Off Road Preaching: How To Keep Your Message From Bogging Down

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When I prepare a message, most of the time, I usually know where I’m gong with it and I have an outline in my head. There are times though when I leave the prepared path and go muddin’ (as they say in the south). In preacher talk we call them rabbit trails. Talking and preaching like we have all the time in the world, is like a fun day at the mud pits. Well, it’s fun for us but the people in the passenger seat may not feel the same way. 

Unless your students like to sit and hear you preach for hours and hours, like mine do (insert eye roll here), we all have a limited amount of time to say what we feel like God has put on our hearts before kids mentally check out on us. Remember, muddin’s fun but we can also lose track of time. A rabbit trail here and a mud sling there can add 10 minutes to our message that is not necessary. Those ten minutes can suck up our prayer time, response time from kids, or worse, it could get us stared at and watch tapping from parents at our door. Before you swing that oratory wheel screaming, “Yeee Haw!”  take another look at your message and ask a yourself a few questions.

Is this necessary? 

When I say we should examine our message before we speak, I am not taking about slapping on the rubber gloves for an invasive probing. If you write out your messages, look at your introductions and decide how far you have to go before your kids are with you. Ask yourself whether the story fits, is the intro video too long, and whether the game you want to play really gets you group moving in the direction you want them to go. Much of what I want to say may be fun or cool but isn’t necessary.

 

Where am I going with this? 

The old adage, “Begin with the end in mind” has saved me a ton of time and grief. If I know my kids need time at the altar I won’t put a lot of fluff in the beginning. If I know that I just preached an intense series and our kids need to lighten up a bit I may close with a funny video. If I have a feeling that our kids need to connect with each other I may have them team up at the end and pray for each other. As tempting as it may be, I cannot afford to do all these things in one night so something has to get cut. I have to think about the end of the night and where God is wanting me to lead our students.

 

What is the Spirit saying? 

Not too long ago  we had what was called a SERVE night. It was not a normal service night because kids would be breaking up into small groups for projects. On these kinds of nights we only do a couple of songs and then break up so kids will have time to serve. One of the songs that night had a closing chorus that said, “let the veil down, let the praise go up, we’re in the presence of the Lord.” The Holy Spirit pinched my heart and said, “Let’s go muddin’ here”. I decided to trash my mental notes and spend 10 minutes talking about the veil that was torn in two when Christ was crucified and that many of the students were living on the wrong side of the veil and not entering into God’s presence. After using a few student as an illustration, I invited kids to “pass through to the other side of the veil” and into the Holy Of Holies, Best muddin’ ever! Kids came to the altar for prayer. I cut MY stuff for Spirit stuff and the kids had plenty of time for serving.

Asking these three questions before you get up to speak will not only save you time but will help you get your kids where God needs them to go faster. Off Road preaching is fun, just remember whose in the truck with you.

 

How about you? Where do you tend to go muddin? Games? Message?

Do you feel like you tell too many jokes or get onto issues that have nothing to do with your topic?

Tell me about it in the comments.

Thursday Morning Quarterback : How To Deal With Angry Parents

 

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It’s Thursday and maybe you had some drama in your youth program last night. Did I say maybe? There’s always something going, sometimes it’s big, sometimes it’s small, and sometimes it’s nuclear, like an angry parent.  I have had my share of conversations with parents who were not happy with me because of a game we played or something I said. Those conversations did not always go well. The good news is I grew up, had kids of my own, and gained perspective. Now, you may not be there yet, but you can still minister to parents with grace and love.

Whether you get a call on Wednesday night  or Thursday morning there is way to handle the angry parents that will not make matter worse. Here are my tips for dealing with the not-too-happy-adult.

1. Listen

Whether the parent calling is justified to be ,angry or not they simply want to heard. You will feel the need to be defensive but I encourage you to resist that temptation as it can only make the situations worse.

2. Evaluate

Work through the statements being made. Are they of genuine concern or is it a venting session. If it’s option two see tip number one. If it is a genuine concern, be empathetic. Share their concern and don’t just pass it off as another parents who does not “get me”.

3. Take Action

There are lots of options here you can take to show the parent you are genuinely concerned. Offer to:

  • sit down and talk about the situation
  • tell them you will look into it (and then look into and get back with them asap)
  • agree with them if they are right and make changes
  • ask for their input as to how they think the situation should be addressed

4. Look for the Win/Win

Sometimes an angry parent can rattle us, especially if we’re new to our job but that does not mean we anyone has to lose. Confrontation is not fun but it can be an opportunity to win over and minister to parents. Whatever happened at youth group may not be the main issue, t may be just be the last straw of an already stressed out life. Look at it as a ministry opportunity.  Look for the win, not just in the moment, but for the future as well.

How about you? What are some of your tips for dealing with angry or concerned  parents?

STEPPS 6: Creating a Youth Minstry Of Contagious Stories

 

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Every youth ministry, not matter the size, denomination, or ethnicity, has a narrative. One year into serving at my current church, a tornado came a stole our church. We spent the next year rebuilding. Our youth ministry remembers that year. We met in other church youth rooms, we met in tiny tiny, restrictive room, but through it all we grew and ministry. That story defines us. We are a come back story, and overcoming story and held together until we could get our legs under us.

Jonah Berger’s STEPPS 6, and his last in his STEPPS of how to make something contagious, is Story Telling. When people ask about our youth ministry, how quick are we to tell them what we believe verses telling them a story about where God has brought us from and where we are going to? One of the main reasons the Christian and Jewish faith are so strong is because of the tradition of oral story telling, remembrance and celebration. What if the Bible were called the Greatest List of Rules, Ever  instead of The Greatest Story Ever Told. The former has no traction and would actually repel people away (and does). What can we do as a youth ministry to help creat contagious stories?

Testimonies

Letting kids share in the weekly service is powerful. It builds faith and gives kids a chance to be interactive with the service don’t limit kids to sharing “how they met the Lord” but I  let kids share how God is moving in their lives and what their hopes are for the future. I also let kids share what our youth ministry means to them and share their hearts with their peers and fellow believers.

Powerful Moments

As much as I love to preach I don’t worship it. If I did,  the youth service would quickly become about about me (and it has in the past) . That is not to say that kids are not touched by preaching because they are, especially if the illustration is powerful. But, sometimes I curb my preaching in favor of prayer time, worship time, prayer stations, or other connecting moments. I used to see my role as fiery prophet with “The Word” for every one, but age and experience has taught me that my role is to connect kids to God and if it means me shutting up, so be it. Besides, most kids will not remember what I have preached or any of my messages, but they will remember their moments with God and that is what it’s all about.

Pictures

We have a Wall of Fame hallway in our youth room. They are filled with pictures of kids, past and present, involved somehow with our ministry. It could be a camp picture or kids just hanging out. When a new kid comes into our room they eventually look through the hallway and check out the pictures to see who we are as a community. If one of our regular kids brings a guest, and they are in one of those pictures, they will tell their friend the story behind that picture.

Take-aways

One of my former students, now married ( I was blessed to officiate her wedding) ran across a take-away I had given her for graduation, a baton. She sent me a picture of her holding it (this is the photo at the beginning of the post) and I asked her to elaborate on how she felt when she found it. Here is what she said to me

“Well I was digging through some stuff in my old room at my parents house. And found it (the baton) in my closet. My first thought was, “I gotta show Paul what I found!” Lol but then thoughts of the meaning came back to me and what it represented. 10 years ago in 2004 you handed me that baton and told me to keep running the race. I think I did that but it has more meaning now. My baton has been passed on through the kids that I’ve ministered to. And some of them have their own batons. It’s a never ending cycle. Another thought after I sent you the picture and got your statement of still running the race… It was a heart check. A reminder that the race never stops. That I am still receiving and giving batons. Even though my life is COMPLETELY different now, my race is still being run at 28 as it was at 18. You never stop running. You never stop living. You never stop having batons, it’s just what you do with them. And if you pass them along.”

What a blessing. This is the kind of stories I want here 10 years after ministering to kids.

Now it’s your turn.

How can you stir up more story telling in your ministry ?

Do you have place where you hang photos in your room?

Do you follow up camp with slide shows?

Do you let kids share their hearts in service?

Tell me how stories are impacting your ministry? Or may how they are not impacting your ministry?

Leave me your thoughts in the comments section.

You can read all the posts in this series by starting HERE

Here is Jonah Berger talking about contagious stories

STEPPS 5 : 10 Ways Your Youth Ministry Could Be More Practical

 

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Yes, teenagers should go to church, be in a community of faith, but sitting home and playing video games or doing homework sounds like a more practical idea. If our only answer to the question, “Why should I come?” is  “You’ll have fun” there are a dozen other ways that kid can have fun. You may get a kid to come one time with the “You’ll have fun.” but it better be really fun or they are not coming back. What practical things does your youth ministry offer that would get a kid to come through your doors and maybe stay? Here are some practical reasons I offer kids who are in our church but not in our youth group

– We can help you become a leader.

– We can give you opportunities to use your gifts and talents to serve others.

– We can offer you practical world experience on one of our missions trips.

– We can offer community service hours through local missions.

Those are just a few things in the realm of the practical, but you may have other things to offer such as

– Job training

– A drama team

– A fine arts program

– College scholarships

– Tutoring after school

– A killer band that tours in the summer

Yes, there are scriptural reasons to be part of a youth ministry/church. God calls us to be a part of the Body of Christ somewhere. If your town is like mine, there are no shortages of churches to choose from who have similar reasons to be a part of their programs. Parents also look at practicalities such as how close the church is to their house, is the group a good fit for my kid, and is are the economics of the church similar to my own. You could present those practicalities like this:

– We offer camp scholarships to new students

– We have a small group bible study in your neighborhood

– We have several kids who go to your child’s school

Bonus

– We offer free counseling

By all means, be as impractical as you want. Be the Yale of youth ministry where it’s hard to get in, hard to connect,  and even harder to stand out, but the reason most kids don’t go to Yale is because not practical. It’s better to be the community college where everyone can get in, find their place, and excel at their own pace. If you have worn out your super spiritual reasons list to come to your youth ministry, try making a practical list instead. The kid(s) who are getting practical help for their problems, practical wisdom from God’s word,  will be more likely to share with others who have the same problems.

What problem(s)  does your youth ministry solve?

Leave me five practical reasons a kid should come to your youth group in the comments section.

STEPPS 6: Creating a Youth Ministry of Contagious Stories

Here’s Jonah Berger talking about being practical

 

STEPPS 4: Taking Your Youth Ministry Public

US-AUTO-FORD MUSTANG-50TH ANNIVERSARY

Our youth ministry recently sponsored a 5k run/walk for missions. We asked out local police to help out with the run by blocking off the roads as the runners ran. We did not have a huge contingency of runners, about 30. We had a few slower walkers in the back and the police blocked off our road in front to the church, stopping traffic both ways, to let these runners finish. It took about 1o minutes. If people did not know where our church was before , they do now.

It’s the 50th anniversary of the classic ford car, the  Mustang. As a way to draw attention to their brand they pulled a stunt they did 50 years ago. they took a Mustang apart and put it back together on top of the Empire State building.

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We may not be able to pull of a stunt like this, but youth ministries are good at thinking of outrageous things. For me it was things putting a DJ up on the church roof for a 5th Quarter and putting my whole youth group in jail to talk about tithing. These stunts are about making noise, and saying, “Look over here!” But, if we are going to public, we had better have some some fire behind that smoke. Making noise is fun, but have you every been to a restaurant that was overly hyped only to find out it was no big deal? The key is make the right amount of noise that is consistent with our substance. Every week is not a party. Some weeks it’s preaching and small groups. I don’t just take picture and videos and pics of epic events, but of very normal stuff we do from van rides to

the food we cook in our cafe.

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The run  we  had was a public event with signs and runners representing a good cause, missions. My hope, as a youth worker and believer, that kids in our youth ministry will pass along their faith every week once they leave our youth room.  I want kids to invite their friends, but sometimes our kids sometimes cannot put into words what we do or who we are.  I mean, they say things like “it’s fun” or “people are friendly” and that is all true and a fair representation of who we are, but I try to give them an extra nudge each week to sharing who we are.

Jonah Berger says, “If we can’t see what others do we cannot imitate them.” The point of the videos and pics are not as much promotional “come join us” as they are a glimpses into who we, and to show that the faith we live is a faith students outside our youth ministry can embrace as well. Every 7 second video on Instagram of a game we play or part of a worship song is a different dynamic of who we are and to hopefully get give our students a way to share who we are and get their friends thinking and believing  “I could be a part of that.”

In what ways are you making what you do and who you are, in your youth room every week , more public?

What platform of social media do your kids like to share on most?

What kind of media do your kids share the most? Videos? Pictures? Posts?

STEPPS 5:  10 Ways Your Youth Ministry Could Be More Practical

Jonah Berger on taking what we do privately more public.

 

STEPPS 3 : When People Care They Share

 

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The third  STEPPS principle Jonah Berger shares in Contagious is : When People Care, People Share.

How much do your kids care about the youth ministry? You could ask your teens, “How do you feel about the youth ministry?”  but those can and do change daily based on …well… everything. One way you can tell if the kids in your group care about it is whether they are sharing it with others either in person or online. We can’t control how kids feel but we can influence them to feel better about being at church versus feeling worse. Here are some things I do, on purpose, to dial up the care factor.

I want people to feel welcome

I do my best to have a brief conversations with just about every kid even if it’ only a “Hey! Glad your here”. Now one likes to be ignored and if I do not have the time before service I make sure another or adult or student is making the rounds.

I want kids to feel glad they came

I want kids to feel like they made a good investment on their time. They could be home doing something else, but they came to be a part of a community of faith for 90’s minutes and I don’t want them to regret it. I want them to feel like they made a good choice. I don’t want to waste their time with boring.

I want kids to feel connected

We do small groups once a month for the lesson time. Kids get up close and personal with each other and the adult leader. Teens care about relationships and I want to give them a chance to care about each other and become a gathering  they would not want to miss.

I want them to feel at home in God’s house

I do a lot of videos about room design because I think the space we meet in matters. The meeting space can make people care. Why do people go to Starbucks? Sure it’s for the coffee but why do so many hangout there? Because it’s warm , inviting, and says, “Stay a while and drink that $5 latte.” The smell, the music, and the furniture all play a part in feeling welcome there and they designed it on purpose.

I want them to feel respected

I always do my best, when I share the message, to speak up to kids not down to them. I don’t treat them like idiots and they don’t know anything. My kids know a lot , they have the internet you know. They just may not know the right stuff. After they hear a message I want them to say “You know, I didn’t agree with everything he said, but I appreciate the way he said it.”

I want kids to feel like they matter to God

We do service projects around the church and around our city. Even during the offering time I remind our kids that every dollar goes to support our missionaries. I ask kids to help me lead the service by helping with communion, moving tables,  and cleaning up after service. All of this helps a kids feel like they did not just show up to hear a message but to help the program happen. Just like Olympic runner Erick Liddell said in the movie Chariots Of Fire ,” I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.Kids feel God’s pleasure when they serve in big or small ways.

I want them to feel God’s presence

Yes, this is a subjective statement but I cannot tell a kid whether he did or did not feel God. I do my best to get out of the way of my message by not being to funny or focusing their attention on me. I give kids a chance to respond to a call to know Christ by coming up front to pray with someone. Before the worship band plays I encourage kids to sing, move, and participate because if they do, their actions will lead to feeling not the other way around. It’s not whether God shows up when we gather, because he does (where two or more), the question is whether we are allowing kids the opportunity to participate with God while He is there.

In the end, I can’t make kids feel anything at youth group,  but I can create experiences where positive feelings flow even if I preach a hard message or not everything goes as planned. Any growth I’ve experienced in the youth ministries I’ve led is because a teenager felt like we cared and when we care, they shared it with others.

How do you create an environment that kids care about being a part of?

How have you seen kids share their experience with others? ( I love when a kid leaves a positive note on Facebook after service)

Which of the ways above can you work on to make kids care a little more about coming to your youth group?

Leave me a comment and tell me how you are encouraging kids to care about their faith and about what God has done for them.

Tomorrow: Taking Your Youth Ministry Public

Here’s Jonah Berger talking about emotional sharing

 

STEPPS 2 To Sharing What Your Youth Ministry Is All About: Spiritual Triggers

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In the days of yore, people would tie strings around their fingers to remind themselves to do something. Today we have apps for that but reminding kids about their faith in Christ and their place in our community, called the church is a reminder we cannot afford to forget.

Yesterday I shared about the importance of sharing what your youth ministry does best with your online community and the five STEPPS you need to consider if you want your youth ministry to be contagious. Today I want to share about Triggers. Triggers are things trigger or remind of things. Triggers could be a jingles, photos, music, a place, etc. that remind us of of experiences and evoke feelings and stories. Let’s first examine the top two things we should be reminding kids about.

1. Their experience or commitment to Christ

I can clearly remember my commitment to Christ. It was at Life For Youth Camp in 1982-83. I was there for a weekend camp and I was struggling with some issues as all teenagers do. My counselor and I sat in the game room and talked and then we prayed. I can remember crying and then opening my eyes and the whole world looked and felt like it had been created in that moment for me. The world was fresh and new. I have been speaking at this camp not for 12 years and sometimes I’ll go in the game room and look at that bench and think about that night.

Camp Memories are some of the most powerful memories for me and for many of the students I have served. One of the challenges in youth ministry is helping kids remember those times and those commitments they made to God, not in a sense of guilt but to help them remember their best times with God. How do we do that?
Three of the ways I use triggers in our youth ministry are photos, music and takeaways.  During a camp or retreat I take a ton of video and pictures. I get the photos blown up and put them in our youth room in a section called Fusion Fame. Kids will walk through the hallway pointing and telling stories about this and that. After camp I show the video in youth and main church if i can, so that kids and adults who did not go can gt a glimpse of the fun we had. I show the video again a few months before summer camp the next year to remind kids of the great time they had and why they want to come back.

The second way I help students remember their commitment to Christ is through music. The worship services at camp or concerts we attend are powerful nights filled with great music. During camp I make note of the worship bands set list and buy all the songs they sued during the week. Back in the day I would make kids a cd of the songs so they could remember those worship services. After concerts I would buy a few cd’s and give them away at the next youth meeting. Now,  I simply upload music and send a link to them so they can download it. To me, creating triggers through out the year to remind kids of their faith and God’s love for them are as important as the event itself.

The third way I use triggers are take-aways. Take-aways are things that kids can physically take away with them from an even. I had some custom wooden trophies made for an awards night we did and kids still have them to this day. On graduation day I  gave away rulers with their names engraved on them to remind them of  how to measure their lives. I have given away journal, devotions that I especially wrote for an event, wooden crosses, and a host of other things with the hope that they would act as triggers one day that remind them of their experience with God.

2. Community (This is where I belong)

The second thing I want to remind kids about is that our youth ministry, their church, is where they are loved and belong. Kids come and go and so I am always trying to look for ways to help kids connect and deepen their binds with other kids and leaders so it would be hard for them to leave. If a kids stops coming to our group that is ok, but if kids quits going anywhere that is what saddens me because they are missing out on epic moments in a Christian environment called the Church, life in community. Those early years, middle school usually, are critical to helping kids feel like they belong to our youth ministry because we want them to be life long believers, growing in their faith, to become adults with strong faith.

Jesus offers his own disciples a trigger of sorts, one is communion. Jesus said,

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

Jesus also said, after washing the feet of the disciples,

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

 As a youth ministry we are always trying to deepen the level of community in our weekly meeting. Although we have not done a foot washing service we do have communion at least once a quarter to remind kids we belong to Christ and each other. We also have used small group prayer time to end our services where they pray for one another rather than me closing with prayer> we have also sued prayer stations with a testimony time afterwards. Not every community builder has to be series.

Every summer we do 10 weeks of Tribes where we break our normal pattern of service so kids can get in teams and compete every week to win a trip to a fun place like bowling, laser tag etc. These Tribes play together, pray together, win together, and lose together, but in all things they grow closer.

Those are just a few ideas we use that we found that work for us. How about you?

What triggers do you use in your youth ministry?

What do you try to remind kids of?

What kind of stories do you want your kids to tell about your youth ministry to their friends?

How do remind kids of their experiences with God?

I’d love to hear how you are working out this process in your ministry. Leave me you triggers in the comment below.

Tomorrow: Evoking Emotion (Not Manipulation)

Here’s Jonah Berger explaining Triggers

5 STEPPS To Sharing What Your Youth Ministry Is All About

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I’ve recently read the book Contagious by Jonah Berger and he lays out five STEPPS every  business or group that has a brand, product, or message should think through if they want they want to be contagious. Let me make a distinction before I break down Berger’s STEPPS. I believe there is a difference between building a youth program and building God’s church. You can build a youth program in a church but not function as the church if you know what I mean. Lots of kids gathered in one place does not mean we are functioning as God’s Body with Him as the Head. The Bible has everything we need to build his church. Slick marketing techniques will never produce the kind of fruit that the supernatural power of God produces, but that does not mean we can’t do a better (at the mechanics of being contagious) job of spreading the message we have been entrusted with.

First STEPPS: Social Currency – Share the best of what represents you

Social Currency is defined by Wikipdia as “It derives from Pierre Bourdieu’s social capital theory and is about increasing one’s sense of community, granting access to information and knowledge, helping to form one’s identity, and providing status and recognition.”

So the questions we could ask as a youth ministry are,

What do we do best?

How can we share it?

Where is the best place to share what you do best and will reach the most amount of people?

For our youth ministry, I like to film our band and out games. Those are two pieces of content that our kids value and will most likely share. I video our games and put them on our Youtube channel, not because all our kids subscribe to it (they do not) but because I can share it on other platforms like Facebook and Google +. I have also started sharing smaller clips using Instagram’s video because the majority of our kids respond with likes and comments there even more than Facebook.

I have recently started letting kids use the Photobooth on our Mac. They discovered you can change the lens to make really funny pictures. The other night they must have taken 20 photos with all kinds of people in them. I took all those pictures and posted them as an album to our FB page and my personal page so that kids could tag themselves and share as they pleased. In the future I can also those pictures and create more sharable promo pieces like this

Weird

If you’d like to purchase Contagious you can CLICK HERE

Now it’s your turn.

Answer thee questions in the comments, I’d love to hear you work through the process.

What do we we do best that is worth sharing?  Worship? Games? Life change? Missions?

How an we share it? What’s bests? Photos? Video? Tweets?

What’s the best platform to share it? Where are your kids that would help them like and share it? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? All of the above?

NEXT: STEPPS 2: Spiritual Triggers

Jonah Berger describing Social Currency

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday Morning Quarterback : Where Was Everyone?

 

 

 

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I am starting a new weekly series called The Thursday Morning Quarterback. This phrase comes from the the term “Monday Morning Quarterback” which is/was a term for critics, journalists, and every day fans who like to chime in about the game they didn’t play in but feel like their qualified to  know what everyone should have done in the game.

No one knows better than a youth pastor of how Wednesday night or whenever your program meeting occurred. You planned it, designated the goals, and executed it. There always things we could have done and there will always be critics of what we should have/could have done, but  we are still the most qualified to judge our actions.

Let’s use this Thursday morning approach not look at the game film and see where we succeeded, failed, and can get better. Let me start with a critique of myself. On watching my performance on the jumbo tron screen of my mind, I saw myself  under valuing the students who  came to be a part of weekly program. I saw myself dejected and sharing that dejected spirit in from of my kids. I was mic’d up and heard myslef say “Where is everyone?” to announce my displeasure at the size of the group that showed up. I quit saying that a few years ago and when a kid would say that  I would say, “What do you mean? All the important people are here.”. Of course I said that with a grin and if someone else walked in I would say “Look , another important person has arrived!”

For me, it’s important to value the kids who come. Thank them for serving. Compliment them if they did something good. This kind of investment has paid off as many kids come because this youth group may be the only place they receive that kind of encouragement. In fact, I had a kid, who had been through a lot, tell me on the phone just the other day because I told him he was “making progress”. He said, “I’d don’t hear that very much any more.” If we ever hope to see kids encounter Christ and ultimately see our youth ministries pass the faith along, it won’t be by telling kids their not good enough, that they’re slackers, or that their not being good Christians, but kids will show up in droves if they know there is a place they can go that will walk with them and encourage them through tough times.

How about you? What are examining on the game film from your last program, small group, or class?

Are you examining your calls? Personal performance? Offensive or defensive schemes?

Share your personal “game film” thoughts below.

 

 

Comic Book Movies As A Catalyst For Spiritual Growth

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

short rant:

Yesterday I was listening to the Iron Man 3 soundtrack (songs inspired by the movie)  and was saddened by the lack of inspiration on the songs. Looks like the bands did not see the movie. This is an action movie, but the songs don’t take me there. I mean really? Imagine Dragons Radioactive does’nt make the cut?

Let’s remake this soundtrack with songs that inspire, challenge, and rock. Leave your suggestions in the comments below. I’ll start: The new single from Saliva : In It To Win It, the clean version of course.

Onward

I just saw #BatmanvsSuperman and it was pretty awesome. I’ll have a post up soon about the spiritual preaching implications of the movie. For now, here is a post a wrote when Iron Man was hot.

I love comic book movies. Many of them tell stories that compliment the biblical narratives that already exits. The Avengers, Batman, and even The Green Lantern share themes that impact us all, the struggle between good and evil, self doubt and self confidence, and sin and redemption. If we  have a good knowledge of scripture, the lessons jump out at us.

Comic book movies are modern day parables. Some shiver at that thought because they think these movies will replace the parables Jesus taught, but that is an unfounded fear. Comic book movies are this generations parables and they give youth workers and children’s workers a great opportunity to connect life changing stories from scripture to students’ every day lives. Pastors, of a certain age, love to reference, or build sermon series around, examples of war and sacrifice in their messages to relate spiritual truths. Comic book movies are no different.  I learned a simple definition of a parable years ago that helps me discern movies today” Parables are earthly stories with heavenly meanings. If the movie has no spiritual message or redemptive value, if the movie puts us down instead of lifting us up, then it’s probably not a very good movie.

Although the directors of these movies do not intentionally (as far as I know) set out to tell a parable to help us in our spiritual growth, I believe God favors stories that compel us to realize who we really are and inspire us to take action to do good.  Connecting the dots between comic book movies and spirituality goes back to us knowing the eternal themes of scripture and God’s action in sending his Son Jesus, the ultimate hero, to redeem us from a fallen world. If we get this, we’ll have no problem drawing the biblical parallels to spiritual truths that our kids need to hear through a medium they are already familiar with.

Do you plan on using any upcoming comic book movies as a launching points for spiritual discussion?

Have you used comic book movies in the past to relay spiritual truth? Which movies have you used?

Which comic book movie(s) draw the greatest spiritual truths?

Don’t forget to add your song that SHOULD be in the Iron Man 3 movie.