The Youth Ministry Round Up #9

May the 4th Be With You!

Youth Ministry Round Up has been a great new format to get you all the stuff you want/need in one place. I think it best describe what I am trying to do for all of you. Create and round up the best stuff so you can continue to make life long follower of Jesus.

Quotes

Articles

How Much Are The Elements In Your Body Worth? 

Christian College Student Sang ‘Jesus Loves Me’ Before She Was Shot Dead in Waffle House

Evernote for Youth Ministry: Receipts 

12 Wendell Berry Quotes That Will Give You A Fresh Perspective

Videos

A Crafty Gift for the Christian Teen

If you are looking to talk about value, start with your own body. As a follow up, check out the article above.

Youth Ministry and Social Media Strategy

VBS Project or Just For Fun!

THIIIIIIIIISSSSSS!! 

Youth Ministry Round Up #6

Quotes

Almost every successful person begins with two beliefs: the future can be better than the present and I have the power to make it so. – Psychology Living

Articles

The Importance of “Hey, I miss you!” 

Christian group asks Netflix to pull ’13 Reasons Why’ after teen suicides

The Spiritual Practice of Humor 

Tipping Points In Spiritual Formation

Podcast

The Longer Haul: What to do with busy teens

Videos

Great series on Christian basics through drawing.

This is a fanatic testimony about acceptance and influence from a Youtube Creator. Pay attention youth workers, because they are paying attention to you.

Anyone else struggle with this? Fun opener for youth group.

My first live stream in a long time: Wednesdays at One

Youth Ministry Round Up #5

 

I just like this photo: So many lessons.

Articles

More People Likely To Divorce After Watching Porn, Study Says

How I Plan Curriculum – Heather Lea Campbell

How I Write A Sermon Series 

Mother Allegedly Uses Tazer To Wake Up Son For Church

Podcasts

This Week In Youth Ministry Podcast 

Videos

I check out my friend Boo’s Youth Room. Your not gonna believe what he has.

Work hard and you’ll get your shot – The Emergency Goalie

How Often Should Your Church Be Posting on Social Media?

Raising The Dead One By One

This is part four in my series 9 Dynamic Ways To Revive A Dying Youth Ministry. If you’re behind, you can start HERE

Sometimes, as a youth pastor, you will inherit a hot mess or a dumpster fire. The previous youth pastor did their best or maybe not. Or maybe the youth ministry you have just went south for a variety of reasons,none of which are your fault. How will you get it back on track?

Jesus didn’t call the masses to discipleship, he called whom he wanted one by one and two by two and that is where your youth ministry’s come back begins.

When I’ve taken over a ministry like this, which has been multiple times, I have developed some comeback steps that I think might work for you. Oh, and before you think this is an over night fix, this process is labor intensive and may take years.

Build relationships and trust

Part of trust building is not making promises you cannot keep. I never told the kids I could do something when I couldn’t and when I did promise something, I darn well made sure it happened. Students need to know you’re not just a good person, but someone who can do what they say they can do.

Trust your kids back

No, their probably not as trust worthy as you, but trust them anyway. Find reasons to believe in them. Find their gifts and strengths and create opportunities for them to  use them.

Speak life to them 

Like Jesus speaking to Lazarus inside that grace, we must speak life over those kids. Kids hear enough about what they can’t do, They also must contend with their own noise their head about not being good enough.

Yes, I understand, you want the youth ministry to be be bigger, but berating your kids to do it will not get it done. Stay positive, speak positive. Hope and action are stronger than negativity.

Call them out of death and into life

Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. It’s easy to tell when the dead are back to life. They walk around, they talk, they eat, but they are not the same

It’s possible that the kids in your youth ministry do not know Christ. They have not experienced the living Savior and are literlly powerless to change the growth trajectory of the youth ministry .

Go back to the basics. It doesn’t matter if they prayed a prayer at camp or raised a hand in church, if they don’t understand what or who they are accepting, change will not be forthcoming.

Give their youth ministry back to them

Part of coming alive is using what God has given us. I heard a great phrase recently, “the activity of God”. Kids will see the activity of God in themselves when they start doing what they are gifted to do.

If kids are only required to show up, play whatever game you’ve come up with an then sit and listen to you speak for 15-20 minutes, its no wonder your youth ministry is in trouble. Get kids moving.

Make everything about Jesus

If we are out of our mind, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all, therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again.…  I Corinthians 5:14

What compels you? Is growing the youth group the only thing? Put aside your ego and point to Jesus.

Because of Jesus’ resurrection we are doing this event

Because of what Jesus said we are doing this

Because of Jesus loved us we are reaching the lost.

Make it about Jesus, not you.

Check out part five: The Three Ways A Committed Mission Will Awaken Your Youth Ministry

What If You Don’t Make The List?

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I recently learned I didn’t make The Top 30 Youth Ministry Blogs of 2015. Thing is, I wasn’t trying to make it and only slightly disappointed that I didn’t make it.

Some of us have lists in our head we’d like to make

Pastors Top 3 Favorite Staff Members
Top 9 Hipster Beards
Top 5 Best Meme Makers In My Youth Worker Facebook Group
Top 100 Youth Workers In America
Top 2 Favorite Parents (in my own house)
Top Youth Pastor in my town (in a town with only 1 church, yours)
Top 10 Group Game Master

Of course there is no such lists, but if there were, would you want to be on it? How hard would you try to be on it? What would you be willing sacrifice to see your name there?

The lists we strive to be on tells us a lot about ourselves. The work we do isn’t to make a list because the kids we serve could give a crap less if we’re on anyone’s list.

Kids in our youth group want to be on our list of:

Top Kids Most Loved
Top Kids Worthy of Our Time
Top Kids Asked to Serve

We should have a long list, in no particular order, and easy to get on.

I am thankful we made God’s list of favorite kids and, in the end, it’s the only list that really matters isn’t it?

Your Turn

Are you working to make “the list” or to serve those who don’t give a crap if you’re on a list?

What list have you been trying to get on?

What have you been sacrificing to get there?

If you make it, will it be worth it? Why or why not?

The Hard Truth About Youth Ministry Blogging

The Hard Truth Abo

I’ve  had this blog for around five years and it has only been in the past two years that I have hammered down and posted at east three times a week. During this time I have learned some hard truths about youth ministry blogging and I’d like to share them with you in case you’ve though of starting your own.

1. Youth Ministry blogging is no different than any other kind of blogging.

Blogging is a narcissistic endeavor. Those of us who blog believe we have something to offer just like the small business man/woman or the politics policy wonk. I’m no different. After 25 years of serving the local church I came to the conclusion  that I wanted to write about what I knew and hoped it helped someone else. I’ve read a lot about what makes a successful blog (obviously not enough)  and my conclusion is this :

1. Work hard every day to serve your readers.

2. Be authentic and cut out everything that isn’t .

3. Be consistent in schedule and tone.

4. Value your readers time (write about what your readers care about) .

2. Youth Ministry blog readers are just like every other blog reader.

Let me first say that I appreciate you reading this post. If you are a regular reader of my blog I am super grateful for you but I thought the engagement would be higher, a.k.a comments, sharing, etc. Youth Pastors can be super generous people. They offer their ideas, facilities, forms, etc. and I thought that would reveal itself much earlier in the blogging process but I’ve had to pay my dues. I understand that just like every other blogger,  I have to earn that comment or that share. It’s not until I took you, my readers more seriously that I started to see your generosity manifest. I will continue to earn that trust every day.

3.  It’s hard to make money with any blog let along a youth ministry blog

Now, I didn’t start this blog to make money (and I still haven’t made any)  but it’s funny how when you hear you can make money you can become distracted from why you started the blog in the first place . In spite of hearing about all these ways to profit from my blog I have never run an ad, put up a banner, or even did Amazon affiliates. This is not to say these things will never appear but first I have to improve on the four statements I shared in point one. If I never make a dime from this blog I’ll be slightly disappointed but in the end I’ll be content that I’ve helped a few youth workers who’ve stumbled across something I wrote and it challenged their thinking, inspired their  hearts,  or gave them a laugh.

4. Many Youth Ministry bloggers are slackers (just like other bloggers)

Yep, I said it. How do I know this. I’ve engaged on dozens of youth ministry blogs and I’m shocked by the disconnect many bloggers have from their readers. I expect a lot from myself so I expect a lot from others. I answer every comment in a reasonable amount of time (within a day). I also think that if you’re in ministry, the bar for connecting should be especially high. This is what we do in our every day lives so why is there such a problem when it comes to getting back to someone who was kind enough to leave you a comment (good or bad) about something you posted. Having an audience or anyone willing to spend a few minutes reading your thoughts is a privilege and not a right and I wish more youth ministry bloggers would do what my mother used to say to me, “Poop or get off the pot.” .

5. The Youth Ministry Blogging community is not a community

I have no problem admitting that I was a bit naive when I started this. I thought there was a secret club of youth ministry bloggers that when I posted my blog I would reeive a golden invitation or welcome letter from the community, Instead, I got silence. This is not sour grapes, this is the hard truth. They say high school never ends and it’s true. The best and the brightest of any blogging community band together, help and support one another, and welcome each others posts and input. This has not been my experience. It’s neither here nor there. If you are from a particular theological slant, denominational background or have an affiliation with a large church or curriculum company  you may fair better than I but I have no pedigree or names to drop and I’m o.k with that.

These have been the hard truths about my experience writing content for youth workers. It’s suppose to make you see it how it is. It’s not meant to make you feel sorry for me because I’ll write and post until God directs me elsewhere, like podcasting, but, until then, I’ll continue to earn the right to be heard and I look forward to connecting with you.

Your Turn

Are you a youth ministry blogger?  What has your experience been in the youth ministry blogo-sphere?

Are you a reader of youth ministry blogs, what has been your experience with connecting with the authors?

 

Networking Advice For Passive Youth Workers

Networking Advice For Passive Youth

 

We just had our church’s Missions Convention this past Sunday and I caught myself actively connecting with the missionaries around the table at lunch. I could have sat and smiled and made generic conversion hoping to connect with some of the people around the table, rather I was actively connecting with a bunch of people I did not really know.  Let me explain the difference between active and passive networking if you do not know the difference.

Passive Connecting is about waiting. It’s about waiting our turn to share a story or comment that may be relative to the discussion. Passive connecting is about waiting to see if the people we are talking to find something interesting about us and will, but some miracle, have a desire to connect with us.

Active Networking is active listening and active responding. Rather than just waiting my turn to speak,  I caught myself actively listening for ways to connect with those around me and make them the focus of the conversation. Here are a few examples

In listening to the missionaries speak about their missions (Ecuador, Teen Challenge, and Romania respectively) I heard one of the missionaries share that they served in Brooklyn, NY. I grew up and Brooklyn so I engaged him and have a lovely discussion about NY Pizza and public transportation.

I also asked a lot of questions. Someone brought up about what kind of American businesses were moving in to their town or village. I asked them which American product did they most miss and the the people from Ecuador said Dr. Pepper and the folks from Romania said peanut butter. I now learned that if our youth group wants to be generous we could send out missionaries the comforts of home they missed most.

I am the network leader in my denomination for my area. I send them some messages on occasion and include some stuff they can use. They don’t ask me for it, I just give it. Every youth ministry I know of takes and offering. Usually it’s not hard to count because it’s so small. Our denom focuses on missions and supporting missions so there is an added emphasis and a small uptick in giving. I recently interviewed some missionaries and had them take my offering for me because I wanted our kids see that this money was going to “real” people. The videos I made for myself I put in my drop box and offered it to my whole network because I could and it may help their youth group take a better offering for missions.

The principle of active networking can lift your youth ministry, and your reputation, out of obscurity and make you the person everyone wants to have on their team. Why? Because you are perceived as a person who wants to …

– Listen rather than be heard

– Hear people’s stories

– See others succeed above yourself

– Find solutions and meet needs

In this process the law of reciprocation kicks in, you reap what you sow. Not everyone will throw a parade for you or even thank you but the ones who do will encourage you to keep being an active networker. So, what can you do?

– Offer yourself or the youth ministry to physically help another ministry with their project.

– Use your set of skills in social media or creativity to help a ministry promote an event (or their ministry)

– Raise money for a struggling ministry in your church or to help a new ministry do well.

– Create something for another ministry that makes their leader look good.

– Speak well of other  ministries publicly (social ministry, etc.)  and privately

Leave your suggestions (or questions) below in the comments.

Now, I have nothing to “sell” in regards to networking with missionaries, but I do want to represent my church and myself as “the people who get it and I give to it”.  My goal in networking with you, the local youth worker, is simple: create consistent epic stuff (like this blog, my YouTube Channel, creating cool stuff in my store, and the exclusive freebies I send out to my Fresh Impact Newsletter,) that matters so you can make an impact on the kids you work with, the church you serve, and the Kingdom of God you are a part of.

I just watched a #AskGaryVee  video and he was asked the question “How would you like to be remembered?” He said, and I paraphrase, “Even though I’ve only met you a few times, the impact I made will make you feel guilty if you don’t show up to my funeral.”

I can’t say it any better. So, wow can we connect so you won’t miss my funeral?

Your Turn

Are you an active or passive networker?

What are some of the obstacles to you becoming a more active networker?

If you could be more active in networking within your church what would you want to accomplish?

 

 

The 14 Youth Ministry Questions I Answered In 2014

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At the first of the year I posted 14 questions that were on my “to do” list as far as digging deeper into why we do what we do and how can we get better as a youth ministry. Well, it’s the end of the year and it’s time to see how well I did with this years questions.

1. What will define success this year?

I think, for us, it was about getting a semblance of continuity. Our band was up and down, our volunteers were up and down, and I just wanted to stop the motion sickness of our ministry. Right before summer we had some good changes in our band and staff and we were able to set a course for the future. We didn’t nail this one but I think we were successful in navigating the changes.

2. What worked last year? (2013, and should I repeat it?)

Some things we did not repeat

Youth Convention.The time was not right and we did not have the momentum.

Christmas prayer stations. No one missed them and no one asked for them.

We used to have a resource table in the room but I did not put the time in it deserved.

The Sunday Night SOAK was a Sunday night prayer and worship service that worked for a couple months but than faded.

5th Quarter – We did not repeat this because we just did not have the budget or the passion behind it like we did the year before.

Talent Night- Just didn’t make the calendar

Things we did repeat

Deeper Retreat to kick off the year

Nerf Wars

The Blitz (it’s now a staple)

3.  Do I have/What is/ our discipleship strategy? (How do I help kids become followers of Jesus)

I think we plodded along but saw glimpses of kids “getting it” and that was good enough for me.

4. What changes should I make in my youth room that will help kids connect with God and each other?

I was not able to answer this one. It’s back on my list for 2015 though.

5. How will I intentionally grow in my relationship with God this year?

Although I prayed and read scripture I did not get a breakthrough until I went and served at the NYWC this year.

While I was there I met with a spiritual adviser and served other youth workers. It was like my own personal mission trip.

Finally, I observed Advent this year by posting photos everyday until Christmas. I wrote a devotion every day and soaked in the anticipatory aspect of the season. You can check them out on my Instagram or on my Facebook

6. How will we reach out more effectively?

This was a great year for outreach,. Our summer Blitz program grew and we saw a lot of kids come through our doors. By the end of the year we saw several young men and women commit and re-commit their lives to Christ.

7. How will I grow my volunteers numerically and spiritually?

We added four new volunteers this year with the potential for one more. Two of the new volunteers will be launching our middle school ministry. This coming yearm 2015, is the year of skill building and helping our volunteers really take another step on learning how to minister to kids. I’ll be using some of the sessions from the NYWC as part of our monthly meetings.

8. Which relationships do I really need to work on this year (Pastor, students, parents, church people)

I think I’ll give myself a C in this area. Of all the areas I think I did a good job of building relationships with out young adults through various ministry opportunities.

9. How will I balance  my family/ministry time  better this year?

I had some great family moments this year by just committing to being at home more. Instead of making that one stop before I went home, I just went home.

10. What risks will I take this year to make an impact for Christ?

This is a tough one to gauge because sometimes everything feels like a risk and some things don’t feel risky enough. In 2015 though we put our stake in the ground on student leadership.

11. How will I use social media better this year to connect with  students and build our program?

I did pretty good at this and I am trying to be even more consistent. I connected ( and by this I mean I got a a few likes from students) with students though photo devotions and through Advent. You can follow me at instagram.com/thedproject

I also did a few online service videos for the holidays where we did not meet. I teach about how to create your own HERE and the tow I created this year are HERE and HERE.

12.. How can I do  better job of helping parents disciple their kids?

I sent out my weekly newsletter filled with links to articles and paid more attention to our Parent Facebook Group.

13. How can I do a better job of connecting our adults and students?

This past year we did a few church wide events such as Harvest Festival and we painted a local school. In addition we had a mens weekend where the younger and older men worked around the church and had service together.

14. Will we look/act more like Jesus this year than last?

I would say yes to this. I think the kids as well as our adult staff matured in Christ this year.

Your Turn

Did you use these 14 questions last year? How did you do?

What questions are you asking in 2015?

Let  me know in the comments.

Choosing To Be “Remarkable”

 

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This is a comment I posted in response to Ryan Handley’s post on being remarkable and thought I’d share it as a personal point of frustration with my own view of the youth ministry world.

I think I used to think remarkable was being flashy or over the top in some way. Although doing extra-ordinary, huge, expensive things, and shiny things will get you noticed,  it is not a sustainable ministry business model. The great thing is that the bar for remarkable, in any industry,  has been lowered so much that anyone can be remarkable if they choose to be.  Here are a list of things that I consider remarkable

Examples

  • Bloggers who respond to comments on their posts ( I can’t believe how many comments I have made on YM blogs and I never see a comment back. Truly unremarkable. Anyone else experience this?)
  • Bloggers who give away “secrets”, e-books, or tidbits of info for free instead of charging for it. ( I do this every week in my newsletter)
  • Bloggers who connect with readers for no good reasons other than to say hello or even ask for advice.
  • Bloggers who mention someone else in a post,  +1 someone on Google+
  • Bloggers who share someone else’s stuff even if they are “no bodies” in their industry
  • Bloggers who give credit where credit is due instead of having to be the know it all it
  • Bloggers who are generous with customers/readers

I consider these all remarkable acts and yet very few bloggers (Youth Ministry included) practice them, at least from my experience. But this is the kind of blogger I want to be. There has never been a better time and an easier time to be remarkable.

I have chosen to be and desire to be a remarkable, generous, and connected blogger about youth ministry to the youth ministry community. What will you choose to be remarkable at?

I recommend Seth Godin’s book The Purple Cow as a primer on being remarkable in life, business, or ministry.

If you a Youth Ministry blogger, what are you waiting for? How will you be remarkable in 2014?

 

 

 

Why I May Or May Not Kill My Blog

I learn so much when I listen to Seth Godin. I recently heard him on Rise to the Top. I believe in his phrase “Do work that matters.”. I would like to think that is what I do with my blog. Every post is a teaching or thoughts about youth ministry in general. I am not the most  knowledgeable voice or the most influential voice but I am a voice.

So, here is why I may keep my blog

1. I have knowledge to share and I want to share it, if for no one else I share it for me.

2. A way to put my thoughts down with the slim chance it might help somebody.

3. I want an outlet to post my creations in the area of youth curriculum, small groups stuff, etc, stuff I am creating for my group and passing it along.

4. I have a great e-mail list of people called Get It First. They are the first people to receive anything I create and I may just make the list exclusive. In other words I may take all my free stuff down and send it only to the people who care enough to sign up. I can just up my storage on my drop box account and send out files from there,

5. This is the most important reason: I want to build an audience around people working with teenagers that cares more about relationships than information.  Now, blogging may not be the way to do that. I have received very few comments in the past 3 years and I am ok with that. I don’t need a ton of comments to feel good about myself or anything and comments alone do not build relationships but I am grateful for the few comments I have received.

Here are some reasons I may kill it

1. It’s not the best format for relationship building.

2. I am not as a consistent blogger as I would like to be.

3. I may move to something else like You Tube. I enjoy making videos and I think I am a better speaker than I am a writer.

4. It cost me $200-$300 every few years to keep it going, In face, this may be one of those years and since I do not charge for any material, or run ads, etc. I  would rather not financially maintain the website

That’s it. So, pray for me as I debate, reason, and pray though what I should do and we’ll see what happens. You can chime in with a vote or a comment.

You can vote HERE. Don’t worry it’s only three questions.