About the founder

crop shotCharles "Poker" Boyd has been in student ministry since 1982. He earned his BS degree in Criminal Justice from William Carey University in Hattiesburg Mississippi on a baseball scholarship. During his senior year, he began sensing a call to ministry. After spending his summer in Europe playing baseball on team USA, he enrolled at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary where he earned his Masters degree in Religious Education. Not only serving the local church, Poker has been an Adjunct Professor to The Baptist College of Florida since 1998. Serving several churches during that time such as FBC Panama City, FL and FBC Oviedo FL and FBC Tallahassee, FL, he joined the staff at Live the Life Ministries in Tallahassee November 2001. As a citywide Director for strategic youth ministry initiatives and professor of Student Ministry, he was able to develop many of the resources and concepts that gave birth to SME as a full time consulting ministry. In December 2012 Poker completed a Doctorate of Ministry in Leadership Administration from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His focus was on Best-practices by Student Ministers holding exceptional tenure. By dedicating the balance of his ministry years to strengthening, encouraging, and equipping student ministries and youth pastors, it is his passion to see ministry to students become more effective, healthy, and mature.

Poker is married to Julie Waller of Chipley, Florida. Julie earned a Masters degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in 1984. She served as the Florida Panhandle Area Administrator for the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes prior to becoming the Vice President for Church Relations. She retired from FBCH in 2016 and now works for Samford University as a development director. Poker and Julie have two sons, Jay and Jarred. Jay is married to Lauren - they have one son -Brayden born 12/11 and one daughter -Bella Grace born 3-14. Both are Samford University graduates. Jay earned his Masters from Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY. and works for the Alabama Baptist Children's Home. Jarred is a 2010 graduate of Carson Newman College and also earned his Masters from Southern Seminary. He currently serves as student pastor at Westwood Baptist Church in Alabaster, AL. with his wife Megan, a 4th grade teacher and graduate of Flagler College in Tallahassee. They have two sons, Judson, born 8-15, Owen, born 12-18, and one daughter, Audrey, born 4-17.

A few things we believe . . . 

  • Evangelical - that while humanity is fallen, the good news is that Christ came to pay the penalty of our sins on the cross. That penalty, now paid in full, means that God offers forgiveness and new life as a free gift. All who will receive Christ as Savior and Lord may receive eternal life.
  • Heaven and Hell – that there exist a literal heaven and hell. People who fail to accept Christ as their personal savior will be condemned to an eternal separation from God, called Hell. Those who receive Christ as Savior will upon death immediately be present with the Lord in a literal heaven prepared for God’s people.
  • Perseverance of the Saints – That once a person is truly saved, they can never become unsaved.
  • The Priesthood of Believers - That the priesthood of believers applies to all Christians granting equal access to God's revelation of truth through the careful study of the Bible.
  • Regeneration – that when one receives Jesus Christ as Lord, the Holy Spirit does an internal work within the person to redirect his/her life, making him to be born again "regeneration."
  • Salvation - The only way for an individual to enter heaven is through having a personal salvation experience through Jesus Christ, confessing faith in God through His Son Jesus Christ.
  • The Second Coming – that there will be a literal Second Coming of Christ when God will judge and divide between the saved and the lost and Christ will judge believers, rewarding them for acts done while living on earth.
  • The Trinity – that there is only one God who reveals Himself as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
  • The Church – that no one is "born into the church." Only those who have personal faith in Christ comprise the true church.

* While our services are offered to all evangelical churches, Student Ministry Essentials, Inc. identifies with and affirms the Baptist Faith and Message 2010 edition.

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Poker Boyd’s love for teens came through loud and clear with our students.  His life and ministry reflect his passion for youth ministry and we were the beneficiaries of his experience and expertise while he was with us. Poker is a man of deep conviction and focus; yet his message was clear and also easy for our students to grasp. Poker is the kind of youth ministry leader we want our students to meet.”   Roger Glidewell Founder, Executive Director Global Youth Ministry (formerly Sr. Student Pastor of FBC Orlando, FL)

We especially want to thank Charles Boyd for helping us through his Student Ministry Essentials consulting organization. What a blessing Poker has been to us during this season! He is a true, experienced professional who loves God and this church. We are grateful for his vision in creating this unique ministry and for being such a strategic help in preparing us for a greater future in student ministry. Student Ministry Essential truely was a consulting, empowering, encouraging, and equipping ministry for our students and student leadership.

Dr. Jay Dennis, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church at the Mall

Dr. Charles (Poker) Boyd is both an academician and practitioner in Student Ministry. As an adjunct professor for The Baptist College of Florida, he has excelled in both facets of the work. I recommend him to you for biblical, Godly, and practical leadership of students and student leaders.

Robin Jumper Ph.D. The Baptist College of Florida

Poker Boyd came and brought ALL of his resources with him: a servant’s heart, love for our students, encouragement for our parents, personal integrity, unbridled enthusiasm, and a contagious love for Jesus.

Dr. Phillip Hanes, Idlewild Baptist Church, Tampa, Florida

I have used SME for many youth ministry needs. But my favorite resource is the leadership training (Essential Seminars) designed for youth leaders. Poker uses his many years of experience, along with his knowledge of current youth trends, to effectively communicate to youth leaders how to reach teenagers in our world today.  Our youth leaders look forward to our yearly training weekend; to quote one of our leaders, “It’s more than a reminder, it’s like drinking a Red Bull full of youth instruction.”

Obrien Satcher, Student Pastor, First Baptist Church of Henderson TX

Blog Archive

Raising and Releasing Your Children as Disciples
By Charles Boyd | November 2, 2023 | 0 Comments

While my title sounds like a promotion for student ministry in the local church, it isn’t. Do we need student ministry excellence in our local churches? Absolutely, and I have given my entire career to that endeavor. In reality, student ministry and parenting are the sole and the laces of the same shoe. I am […]

Fifty Shades of Truth
By Charles Boyd | February 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

I ran across a Gallup Poll recently that has nagged me into blogging my thoughts. According to, nurses, medical doctors and pharmacists earn the highest ratings from Americans for their honesty and ethical standards. What is wrong with this? After all, we want to trust those who advise, treat, prescribe, and care for our […]

Missing In Action: The Increasingly Elusive Youth Pastor
By Charles Boyd | January 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

Nearly every week there are churches asking for leads, recommendations, or assistance in securing a student pastor for their church. The most common lament I hear is: “We have been diligently searching, but it seems the good ones (code for young, well trained, and experienced) are few and far between. Can you help us?” Sure, […]

Lessons From Pee Wee Football
By Charles Boyd | December 1, 2018 | 0 Comments

When my sons were young and playing peewee city league football, I noticed how much time coaches spent trying to teach these little dreamers their individual assignments. Getting an eight-year-old to move on the snap to the right place on the field was quite an accomplishment. My youngest son was on a football team with […]

Cotton Candy Ministry and Plate Spinning
By Charles Boyd | March 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

You might not think that you could learn much about Youth Ministry from going to the circus. I was a young boy when the circus visited our small town. Our family loaded up the Fleetwood station wagon and went to the big show. From food carts and clowns to endless contest booths, I have two […]

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