by Jesse Criss

Youth Ministry is about the relationships we develop with our students. For many of us, we are involved in the lives of our kids, not just for a few months but often for years. I have a firm belief that if we are going to build relationships with students we need to get to know them.

For me it comes really naturally, I can basically sit down with almost any kid and get into a conversation. Sometimes its big and ministry related but often its about everyday stuff. However I have discovered over the years that not every leader knows how to actually do that.

I was challenged by a friend and mentor (Randy Carter) to sit down and think through what I do naturally in order to figure out how I can equip others. The end result was a realization that I tend to use a three basic questions…

  • How is your Life?
  • How is your Love?
  • How is your Faith?

Now these questions come with an important ground rule…

“You are free to answer/interpret these questions however you want, with no agenda on my part”.

The first time you sit down with a students and go over these questions (Especially the love question) you will get funny looks and they tread carefully at first. However as you get talking the “pump will prime” and more details will follow.

See the reality is that this generation has lost the art of face to face conversation, and we as leaders are not far behind. The three questions provide an open ended framework for conversation. If we actively listen to what they say to us, we will see openings for deeper conversation. The opening that come after a kid says “God feels far away”, “my home situation is falling apart” or “I think I’m in love”. See it’s actually all about the follow-up question. When you follow-up OVER TIME you will discover a depth you never knew you could have with any age of students. 

PRO TIP: When it comes to middle school kids you can replace or add the following question, “If you could be an evil genius how would you take over the world?” Trust me it’s EPIC 😛

Jesse Signiture
If you would like to know more about this topic or learn how to implement this in your youth program feel free to contact me.

Transition Season

As I watch the blogs, Facebook posts and talk to ministry friends it has become abundantly clear that Transition Season is upon us. Each year between May and August, Youth Pastors and Leaders from across the country will make big moves.
This will happen for all kinds of reasons and it’s not my place to question, judge or comment on those reasons. However I do believe that we don’t transition well. The issue is not in the “why” of transition but more the “how” we actually make those transitions.
Almost a year ago now we published 2 Guides/Videos about how to transition well. One was my prospective as a Youth Pastor and the other was from a recent graduate about what students need from a transitioning Youth Pastor. Both prospective do there best to tackle the challenge and offer some solutions.
Check out the two prospective here…
And if you happen to be in transition right now, know that we are praying for you, God loves you and that you are more then just your job you are a child of God. Never forget that and Happy Ministry Transition Season

Hello Spanish Edition

Today I’m extremely excited to announcing that our DNA: How to Write A Sermon guide has been translated into SPANISH. A friend of mine, Heather Molina did the translation work. Heather and her husband Arturo are missionaries in the San Quintin Valley in Mexico. We became friends a number of years ago after my youth group did some trips with their missions organization “One Life One Chance“.

One of the goals of Fresh Ministry is to empower Pastors and Leaders with the tools they need to do ministry. It was always my dream not to be limited to Canada/USA english language ministries. There is a need to resources around the globe and now because of Heather and the amazing work the Molina’s are doing in Mexico. Our first resource is available in Spanish. However this wasn’t just about translating a file. Heather and Arturo are hoping to use it for the local Pastors and Leaders they work with and I will be taking it with me this summer to Cuba where my Youth Group will be teaching a few hundred local youth students.

I’m excited to see what God is going to do through this opportunity and am so THANKFUL to Heather for taking the time to do the translation in the middle of getting ready for summer mission teams.

If you would like to know more about “One Life One Chance” or what Heather and Arturo are up to make sure you check them out and even consider supporting their work.

It’s been a YEAR!

Today (June 16, 2018) is the 1 Year Anniversary of the soft launch of Fresh Ministry Consulting’s. A little over a year ago a good friend of mine suggested that I consider taking my ideas, hopes and dreams for Youth  Pastors into a digital space. A place where I could reach my goal of…


All of this started out as a solo project and I remember struggling to stay motivated. Not because I was lazy or didn’t want to put in the work. But because I was convinced no one would be interested. Then through a series of timely (divine) conversations I ended up pitching the ideas for Fresh Ministry to three key people who would eventually come on as founding members of this team. 

Matthew, Sydney and Michelle loved the idea. They loved it not because of me but because they saw something in our goal. In many ways they are the target audience. A rookie Pastor, Bible College Student and a Volunteer that all love Jesus. These three breathed life into a concept and a year later I cannot believe how much we have accomplished. 

This year as a team we…

As I look back I’m blessed, not only for the opportunities God has given me this year through Fresh Ministry. But also for the team of people he has brought into my life. This year Matthew, Sydney and Michelle have each championed, encouraged and supported me through this process and each one of them contributing in their own unique way. Of all the accomplishments of this last year it is this team that I’m the most proud of.

I would also like to thank one last person for all their love and support. For the last 18 years I have called Twyla my wife and “Partner in Crime”. Just over 10 years ago I had the idea for Fresh Ministry but just didn’t know how to make it work at the time. For a decade Twyla has watched me try, stop, fail and try again each time her support never wavered. I’m not sure what I would do without her and God 100% knew what I needed when He brought her into my life.

Finally to the small and faithful crowed that has come to Fresh Ministry Consulting sometime over this last year.


All of this has been done and will continue to be done to help champion you in your ministries, what ever that look like. Fresh Ministry Consulting at its heart is really about me giving back after receiving so much from others (My Story). My hope and prayer is that one day you may choose to do the same because we have chosen to invent in you. 


Jesse, Matthew, Sydney and Michelle + Brody (The New Guy)

It’s Not About You

Written by Jesse Criss and Edited by Michelle Murray-Schlitt

Back in my early days of Youth Ministry (around 03/04) I experienced my very first ZERO… as in ZERO kids came to Youth Group one week. I had planned an event, bought supplies, advertised to my kids and no one came. Admittedly I had only 20 kids in my group at the time but that made it almost worse because every kid could be tracked down and accounted for. Between a wedding, sickness, school work, being grounded and “my friends not coming so I’m not coming” every single student was accounted for. 

Here’s the problem, it didn’t matter. See pulling a ZERO became an entry point for the enemy to get into my heart and mind. I immediately felt like it was my fault, that I had done something wrong. Then that switched to the feelings of worthlessness and failure, and that was followed by a fear that I would lose my job as a Pastor. I had spent precious money and resources on an event that NO ONE CAME TO. My mind and my heart were working overtime to convince me that I was a failure.

Then it happened again…

Those two ZERO nights changed my ministry, but not in the way that you think. See the enemy saw an opportunity to plant a seed of doubt, but Jesus was on weed pulling duty in my life. I questioned everything and I was sure my career would be over before it even ever really began. But God had a different plan from my ZERO and He has a different plan for yours as well.

God used pulling a ZERO to teach me the most important rule in Youth Ministry, 


See we have this tendency to think Youth Ministry is about us the Leader/Pastor. That the success of our Youth Ministries ride on how well we do, how good our sermon is or how epic and amazing our events are. Now don’t get me wrong we have a role to play, that’s why God has given us a calling to serve. But the whole thing doesn’t hedge on me. 

In one of the most iconic sayings of Jesus we clearly see how salvation happens and it CLEARLY doesn’t say my name, your name or that “epic crazy off the top event you did last week.”

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3:16-18 (ESV)

See pulling a ZERO taught me that, “I don’t save people”. Heck I would go as far as saying my ministry doesn’t save people either. God uses me, gives me opportunities to speak into the lives of students… but I don’t save. That role clearly belongs to Jesus and if I’m honest I like it that way better. It frees me from the guilt and burden of not being enough because I could never be enough to save someone. But the enemy likes to make us think that we can, that we can save people on our own strength. It’s 100% a lie and why I pray every single Youth Pastor pulls a ZERO because it’s the fastest way for you to learn it’s not about you.

The best part is that when you realize that it’s not on you, a world of opportunity becomes open to you because that’s when you realize that being a Youth Pastor doesn’t save you either, only Jesus can do that… but that’s another story for next time


Networking 101

Recently I had the opportunity to go to the Orange Conference in Atlanta and it was fantastic. I love big conferences because not only are they an amazing time away with my teammates, I also get to do something that I love… networking.

However I discovered that not everyone feels the same way about Networking. So I put this little guide together for all those that NEED to network but DON’T like networking. Make sure to check the full guide How To: Networking but when your done consider taking the NETWORK CHALLENGE.

Have a fantastic week and if you have any questions or would like some help with networking your always welcome to contact me



Let The Season Begin

May is the start of two things in the ministry world…. Weddings and Transitions. Below are three Guides that can help you during this season.

How to title

Weddings: Every Pastor at some point in time will get asked to do a wedding. In the world of Youth Ministry this is actually fairly commonplace. Either because your young 20’s leaders start to get married or the relationship you develop with some of your students extends beyond High School.

Hard Ministry Moments Title

This can also be a season when Pastors and Leaders start to transitioning from one church to another. This can be one of the Hardest Ministry Moments a Pastor can face and these guides are designed to help you through this process.

Top 10 Transition Tips: Regardless of why the transitioning is happening we need to make sure that we transition well and honour the ministry / church / program we are leaving.

Transition A Students Prospective: Transitions can be hard on a Youth Pastor but they are not the only people that struggle. Sydney Penner bring to light the transition challenges that face both Students and Leaders when the Pastor leaves.