20 Years of Youth Ministry

I have been a youth minister for 20+ years. Due to a financial struggle in the church, this past week was my first week away from it. I have many memories (both good and bad) – many friendships – many lessons-learned during this time. Here are a few of the most important things I learned:

1. Those rough students who really need Jesus, really need you to defend them, stand up for them, love them. You might even have to protect them from the church people.

2. Quality moments happen randomly in the most unexpected moments during quantity time.

3. Seeds planted where you never see fruit may become fruitful after a student leaves the youth ministry.

4. It’s the church people who will hurt you the most.

5. You’re having an impact on kids that you didn’t even know were paying attention – even those who don’t show up to your events.

6. Some of the strongest students in a youth ministry will also have parents who are modeling a life of loving Jesus. These students are the ones who always say, “No, don’t let my parent volunteer.” But the ministry can’t happen without those parents and the students are inwardly glad their parents are there.

Some of the strongest students in a youth ministry will have parents who are not even Christians. These students have “done it all” and know they need Jesus desperately. They will be the ones who will be your greatest evangelists.

Most of the students who are nominal Christians, have parents who are nominal Christians.

7. Confirmation should not be the end of a student’s time in ministry. Parents who come to you for help when their 16-yr-old son is in trouble with the law have unrealistic expectations if you haven’t seen him since confirmation. Do your best to help anyway, ’cause God can do miracles, but. . .man, it’s a tough spot to be in. It’s always best if a student has a healthy relationship with the youth minister.

8. Dads who play golf (or fish or whatever) to “be with God” are still the spiritual leaders in their homes. They still lead their children. They just lead them to the golf course instead of into a community of faith.

9. Mission trips do more for the missionaries than for those being reached.

10. “If you sleep with someone you’ll wake up friends.” (Thanks Kelly) Retreats and over night outings are important for true community to develop.

11. The size of the youth ministry budget is a better indicator than the church’s words about their commitment to youth. What a church is willing to sacrifice is directly related to their true concern for youth.

12. The future of a youth ministry is directly related to the health of the youth minister’s relationship with the Sr. Pastor (or his supervisor).

13. There will be some people who you will never make happy. Heck, they’re not even happy with Jesus yet.

14. Students will learn how to push your buttons. If you’re able, you should let them push and then show them grace. They’ll be walking down the aisle and never know what hit ’em.

15. Jesus is always relevant.

16. Students who hang out with you will be your greatest supporters. If they keep hanging out when they graduate and go to college, you should consider them “family.”

17. Don’t let ministry get in the way of family or a healthy marriage. Your commitment to them may be the greatest thing you’ll ever teach a student.

18. There are some families who are actually living out God’s call for parents to lead their children. These students may not “need” the youth ministry, but they can be great assets.

19. The greatest youth ministry is the one that can run itself when the youth minister is gone.

20. If you love Jesus and you love students, you’re qualified for youth ministry.

Some other stuff I’ve learned: (Some fun. Some really sad.)

1. Even if your budget is small, don’t try to make your own “bungee-run.” It’s been at least 10 years, and one of my students may still have whelps on his. . . oh nevermind.

2. Even if drawing maps of Israel is not your forte, you should do it anyway. It might end up as an inside joke which unites the group.

3. Even people who don’t like being with students can be involved in praying for the ministry.

4. True community can be mistaken for cliques. Sometimes people want to feel like they’re on the outside.

5. Christian magicians might smoke weed behind closed doors.

6. Pastors might be having affairs behind closed. . .well, out in the open.

7. A good youth minister is not usually “real surprised” by how a student ends up as an adult. Habits are formed early and usually continue into adulthood.

8. Even your finest student athletes can be putty in your hands on a ski slope.

9. Spittoons in the sanctuary make people nervous.

10. Potty breaks on the road are important for maintaining dry car seats.

11. Too much hiking can cause feet to look like pudding under a thin layer of skin.

12. When mama (or the business manager) is happy, everyone is happy. Keep your receipts or she might not be.

13. Laughter is better than chemotherapy. (idea from Anne LaMott)

14. Dog bowls aren’t intended for serving eggs to students.

15. Youth Ministry Rules work for all of life too:

1. Represent Jesus.(1 Peter 2:21)

2. Stay in groups of 3 (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

3. Have Fun.

“Models of the Runway” Winner Interview with Kalyn Hemphill

Kalyn was the very first winner of “Models of the Runway” (the Project Runway spinoff) and was one of the students I served as a youth minister in Lake Jackson. Most people would never believe it, but Kalyn is actually a camper too – she’s the kind of girl who can sleep in a tent one night and then go to a formal affair the next. Both of her brothers have been very active in the youth programs too. Anyway, as a model in NYC and Models of the Runway winner, Kalyn has been given an incredible platform to share her faith. She allowed me the opportunity to ask her a few questions that I thought I’d share here:

How does it feel to be the very first “Models of the Runway” winner and how has it opened up more opportunities for you?

It’s amazing to be the winner of the first season of “Models of the Runway” and I feel so blessed to be in the position I am in. So many doors have opened and I just signed with Ford Models yesterday, so I am looking forward to the future with them! I am also working on producing my own web show called, “Scene Cuisine.”

Wow! Tell me about Scene Cuisine.

Scene Cuisine is a webisode series that I am producing and hosting that goes behind the scenes of parties and events thrown in the name of fashion. It explores the culinary and fashion elements as well as looking at the decorations and preparations necessary to make the occasion successful!

Sounds like a pretty big undertaking. I’m sure your acting/modeling career is a real asset for the hosting role, but producing?? Do you have experience in that too?

Yes, I’ve had some experience in hosting, but producing is a whole new undertaking. I always love a challenge though and am excited to learn about what goes on behind the camera as well.

As someone who spends so much time in front of the camera, trying to figure out what they’re looking for, I’d bet that you’ve got some natural abilities behind it too. I’m excited to see what comes of Scene Cuisine.

I also wanted to ask you about your modeling career. How are you able to express your faith in Jesus in the modeling world?

I like to think of myself as a missionary in a model’s body. I constantly am placed in situations on shoots, etc. with non-believers and I always try to shine His light wherever I go. I am also involved in “Models for Christ,” which is an amazing organization of Christians in the fashion industry. It is encouraging to see so many wanting to affect change in the fashion/entertainment world.

What does “Models for Christ” do? You said they want to “affect change in the fashion/entertainment world.” How do they do that? When you get together with them, what does a “normal” meeting look like?

Models for Christ is a “global community of professionals who are seeking to honor God as we navigate the unique challenges and opportunities within the fashion industry.” (modelsforchrist.com) We get together every Tuesday night for praise and worship, a short program/study, and prayer groups. Also we have dinners once a month with a guest speaker and those are so amazing. I was honored to be the interviewee last month!

In the modeling world, have there been any particular situations where you felt like you were being asked to compromise your faith? How do you handle those situations?

There have been a few situations where I had to turn down jobs because of my beliefs, but for the most part, my agency knows what boundaries I have and what I will/won’t do. For example, no nudity, no cigarettes, etc.

Have you witnessed other models doing things that would compromise their integrity in order to move their careers forward?

It’s amazing what some people will do to get to the top of the entertainment industry. I’ve seen girls basically give up their souls for such worldly things that will never truly satisfy. I wish that everyone could know the fullness of joy and satisfaction that comes with knowing Christ…

How do you maintain your daily spiritual life and your connection with God? (Church? Bible Studies? Quiet Times? Accountability? Journaling? Worship Music? Prayer times?)

I have found that it is very easy to get caught up in a very worldly mindset very quickly, especially in NYC, so I make it a priority to spend the first 30 minutes of my day praying and getting in the Word so that I can be prepared for the day. I also attend an amazing church with such a wonderful community of believers, and am involved with Models for Christ. Right now I am studying the book of Esther with a group of girls from Models for Christ!

Esther is a great book to study. I love the way her family plays such a strong role in her faith walk. I know your family is important to you too. In the midst of all the scheduling involved in maintaining a modeling (and now hosting/producing) career, how do you stay connected to your family?

Kalyn with her brothers Ryan and Jayce.

My family is the most important thing to me and I try to call them every day, even on the busiest of days! Also, any excuse to go home I always jump at!

I also want to give you an opportunity to tell us about your boyfriend Chris.

My boyfriend Chris and I met in NYC, and I knew from the moment I first saw him that he was “the one.” We were in a small group together and the way he talked about God and his faith was so inspiring. His heart for service and love for people captured my heart, and still does 2.5 years later!

How do you pursue a romantic relationship while trying to maintain your strong character and witness? I would think that in the modeling world people would see you together and make assumptions about you sleeping together, etc. How do you handle that stuff?

We try to keep our relationship “God-centered” and have many friends who hold us accountable. We’ve made a commitment to each other and to God to wait until marriage and although it is challenging to deal with people’s opinions and assumptions, it is really only God’s point of view that counts at the end of the day.

Of all the new opportunities that you have had as the “Models of the Runway” winner, which one has been your favorite and why?

My favorite opportunity that has come out of Models of the Runway has been all the chances I have had to speak to youth groups, organizations, and even individuals. I just feel so blessed that God has given me a bit of a “platform” to speak about all the amazing things he has done in my life, and that hopefully I can encourage others with my story!

Some of our Lake Jackson friends are a bit star struck over you. Do you get star struck? If so, by who and what happened?

Oh goodness! There’s really no need to be star-struck, haha! That’s very sweet though! I have never really been too phased by celebrities, although I do love to meet people I admire! I wish I had a good story!

I know you’ve also been involved a bit with Charity: Water. Is that a charity that you see yourself being attached to or do you have another charity that really gets you excited? Any that you’d like to be involved with more?

I think that Charity:Water is an amazing organization and I hope to get more involved in the years to come! I also support and am involved in Red Eye Inc, The Ronald McDonald House, and History Starts Now. The Autism Society of America is an amazing organization and I hope to get more involved with them. I feel passionate about raising autism awareness and helping families affected by autism.

Ronald McDonald House was a huge blessing to Miranda and I last year when our daughter, Kesleigh was in the hospital. I’m glad to hear you’re involved with them. It’s so cool to see you using your platform to help people and to share the Good News of Jesus. The “youth minister” in me is sure proud of you. You’re a great example and role model as you seek to “model” the life of Christ.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. Are there any final thoughts that you’d want to share with the world?

I just want to share one of my favorite verses for all the readers: It offers me so much hope, peace and joy and God has really shown me the true meaning of this verse over the past few years. I hope that it encourages you as well!

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Here are a few other links to find out more about Kalyn:


Season 1 Finale Winner Interview

Kalyn writes for the Season 2 Models of the Runway Blog

Modelinia Blog about Charity: Water Event

Powerpoint Games

Thought I’d post some of the powerpoint games that I’ve created for our youth group. Feel free to download them and use them however you’d like. I’ve attached zip files with all the pics and the photoshop template so you can add to it and make your own questions. The “Would You Kiss?” game is one of our favorites – especially when I add pics of some of our own youth.

If you click on the pic, the download should begin.

If any of you have more games like this, I’d be happy to include them here. Let me know.

New Old Videos

I just uploaded some some old videos that some of you may enjoy: Mexico Mission Trip 2000, Mexico Mission Trip 2003, Summer 2003

Mexico Mission 2000 pt1 from Steve Corn on Vimeo.

Mexico Mission 2000 pt2 from Steve Corn on Vimeo.

Mexico Mission 2003 pt1 from Steve Corn on Vimeo.

Mercy Ships XTreme Teams trip from July 2003

Mexico Mission 2003 pt2 from Steve Corn on Vimeo.

XTreme Teams (Mercy Ships) – summer 2003

Tomball Youth Summer 2003 Montage from Steve Corn on Vimeo.

Simon Says

Whoa!! I came home from a rough day @ church last night and found the most amazing e-mail awaiting me.

Simon - back when I knew him.
Simon - back when I knew him.

Simon was a “hard headed punk kid that had it all figured out.” Those are his words but I’d say they’re pretty accurate. I was the leader for a youth ministry skating outreach program called “The Wave.” In those days, we typically had between 70 and 150 youth, but every one of my volunteers knew Simon. He was loud. He was disrespectful. He did whatever he could to be the center of attention – even if the attention was negative. The volunteers and I prayed for Simon pretty regularly and discussed how we could keep being witnesses to him without letting him railroad us. He was tough. We didn’t have very many answers – just prayers.

I think it’s been about 7 years. Anyway, here are some pieces of what he wrote to me:


It’s Simon Holloway from Tomball. How are you doing brother?

Wait. . . .Did he just call me “brother?”

I was thinking about you today and the influence you had in my life, when I was younger. . . I sincerely want to thank you for showing me grace and spreading the word with me. . . About 2 months ago I was saved and for the first time had a better understanding about Him and Jesus. After that happened I thought about you many times and you inspired me. I knew it was all real because I had proof from another source, and that was you. It’s all because I think of an old time at The Wave when I was cussin at you and just being a pain in the rear for everyone up there, I was thinking you were coming to rip me a new one when you came and talked to me and gave me grace. It’s almost like in the Bible when they bring the woman who is caught for adultery and they’re expecting Jesus to get mad. Instead Jesus gives grace like he always does and I now see that in you, today.

Whoa! I sure don’t remember that incident. All I really remember is wondering how I could try to be Jesus to him when I really wanted to “rip him a new one” – Had I done it, I would have done exactly what he expected and I would have lost any influence I had with him. Wow! Only by God’s grace did I do the right thing – the thing that he remembered and that made the difference in his life. Had I reacted on my own emotional influences, I would have played right into his misconceptions of God. I guess in some ways, this whole thing sounds sort of like I’m bragging, but what I’m trying to say is that I know how close I was to doing the wrong thing and that God’s power. . . His Spirit is the only thing that made a difference. I want to brag for sure, but on God, not on me. God is amazing!!

Well Steve, I just wanted to thank you a lot and let it be known what you did for me when I was younger and now. . . . I will definitely be praying for you bro and I know God will show you grace in the situation!

Talk to you soon.


God got a hold of Simon!!!!! Whoa. That’s an e-mail I would have never imagined receiving. If Saul could become Paul, I guess Simon could become a Christian too, but. . .well, sometimes those ministry days seemed unfruitful. They were hard. We kept trying, but it just didn’t seem like we were getting anywhere. I can look back now and see that’s true. We weren’t getting anywhere – BUT GOD WAS!! He used those times and used us in spite of our ignorance. In spite of ourselves.

Man, I love these kinds of stories. We serve an incredible God!!! He is amazing! His power is ultimate and intimate and infinite! He can and does move people’s hearts. (Both Simon’s and mine that day.) He gives us the strength to follow Him even when we don’t feel like it. He can take a hard headed punk and turn him into a humble servant. He is over all and above all and through all. He is God. He is Yahweh! He is our strength, our redeemer, our salvation, our joy, our light, our love. He is love! He gives love! His character is love!

Prayer:Lord, thank you for Simon. Guide him deeper into your presence. Hold him close to You and draw him close to other believers who will truly disciple him. Use him for Your eternal works and for Your glory! Thank you God for sending this message to me. As You know, it was perfect timing. I needed it. Thank You for choosing me for that time and place in ministry. It was an honor to have been a part of such amazing blessings and to have worked with so many incredible volunteers and students. Lord, hold me close and guide me deeper into your presence. I love You and truly can’t imagine this life without You. I need You.You’re are amazing and it’s not just me that thinks so. . . “Simon says” too! AMEN!

PS – Simon gave me permission to repost his e-mail. He even said, “Never know, it could make an impact on someone else life.”

Old Tomball Youth videos – 1995

I was going through some old stuff the other day and found a vhs (remember those things?) with a video we made for a Senior banquet in 1995. I enjoyed laughing at it all and thought some of you would too so I converted it to dvd and wmv.

I’m almost embarrassed to put these up ’cause the quality is so poor, but you gotta remember, I’m old. These were all made with 2 vcrs – long before computer editing hit the consumer market. It’s also pretty poor ’cause the tape is so old. Anyway, if you watch them in order here, you can see the whole thing.

Write your comments at the bottom – I’m thinkin’ this could get interesting.

01 Anchor Shana from Steve Corn on Vimeo.

02 Born to Be Wild montage from Steve Corn on Vimeo.

03 Commercial – Shana Jason Miranda from Steve Corn on Vimeo.

04 Fashion segment from Steve Corn on Vimeo.

05 Basics of Life montage from Steve Corn on Vimeo.

06 Weather segment – Shana Jodi from Steve Corn on Vimeo.

07 Rock around the Clock montage from Steve Corn on Vimeo.

08 Commercial – Jodi from Steve Corn on Vimeo.

09 Sports Segment from Steve Corn on Vimeo.

10 Candle on the Water montage from Steve Corn on Vimeo.

11 Commercial – Miranda Jodi Shana Aimee from Steve Corn on Vimeo.

12 Final segment – Shana from Steve Corn on Vimeo.

13 Friends montage from Steve Corn on Vimeo.

5 Life-Changing Experiences – A Mistake

I can hear you now. “What?? a mistake changed your life??”

It’s a long story, but after High School and a few years @ A&M, I ended up as a music major @ Texas Wesleyan in Ft. Worth. I had no skills for it, but loved studying music. It was completely the opposite of the engineering degree I had been seeking @ A&M – where I had the skills and no desire. I also realized that I loved working with youth groups during that time and took my first part-time youth ministry position at Aledo FUMC. It was a great job. During that time, I worked part-time @ the Sears Auto Center, went to school (Texas Wesleyan) full-time, and worked part-time at as a youth minister. I drove almost 100 miles a day and became pretty adept at changing clothes in the car. I worked for about 2 years this way, and ultimately realized that at the end of my degree in music, all I’d be able to do is teach band or try to make it as a performance musician. Neither option sounded good.

Anyway, the music minister at the church talked me into going to choir camp that year as an adult participant. When we arrived, they told us they had never received our registrations (there’s the “mistake” I’m talking about) and that we could stay if we would work with the children. We had the week off already so we decided to stay. I played guitar with the guys in my group and ended up leading singing for 100s of children in the evenings. One of the other counselors, Susan Bryant  approached me about coming to be the full-time youth minister at her church. I had never thought of that. I knew music was a dead end for me and I knew God was revealing an ever-increasing love for youth ministry to me in those days, and I went for it. The pastor called a week later to arrange an interview. I drove down and life has never been the same.

Tomball UMC Church Directory Photo - 1992
Tomball UMC Church Directory Photo - 1992

I stayed at that church (Tomball FUMC) for 12 years. I found another family there. I grew there. I was discipled there. I was stretched there. God allowed me to be a part of some incredible ministry and to see lives changed dramatically. I met my bride there. I was married there.Tomball FUMC was a turning point for me, and I would never have been there if it weren’t for a mistake. Here’s how I see it all adding up:

God had someone lose my Choir Camp registration

+ God allowed Susan to see something in me

+ God created a restlessness in me about the music major

+ God led the Pastor at Tomball (Nick Sholars) to call me

+ God granted me favor in the eyes of the SPRC

= a new job + a new direction in life + discipleship + a new extended family + a passion for life/ministry + an eventual bride + my amazing children + + + + etc. + who knows what else is to come?

It’s just crazy to think my whole life spins off this one “mistake.”  Hmm. . . .was it really a mistake or did God have a hand in it?

70s Night

Just thought I’d share a few pics of our family from 70s Night at the skating rink last night.
Kasen doesn’t quite know what to think. “It sounds like daddy, but it doesn’t look like him.”

101_0486 101_0510101_0470.


















A Brother from another Mother

StevedanielI have a new brother. Daniel Johnson has been volunteering with the youth ministry and went on our ski trip with us a few weeks ago. He is a teacher and coach by profession and so we have quite a bit in common in regards to working with students. He has been a great help in the youth programs and I realized on the ski trip how much it means to have another brother to come alongside me in shouldering this youth ministry. He’s also really good for me. As I watch the way he lives his life, I’m challenged to be more disciplined. (especially when it comes to my health and finances) Anyway, I just wanted to go on record saying that Daniel is my brother and I’m glad to have him around.

PS – Don’t you just love my “old-school 80s” ski jacket? And the way Daniel’s lift ticket (at first glance) makes it look like his fly is down?