TF Highlight November

Name: Jason Peltier

Age: 33

Hometown: Upland, California

Teen Challenge Center: 
Graduated: Teen Challenge of Southern California   Riverside, California 2013
Graduated: Teen Challenge Ministry Institute 2014

Brief Testimony: 

I went through a 10-year meth addiction that led me to a life full of pain and despair. Living this life landed me in jail for multiple crimes, but most of all it took all sense of joy and happiness out of my life. In 2013, God led me to Teen Challenge and was introduced to the One who provides true joy and happiness.  Christ restored everything I had once lost and has blessed me 100 times fold beyond anything I could have imagined for myself. Today, I serve at Teen Challenge Pensacola so that I may help spread the Good News to the ones who were once hopeless like me.

 What do I enjoy most about your role?
The best part of my role is being able to witness the ELP students grow and transform into the leader God has called them to be.

 Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable?
Both leadership and training are totally invaluable without each other. Every organization, business, church, and teen challenge needs strong compassionate leadership, as it is the very core of what makes it successful. Without strong leadership then everything under it may crumble. The Emerging Leaders Program has something special at the core of its leadership and that is Jesus. What makes leadership training valuable is the emphasis on discipleship.  We should always be in training mode as disciples, allowing God to continue to grow and groom our day to day leadership.

Participant Highlight November

Name: Jonathan Davis

Age: 21

Hometown: Moses Lake, WA

Teen Challenge Center: Pensacola Men’s Center 

Brief Testimony:  Growing up I had a void that I tried to fill with drugs and alcohol. When I dropped out of high school, I became a daily meth user breaking the law in order to get drugs. It became a vicious cycle. When I tried to quit on my own, I was faced with shame and guilt from my sin. God brought me out of my mess and took my shame in exchange for His joy and my void has been filled with an undeniable love from Christ. 

What is the vision and calling that God has given you? I believe God is calling me to become a drug counselor. 

How has the ELP Program impacted you? I am growing into a position of leadership through ELP.

Main Article: Growing Christians, Not Just Leaders


By Tyler Graeff

How would our lives look if we focused more on being a Christian than our position in ministry? The majority of believers would agree it’s more important to focus on being individual followers of Christ than it is our positions. However, for those who have been in ministry for an extended amount of time, it’s not uncommon to begin intertwining the two. Some days, I take my eyes off Christ by focusing only on ministry work and a shift begins taking place inside of me. In that drift, I may begin to lead on empty. 

As leaders, the importance of helping our team be better Christians is crucial. Our walk with Christ is more important than our work for Christ. We can gauge the spiritual formation of a team and ourselves. In positions of leadership and as everyday followers of Christ, our sanctification cannot be ignored. Every one of us can encourage the growth of those we serve and serve alongside by setting aside time geared towards spiritual development. In doing so, we begin to untangle the two. 

Witt gives us a few ideas that might stimulate our thinking on how to raise our spiritual temperature:

  • Open the word. Read a passage and talk about it. Share a verse that God used to speak to you. 
  • Dedicated times of prayer.  Rather than the obligatory opening or closing prayer, why not consider a prayer meeting to intercede for the needs of the ministry?
  • Fasting. Fasting can be a rich or powerful experience when done as a ministry or a team. Fasting specifically for a need or opportunity can be a wonderful way to galvanize your team.                                                                                                     
  • Silence. Consider starting a staff meeting with a couple of minutes of silence. Silence allows us to slow ourselves down, to become quiet before the Lord, and to better discern His still, small voice.  

There are plenty of other ways we can raise our spiritual temperature. Don’t be afraid to try something new. What would it look like if we focused more on being a Christ follower rather than being the next great leader in ministry? Could it be possible that in the overflow of our spiritual development it would begin to affect our growth as leaders? 

Ambition to become better leaders should flow from a place of humility and a heart to bring God more glory through our lives. Let us always remember that we want our capacity to be great leaders to come only from the overflow of our relationship with the Lord. 


Participant Highlight October

Name: Caroline Denham

Age: 37

Hometown: Florence, SC 

Teen Challenge Center: Dixon Kentucky July 2018

Brief Testimony:  I came back into TC almost 2 years ago ready to get whatever it was I had missed the first time. The Lord helped me to understand who I really was and to understand who I really was and that he had a plan for me. His plan is far better than any I could have for myself, and I have learned to trust Him and to wait on Him, no matter what the circumstances. 

What is the vision and calling that God has given you? I believe I am here to share my knowledge of the word and the revelation that God has given me.
How has the ELP Program impacted you? I am learning, each month, how to be a more efficient teacher and leader, and that my own spiritual state plays a huge role in this.

TF Highlight October

Name:  Brittany Cottuli

Age: 25

Hometown: Camden, DE

Teen Challenge Center:  Shenandoah Valley Teen Challenge Graduated in 2015

Brief TestimonyWhen I came into Teen Challenge nearly four years ago I was completely broken and lost. Over the last four years, I have learned to how to find myself and who I truly am in God. Through ELP I have not only been able to grow closer to the Lord, but I have learned that I am a leader. ELP has helped me to become a better leader while keeping the Lord in the center of my life.

What do you enjoy most about your role? I enjoy everything about my job, but what I enjoy the most is that I get to show these women the love of God and to show them the right way to be raised up so that they can go out and share the love of the Lord with others.

Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable?  I believe that they are valuable because they can become life-changing for anyone who is trying to grow in their relationship with the Lord. I feel as though it is important to expand the idea of leadership so that our students can see that it goes far beyond just the walls of teen challenge. 

Main Article: Inviting an Uncomfortable Conversation

By Tyler Graeff

Of our three core values, the one that challenges us most in our development as leaders is Continuous Improvement. We should always be taking personal inventory as well as seeking feedback from others so areas of improvement can be identified. Often times until topics are discussed in an uncomfortable conversation, we may not know where we need to grow.

In Chapter 26, Witt talks about inviting and receiving uncomfortable conversations. “Hold on Witt, you mean that we are supposed to invite these kinds of conversations and embrace them?” During my early stages as a leader, I found it difficult to receive and participate in those tough conversations. Especially those that were a reflection of my performance and character. It was a natural tendency for me to become defensive, and the root was insecurity.

Witt says that all of us struggle with some form of insecurity, whether we would like to admit it or not. Everything in us wants to resist having those hard conversations because of it. If we are striving to model our core value of continuous improvement, we must embrace having those uncomfortable conversations so that we can grow and help others in our sphere of influence grow.

In the midst of uncomfortable conversations, I have needed to remind myself of who I am in Christ. The good news is that my shortcomings are no surprise to God. He already knows our weaknesses and at the end of the day, the truth is we are gloriously saved and on our way to heaven. So why wouldn’t we welcome conversations that could help us grow?

One cannot simply remain the same when accountability is invited in the picture, there will be some kind of a shift or challenge presented within ourselves. Having these conversations within a team begins to challenge us to cultivate a culture of honor and honesty. Witt leaves us with a challenge when we are faced with an uncomfortable conversation: Lean in and embrace the conversation and consider the opportunity to grow.

Below you will find a good model for leading uncomfortable conversations:

Pray through your own anger and initiate the contact

  • Don’t let emotion lead you. Wait until you’re objective, but deal with issues before they get bigger.
  • Don’t wait for the other person, scripture beckons you to make things right whether you are the offender or the offended.  

Hold a Fact-Finding Meetings

  • Explain what you have seen and/or heard and how you see & understand it
  • Then ask them to explain how they see it
  • The meeting may be more of a clarification than a confrontation.

Listen and allow them to respond

  • You must stop and allow them to respond. They may present a new perspective that will help you both.
  • They may also throw up on you, listen anyway. Give them time to process and answer

Establish forgiveness and repentance, if necessary

  • Connect the issue you are correcting with who they are in Christ
  • Don’t conclude the meeting until issues are clear and resolved and forgiveness is extended, even if it ends with them being in the wrong or leaving

Pray and affirm your appreciation as you close your time together

  • Always close these times with prayer. Give them hope, and remind them of their place in God’s heart and yours

Main Article: The Big Brother Syndrome

By Tyler Graeff

In the past decade, there are a number of words that could be used to describe our culture as a nation. Witt, suggests the word “entitlement” as being one of the top descriptors, particularly for the younger generations. You may have opinions about that, but regardless, we are a part of an incredibly selfish culture. One where self-promotion, pride, and entitlement have become cultural norms. As believers, God has set us apart, however that doesn’t exclude us from falling into some of these cultural norms.

In Luke 15 we see pride and entitlement demonstrated in two different ways in the parable of the Prodigal Son. The first son who squandered his inheritance was entitled to the inheritance that his father gave him. He just demanded it, before it was actually time to receive it. The second son demonstrated entitlement when his brother returned home. His father invited him to come inside and celebrate but the older brother responded by saying “Look! All these years I have been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could have fun with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him”. The older brother felt as though he were entitled to more because of his obedience to his father. To argue his case, he was quick to boast in his accomplishments and point out his younger brother’s shortcomings.

As believers, everything we do is for Christ! If we boast in anything, it should be in His great power, not our own. When we get to heaven, we are not going to ask the Lord, “Where are my crowns?” They are going to be cast at the feet of Jesus. A hard truth we must come to terms with is that in this life we are not entitled to anything. We may never see all the promises of God until they are fulfilled in heaven.

Let us examine our hearts and see if we have given into self-promotion, pride, or entitlement. John 3:30 “He must become greater; I must become less.” A few practical things to help combat this in our lives could be to find ways to serve those around you, rejoice at their successes, and stay rooted in the fact that any success you have in your life comes from God.

Participant Highlight September

Name: Grant Dinsmore

Age: 21

Hometown: Smyrna, Delaware

Teen Challenge Center: Dublin’s Men’s Center 2019

Brief Testimony: I grew up in the church and learned a lot about the Bible. I was never good at the application part of the word, so shame got a hold of me. I became depressed and suicidal over a few years. I came to Teen Challenge and found the gospel. Now I live life with a hope in Jesus Christ!

What is the vision and calling that God has given you?  To spread the Gospel to broken and hurt people.

How has the ELP Program impacted you?  ELP has given me leadership tools and an opportunity to serve in ministry.

TF Highlight September

Name: Stephen Potterf

Age: 34

Hometown: Loganville, GA

Teen Challenge Center: Dublin, GA 2018

Brief Testimony: In my darkest days of addiction, my life began to spiral out of control. I was on a path of self-destruction. I came into the doors of Teen Challenge where I was met by love. God called me out of the darkness and into the light. Now I get to give back to the ministry God used to save my life.

What do you enjoy most about your role? I love to pour my heart into the guys. I am a disciple maker and character builder. I love watching God change people’s hearts.

Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable?  In order to succeed at anything, you need the right leadership and training.

Main Article: Culture of “One Another

By Tyler Graeff

Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” How countercultural is the word of God in a society that encourages individualism? Being independent and self-reliant is encouraged through the promotion of individualism. People are apt to exploit and hurt others, no position or person is exempt. Many times, these things may be in the spotlight of the news, behind people’s backs or on social media. It’s becoming hard to trust; people are being hurt and people are falling into a pattern of looking out for themselves. This can prevent the pursuit of personal relationships. 

What does it mean to be devoted to one another? Our relationships start to look personal rather than transactional. Individualism allows people to operate in the transactional mindset: what can I get from this person? Being devoted to one another helps us to ask the question: what can I do for this person? In a transactional leadership approach, those that we serve end up feeling used and devalued. When we serve others in a personal way, those we serve start to feel empowered and valued. Two opposite sides of the spectrum, right?

In our individualistic, highly transactional society,  how do we begin to craft a culture which honors one another?  In chapter 21 of “High Impact Teams”, Witt identifies two foundational building blocks that can be used to craft a culture of honor. The first block starts with you! In order to have a culture that is devoted to one another, we must know how accepted we are by Jesus. Insecurities can cause us to become selfish, worrying about ourselves or what others think. Once we have an understanding of our identities in Christ and we operate in that confidence, we can shift our focus outwards.

This outward focus brings us to the second block of viewing others through the eyes of God. A culture of one another is viewed from the lense of Christ. A culture of honor puts those that you serve and those you serve with, first. We are called to treat people with dignity, respect, value, and care. Often times when a leader’s focus is turned inward, it starts to affect those that they serve. We treat others with value so that there may be no divisions within the body of Christ. We are made in the likeness of God and He does not show partiality. 

It’s not about us! In ministry, we need to remember the example that Jesus set as a servant leader. As leaders, we need community. Crafting a culture of honor takes work and is counter-cultural.  Take the challenge and start to craft a culture of honor and devotion. When we craft a culture of one another, we begin to maximize unity and minimize division. Let’s show the world the standard of God by showing honor and devotion to one another and influence the status quo of a fallen world.