Asking is the Scary Part

I recently watched a TEDTalk by Amanda Palmer. She is a musician and artist. She gives away her music for free and trusts her fans. That is pretty scary stuff. What if her fans say no? She shares about several instances where she would tweet out and ask for a place for her and her band to stay to her fans. This is pretty scary, I mean, you have no idea what the house looks like, are there enough rooms, will there be food, etc. It’s pretty untraditional but her fans have not failed her yet.

Here is her talk here

Of course that got me thinking about what I do. I share all my resources for free with our Get It First subscribers, I post every day about ideas and concepts that my altar the way someone looks at God, themselves, or their ministry to young people. In the end I asked myself, “Do i trust my audience? And if I do, how much do I trust them. Which led to this video. below

So, there it is. I have put myself out there in the hopes I will hear from those who enjoy the freebies but also look to my blog for insights and inspiration.

I have until March 14th to update my blog. It’s not going away. I may have to scrape to get it done, but I’ll get it done. This is more about me being brave enough to at least ask you if you find what I do of value. If you do, would you consider donating? If you can’t that’s ok. It does not mean you do not value the resources or the time spent in creating a unique voice about youth ministry. Thanks again. I look forward to hearing from you.

Feel free to share your thoughts below about about the video(s) or tell me what you are afraid to ask for? What preconceived ideas do you have about the answer you might receive?

 

Fighting The Resistance: Challenging Teens To Share

 

 

Getting Your Students To Step Up To the Microphone

Have you ever come back from a retreat, camp, or event where God moved powerfully and then were met with resistance when asking kids to share their experience? Yeah, I’ve been there too, but recently I have tried to head off the resistance with a simple plea to those who went to our yearly youth convention. Here’s what I asked of them, feel free to steal, modify, etc.

Hey All,

It’s been a few days since convention and I hope you all had as good a time as I did. I believe God did something in my heart and I am pretty sure he has done something in yours as well.

I’d like at least one of you to share tomorrow night at Fusion. I know what you’re going to say “not me” “I am not a good speaker” etc. etc. but consider a few of these reasons why you should share before you answer:

1. It will encourage people to go next year. If the rest of our group does not know that God did a work in our hearts, why would anyone want to go next year?

2. Like the messages we heard, it’s time to step up. It’s time to stop using excuses like the ones above. Sharing is a simple way to be obedient to what God did in our hearts.

Finally, and maybe the most important,

3. If we don’t share what God has done, if we don’t declare his goodness to others, how long do we expect that good work God did in us to last? It’s funny how many times kids come back from camp and within a week “lose” whatever they got. One quick way to hold on to, keep, nurture, and protect what God has given us is to share it, we need to let our own ears hear what God has done.

Revelations says 12:11, “They OVERCAME him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their TESTIMONY; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

I want you to be over-comers. I will help you.

So, with that said, I am asking you to pray through the fear, the doubt, and the anxiety and share what God has done in and for you.; for your benefit and the benefit of others.
If you say no, no hard feelings. I will not put you down or think any less of you. This is what I do guys. I lay the challenges out there, so you can pick them up.

I love you all.

Pastor Paul

Your Turn

What has been your experience with kids sharing/testifying in your youth ministry?

How do approach kids to share what God has done in their lives?

 

Taking Time To Redefine

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This product probably tastes like it was named, but I love when a name matches of something matches it’s purpose. Like the plunger. It plunges into the toilet and does it’s magic so i do not have to. O.k. that may be a poor example, considering the example above, but isn’t it true that the a good name could reflect or define someone or something’s purpose without having to think about it?

The name of our youth ministry is Fusion. It was the name I inherited. I probably could have should have re-branded it when I go their but I wanted the kids to do it.I ask them once a year, “Are we still Fusion? Dos the name reflect who we are now?” Most say yes probably for lack of a better name but some have adopted Fusion and use to describe their experience “Awesome night at Fusion!” – FB post

I have two questions:

1. Does the name of your group/small group/sunday school etc. still define who you are and what you do or what you want to become as a ministry?

The second questions is a bit selfish on my part but if you could answer in the comment section, that would be a blessing. I am on day 3 of 31 Days To Regaining Your Blogging Mojo by Bryan Allain. 

The challenge was how to answer the question:”What is your blog about?” My answer was “To disciple, equip, and train youth workers through compelling and challenging posts and to help them disciple their students through the free resources I create for them.” It’s a bit long, and true, but not very sexy. So I ask you:

What is this blog about? Am I on track with my vision? Does the name tell you what this about?

Thanks in advance for the comments you leave below. I am looking forward to your thoughts. Bonus: Check out the other 19 Most Horribly Named Food Products

Avoiding Buzzer Beaters In Youth Ministry

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Tis’ the season for buzzer beaters. I love watching buzzer beaters, but I don’t want to ever be in a situation where the game is down to one shot. Like this latest one.

The clock is always ticking in youth ministry (and life)

  • the clock in ticking until our seniors graduate from our ministry. 
  • the clock is ticking until camp (make those arrangements)
  • the clock is ticking until you are supposed to have that talk with that person (and you are ignoring it)
  • the clock is ticking until you have to turn in those receipts
  • the clock is ticking until you burn out from lack of time in rest and prayer
  • the clock is possibly ticking on our time as full time youth pastors
  • the clock is ticking on our current job/role/ministry
  • the clock is ticking until we the day we die

I don’t want my life, faith, or ministry, to come down to a buzzer beater. I want to be ahead by 20 points in the final minutes. My production on the court of life means taking every opportunity to build a relationship, share the gospel, preach that hard message, confront sin in my own life, and produce as much art, like training videos and extra articles to equip youth workers who watch their own countdowns tick down.

So, If I should be blessed enough to die at 85, here is what my count down would look like. I hope when the final second ticks off I’ll be exhausted, fulfilled, and way ahead in every area of my life.

 

Where are you at? What quarter of the game are you in? What event are you counting down to? Are you ahead? Tied? Behind? Where are you trying to beat the buzzer? Will your life come down to one more shot? Tell me about your countdown below.

If you are looking for more Buzzer Beater advice where I share my weekly schedule and other tips, you can check out my article Buzzer Beater Secrets For Youth Workers 

10 Ways To Look Positively At Your Youth Ministry

I am tired of that negative voice in my head. Do you know the one? The one that makes you second guess your efforts? Make you wonder if you or you’re youth meeting had any impact?

These kind of thoughts make you wonder whether you’re good enough, smart enough, or brave enough to lead your group?  It’s time to tell that voice to shut up.

Author and speaker Seth Godin calls this kind of thinking, The Lizard Brain, the part of our brain that is all about surviving, hiding, and avoiding risk, instead of thriving.

I have spent too many Thursdays (post youth meeting) rehearsing my pain to anyone who would listen. I used to, with much haste, send  up the white flag of disappointment without even looking at all the good that God did and is doing in my life and ministry. Join me in considering these statements to turn around your thinking :

  • God called you. You showed up. Remember that day.
  • Kids showed up. Maybe not as many as we’d like but they showed up.
  • A student grew in their faith, learned something new, and stepped up to lead
  • You saw where you could improve. Next week will be better because you learned something about yourself, about God, and about the students you serve
  • You lived to fight another day, to change, to grow.
  • Someone in your youth ministry loves you for who you are and would miss you if you were gone.
  • God is not disappointed with you or your group. He is proud of you and is ready to help. He is moving in your group in ways you cannot see but He is moving. He promised He would.
  • You found a way not to do something. A game didn’t work, a program element failed, etc. Let it inspire you to do it better.
  • You loved someone unconditionally and revealed the heart of God.
  • You went home to a great family or friends who don’t care if you’re a great youth pastor, leader, or communicator.

Is that negative voice picking away at you today? Tell it it’s  wrong.

Living Your Oscar Speech

 

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photo credit: http://in.socialtimes.me/articles/2013-01-11/official-oscar-app-launched-on-android-and-amazon

I watched about half of the Oscars, after The Walking Dead of course. and I reflected on some of the speeches. I love Jennifer Lawrence of Hunger Games fame and now an Oscar winner for Silver Linings Playbook. She is young and unpretentious and her speech was honest and heartfelt. Some use this speech time to slip in political statements like Marlon Brando’s no show at the 1973 Oscars. As believers in the ultimate rewarder of faith, we should learn from the former rather than grandstand like the latter.

For youth workers, and all believers, our “Oscars” wait for us on the other side of this life, but that does not mean we should not be living our speeches now. Here are a few things we should draw from many of the Oscar speeches of 2013

  • Remember to thank those who got you to where you are (those who believed in you and gave you a chance)
  • Remember to thank those who helped you make it happen (your volunteers)
  • Remember to thank the previous generation of youth workers for blazing a trail for us.
  • Remember to thank your family. These are often the least thanked but most vital to why we are able to do what we do. They sacrifice so we can minister to kids.
  • Remember to be humble for any accolade you may receive. I am thankful for any comment, retweet, and FB like I get. If you see a frog on top of a pole, remember it did not get there by itself.

The best advice of the night came from Ben Affleck, snubbed in the best director category, “They taught me not to hold grudges”. As Christians, we have many opportunities to be offended, bitter, and form grudges. Ben Affleck proved you can be classy and classy wins in the end.

Go out and now live your Oscar speech even if you never win anything. Stay classy youth workers, God has your reward waiting for you.

Did you watch the Oscars? Were you inspired, offended, or amazed with any of the speeches? Let me know below.

*Making Disciples May Take Longer Than You Think (and other warnings)

 

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An asterisk appears when someone wants to let you know something important like

  • someone collaborated on writing this song
  • there is a special warning about this product
  • there is special information you need to know about this step

The asterisk’s for youth ministry could be for

  • your group may not grow as fast as you think or want or it could get to bigger than you think 
  • results may vary (just because it worked for my group…)
  • your church may not like you
  • your kids won’t always get it or want it
  • disciples may take longer than you think
  • you may not get to stay at this church very long so just do your best
  • you’ll have good and bad days
  • reminder: the church is not perfect and people can be jerks
  • there will be unexpected blessings in spite of your circumstances
  • teenager are more fun than you think
  • batteries not included so have a few red bulls handy

The asterisk, and some of the warnings above, should appear

  • on every youth ministry product
  • on your college diploma
  • on every blog post you write
  • on every tweet
  • and maybe should be tattooed on our butts when we are born

All this to say, life and ministry come with asterisks.. The most important 2 asterisks to remember though is

  • no badly how you screw this up, God will never leave you
  • when you succeed, give all praise to God

What asterisk have you discovered in your live and ministry that you wish had been posted in bolder letters?

Making Youth Ministry A House Of Stories

I love games. Not just youth group games but table top games of all kinds. I recently listened to a podcast from Plaid Hat Games where they discussed emergent narrative in games. According to the podcast “emergent narrative is a story that is discovered during game play that is beyond the mechanics.”

There are games that have mechanics but no story, such as chess, checkers, Trouble, etc.  Pieces are moved, pawns and checkers are captured, and there is a winner and a loser. On the other side, consider two young boys playing army, either in real life or with army men, or two girls playing with dolls; there are no written rules or strategy to this kind of play and because of that, play is story driven.

This whole concept of emergent narrative jogged my mind to how we teach our students and live out our own faith. Another great quote from the podcast, “The more complex the game the less likely a narrative will emerge”. This quote challenged me. The more complex I make faith, the less likely my kids will see a bigger story at work or find them in that Story.

Why do kids leave the faith? It could be because youth pastors focus too much on the complex rules and mechanics of faith and less on the greatest story ever told.

My advice: Let’s stop asking kids to  “come play this “game” with me, read this giant “rule” book called the Bible, and I’ll judge whether you are “playing he game right”” and start saying “let’s go on an adventure of faith and let’s see how our story merges with God’s story to create more stories.”

Do you tend to focus more on mechanics or story? What were you taught as a teen?

 

Breaking The Curse In Our Community

We recently broke a 10 year curse in our community, I call it a curse because, Psalm 133:1 says, “A song of ascents. Of David. How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” if it is good and pleasant when we dwell in unity then it is bad and awful when we do not.

We are one of two churches in our community, of the same denomination, about 3 miles apart; and our youth ministries have not done anything together in over 10 years (it’s probably longer) until this past Sunday night.

I was at a retirement banquet a few weeks ago and ran into a former intern. She mentioned she had a bunch of clothes that were donated, that need to be washed and sorted. I said, our group was looking for a project. Need meets solution, curse broken. We set a date and our youth groups did a good work to meet the needs of families needing clothes.

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This “chance” meeting resulted in a community event which strengthened both our groups.  We both said this should not be the last time and I hope it is not, but as with all things, we must make room for it.

What will it take, beyond prayer, to make unity happen? I say beyond prayer because Jesus became a curse for our sakes. The work has been done and it seems the ball is in our court. Maybe the only thing we lack is the resolve to make a decision.

How about you? Is there a “curse” in your town that needs to be broken? Has a “curse” disunity been broken in your city? What will it take to break it?