This week for our Extra Tuesday, Dallas and Celeste sit down with Evangelist, Youth Ministry Curriculum Writer, and Ministry Coach; Paul Turner. Paul has 30+ years of experience that he wants to share with you! Below the video is the transcript of the conversation. Special thanks to Devoted Geek, Branson Boykin for taking the time to transcribe this interview! Checkout Branson’s website [Here]
For more information about his Ministry Minded, Coaching Group click the following link: https://bit.ly/2X2MXzt
Who is Paul Turner?
Dallas: We’re going to be talking with somebody who has 30-plus years of experience ministering to teenagers and to families and a really great guy that I’ve known for several years now, happens to be one of our devoted Patreon geeks, but that’s not why we have him on here. We have him on here because of something special that he provides for people, but let’s introduce him. Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to our friend, Mr. Paul Turner
Paul: Hey Buddy. Howdy. I wondered who you guys were talking about earlier. You guys had all those compliments and whatnot and I was like who? Am I still on the show?
Celeste: No, we brought in another guest.
Paul: Did they go to somebody else?
Dallas: Going to Camera B now.
Paul: Camera B.
Dallas: So, it’s Paul here. He’s man, you’re an evangelist, you’re a coach, you’re a writer, you’re a Youtuber. You do all kinds of great stuff. Man you are, seems like to me, you’re all about equipping the body but like I said in our intro, you’ve been serving with youth ministry for like 30 plus years, right?
Dallas: So can, if you could, just for those who are listening people who go like Why am I listening to this? Who is this guy? What – tell us your background in youth ministry man. What have you done in the last 30 some odd years?
Paul: Well, the last 30 years, I think, you know, the reason why that I think I’m so passionate about it for several reasons, is one is, I think that I had good youth pastors. You know, I think because I had really good youth pastors growing up that I was able to really absorb what they were doing. I mean, I got what, in my opinion, I got a real discipleship experience where my first youth pastor really taught me how to care. My second youth pastor taught me how to read and study the Bible. And my third youth pastor taught me the love of evangelism and the love of sharing Christ. And so I think, man, when you put those things together, I mean, you know, I tell people and I joke with people, they said, “What do you wanna do after high school, Paul?” Well, I only really had three options. One was social work, going into social work. That seemed like I could do that. Number 2 was professional bowling.
Paul: Listen, don’t. I had a 143 average. I was competing in tournaments. I had bowled a 204. I was doing pretty good. I thought I could go that route. I could go that route, or I said, “You know what, maybe a youth pastor.” I think just because that’s had the largest amount of influence in my life, and it was a great time, and I learned so much from these youth pastors in my life, and then on from there, you know, I started when I was full time. I spent many years volunteering, and then at 22 I started my first church and was youth pastoring there, and then proceeded to just kind of move on from there. And I’ve just always had a love for not only young people but, as I grew older, then a love for youth workers and those who work with them, just because I know the amount of chaos that happens. I know, I can watch a service in church and know whether anything is going wrong or not. Like, oh, that guy, yeah he just…he messed that announcement up or whatever you know so. You just sit there going “what’s happening behind the scenes there?” or you know. You’re able to see that and I said, “man, we could do this thing better. I just believe we can do it better, and just, you know, get together with youth workers and try to help them out.” So that’s why I developed everything. That’s why I did the podcast and the YouTube channel and all that stuff, just to get into the ears and faces and eyeballs of youth workers who just want to get better.
Paul’s favorite moment in ministry
Dallas: Awesome. Now let me ask you this question just real quick. This is this wasn’t scripted but just out of curiosity, which are your favorite moments in youth ministry
Celeste: Ooooh, storytime
Paul: You know, I can’t… there… if you asked me, I think every decade has one. I think if you asked me in my 20s I had one, if you asked me in my 30s I had one. Let me just share with you real quick. I speak every year at a camp down in Florida and for the past 17 years– that’s 17 years straight, every year at least 1 week sometimes, most of the times 2 weeks—and there’s a young lady there. And when you do something for 17 years, you see campers grow up to be counselors, grow up to get married, and I’m doing a wedding now in December for this young lady who asked me to marry them. She’s a camper. She’s a camper. I’ve just married two campers, one camper last year and marrying one this year, and she says– she just asked me, you know she got engaged, and she says– this is currently my favorite memory–she says, “My home church pastor may not be able to officiate the wedding. And if not him, you’re the only pastor that’s truly had an influence on my life.” And so, that’s, you know, my current favorite memory. I mean that stuff there, I mean, that’s what you do it for really. I mean, you do it to glorify God but man the payoff when you do something consistently long enough and you’re an influence in people’s lives, you know. And these are campers, man. I don’t know too many speakers that are doing campers’ weddings. I just don’t, but what a blessing that is, and I’m doing a camper coming up that I met probably when she was 15, and she’s getting married in February, so..
Dallas: That is so cool
Paul: That, to me, those are the cool memories right now, man. I got, I got tons of other stories but those that, to me, that’s my memory of the 50s right now, in the 50’s. That’s my cool memory is that amount of young people that I’m going to get to influence and marry in the upcoming years
Dallas: That’s so cool
Ministry Minded Coaching Group
Celeste: That’s so awesome. Well, I know that you had helped Dallas when we were youth pastoring. You have a program actually that you do. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Paul: I do, and they call these groups—maybe you’ve heard of them—they’re called mastermind groups, where you get together and you have all these people. And supposedly, I think the premise is that the person leading this group is somehow the “mastermind.” I would not say I’m the mastermind of anything. But what I call it, I call it the ministry mind group. Because I think ministry-minded people, especially youth workers—the whole point of the coaching experience is collaborative, and we allow the Holy Spirit to work in amongst us. We talk about the issues and problems that we have, and we try to help one another. There’s many times in a session that I’m in with guys right now and I’ll say, “Hey, what do you think about this issue or problem?” And I’ll let that person direct it to the other person who is asking the question. I’m not just the person answering all the questions. But yeah I have new Fall session coming out August 5th, and we’ll go about 12 weeks. This will be my second session. And yeah, if anyone wants more information on that, they can go to thediscipleproject.net and click on the blog, and it is the first post right there. You can find out all the information about how to get that.
Dallas: That’s awesome. Like Celeste said, I was actually in one of the inceptions of this, one of the first groups you ever did.
Paul: The Beta!
Dallas: The Beta Test. It was really really neat. It was really cool to be a part of that. For those of you who are watching, before Celeste and I became online community pastors at our church and Geek Devotions, we were doing youth ministry at our church. I knew things. I have a degree in youth ministry. I was using it. But sometimes, you need people to surround you. You need people that know what they’re talking about, maybe they’ve been in it just a little bit longer than you, and can speak into your situation and be encouraging. I know for you, Paul, you were that person for me, man, and I really appreciated that. What’s the process for you, when you’ve got a group of people with you, and walking with—how does that look, like on a regular basis, in your program?
Paul: Right now, we meet twice a month, and usually that’ll be established—right now it’s Monday nights. That may change in the fall, depending on people’s schedules, but we try to meet on just one night. And we get together online—usually its through Zoom or something like that, where multiple people can get in. And this first real run we did in the spring here has been very loose in regards to that. But I think what’s going forward is, I’m going to have 12 questions, and you’re going to have a journal, and I’m going to feed to you what I think the 12 most important questions for that quarter are gonna be. And so we’ll lead into that. We’ll answer that question together. You’ll journal about it. You’ll explore through it, and we’ll all kind of answer that question together about what that looks like. The thing is we’re so quick to want an answer to a solution, but we don’t know why that answer is the answer. We don’t know why we should implement that. We just need to ask “why” more and ask more questions. I think in asking those questions we’re able to flesh out what the answer’s gonna be. So that’s what we’re gonna do with the youth workers in the Fall. They’re gonna have a little booklet, they’re gonna have a thing, and we’re gonna work through that together. As well as random stuff—we’ll talk about kinds of issues and things that are going on. So, we’re not committed to the book. It’s more of an on-ramp that leads us into a discussion. We lead with that so that I know they’re getting and answering those critical questions that I feel like they need to address that maybe they have not addressed.
Dallas: Alright, Paul, so we’re going to do something we’ve not done before. We’re going to do a quick lightning round questions with you.
Paul: Oh, I’m the first!
Dallas: You’re the very first one. We’re super-excited about this. So get ready, because you are in the hot seat. Question number one: Star Trek, Star Wars, why?
Paul: Oh, Star Wars, because I saw Star Wars when…it was probably the first movie—really big-time movie—I had ever seen. And I saw it in a drive-in theater in Brooklyn, New York. And so I think the epicness of that, although I appreciate the Star Wars series—I love the current movies that are running, I love the older movies. I love the TV shows. I grew up on Next Generation, so I was all about. But for me, I’ll go Star Wars, just on epicness level.
Dallas: Favorite Superhero?
Paul: Favorite Superhero….man….I’m gonna go Punisher.
Celeste: Nice. You don’t hear that one often.
Dallas: Wow, I’m suddenly scared of you.
Paul: Hey, he doesn’t mess around, man. He don’t mess around. But I think the deal for him though, and I think everybody has tragedy, but his whole journey was born out of tragedy, born out of loss and trying to cope with those things. He just said, “look, I gotta do something to deal with this crime, and that’s what I’m gonna do.”
Dallas: Next question: One book you think every Youth Minister should read.
Paul: Oh wow, one book. Well, if I had my book here, I would say…Hahahaha no. One book every youth pastor should read….I would say Tale of Three Kings. I would say that’s an important book, because it talks about—that’s Gene Edwards—and I think that’s such a good book to understand pride, humility, authority, all those things mixed in there, through parable, through other things that it’s built out. It goes through the lives of these people—Saul and David—and so I think that it’s a great book.
Celeste: Okay, so what is, not necessarily your funniest ministry story, but what ministry story took you the most by surprise? Bonus points if it’s funny.
Paul: One that took me by surprise. Golly. You mean like unintended consequences maybe, or something like that?
Celeste: Well, let me give you a quick example, and you can think while I’m saying it.
Paul: Yes, please.
Celeste: Our church did a kids camp where the teenagers were there to run it. We were there to make sure the teenagers didn’t die. They were there to make sure the kids didn’t die. So, in the evenings we did a debriefing…this happened, that happened, everybody cried out or rested out or laughed out…whatever, just get it out, go to sleep. And so, we’re sitting around, and one of our adult volunteers goes, “Hey can somebody tell me why there is ketchup in the boys’ shower?” And I’m going, “Yes, I would love to know why there is ketchup in the boys’ shower.” And this one kid goes, “Oh, see what happened was we were showering before we came to do the debriefing. And we were eating a hot dog, and I didn’t want the rest of mine, so I asked so and so if he wanted it. Well, he was in the shower, so I leaned in and fed it to him. And there must have been ketchup on my hand.”
Paul: ….Alrighty. I don’t think I can top that, but…
Dallas and Celeste: Hahahahahaha
Paul: I will say…One day I was just sitting in my office, and a kid walks into my office there and says, “Paul, I think I did something bad.” He was with his friends and he had this guilty look on his face. And I’m like, “What did you do?” And he rolls up his pants leg, and he has a BB stuck in his leg. And it was pretty deep, and we couldn’t get it out. And this is just random. They were in their backyard shooting each other with the BB gun. And they shot him in the leg. And it is deep in the leg. And I had to convince him. “Man, you need to go to the doctor. You gotta go.” And we had to call his mom. We had to do all these things. And I was like, “Bro, we gotta get you to the doctor. I’ll get you there.” But yeah, you don’t expect someone to come into your office and say, “My friends shot me in the leg with a BB gun.” I don’t know….it could possibly still be there. I don’t know if they ever got it out. But it went in pretty deep. They were pretty close when they shot it.
Dallas: Oh man!
Celeste: Oh my gosh!
Dallas: That’s crazy. Alright, one last question: one book or resource that you’re like, “Every teenager should read this.”
Paul: Wow. Every teenager should read this. I’m gonna say—because, there’s so many good books out today. I don’t know if there’s a ton for teenagers. I think anybody that has any idea of what they want to do in life—it’s a book by Jeff Goins called Real Artists Don’t Starve. And it is a great book. And I think a lot of teenagers today want to be artists, they want to be Youtubers, they want to be Podcasters, they want to be entrepreneurs. They want to use what God has given them to put out into the world. And yet so many teenagers quit too soon because of various factors or because of—the old model was “Oh you’re a starving artist. You should wear that one your sleeve, and it’s a badge of pride. I think you can be an artist and do very well for yourself. And I think it really lays a foundation. If you’re gonna be an artist, there’s some steps you’re gonna have to go through, some changes you’re gonna need to make. But if you do these, I think you’ll find that you don’t have to starve. You can actually make a living doing what you love doing. Again, that is by Jeff Goins called Real Artists Don’t Starve.
Dallas: Awesome. Very cool.
Dallas: Well, guys, I hope you enjoyed this episode of Geek Devotions, our Extra Tuesday episode, where we got to talk with a man with more experience than I’ve been alive in youth ministry. And Paul, we really appreciate you so much for all that you do, not just what you’ve done for us, but what you do for the kingdom of God, for standing in the gap for teenagers and pointing them to Christ, and helping to equip other youth leaders so they can do the same thing. I have so much respect and honor for you, and we really do appreciate all that you do, bro. One more time, tell people how they can connect with you, how they can connect with the Disciple project, and, specifically, how they can get involved with your mentorship program.
Paul: If you go to www.thediscipleproject.net, and just click on the blog. It’s the first post there, it’s pinned to the top. And it will give you all information about what the coaching is, what we’re gonna go through, all of that information. As well as, if you just wanna catch me on social media, I’m on Twitter at @paulturnertoo. If you’re interested in me speaking, you can go to paulturnerspeaks.com. You can catch me at all those places.
Celeste: Okay, well now that you know how to contact Paul, checking him out on all his stuffs, don’t forget to check us out on our stuff. We have Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Twitch, and a website, all with content that is just a little bit different from the others.
Dallas: True story. Until next time, remember, Stay devoted.
Paul: Peace and Love