35 Ways To Market Your Next Youth Event

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I’ve had this list for some time. How long? Before I updated it, it had MySpace as an option. If you are needing some new ways to promote your event or maybe you’ve forgotten a few you should be doing, this check list is here to help. I’d love to hear your favorite marketing ideas . Leave them in the comment section below.

35 Ways To Promote Your Next Event

Questions to ask before you start promoting

Name of Event__________________________________________
Date of Event_______________________ (check for conflicts with Church calendar)
Target Audience_______________________ (unchurched, christians, etc.)
Is it In House (just for your group) ____________
Is it Outreach (you want your students to invite friends) __________

Check List of Possible Marketing Avenues

  • Word of Mouth (get people talking about it)
  • Posters (where are the high traffic areas to hang these?)
  • Post Cards (to who? Do I have a mailing list ready?)
  • Sign Up List through Eventbrite
  • From the Pulpit (Get your pastor to help you out, better still
    get your kids to make a video announcement or do a skit)
  • Radio (expensive but it works if you’re promoting a big event
    like a conference or large community event. Who is your
    target? Christians? Unchurched? Pick the right station.)
  • Church Bulletin (include info on how to contact you)
  • E-Mail Newsletters blitz
  • Blog about it (set up a special blog to talk about the event)
  • Website (Put it on your church website. Need it bigger?
    Create a website.)
  • Phone Calls (personal and phone tree)
  • Flyer (make unusual hands outs to grab attention)
  • Power Point Slides (like before morning worship)
  • Table Presence (at a big youth event or in the foyer of your
    church by students)
  • Bringvitations (business card size invites to hand out)
  • Sunday School/Small Group Announcements
  • Bulletin Boards (church and community)
  • Billboard
  • E-Mails to other churches asking them to come join you
  • T-Shirts (hand made or pro make good walking billboards)
  • Pins
  • Coupons
  • Downloadable video or audio announcements
  • Special Outreach or Street Teams to get the word out. (door to
    door)
  • Booths at local events (fairs, etc)
  • Ticket sales
  • Stickers
  • Create a texting schedule to get the word out.
  • Church Sign
  • Signs in the rest room (don’t laugh, they work)

Social Media Suggestions

  • Start a Facebook Group or Page
  • Twitter – Create a hashtag #myouthoutreach
  • Vine – Create a bunch of seven second commercials leading up to the
    event.
  • YouTube (Make a commercial and share it on the platform of your
    audience.)
  • Instagram Promote the event by taking pictures of the group
    preparing for the event. Show the hard work)
    Have someone write a song or rap about you event. Use services like
    Fiverr.com to find someone to do this and other creative things.

Put your idea (or question)  in the comments below.

I’m Not A Fan Of This Religious Phrase, So I Use This One Instead

 

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The phrase, I’m broke but I’m not poor,  has been ringing in my head for a few weeks. I like it because it’s not “I’m blessed and highly favored” which, to me, comes across a “I’m better than you” as in “You’re not blessed and not highly favored”. It’s a matter of semantics I suppose. Both phrases confirm a spiritual truth, our economic status has little to do with our spiritual reality. Both statements are, or should be, a confirmation and a testament to God’s goodness not a brag on what we have, don’t have, or will have.

I am broke, which usually means I can’t buy what I want which is not the same as I don’t have what I need. I have everything I need in Christ. According to 2 Peter 1:3 I have everything I need to live a godly life, which should should be my sole desire in the first place. Broke doesn’t mean I’m poor. Poor is a mentality, broke is a temporary status, at least until the next pay day.

I chose to be a youth pastor,  like many chose to teach, be a police officer, or to work in a non-profit and others who choose  lower paying jobs to make a difference. None of those people are poor but they’re usually broke like me. Like them, I have no regrets, I’d do it all over again. The rewards are greater than the down-sides.

Maybe you’re like me, struggling to put your state of life into perspective, trying to reconcile your place in life with your faith in God. Maybe you are second guessing your choices. Don’t, you’re not poor, you’re broke. You live in a constant state of trusting God. What;s wrong with that?  If you’re in a mental UFC octagon fending off thoughts of inferiority,  and trying not to tap out, call your life what it is. It’s not a sin and you’re not a failure. It’s not a lack of faith to admit where you are but it is a lack of faith to believe you’ll always be there.

You’re turn:

What religious phrases phrases do you not like to use?

What phrase(s) do you use to bolster your faith?

Are you struggling to reconcile your calling with your economic condition? How are you working through that?

5 Crowdsourcing Ideas To Get Students Involved In Your Meeting

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I tried an experiment a few days ago. I texted a bunch of my kids, maybe 12-15, and asked them to take a picture of something that they are struggling with. They could have taken a picture of their homework, a bully, a teacher, their parents, etc. How many pictures did I get back? Nil, nada, zero. My first reaction could have been, “Lazy bums” but instead I decided to be patient. I may still get one or maybe not. This is a new thing I am testing so I cannot be discouraged when nothing happens. Our students are not used to me engaging with them this way, yet. I have a few other ideas I am thinking about , using various social media

Facebook

Picture needs a caption. Post a picture, funny or serious, and ask your students to write a caption for it. The picture could have something to do with tonights lesson. Offer a prize for the best captions.

Twitter

Send out a quote or a verse of scripture and ask kids to re-tweet it with a hashtag Like John 3:16 #Godislove. Use the hashtags in your meeting that night as game to see who said what or to create a slide with all the hashtags on one slide as an opener or closer to your lesson.

Vine

Vine is the best way create short, beautiful, looping videos in a simple and fun way. Have kids make a 7 second statement about a topic like homelessness, abortion, or whatever. Ask permission to show the videos in your meeting that night.

You Tube

Put a video up on your Facebook page or text one out and kids to comment on it. This could be a video you make or one already on YouTube. Use the comments to add t your points or as a discussion starter.

Instagram

I am really excited about this one. I think it has the most potential because teens love taking photos. The reason I think I failed in my attempt the get a picture back was because I was not specific enough. If I said, “take a picture of something gross and send it to me” my phone would have been dinging like crazy (makes me wonder how many photos of dog poop I would have received) Maybe I should have said, “Take a picture of something beautiful” Now, this pictures may not fit with my message but I could put together a worshipful slide show with a scripture at the end like, ” He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Eccl. 3:11

Those are my beginning ideas. I know have to bring this up in my youth meeting, get feed back, build consistency, build a habit, etc to make this work. Sporadic interactions are not going to cut it.

Any of these ideas float your boat? Do you think they will work or fail miserably? Did it spark any ideas on your end? Leave a comment, a crowdsourcing idea you’ve used, or one you just thought of, below.

Your Turn:

How are you engaging your students online?

What kind of feedback have you been getting?

 

10 Statements Youth Workers Will Not Hear On Judgement Day

 

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I wonder if the Lord get’s more excited about some who’ll stand in the judgement line before Him than others. I mean, God’s excited to see everyone who’s coming his way and maybe a little disappointed with the ones who’ll be taking a different direction, but I’d like to think the Lord would have a special place in his heart to meet  youth workers. Maybe he’d hold up the line a little bit, put his arm around them and share a moment with them knowing many of them had gone through a similar experience as he did in regards to presenting a new way of thinking or their radical style of getting thing done. Thankfully, here are some of the statements we may have heard in this life but we won’t be hearing in that face to face moment with the Lord.

Tell me about your numbers in your last youth meeting?

Don’t be late to staff meeting again

Deal with this situation.

You have to make youth group fun or kids will quit coming.

Outreach? Why would we want to do that?

Clean the van and get that funky smell out before the seniors use it.

You know you offended Sister So and So with that message, right?

Why did you have to reach those kids?

It’s not in the budget.

The music is too loud.

 

Now, I know that these are only a few of the statements /questions we hear as youth workers but the good news is we’re still only going to hear only one thing from the Lord, “Well done good and faithful servant” and maybe even get a high five.

Your turn:

What’s  the one statement you’re glad you won’t be hearing from the Lord?

 

 

 

 

 

What Bob Dylan And The Apostle Paul Have In Common

Saint Bob

Bob Dylan is an icon in music. The Apostle Paul is an icon of the Christian faith. Their iconoclasm is not where their similarities end. This post is the result of two random thoughts creating one big thought.

I was listening to my Bible app in Philemon and this short verse popped out to me

And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.

One thing that Paul had was hope. He saw himself getting out of jail by supernatural means. He saw beyond his jail cell, beyond his pain, and saw a bed reserved for hm.

The Apostle Paul was an eternal thinker and he exhorted the communities of faith he started to think in the same eternal perspective .

He told the Colossians

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:2

He told  the Corinthians

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

He told the the Philippians

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”

Now, this is where thought number two and Bob Dylan comes in. It was two days later that I stopped by the thrift store and picked up a copy of Modern Times by Bob Dylan. Bob’s raspy voice and blues guitar sang with passion in equal parts.  One of the songs on the album that really caught my ear was Beyond The Horizon. At first I thought it was a love story between lovers far away yearning to be close. As I listened closer I considered it was a lover yearning to be with their deceased partner (and it could have been been). I looked up the lyrics and saw three verses that led me to believe that this song is about death and what is beyond the horizon.

Beyond the horizon, behind the sun
At the end of the rainbow life has only begun

Like the Apostle Paul, I think Bob is an eternal thinker. He sees, believes, and affirms that their is life beyond the horizon. Something more beyond this life. Life begins at the end of the rainbow.

Beyond the horizon, in the Springtime or fall
Love waits forever, for one and for all

Bob, like Paul, believes love fills eternity and is available to everyone.

Beyond the horizon over the treacherous sea
I still can’t believe that you have set aside your love for me

Bob, like the Apostle Paul, is blown away by God’s grace (I Timothy 1:12-14)

I’m like Bob Dylan  in that I share a birthday with him and I have hope beyond the horizon. I try to keep my thoughts focused on the eternal and not on my circumstance. My prayer is that the Lord will save a bed for me next to Bobby and Paul, as one day, by natural or supernatural means, I will leave this prison and dance beyond the horizon.

Your Turn

Where have your thoughts been lately? On the earth below or on life beyond the horizon?

 

5 Words That Define A Successful Youth Staff Meeting

Five Words

We had our monthly Team Fusion meeting last night and as I was reflecting on what makes these meetings successful and I came up with five words.

Laughter

We usually meet for about 90 minutes and a third of that is spent in jokes and laughter. These people like each other and it shows.

Prayer

We eventually get to a point in the meeting where the conversations turns to the needs in the group and our adults begin to pour out stories of kids who are in need or crisis. We don’t wait until the end of the meeting because I know the needs can be great and we don’t want to treat this time lightly by rushing it.

Stories

Likewise, it is also inevitable that I ask, “Who are you connecting with?” and adults will share stories of kids they are getting to know. i love to share stories about kids journey’s and where they have come from to where they are now. These breathe hope into meeting and make us realize why we are meeting in the first place.

Action

I had several projects on the table for this meeting. I constantly learning to let go and trust the people around me. Not an easy task if you knew me very well. I love when adults take ownership of the ministry even if it’s a small task.

Questions

Sometimes leaders have to push back or make me be more clear. A meeting without questions means I am not challenging them enough or that I am only dispensing information and not allowing more conversation. Sometimes I need to be more clear about what I am asking them to do so questions are not only welcome but vital.

If you’d like the outline of my youth staff meeting I’ll be happy to send it to you. Just e-mail me at thedproject@me.com

If you are interested in how to keep good volunteers long term, check out my new show Mentor Me Monday below

Your Turn

What words define a successful youth staff meeting to you?

Leave me some of your words in the comment below.

 

Turning Your Youth Room Into A Courtroom

Turning Your Youth Room Inot A Courtrom-3

 

Just this week I did a video by the same title offering some ideas for talking about judging one another with our students. The video had come good inf but I thought I’d expand upon it even further. Here’s the video below.

If you like the video, don’t forget to subscribe to my channel.

This kind of series or lesson has multiple applications. Here are six themes you could use:

Here Comes The Judge – God’s Judgement

Don’t Judge Me Bro- Judging One Another Righteously

Witness for the Prosecution – Are There Any Witnesses To Your Faith

Your Life On Trial – What Are We Guilty and Innocent Of  (You could also also use Our Youth Ministry On Trial)

Judges Gone Wild – Character study through the book of Judges

 

In the video I mention building a judges bench but here are a few more ideas:

Have a student or police officer in your church be the bailiff for the night

Have a jury box for jurors (who will judge us?)

Have a witness chair (swear kids in)

Have students take up the roles of prosecuting attorney and defense attorney (which could be Satan and Jesus respectively)

 

You can get all the props you need right HERE

 

Feel free to add your own ideas in the comment section.

 

 

 

 

 

What If I Told You I Had 500 Students?

 

What If

 

Let me clear, I do no have 500 students. But what if I did? Would it change your perception of me?

Would you read my blog more?

E-mail me for success tips?

Try to be my best friend?

Buy me coffee?

Call me to chat?

Hate my guts?

I don’t have 500 kids and I probably never will. Can we still be friends? Connect? Talk shop?

My point is, it shouldn’t matter how many students I have. It shouldn’t matter how many kids you have. Yet it seems it does matter to many  youth workers.  Many youth workers judge success by the numbers and numbers = that guy is cooler, smarter, and more anointed than me. What if I told you none of that was true? Success has many meanings. If you have kids showing up at all, I would call that a success.

The number of student should not effect our relationship because

1. We are brother and sister ins Christ

Wes share the same spiritual DNA. If there are no Jew or Greek in Christ, there is no small or large either. Lets put our head together, pray for one another, and enjoy the fellowship God designed us to be in.

2. We can still learn from each other

People with smaller youth group than me still have great ideas and are great people. I want to learn from them. They have elements that are working that I have no idea how to get working my youth ministry.

You are probably a great youth worker no matter how many kids you have. You love those kids and you love Jesus. Now pretend for  a moment that that’s enough. How do you feel? Better? Good. Now take a deep breath and don’t pretend any more. Love kids, love Jesus and be happy with that if only for today.

Your Turn

How does your perception of success affect your relationships with other youth workers in your community?

 

Youth Ministry Reality: Our Public Life and Private Struggles

With so many stories lately of famous people committing suicide (Chris Cornell from Soundgarden, Chester Bennington from Linkin Park)  and hundreds more with no fame at all, I thought it was important to share some of my journey with depression with you.

When I say depression, I’m not talking about down days but weeks and months of down days. I have struggled with depression on and off for about 12 years and regardless of your beliefs about depression, as a Christian, I can tell you it is a real thing and a real pain in the butt to deal with. Let me also say, I am not clinically depressed or been diagnosed in any way, but I know myself better than anyone else, it’s something I am aware of and I monitor it,  pray about it, cry about it, plead the blood of Jesus over it, and then I move on. It’s what most Christians who struggle with depression do and it’s what most Christians in the church try to hide from others.

I know what you’re saying, “But Paul, you are always a (semi) happy person. You like to make others laugh, you like to help and serve other people.”All of these things were said about Robin Williams, and then bam!

Now, I am not writing this on the ledge of tall building but I am also not writing this from the top of a mountain either. It’s where most depressed believers live. There are good days and bad days, as with all things, but it’s the weight of inner thoughts that is so exhausting to carry.

I don’t usually share my condition for fear I will be scrutinized, judged, guilted, and even scriptured into even deeper darker places. To help those who serve the church, in a public capacity and to otherwise avoid these deeper, darker places.

Leaders in the church experience burn out, fall into tail spins and hit funks more than we care to admit. Here is a Google search I did about pastors and suicide ” Pastor commits suicide outside church”.  It seems incredible that lovers and servants of Jesus would do such a thing but they do and we are left wondering why.

Pastors, Youth Pastors, anyone in the church who has to get up in front of an audience and teach, preach, or train is a public figure. This public life can take a toll on us and our families. We live our successes and failures in public ways in front of a small audience called the Church. Every event, message, and outreach is scrutinized, commented on (personally and publicly), and in some cases, dismantled and demonized. How important is it for the church to understand or change the way they understand the pressure, pains, and problems of those who lead them? Let me offer a few thoughts.

Scripture says,

But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work.” I Thessalonians 5:12, 13

We must remember that Paul wrote these words from a prison cell. He had been through a lot at the hands of mostly religious people. It’s no wonder that he was encouraging the body of Christ to treat those that led them (the Thessalonians)  better than he had been treated. He asks that we esteem those in leadership and appreciate them.

Here are 5 ways you can encourage others and promote emotional health.

  1. Tell them privately or publicly (online) you were blessed by something they said or did.
  2. Tell them you are praying for them (and then pray for or with them).
  3. Tell them you are here to listen if they need someone to talk to, and do it without having a quick solution to offer.
  4. If you need to criticize, do it constructively, privately, with love, and with a willingness to be a part of the solution.
  5. Bless them with the gift of time off to recoup, be restored, and get emotionally healthy.

In the end, our hope is firmly planted our identity in Christ and not in the praises of others, although they don’t hurt either. I know that He who is in me is great than he who is in the world and that is enough for me.

Things have gotten better because of medication, prayer, and a few close friends. The when the shadow of depression looms large, I remember that I am not alone and wanted you to know that you aren’t either.

I went first. I shared my story. I’d love to hear yours. Tell me:

Are you a Christian who serves publicly and deals with depression?

How are you coping with the down days?

What do you wish people understood about you?

What do you wish you could share publicly with those you serve with?

How can I pray for you?

 

 

 

My 5 Principles For Leaving A Legacy

Youth Ministry is not just something we do in a church setting, it’s something we do everywhere there are young people. You can be legacy builders and never be full time youth pastors. Parents, teachers, plumbers, camp counselors, whoever loves students can be a legacy builder.

In my post yesterday, I shared the experience I had at camp this year when I went and spoke. It was my 14th year and the the fruit that the Lord revealed to me was amazing. As I reflect back on 14 years of speaking at this camp I want to share how I think I got here.

1. I never changed my message

My camp messages are small journey’s, taking kids from a place of brokenness to a place of healing. I always did my best to stay on message and not get caught up in the drama of the day or focus on the cultural whipping boy (or girl) of the moment. Jesus and his sacrifice and our response to it has been the centerpiece of my messages.

I used to try to be funny, work the messuage up a bit, but that only clouded the message I was trying to get across. Jesus got lost in my amateur comedy bit. When I focused my message and gave the students who I was instead of who I thought they thought I should be, that’s when I started to see the fruit of my labor.

Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus. – Alexander Graham Bell

2. I made time for  relationships beyond the meeting

I have watched camp speakers over the years, and all the good ones build relationships with students throughout the week. Maybe they eat their meals in the dining halls with the students or do activities with them, making themselves accessible.  I stick around and talk, pray, laugh, whatever, to just be with kids. I’ve seen too many speakers do their thing and then leave. I don’t think I would have seen the results over the years had I made that a practice.

In addition to making time for the kids I would hang with counselors in their off time. Sometimes we would go to lunch or we’d hang in the counselors library and chat of play games. Building trust with counselors is equally important as building trust with kids.

3. I did what God called me to do and then got out of the way

In the early days of being a camp speaker,  I would go back to a cabin and hang out or share with campers. I realized that I was taking too much responsibility and was over reaching with my influence.

I quickly shifted  from making myself the “answer man” and made the counselors the “go to” people. Counselors are the bread and butter of the camp. Most of them are college students who want to share their hearts and experience with Jesus and I don’t want to stand in the way of that.

God called these counselors to this camp to fulfill their purpose and me to mine. I speak at camp and allow God to do what he does and then I make the counselors the hero of the story; because they are the ones who spend day in and day out with these kids and I don’t want to get in their way. I want to support their ministry.

4. I down-played my role in the process

In the past 14 years I have seen the rise of the celebrity Pastor/Speaker. I don’t care much for it. In fact, I do my best to play down any kind of over the top compliments. I had a young lady call the The Almighty Paul, that made me cringe. She didn’t mean anything by it, she was being complimentary, but I quickly reminded her that there as only one Almighty and I am not HE.

It’s easy and fun to take the credit, but in the end, I knew I was just a conduit for His greatness to be revealed.

Humility is the true key to success. Successful people lose their way at times. They often embrace and overindulge from the fruits of success. Humility halts this arrogance and self-indulging trap. Humble people share the credit and wealth, remaining focused and hungry to continue the journey of success. – Rick Pitino

5. I challenged kids to be The Church

Yes, I want them to impact their schools, homes, etc. but I wanted them to closely identify themselves as the hands and feet of Jesus. I reserve Thursday nights as a challenge night for every kid to take their place in God’s Kingdom. We end in celebratory worship  to Jesus like an army marching off to a war that knows it has already won.

With kids who are graduating from camp, I encourage them to give back, be a counselor, be a Jr. Counselor, participate in some way. Thankfully many of them have answered the call and why the camp has great counselors every year.

It takes time and patience, but you can build a legacy right where you are. Stick to your principles,  make Jesus the focus, and you’ll be on your way

Your Turn

How are you building a legacy of discipleship in your youth ministry?

What are some non-negotiable principles that have helped you through the years?