I some up the ministry part of my life with these 6 words:
I Love To See Youth Pastors
When I am not trying to help youth pastor succeed, I am taking my wife of 20 years to breakfast, playing strategy games with my youngest son Jon, driving my oldest son Bryan places, and watching One Tree Hill with my daughter and asking stupid questions like, "Who is that?" and "Why is that guy a jerk".
I am planning on my own missions trip this summer. I have never planned my own trip. It feels kind of weird. I am not leaving the country but I am entering a culture where I speak the language. This year I am going to one of the biggest Gaming Conventions in the country, Gen Con, to pass out New Testaments with GameChurch.com
I have been a long time gamer and nerd, unapologetically. I love everything from Dr. Who to Munchkin the card game and all things nerdy in-between. I know this culture. I know many in this group are generous, kind people, who do not have the best view of Christ or his people. I’d like to play a small part in changing that through interaction, praying with people, and sharing God’s word. I am going to Gen Con to give my self and my faith away to a group of people I strongly like and identify with.
So, how can you help?
1. Pray for me. Pray for open doors to share, finances, and the teams presence at over a dozen cons this year.
2. Find out more about my mission HERE and make a donation if you would like.
3. You could buy something (or a lot of things) from my store.
4. You could hire me through fiverr.com for multiple project.
5. Pray for me. Yeah, I know I said that twice but I know prayer is my best shot.
So, in which one of these ways are you most likely to help?
What is you favorite nerd topic? Sci-Fi-Fantasy? Comics? Games? Movies? Tell me about it.
All of them have their own flavor. I don’t know my flavor yet. Maybe I’m cherry or rocky road.
I’m most likely a mico-blogger. I deal with the basics and the details of youth ministry. The stuff required to reach and disciple kids with the good news of Jesus. Occasionally I will have a macro-thought, high and lofty. But, for the most part, I’d like to think of myself as a blue collar youth worker. I want to talk about what works. More times than not I have met youth workers whose jobs were at stake because of micro issues: numbers, programming, how they were or were not doing something or how they could do something better.
I don’t know exactly what kind of blogger I am, but I’m glad I broke through the resistance to write, to dream, and to serve you.
Do you blog? What’s your flavor?
What’s your favorite blog? (Other than this one of course)
Pastors should be looking at how to lead heir flock to living an authentic, radical faith. I believe men like David Platt, Francis Chan, and Shane Claiborne love the church and want God best for it, to shake it up, but they are men on a spiritual journey of their own. They have chosen a life that makes their faith come alive, forces them to trust God, and in the end, become stronger in their faith.
We as adults, and this generation of teenagers, need examples like this. Radical people with sharp sticks to poke us out of our affluent haze of heart, but these men do not set the bar for what radical is, Jesus sets the bar for radical and it is our indifference to Jesus’ call to be radical that has created a vacuum of life giving examples of what radical faith is and why Platt, Chan, and others take radical, if not extreme (to some) steps to reawaken the believers heart to think “is there more?” As youth pastors, we can show Chan and Platt videos in youth group or or we can just program being radical into all we do.
Jesus did not ask everyone to sell all they had and follow him as he did with the Rich Young Ruler. The Apostle Paul did not make everyone get beaten or stoned for the sake of the gospel nor shamed others for not being beaten or stoned for the sake of the gospel.
When I was younger in my faith, I preached on the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gra through a bull horn. I and some others, thought that was radical and it was. The very act made my faith come alive. My faith became valuable. God’s faithfulness became evident, and life made more sense. I gave God permission to do something radical in me. That is why radical obedience is needed in the life of every believer. If you are bored with your faith, do some radical like :
forgive someone you hurt you and tell them
Ask someone to forgive you
admit your prejudice and set out to make it right.
give money you don’t have to someone who does not deserve it
get out of your daily faith routine and serve in a place with people you do not know or understand
Step up and serve in your churches nursery (Radical x 10)
I was talking with one of our volunteers about people and why thy are’t very committed to our youth ministry. I told him “you can draw a line from the chaos in their lives to their commitment level”. The more chaotic their lives are, the less committed they are to anything else other than their chaos.
Let me first define what chaos is not. Chaos is not going through a divorce (although it is), a family death, or other serious matters. Chaos, in this instance, is self imposed drama. Chaos is: a young adult in an on again off again relationships with someone from another church and they can’t decide which church they want to go to or a person who “has” to work non-stop and does not schedule their time or money well.
Other signs of chaos
never returning calls or text
self defeating social media posts
lack of spiritual fervor
As leaders, we cannot stop chaos from happening, and the people who are in chaos are not bad people, but we need to help our volunteers manage their chaos. Here are a few tips.
1. Don’t recruit volunteers already in chaos.
It sounds harsh, but if you get a volunteer already in chaos, they will be short lived. When it’s a choice between commitment to an aspect of the youth program and their chaos, they choose chaos every time. Wait until your prospective volunteer hits an even level then approach
2. When a volunteer is in chaos, be grace-filled
We are only a step or to away from our own chaos so we should look at those in chose with a less judgmental eye. It’s easy for us to see that someone else’s chaos is screwing up our program. The program is not the real ministry, the program is an excuse to help others (our kids, and volunteers) in their moment of chaos.
3. Offer choices to your volunteers
Chaos happens, but you don’t have to kick a volunteer to the curb. Instead of relieving them of their duty consider these options
Offer to counsel them through the chaos
Ask them if they would like less responsibility.
Ask them if they would like to take a break. Set a time and check in on them often.
As I said earlier, we are only a few steps away from a chaotic moment ourselves so let’s remember scriptures call to chaos free living
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
And one of the company said to him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said to him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said to them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses. Luke 12:13-15 …
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” Hebrews 12:1
“No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.” 2 Timothy 2:4
What kind of chaos is keeping your team from being fruitful?
How come we spend so much time getting ready for camp but very little time on the follow up after camp? This is a question I’ve asked youth workers for years. We love to talk about camp and the camp experience and all God does in the lives of our kids, but I am thinking we count way too much on the “mountain top experiences” to carry our kids to Christian maturity; this is why I offer a few tip to get us all ready to disciple our kids after camp.
1. Create accountability partners
For those kids who do make a commitment or recommitment to Christ, why not set up an adult to check in with them once a week to see how their commitment is going. You could also pair up more mature Christian teens to walk with new believers. This helps both teens in their walk with Christ.
2. Offer Them Resources
You may want to offer a small booklet or pamphlet a kid could read or work through themselves. I offer a resource called Get Healthy that give to my students. The journal offers them ways to get healthy in multiple area of their lives. You could also use material such as this and this
3. Partner with Parents
Try working out a plan with parents to do the follow up with their own kids if possible. This is the best strategy and most fruitful way a teen can grow i their faith and grow closer to their parents as well. I posted a few tips to help parents with the post camp experience called What To Expect When Your Teen Comes Home From Camp.
Since I did not get any feedback on games you all use, that must mean you have no idea what games you are going to play this year. So, I thought I;d help you out with 10 Youth Camp Game Videos you could “borrow” from. Enjoy.
I like the game in this next video. Go to 2:43 and watch the chaos.
I would make a full track using this ideas and then it is game on for all kinds of stuff.
There are about 5-6 really good games on this video.
This is a channel with 10 youth camp videos and more.
Discipline is no fun, but especially no fun at camp; but sometimes it has to be done. I had a student one time who had signed up for our camp. I did not know the camper very well, but he seemed a bit young to go. I was write. He was too young for this trip. He would wander way from the group and was basically on his own schedule. Here is how I handled it.
First offense: A warning to call his mom.
Second: A call to his mom and let her talk to him.
Third: A second call to his mom with the warning that if I had to call again he would have to go home.
Fourth: Called the mom and asked her to come pick up her son, six hours away.
It worked out fine. All the kids gathered around this kid and sent him off with prayer and well wishes. I don’t think he ever came back to youth group (for a different reason) but that moment of discipline, with love, was worth it.
Here is what I think this process communicated to the parent
1. I communicated that I loved her son and wanted him to stay
2. I wanted her to be a part of the solution. She knows her son better than I.
3. I wanted to build a track record with the parent about behavior. If I would have told her to come pick up her son on the first call I would have shown that I did not care.
Here is a thought from veteran youth worker Greg Schmidt: The first thing to remember is, you and the kids are representing Christ first, church second, and the rest after that don’t really count lol. JK. I always like to set the bar high and see if they can exceed my expectations. In my 25+ years of student ministry I have seen a lot of teens at camp that have gone home and a whole lot that should’ve went home. The one thing I always did was at the parent mtg. show the parents the guidelines and expectations and let them know if their perfect son or daughter happened to not follow them, THEY (the parents) would be either coming to get them or sending money for bus ticket home. With this I made sure I had the pastor and everyone else on the same page that way when something happens, and it usually did, they won’t be blindsided by an angry parent of a perfect teen.
Discipline is part of discipleship. Don’t shy away from it, even if they don’t thank you for it later.
Don’t forget to read Day 1: Tips For Sharing Devotions At Camp or Day 2: 3 Ideas To Get Your Campers To Bed
I am old. Yes, old. I am old and I like to sleep, a lot. I have a routine and I do not like it messed with. “Then why are you at youth camp?” Good question. I have to be, I’m the youth pastor.
Just because I am old and like to sleep does not mean that I do not like to stay up late, it’s just hard to do. It’s even harder to get everyone settled down to bed. II do have a few tricks up my sleeve, and so do a few up my friends to help you avoid the whole “go to bed” tirade.
Here are two things that do not work for me : Yelling and screaming. Besides, in the age of cell phones, this is probably not a good idea unless you want to be a viral hit on You Tube. “What’s left?” you may ask, let me give you five other choices
1. Have a plan to end the week big
We always ended our week big with wrestling matches. It became so epic you did not want to miss it. We saved this for the last night so it gave our kids something to look forward to. If they misbehaved during the week they had to sit on the bed and watch us wrestle. I never had too many of those,
My Facebook friend Tim Bo suggests,
One of the things I always do with my students is a scheduled sneak out. “Hey guys, because you’re in my room we’re going to break curfew tonight, but you can’t tell anybody, especially the girls! This has got to be our secret!” Then when it’s a good 30-40 minutes after curfew and things have quieted down I lead my group to some place cool in the camp and play football in the dark or some thing for a while. If I do it one it gauntness that they’ll be too tired to want to do it again for most of the rest of camp and maybe they’ll want to do it again for the final day just to wrap up the week.As far as actually getting students to sleep, I usually don’t worry about it too much. Camp is a long week and if they are up all night one night, they’ll be ready to crash out by 9pm the next night.”
2. Have a long good night prayer
My Twitter friend @kevinlibick said
” one of the best I’ve come across is to do a goodnight prayer out loud for a really really long time.”
This is a great idea. I have also had campers take turns reading chapters in the book of Revelation with flash light. That works pretty well too..
3. Keep the focus on spiritual things
My Facebook Friend Matthew Emigh says
“We finish out the day with Cabin testimony/devotions time where we talk about what God has done that day. During that time, our counselors know to remind the youth of why they are they, and to specifically address the issue. They keep the focus on spiritual things. It doesn’t always help, you still will have some knuckleheads with shaving cream who have to show off, but it does seem to slow it drastically.”
Do you have any tips and tricks to get kids to go to sleep? Share them in the comments, Thanks and get some sleep, you’re gonna need it,
I love youth camp. I gave my heart to Christ for the first time at a camp called Life For Youth Camp in Vero Beach, Fl. I worked there for 7 summers and have been speaking there, one week a summer, for the past 12 years. Oh, and I met my wife there. I love youth camp.
Summer and summer camp is almost upon our youth ministries and I thought this would be a great week for some last minute tips for making your camp awesome, and I hope you’ll share your yours tips here as well. Here are my 10 Tips
1. Be prepared to lead or prepare your leaders to lead the devotion.
You can’t be angry with your volunteers if they did not lead the devotions the way you wanted if you have not taught them how you want them led. Be sure to meet with your leaders, train them, and build their confidence to accomplish their tasks.
2. Don’t re-preach the sermon
If you do your devotions after the service, it’s tempting, but don’t re-preach the message. I think devotions are about engaging camper, not speaking to them or even at them, but it’s a time to dig into what they really think about this “Jesus thing”.
And number three comes from
3. Your youth camp is like a house
I like this quote from a friend on LinkedIn
“Remember when you have a Camp its like building a house with four walls(four topics) your theme is the foundation and your Bible Studies /Devotions are your roofing sheets to complete the house.” - Rodgers Nkhuwa
I have never thought of Camp Devotions in this manner but Rodgers is dead on. The Theme is the foundation, topics the walls, and devotions are the shingles (like icing on the cake). Don’t obsess over the shingles, but don’t forget them either.
Obviously not an exhaustive list, but maybe it will get you to thinking deeper and wider about your devotions.
What tip would you add?
Youth Camp Devotion Resources
If you are looking for camp devotions to share with your group this summer, here are a few places you can get some. I was shocked that there were not more. I have not vetted these devos (except my one) for theological correctness so I encourage you to read the resources (including mine) thoroughly before using.
Living the Adventure of God by Andre Chua.(I really like the format of this and it seems to be directed to boys, but it could be adapted.)
I had a great chat with Mikee Bridges of GameChurch.com today and I wanted to share it with you today. Mikee pulls no punches when it comes to Christianity, the church, and culture, and that is why I think you’ll love our conversation. Want to chime in? Leave a comment below
Do you reach out to gamers in your church? If so, how?
Is the church still too slow in responding to an ever changing culture? How should we change this?
Do you feel hampered when trying to reach certain groups or cultures of people? If so, how?