4 Youth Ministry Games You Have To Try

I’m fresh off a trip to the National Youth Workers Conference where I hosted a few Idea Labs and co-taught a session on Discipling The Busy Teen, but I wanted to share a few games you could use at your next youth meeting.

On our first night hosting we played a few games that were simple and prop light. You can also Christmas these games up with a little help.

First , Head Shoulders, Knees, Cup

Next Tic Tac Toe Dash

The Question Game

And Finally,

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Does Your Work Inspire Others?

I have had a few moments over the past month or so that has encouraged me to keep creating.

The first moment I experienced was meeting CJ.  CJ is long time subscriber and commenter on my YouTube channel. We recently met for the first time at the NYWC in Memphis, TN.

We only spoke for a few minutes, but his words encouraged me. He told  me that through the work I was doing on YouTube, he was inspired to start a podcast with a youth worker friend of his. I was honored to be asked to do an intro to one of their episodes. Can’t wait to hear what they create.

The second instance of inspiration came this morning when someone commented that one of my DIY video inspired him to make the logo for his church out of foam. He nailed it! You can see my video and his video below.

All this to say, if you’re a creator, don’t stop creating and putting your stuff out there. My stuff isn’t perfect, but I am faithful to put it out there and the fruit of those seeds sown, are pretty amazing.

Looking for some Youth Ministry inspiration? You can subscribe to my channel right here. 

What are you creating that’s inspiring others?

My video

His video

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12 Keys To Unlocking Your 2018

I don’t like to rush things. I like my seasons in order. I don’t like Halloween stuff in stores before October. I don’t like Christmas music before Thanksgiving. But, I love thinking about New Years  Eve and 2018 in late summer.

There is never a bad time for preparing.  I love taking notes, jotting down little ideas for message series, service projects, etc.  and then compiling them into some kind of strategy for the next quarter.

Our preparation to make an impact on the students we serve includes

Prayer

Nothing will happen without inviting God to the party. Jesus went to a wedding and turned water to wine. Our plans, without God, are just water. Our plans, like water, are utilitarian and will suffice in keeping the engine from overheating, but that’s all. With God, out plans are changed, re-arrange and transformed into something far greater and make an impact far deeper that we could have imagined.

Asking the right questions

Jesus was asked a lot of questions and asked a lot of questions himself. We do not spend nearly the time asking the questions and reflecting on what the Holy Spirit may tell us. The answer to our biggest problems are in the questions we ask.

Putting it our there

One we have an idea we must share it. We must pass the idea around like a piece of clay rather than a rock. Passing around a rock says, “Here’s my idea, adore it but do not change it”. Passing around our ideas like clays says, “Here! Make this better. Transform it!”. Gather some people through e-mail, text, video, and in person and ask “How can we make this better”

Execution

We have to stick our flag in the ground. Talking is for the insecure. We can talk a good game but, if we do not pull the trigger, our ideas are sent to the graveyard where other ideas not acted upon go.

Don’t tell us what you are gong to do, let me see you doing it. The distance from idea to execution can be as long as it takes to work through the three steps above. The bigger the idea the long the time  it may take, the more people it may take, the more prayer it make take, but putting it in motion has to start now.

If you want to take a deeper dive, check out my new book Prepared For Impact where my friend Ryan Latham and I help you prepare for the opportunities God has waiting for you, right now, to start making an impact.

The book is packed with keys for preparing your next retreat, event, or meeting. Here’s what others are saying about it

“This book has been pivotal in the growth of my youth ministry! It is a great resource for beginners and seasoned youth workers equally. Filled with nuggets of wisdom, and challenging questions,it helps you turn your dreams and visions into a strategic plan of action. If you want to have a greater impact in the kingdom of God, buy this book!” – Jackee

“Prepared for impact” is the kind of book that thoroughly helps you become prepared for that next ministry step in your life. It brings up ideas that are both thought provoking and helpful. 10/10 would recommend.” – Amazon Customer

“If you believe you can accomplish everything by “cramming” at the eleventh hour, by all means, don’t lift a finger now. But you may think twice about beginning to build your ark once it has already started raining”
Max Brooks, The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead

Buy the book and start building habits of preparation so you can beat the rain every time.

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Adventures In Loving Others

I just returned from speaking at the National Youth Workers Convention in Memphis. It was the fulfillment of a dream I’ve had for a long time. As much as I enjoyed every moment of this dream, there was one moment that stood out more than any other and it had nothing to do with the convention.

I was rooming with a guy named Kent. I had just met him a few hours earlier. It was about 11:00 p.m. and he had to return his rental car to the airport. I told him I;d tag along because, well, who wants to do that stuff alone.

We arrived at the airport, dropped off the car and had called our Uber to come pick us up. Now, let’s rewind for just minute.

Before we ever decided to go to the airport, we sat in the opening service of the convention  and listened to a man named Bob Goff. Bob is unique, funny,  quirky, but above all, loving. He shared many stories and challenged us to love those who were not like us, the creepy people.

Bob shared a story from the Bible about a man named Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus was blind. He had been shouting to get the attention of Jesus but those around him tried to quiet him. Jesus heard that man’s call and asked “What do you want?” Bartimaeus said, I want to see” and Jesus answered his request. It was that simple. Now, back to the airport.

As Kent and I were walking to the where the Uber was picking us up a young Arabic lady in her mid 20’s with a young sleeping child cried out “Can you help me!?”. Kent was closest so he engaged with the girl and we listened to her story.

She told us that she had just landed from Dubai and was fleeing an abusive relationship. Her parents were not going to pick her up, they had turned her away. She told us that she had been considering calling the police to take her child and put him child services until she could pull her life together. Then she cried out.

We asked her, “What do you want to do?” She told us she had a friend in Indianapolis. Kent was a pastor in Indianapolis. They talked for a moment and he gave her some info on the church, etc. The Uber driver had arrived but we had no idea how he was going to react when he had to wait for this young lady’s luggage, etc. God already had that covered.

Our driver was Maurice. Best Uber driver ever. Maurice was a minister and, wait for it…. lived in Indianapolis for 20 years. Maurice, waited for luggage, loaded the car, and took us to the bus station. It was about midnight and it took about 30 minutes to get this young lady settled. Maurice willingly and happily participated in this small miracle.

We bought this young lady a bus ticket to Indianapolis and some food. She was very tired, confused, and emotionally broken. She didn’t really understand why we were helping her. In Dubai she had her own business and was very self reliant. She didn’t like being in this position of being helped. I told her that we had all been there and it was her turn, then I told her the story of  Bartimaeus.

She didn’t completely understand the story, but she got the gist of it. I told her, you cried out, God heard, and we showed up. The last thing we did was pray for her and she said. “That wasn’t so bad.” She had little to no knowledge about God or Jesus, but at least now, she had the evidence of His great for her.

Wherever you are young lady, I hope you are well and that maybe, one day, you will tell your son the story of night you cried out, God heard, and God answered with a couple of youth workers who were just happy to be a part of God loving you .

 

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7 Ways To Recycle That Youth Ministry Message

You just preached a message, you wipe your brow and say, “Whewww, that’s done.” But is it? Did you work that hard for that one message that would be done 20 minutes only to be left in a computer folder? It has more life than you think.

In an article by Andy Crestodina, called The Periodic Table of Content, and in his book Content Chemistry, Andy Share the things we create can have life in other formats.

We preach a message and say we’re done, but that message has about 10 other uses if you think about it.

  1. Take your points and create Instagram posts for your kids. You can make one post with all the points or a bunch of posts you can trickle out over the next few days.
  2. Take the message and  convert it into a devotional kids can use all week.
  3. Do a recap of the message, though video (like Instagram Live/Stories) and add some points you missed because you ran out of time, the Post Youth Report.
  4. Break down the message into discussion questions for parents to use with their families.
  5. Do a poll after the message to see which point or part of the message resonated with your students the most.
  6. Interview kids after the message to see what they received from the message. This can be done in video on Instagram or Snapchat or through an audio app or your phone’s audio message recorder.
  7. Take the slides you used and make a slide show of the major points and post it on your website or on your youth’s social platforms.

Look at that. I bet you never thought you could get that many uses out of one message, huh? These are my seven, but you may have even more. Feel free to leave your idea below.

To get more ideas like this right in your inbox, subscribe to my newsletter HERE.

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Unmistakeable Youth Ministry

When kids come to your youth ministry could it be mistaken for something else?

Could it be mistaken for a club for only the cool kids?

Could it be mistaken for a YMCA with great activities?

Could it be mistaken for a TED talk where kids just sit and listen?

Could it be mistaken for an elevator where strangers occasionally stuff themselves to get to an emotional high?

If you want your youth ministry to be unmistakable..

invite the poor, the naked, the broken and the stranger

have activities that go beyond game nights and bowling  that serve others.

preach not only to inform but to transform and invite kids to respond

use small group(s) to get kids to connect and make that ride to the top memorable

Your youth ministry will never be mistaken for anything other than God’s church if Jesus is at the center, disciples are being made, kids love one another, forgiveness abounds and, ultimately, God is glorified.

 

 

 

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Experience Will Only Get You So Far

It’s hard to give back from a place of instability – Gary V.

This statement by Gary Vaynerchuk applies in so many ways, whether you want to give back financially, emotionally, or spiritually, you can’t do it from a place of instability or lack.

If I want to have anything to give to my own kids, my youth group,  my church, my communities, or my world at large, I have to shore up the weak places; and I have not been doing that.

Do anything for 30 years and you’ll start taking things for granted if you do not, daily, build the inner man. This is not to say I do not pray, read my Bible, or have spiritual disciplines, but I have relied on past experiences with God far more than I should have rather than allowing a fresh move of God to overtake me on a daily basis. It’s harder than you think, ask the Israelites of the Old Testament.

I, like the Israelites, want to horde the manna rather than wake up daily for fresh manna. I want my deeds, my prayers, my experience to sustain me, and it just doesn’t work. I am entering a new era of trusting God daily for today, not tomorrow, and not using yesterday’s manna to get me by (Genesis 16)

If you’re reading this, and your under 30, I’m giving you the real deal of what it means to come to a cross road in life and ministry. If you plan on ministering to teens (or to anyone), long term, you’ll need to work hard every day at shoring up the weak areas of your life so you can give back and create a legacy that matters.

Pushing forward, trusting daily.

 

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Tips For Live Streaming Your Church Service

I have had the pleasure and the challenge of leading our church into the streaming age. I’ve had plenty of experience streaming my own stuff, but for a church service, we needed a little more polish.

After studying all the options, we went with Mevo, a production device that puts you in the directors chair. As you can see, in the video at then of this post, we have control over the kinds of shots we take all from our iPhone. This is a perfect for smaller churches who just want to get decent production quality for a quality price. (note: I am an Amazon affiliate, purchasing the Mevo supports my work in training youth workers) 

But what good is quality live streaming with out a live person to interact with the community your streaming to? Once you’ve established with the platform you will stream on (Mevo works seamless with Facebook Live), you must choose someone to manage the online congregation who will join you.

Here’s how I lead the online congregation during the live stream.

Welcome Everyone

Right now, we have  small group that joins us live, many a dozen or so each Sunday. Regardless, I greet each one by name and welcome them to service. If the numbers jump to unmanageable state, I will have to rethink how I greet everyone, but right now it feel just like being at our homey church.

Pin Your Greeting To The Top

Once I have started the live stream, I am write a short greeting such as, “Welcome to PGA Live, we hope you experience God’s presence as you watch and participate” This stays up until there is a change in the flow of service.

The Greeting 

During greeting time, I ask those who are in the live stream, to great each other and maybe share where they are viewing from.

Worship 

During worship, I invite viewers to participate by asking them to share a praise report or to  hit the thumbs up or heart icons if a song is ministering to them.

During the songs I will post scriptures that go along with the songs and will often pin them to the top during this time.

Announcements

During the announcements I add some flavor text as well as other details that they need to know. This gives viewers an opportunity to ask questions about our various activities and events. If I’ve made an even page on FB, I direct them over there to sign up or get more info.

Giving

Giving online is the number one way people are giving. Some churches use pay pal and others a text to give option. No matter which way you choose, if you do not have an online giving option, your online congregation present and future, are being left out of the giving opportunity.

The Message

During the message I do my best to quote our Pastor when he makes a good point or to list his points as he is going along. If you can get your Pastor’s notes in advance you’ll know what direction he is heeding and you will be ready. Always be prepared because many of the good things your pastor will say are not in his notes.

As my Pastor is preaching,  I ask questions that go along with the message giving the online congregation an opportunity to comment or ask questions.

Altar Time/Prayer

During the altar time and prayer I ask the online congregation to pray for those who have responded as well as to post their own needs so we can pray for them.

Closing the Service

When the service closes, I thank everyone for attending and invite them to visit us in person, if it is possible. Sometimes I will leave a closing prayer, benediction, or declaration.

Your church service is probably similar to mine and your live stream will need certain nuances to fit you congregation.

If you have certain live stream practices, I’ve love your input. Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.

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Turning Your “To Do List” Into A “To Be List”

I love a good list. I love checking things off because my dopamine spikes when check something off. The problem with to do lists is that they don’t turn into “to be” lists. The things on my list are not translating into a more fuller life. Just recently, I was reminded of that.

I had had a full couple of days and today was no different. My Facebook told me I  was invited to a birthday party of a former student. I hemmed and hawed all day about whether I was going to go or not. I had other things to do the I thought were more important. God had other plans.

I went to the restaurant, where it was being held, and sat and watched as people interacted and I sat and caught up with an old acquaintance who was having some health problems.

Our serve arrived and to my surprise, it was another one of my former students. When she was young she and I had a special bond. She was full of life and joy. I can remember when faux-hawks were a thing and she decided I should have one. Reluctantly I let her shape my hair, what little I had, into the then trendy faux hawk. I’m glad the trend did not last because I looked only slightly silly in it.

After I moved on from the church, this young lady fell into a the trap of drugs and addiction. She had gone through a few programs and a life time of hardship. Today she was refilling my water and we laughed about life, church, and faux hawks.

Before leaving, while looking of the restroom, I saw a man whom I knew from church. He was a new Christian and had not been to church in a whole due to work and the fact that I wouldn’t just let him hang out in the youth room during youth group. I could sense that uncomfortable distance you feel when you haven’t seen someone in a while and they may or may not blame you for why they are not in church. He looked up, saw me, and acknowledged me so I took that as an open door to re-connect.

His son still comes to our youth ministry and I have been trying to involve him more and more. We talked briefly and then his dinner arrived. I left feeling like there wouldn’t be as much awkwardness the next time we saw each other.

All of this connection from one thing that wasn’t even on my list. I guarantee you that the other things on my list did not allow me to have these kinds of encourager and remind me why I was glad I had stayed in ministry as long as I have.

My encouragement is to leave room on your list (or just toss the old one) to

be kind

be generous

be human

be friendly

be you best self

and then find ways to match being with your doing.

How can you be more kind while picking up the dry cleaning?

How can you be more friendly with a new client?

Remember though, as I was reminded, the things that help you BEcome more, aren’t even on your list. Leave room for the unexpected and you’ll feel more accomplished than ever.

 

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The Day I Realized This, It Crushed Me

des·ti·ny ˈdestinē/ noun
  1. the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future.
    • the hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future; fate.

Today was a hard day. Today I gave up on destiny. For years I believed in a personal destiny to become what I thought God had intended for me. It seems like God has other plans, but I have no idea what they are. This is both a blessing and a curse.

When I finally said it out loud, I felt tears well up in my eyes. I had believed so hard for so long, it was just crushing. The idea of destiny was a torch I’d been carrying for a long time, and it was a relief to just let it go.

The curse part of this revelation is that I’m left with nothing to base my future on. My ideas are gone. My sense of direction is gone. My motivation is gone to achieve what I thought was mine by “right”. So, where do I put my time and energy now?

There’s a blessing in tossing away my destiny too. Truly, I have nothing left but faith, which isn’t such a bad thing. Where I once looked for signs of achieving my destiny, I look to Jesus and ask, “What’s next?” It’s kind of a relief.

As my journey as a full time youth pastor begins to wind up, with my “destiny”  in the wind, I find myself back in an adventurous place; something I have not experienced in a long time. Rather than looking for my destiny, my heart is open to whatever God should bring me.

I’d appreciate your prayers as I prepare for new adventures.

Do you believe in destiny?

Could your belief in destiny be holding you back?

 

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