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    Part comedian, part teacher, and part pastor, Dugan is a traveling speaker who loves to speak at a variety of events. If you're interested in finding someone to speak at your next retreat, conference, ministry night or leader training, you're at the right place! Dugan has experience speaking to students, adults, men, kids, and more! Whether you're looking for something powerful and moving, or light and comedic, Dugan offers both (as well as everything in between)! Check out Dugan's newest book "Never Alone" and shoot him an email 72,69,82,69,46.EREH

A Few Things Christians Shouldn’t be Ashamed Of

1). Counseling

It’s been too long that the idea of going to counseling has brought with it some kind of red flag for something majorly unhealthy about a person. The truth around counseling is the idea of seeking out someone who is educated in the field of mental health, in order to gain wisdom and perspective on things we can’t see on our own. The Bible talks so much about the importance of the mind and the need for wise counsel and community to keep us healthy, that counseling should be something we celebrate and champion, not be ashamed of admitting.

I’ve gone to counseling for various reasons, for various amount of time, at various seasons in my life. I’ve gone for really specific reasons or general maintenance or even when I’m feeling like I need to, even if I don’t know specifically why.

A pastor friend of mine used to compare it with regular car maintenance. He’d say: “You wouldn’t wait for your car to have at total breakdown to take it into the shop. You take it for regular maintenance to avoid any kind of potential disaster.” And counseling works the same way. Of course, it can be a great resource in a time of major trauma, but it also can be a wise and healthy practice when things are going well to prevent potentially major issues and/or discover current personal things that need to be dealt with.

I realize Proverbs is the king of proof-texting Bible books, but I think these words offer some great advice:

Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise. – Proverbs 13:10

Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success. – Proverbs 15:22

…the words of the wise bring healing. – Proverbs 12:18b


2). Medication

Similar to counseling, prescription medication brings with it a sense of shame or the need to hide it from others. And I get it. Those who don’t need medication might tend to look at it like a quick-fix or means of avoiding dealing with personal issues in a healthier way, but the truth is that there are a lot of incredible, healthy benefits to medication for those who go through a healthy process of discovering their need for it.

In ancient times, before medication was an option, people usually just assumed that every major human mental or behavior problem was because of demonic influence. Nowadays, many people might believe the opposite that there are no demons and every major human problem can be totally explained through science and biology. I tend to believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle. While the existence and influence of the spiritual world is something the Bible seems pretty clear about (Daniel 10, Ephesians 6:12), we also live in a fallen, physical world that I believe medicine can help with. Much like the balance between believing in and praying in faith for divine healing, combined with the wisdom and blessing of educated doctors and hospitals. I don’t think God would frown on taking cold medicine on a day when you have an important meeting or want to be fully present with your kids. And while taking Emergen-C for a cold might seem like a distant concept to taking a prescription medication, I think the principle is the same.

For the past 6 months, through a variety of wise, professional and personal counsel, I’ve learned that I have a low-grade depression and have been prescribed some antidepressant medication. Not only has the medicine been a huge blessing to me (and the people around me), but it has also been wonderful to reach out and connect with some friends of mine who have experienced something similar, while also fully loving Jesus. For me, the medication was needed to help me get over what felt like an emotional “hump” to be able to engage with the people and world around me, and operate as a healthy husband, father, friend, and student pastor.

All that to say, whether it is a temporary need for medication based on life circumstances, or a permanent need based on genetic or chemical reasons, I believe there should be no shame when it comes to the potential need for prescription medication. It is something that needs to be approached with wisdom, discernment, and wise counsel (as well as regular accountability to make sure any kind of addictive behavior doesn’t begin to grow), but overall, I’d say that, if anything, people should be proud that you are taking steps to be a healthy and whole person.

A college pastor (and hilarious tweeter) who is one of my pop-culture heroes gave a personal and well-educated teaching on depression and anxiety that I found very helpful and insightful. I definitely recommend it:

Sammy Rhodes: Depression and Anxiety Part 1

Sammy Rhodes: Depression and Anxiety Part 2


3). Failure

I don’t mean it’s okay to run out and intentionally sin or neglect what we know is important, or purposefully jack something up, but too often, I’ve seen and experienced Christians so afraid of failure, that they don’t even try or take any risks. We get afraid when we feel prompted to go encourage a stranger, tell someone God loves them, or engage with a homeless person because we “might not do/say it right.” We don’t allow anyone else to teach our congregation, student audience, or lead worship in our ministry because they might say something we don’t like, not like we would, or they’re “not ready yet.” We don’t bring up a difficult issue or frustration with our spouse because it might result in a fight or hurting each other.

And in all of these, when I say: “we”, I really mean “me.”

But failure is a part of life. Failure is how we learn and grow. Sometimes failure is the only way to figure out what success actually is! And even though this is way easier said than done, I know I would rather fail and know something didn’t work, rather than not even try and always wonder if it would have.

The Bible (Jesus, actually) says that life won’t be easy (John 16:33) and that we should embrace, not reject difficult times (Romans 5:3). We get so afraid of making any waves, but the boat needs to rock if we want to learn how to sail. Anybody can just float, but it’s only through difficult times that we will learn anything and grow as a person. Like C.S. Lewis says: “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

So, don’t try to fail, but also don’t be afraid of it.


4). Being a Recovering Addict

The first time I met a man who is now a mentor of mine, within the first five minutes of meeting him, he mentioned that he was a recovering alcoholic and drug addict that has been clean from both for 15 years. I knew right then and there that I wanted to keep him in my life as a friend and mentor. I found it so refreshing and powerful how open and confident he was about his past struggles and the healing journey that God has clearly brought him through. There was no sense of self-degradation or that he was searching for pity or attention. He didn’t talk about his past like some deep, dark, secret that nobody could know about or he was ashamed of. Obviously I’m sure there were parts of his past that he wasn’t proud of, but the way he talked about his healing made me respect him and praise God all at the same time.

As Christians, there’s sometimes this idea that past or even current issues or addictions are a huge black-eye in the story of someone’s faith. But when it comes to alcohol, drugs, porn, food, or almost anything else, we as human beings are constantly at risk to develop an addiction. And it’s my belief that because it’s such a taboo thing to use the buzz word: addiction, many Christians make the choice to simply hide a current or developing addiction (or use words like “struggle”), which can simply cause it to gain more destructive strength.

I think the freedom to admit imperfection and struggles is the key to seeking understanding, help, and healing from them. And instead of feeling shame about it, we should all champion someone taking the incredibly brave step to being open about their issues, since we all have them anyway! And once those issues are in the process of healing (since we’re always in process, even once we’ve made it past the major addiction part), we should be open and authentic about them, so God can use our story to impact others who are or might go through the same things.

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Friday Five #16

Happy Friday, everyone! Here’s this edition of the Friday Five. Enjoy!


1). The Fatherhood Project from Soul Pancake. These are incredible videos from my friend Corbyn Tyson all about figuring out how to be a dad. Definitely check them all out, but here’s the most recent addition:

2). Stephen Colbert’s Faith – I never watched The Colbert Report but after the news of him taking for for Letterman, it’s been awesome to get to know him more. This article was very interesting to read about a number of times that Colbert got real about his faith. I think it’s cool to see someone who is known for his intelligence, also have a broad knowledge of the Bible as well as a firm foundation in his beliefs. Definitely check out the link to the article and one of the videos it talks about below:


3). Life Graphs.
These are super creative and as Homer Simpson says, funny because they’re true.


Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 9.11.35 PM

4). Twenty One Pilots. The newest band I’ve been enjoying. I first saw them perform at the MTV Movie Awards and although there were some weird elements to their song, it was really well done and fun musically. Their full length album is really a fun listen and after seeing a few interviews with them, they both seem like down-to-earth guys.


5). Textpert I thought this was really catchy and well done. And might just save your life one day…

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3 Things Student Leaders Need

In my opinion, these are the most important things necessary to lead and/or be a part of a student ministry:

1). Be True to Who You Are. 

I once heard that preaching is “truth through personality” and I would apply the same thing to any student leader. No student ministry culture is going to look the same because it will be structured based on the gifts and passions of its leader…and that’s great! At the Q Ideas conference this year, Rachel Held Evans said: “Millennials have been advertised to their entire lives. Everyone is trying to sell us something. So we have very highly sensitive BS meters.”  I think the whole idea of a pastor or leader needing to ‘play a part’ or look better than reality is really harmful to a student learning how to own their faith. And if they get any kind of scent that someone isn’t being authentic, their trust and desire to relationally connect drops way down. So just be yourself. I’m convinced that it’s the most powerful form of discipleship.

2). Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously. 

I truly believe fun needs to be a core value of any student ministry. So even though you might be in a position of authority, you’ve got to be okay with looking stupid for the sake of fun or connecting with students. Part of the reason we love people like Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell, Kristin Wiig, Steve Carell, or Tina Fey is because they’re willing to look dumb for the sake of humor and entertainment. And ironically, by doing so, we respond by taking them more seriously through our money, time, and attention! Plus I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll became way cooler in the eyes of a student by trying (and failing) to break dance or eating a chocolate-covered bug than you will by showing them your diploma or walking through the Levitical Law (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

3). Take Students Very Seriously.

It’s one of my biggest pet peeves when adults consciously or subconsciously view students like someone who needs to wait ’til they’re older before they’ll take them seriously. I get that they are immature and unexperienced in some aspects of everyday life, but when it comes to a student ministry, I believe students can and should be treated like men and women who are more than capable of owning their faith, relationships, and choices, and who God takes very seriously. The Bible is full of young people who God chose to do some pretty ridiculously awesome things through (David, Samuel, Esther, Timothy, the disciples, etc.). And according to 1 Timothy 4:12, not only are young people not to be looked down on, but they might actually be the ones God uses to teach the older people who think they know what they’re doing. I think the bar needs to be raised for students. Yes, they need grace and mercy and love, but I also believe they’re ready and desiring to be challenged. Whether it’s a 6th grade boy or a 12th grade girl (about a 45-year maturity gap), my philosophy is to have a high standard for teaching, worship, community, and (of course) fun. Scripture can be taught in a relevant way but that doesn’t mean it needs to be dumbed down in any way.

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Some of the most powerful and inspiring words I’ve ever heard about today:


This isn’t Sunday.

This isn’t Friday.

This is Saturday.

The day after this but the day before that. The day after a prayer gets prayed but before it gets answered. The day after a soul gets crushed way down but before it gets at all lifted up.

It’s this kind of strange day, this Saturday.

It’s the in-between day. Not Friday. Not Sunday. In between despair and joy. In between utter confusion and blinding clarity. In between bad news and good news. In between darkness and light. In between hate and love. In between death and life. It’s the in-between day.

On Good Friday our sins get paid for. On Easter Sunday our hope is brought to life. Saturday is the day with no name, the day when nothing happened.

Saturday is the day your dream died. You wake up and you’re still alive. You have to go on, but you don’t know how. Worse, you don’t know why. It brings up this odd question, this strange story: Why is there a Saturday? Why is there a Saturday? It doesn’t further the storyline. If Jesus is going to be crucified then resurrected, why not get on with it? Just die on the cross then boom, resurrection. Why is it just those two events but over three days? There is a reason. There is a reason for Saturday.

The story of Easter isn’t a two-day story. It’s a third-day story.

The trouble with a third-day story is you don’t know it’s a third-day story when you’re in the middle of it. Nobody saw Sunday coming. That is the bad thing about Saturday.

I said before Saturday is the day when nothing happens. That’s not quite right. Something happens on Saturday. Silence. After trouble hits you, after the agony of Friday, you call out to God. “God, help me! Hear me! Listen to me! Respond to me! Do something! Say something! Rescue!” Nothing. On Saturday, in addition to the pain of Friday, there is the pain of silence and absence of God.

“What happened today on earth on Saturday? There is a great silence, a great silence and stillness. A great silence because the king sleeps. God has died in the flesh, and hell trembles with fear.” (an ancient homily, written over 1,600 years ago)

– John Ortberg


On Saturday, the disciples believed Jesus had failed. Jesus failed. The man they believed to be Divine, the promised Messiah, and their Savior was in a tomb. Everything they had planned for the rest of their life was shattered and gone.

We all experience this on the post side of pain, we all experience Saturday. Our Saturdays usually last more than a day, but there is a reason for them. Something God is doing behind the scenes or deep in our spirits that we cannot see or feel or touch. But there is a reason for it. It’s not fun, it’s not easy, it requires patience and a healthy processing through our pain, but know that God is at work.

And more importantly, never, ever forget the truth:


Sunday is coming…




Full Teaching Transcript

Teaching Audio
Teaching Audio

Between Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday by Alan Lewis

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Friday Five #15

Happy (Good) Friday Five! Here’s a few things to hopefully make you laugh, enable you to use the phrase “well, you learn something new every day”, and challenge you. Have a wonderful weekend of remembering and celebrating!


1). Chuck Lidell and a Rhino. I’m not sure what the latest study says about how many commercials we see a day on average (I’m sure it’s around a million) but I’m sure it’s a lot. So when a commercial not only grabs my attention but also makes me lol, I’ve gotta give it props. I don’t know if it’ll make me shop at AutoZone or buy Duralast more, but I was sure entertained. (just wait for the toe nails)

2). “She’s Not Bossy, She’s A Leader.” That’s what Linds and I have said about Eva since she was real young. And as the dad of a future female leader, I like this video. Eva is only 2 but it’s already clear that she has a strong personality with leadership gifts. She’s super inclusive and happiest when everyone around her is joining her in doing the same thing (most often: dancing, singing, or watching Frozen). Every time she starts being bossy, Linds and I remind ourselves that she’s simply a leader and instead of shutting her down, we’re trying to learn as parents how to channel and guide her strength into her growth as a future female leader. So for all of you with “bossy” daughters (like the woman at the park last week who shared a laugh with me as our daughters spent the majority of their time playing together telling the other what to do), this one’s for you. Check out more HERE. #banbossy

3). 12 Obvious Baseball Rules. I know ‘Merca is a football nation, but summer baseball will always have a special place in my heart. Maybe it was going to games with my dad at Wrigley Field (before it became full of bitter cubs fans who are now old enough to numb their life-long frustration with beer), maybe it was playing little league, or maybe it’s just nice to take a long nap during a Sunday afternoon game and not miss much. Whatever it is, I like baseball. Here’s some fun stories about some pretty foundational rules and how they came to be (click the picture):


4). True Detective Parody. This will only be funny if you’ve seen true detective, but even if you haven’t, this guy’s impression of Matthew “Alright-Alright-Alright” McConaughey/Rust Cohle is fantastic. Also check out Ross Marquand’s video series through Soul Pancake called “The Impression Guys.”

5). Incredible Forgiveness. Last but definitely most important is a truly unbelievable article from the New York Times about a level of forgiveness that I cannot even comprehend. On this day and weekend where we celebrate the undeserved forgiveness of our Savior, check out these stories of people whose forgiveness challenged, humbles, and inspires me almost beyond explanation (click the picture).


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