you reach the next generation for Christ.”

Who Is It For? In a nutshell, anyone who works with or has influence over those who work with children and students within the local church. It’s for church leaders as well as children’s ministry and youth workers. My hope is that church leaders can team up to talk about practical ways to reach the next generation for Christ…

What’s Next? Go ahead a grab a copy and join me in the next few months as I blog weekly about each of the chapters in the book. You can also join me at Kidmin Conference, September 25-27th in Chicago. I will be leading four sessions centered around partnering with parents. I would love to see you there!

Phil <><

New Year and a New Blog from Phil Bell

Do you ever feel like it’s time to start over?

Have you ever sensed a change in direction and felt compelled to follow a new plan?

This new blog is a reflection of some significant changes that have taken place in my life over the past year…

For my regular readers to, you know that back in September I started a position in a new church as Pastor of Family Ministry. Given all the changes in my ministry, moving house, and the Christmas season, I felt like it was right to pause writing until I could focus effectively.

Read the rest of this post over at my new blog

9 Signs You’re Burning Out In Youth Ministry

In my previous post I talked about the need to understand what we are called to, rather than what we are pulled to in youth ministry. Having a strong faith foundation and knowing what God is calling us to, will help us avoid saying “yes” to everything, and doing everything in our own strength…

Recently I saw a great post by Carey Nieuwhof that provides 9 Signs You’re Burning Out In Leadership. It’s a great post and really worth the read. You can check it out by clicking here.

Phil <><

3 Priorities For The New Year In Youth Ministry

It can be overwhelming at the beginning of the new year with so many new goals and resolutions to make (and keep). While it can be overwhelming and daunting, it should not be an excuse to back slide into old ways and half-baked efforts. So how can we keep focus on changes and manage the new goals we have?

Today, I’ll share three P’s that take many goals and simplify them into a larger view of focus that will help you and I keep on track as we go into the new year.

Read more

5 New Year Resolutions For Youth Workers…

New Year Youth Ministry ResolutionsSo, this is the time of year when many are creating resolutions and reassessing what the next year should like. To be honest, I am not a big fan of resolutions since many of them are made quickly and without an action plan. However, if we can be intentional and specific and plan ahead, it is good to create some goals and standards for the coming year.

Here are 5 areas that I have taken and adapted from by Tim Elmore. I ordered my areas in priority and  have also given some specifics of what I am doing personally.

1. Personal / Spiritual: For me I am planning on getting up 30 minutes earlier to ensure that my devotional time uninterrupted by my early riser 3 year old.

2. Family: We just had our third child and it’s been challenging balancing family time with a newborn in the house. However, we are committed to getting back to a regular date night for myself and my wife, mommy daughter dates, daddy daughter dates, and family nights. We schedule these about once a month. We would like to do them more, (and sometimes we do), but we are in a busy season. I have found that if I do not schedule my family time, it is likely that every last minute ministry ’emergency’ will take over my schedule. Read more

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