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 #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?

Youth Ministry Round Up #4

Articles

The Day My Church Died (As sad tale, but a reminder that even the most spiritual endeavors come to an end.

Relentlessly Poking The Revival Fires

The Problem of Watching Porn and Playing Video Games – For Girls 

Podcasts

Ministry Zoo Podcast 

Videos

You Should Try- Great advice from Leslie Odom

Logic is a super popular rapper. Your kids know him. You should too.

If your kids love soccer, this could be fun around World Cup time.

This is a fun game. The channel is filled with great icebreakers, games, etc. The game even comes with a pdf that you can download HERE

The First Lesson I Learned In Youth Ministry

I was at a Youth Specialties NYWC and I was sitting in a Doug Field’s breakout session  and he said, “You don’t have to be original, beg, borrow and steal.”

Wait, I didn’t have to come up with all this stuff myself? It was ok to steal ideas from other youth pastor and youth ministries? This was pre-internet so stealing wasn’t as easy as it is today. I had to wait for the pony express to arrive to get the latest youth ministry ideas via magazine. I actually had to go to other churches and actually talk to other youth workers about stuff they were doing. Barbaric, right?

The internet has made it much easer to steal ideas from others. In Jeff Goins new book Real Artists Don’t Starve , he says

The starving artist strives to be original,                                                          the thriving  artist steals from his influences.

In the first post of this series, I tired to convince you you were an artist and not just a youth pastor. I hope you’ve since added the word artist to your vocabulary and your resume. What we do requires prayer, wisdom, and a whole lot of creativity. That last one is where we can get stuck.

I have heard many people, even youth workers, say they are not creative. What? Youth Pastors, above al things are creative. I mean, youth ministry is creativity gone wild.

We have to be creative with our budgets, our games, our themes, our messages, and our programming. We ooze creativity. Creativity is almost mandatory if for no other reason than survival.

The God we serve is creative and by His Spirit in us we have access to al the creativity we need to make our youth ministries work. We don’t have to be original, we just have to steal creatively.

I would never suggest that we steal someone’s message, especially verbatim. I would never suggest we not give credit where credit is due when we use someone’s idea. There must be honesty in our thievery.

We should steal from other youth ministries, but only if it serves our kids. We shouldn’t try to steal an idea and then cram that round peg into our square hole. We can, and should,  adapt it , change it, and refine it to fit our ministry uniquely.

We should steal from culture. God is not absent from our culture. He certainly has bee maligned and obscured but if the scripture says that His glory fills the whole earth, that means God is present in our culture and we have the opportunity to bring him to the front.

I “steal ideas all the time. I “stole” from The Hunger Games when I created my best selling Hunger and Thirst Games outreach/curriculum

I “stole” from Star Wars when I created a similar outreach called Soul Wars: Winning The War Within 

I “stole” from the TV show Top Shot when I created a series of small group lessons for guys called The Apostle Paul’s Guide To Living A Top Shot Faith

I “stole” from Playstation when created a message series called Greatness Awaits

I did not “steal” creative license or content from any of the notable  intellectual properties that I mentioned. I as influenced by them and turned them into useful things for my youth ministry. You probably do the same.

As Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the son.” All  good ideas and inspirations come from God. You have access to the same God I do, so you can take the influences around you and put them to work in your youth ministry just like I did mine.

Jeff Goins says,

If we want to become artists, we are going to have to break some rules. We cannot do just what is expected of us. At some point, we must break away from the status quo and forge a new path. As it turns out, this is how creativity works best.

Stop killing yourself, as I did, in an effort to be original. To be the first kid on the block with a new toy. It will never happen. “Steal” from those around you, give credit where credit is due, and put your your own spin on things.

Creativity works best not when we are trying to be original but when we are “stealing” from others. Break a few rules, do something unexpected, and you may find that creativity comes more quickly.

BTW, feel free to steal as many games and ideas from my Youtube channel. That’s why I put them there.

I hope you’ll grab Jeff’s book, Real Artists Don’t Starve, and dig a little deeper Into your creative and artistic nature.

Check out the third post in the series:  3 Tips For Apprenticeship While You Looking For A Master

 

6 Reasons You Should Never Abandon An Idea

ge-ideas-are-scary

This GE commercial (below) about an abandoned idea evoked strong emotion in me. I was angry and sad. I hate having an idea and not being able to use it but I would never abandon it. Where is this ideas parents? I mean, really, who creates this idea and just abandons it? I was mad and wanted to hunt the Idea Parents down and lecture them about Idea Care.

What would I tell the parents of this idea?

Don’t get rid of that idea!

All ideas are valuable.

Ideas are creative unctions which push life and society forward.  Ideas are God’s way of saying, “Get busy and make things better”. There are no such thing as bad ideas just ideas who don’t have the right conditions to thrive.

It may be the wrong place for that idea.

You may change locations and that idea will work perfectly. As a youth pastor, it depends on the culture of students as to whether an idea will fly. One group loves retreat, one hates them. Five years into my current church I have done a retreat in it’s traditional form but I keep all my ideas because I may use it somewhere else.

It may be the wrong time for that idea.

The time may come where that idea is useful. Time passes and each class of kids I move on make room for kids who have different ideas. I may have to graduate 2-3 classes before an ideas can be received.

It may be that you have some groundwork to do.

While I am am graduating kids I am teaching, preaching, and building relationships. Until I can bring my ideas to fruition I am spreading, what Seth Godin calls, The Idea Virus. While I am waiting,  I’m sowing seeds of Kingdom potential that one day will sprout. I must always remember, some sow, some water, but God brings the growth (I Cor 3:6)

It may be that the  idea needs tweaking.

Take the idea and run it through some different filters. Look at it from different angles. Your idea may be waiting to be used in a way you had not intended it.

It may be this idea isn’t for you, it’s for passing on.

I am an idea hoarder. My Evernote is bursting with them. They are my babies, but I won’t be able to use every idea I have in my current location and I may never find a good time to use it.  It may be that I have this idea in my pocket to share with someone who needs it. My YouTube channel is another vehicle for delivering ideas that I may not get a chance to use but I  pass them on people for whom my idea is just what they needed.

Your Turn

Where do you keep your ideas?

What idea are you working on and which of the above statements describes it?

If you can’t use that idea, who around you can you pass it on to?

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.

 

 

 

 

 

From Idea To Reality In Four Steps

We are coming off a great night last Wednesday. We saw our kids fulfill one students desire to have a youth choir. We showed that a kids idea can go from thought to reality.

Step one in bringing a kids idea to fruition is first to listen for passion cues in key phrases. What is a passion cue? A passion cue is something a student says that reveals what they may be passionate about. Even a complaint may be a passion cue in disguise. Here are some of phrases that may cue me in to the possibility of a kids passion which may result in a new project, outreach, or program idea:

“I wish we could..”

“I think we should have…”

” I wonder if we could..”

“Is it possible to..”

“Why can’t we …”

What do we do after we here one of these passion cues? What is our method of getting these ideas to fruition? I recently shared this four step response with our staff and is the second step  to bringing the idea to reality.

Second, consider the request. Is it self serving or does it serve a greater community need or a need of the group?

Third, pursue the student. This is where we usually drop the ball by not following up. Ask the student whether they would be willing to head it up. Ask them why they think their idea is important to the group or community. If they’re not willing to at least share the idea with the group or share in the leadership of idea, then the passion is not there. But that doesn’t have to be the end of it.

Fourth, ask them, “What if we could help you make it happen?” Offer support, in the form of helping to publicize or help them plan the event or service. .

The third step is the easiest. Get it on the calendar, make a big deal about it, and then execute it. When we implemented the choir as a project, we used the second half of our service to execute it. Did we lose a few kids for a few weeks, sure, but on the night we sang, we had 25-30 in the youth choir, including some visitors and we blessed our Wednesday night adult crowd.

Yes there will be balking, but that will be by the students who have no ideas, no better ideas, or no conviction to make their ideas a reality. Move forward and watch what God does.

What are some other passion cues you listen for? How do you bring kids ideas to the table and make them a reality? Share your story below.

Risk Taking Youth Ministry Part II

This is Part II of my interview with Youth Pastor and Risk Taker Mark Cox

How did the students, leaders, parents, and pastor respond to your wanting to change things?

Right off the bat, there were mixed reviews. Don’t get me wrong; a lot of people were supporters of the idea. However, there were a lot of people that were scared. They loved what we were doing. So it took a lot of selling to help people understand that this wasn’t just a good move for us, but that it was a God thing.

Almost all of our committed youth workers were pumped about it from day one. It just took us a couple of months to hammer out some of the details, because this change affected other areas of our student ministry, too.

My pastor wasn’t the first person I talked to about this move, either. My process looked something like this: As soon as I realized that there was a potential to go down this path, I called Shane Combs, the youth pastor at my home church (Emmanuel Church of Greenwood), because he currently implements this strategy. I picked his brain longer than he was probably comfortable with. Then I talked with a couple other youth pastors about it (you rarely get kick-back from people in your field about big changes, so don’t rely on their “thumbs-up” as your only guidance). I went home that night, and prayed with my wife about the issue. She told me that if God was leading me to make this change, then she was 100% behind me. At this point, I felt it was necessary to talk to a couple of our core volunteers about it. After a lot of lunches and phone calls, I proposed it to my pastor. He’s not a details guy, but loved the concept of training students to lead their peers, so he was on-board.

Really, the only response that wasn’t a “go for it” kind of response came from my close friends (youth pastors, volunteers, etc) who know my weaknesses (details, foresight, etc). That was a major part of this transition – bringing people alongside me in the process to help me see the side that I wouldn’t naturally see. Overall, though, we saw a pretty overwhelming positive response to the change.

How did the launch go? Was it everything you thought it would be?

The nature of a launch is excitement. The nature of small groups is intimacy. So our launch wasn’t so “launchy.” Sure, the students were excited about it, but it’s much easier to gauge the excitement from a single room, than to read facebook statuses and tweets after the groups met.

OK, that was really narcissistic. The launch was actually really cool. One student got saved in the first week, and four more got saved in the second week. We’ve definitely seen God’s hand on what we’re doing. And as far as numbers go, we’ve never been one of those churches that see several people make decisions every Sunday, so this is definitely a new thing God is doing. Its really exciting seeing God move each and every week. It really changes the way you look at church. Momentum plays such a huge role.

 

Question: What advice would you give to others thinking about a program change in ministry?

Man. That’s such a huge question. I guess if I was to boil it down to the smallest elements of it all, I’d say three things:

  1. Make sure it’s from God. If this is a you thing, it’s not gonna happen. God has clearly shown us that true change comes from Him, His Word, and His Son. If you want to drive big change because you read a book and you want to adapt someone else’s model, just make sure God is leading you to make that change for the sake of the people – not because of a fad
  2. Over-communicate. One of the main mistakes you can make (read: “that I made”) is not bringing enough people alongside of me to go on this journey together. People inevitably have a lot invested into your church. If you come in with a sweet new plan, but don’t include those people in the process somehow, they’ll get burned. I’m not saying to hand the vision of the project off. I’m saying that it doesn’t take much time to purposely give people buy-in. Plus, it will pay off in the end.
  3. Follow through. I’m really good at starting stuff and not finishing it. There were a couple elements of the change that I put more than enough focus on. Yet others were left needing some work. This is the kind of project that deserves deadlines, reminders, and plenty of detail work. You can’t be too prepared.

There are so many other pieces of advice I have (communicating clearly with your senior pastor, staying positive, etc.), but I think these are the core principles I kept going back to.

Thanks Mark for sharing this critical information on change and taking risks for the glory of God in youth ministry. I’m asking all my reader to pray for you, cheer you on, and consider what risks this interview has challenged them to take,

You can follow Mark on Twitter @markhcox

Check out is blog at http://thinknextnow.com/

We’d love to hear your comments and questions for Mark so ask away.

Risk Taking Youth Ministry Part 1

Our gigantic youth ministry experiment commences tomorrow night. Can’t wait to see what happens!- Tweet from Mark Cox 9:11 PM Aug 24th via web

This is the tweet that was that catalyst for the following interview. I love it when youth pastors take risks. I hate it when other youth pastors see other youth pastors take risks, and say , “I can’t or I’m not allowed to do that.”. After seeing the tweet, I knew I wanted to know more and I wanted to tell other youth past that risky youth ministry is not only possible but mandatory if we are wanting to reach students for Christ. Here is Part I of my interview with Risk Taker Mark Cox

Mark, tell us a little about yourself and about the current youth ministry you are serving.

I’ve been in youth ministry ever since I graduated high school. I spent my four years in college being a volunteer youth worker, and became a youth pastor as soon as I graduated college in 2005. I’m at a great church outside of Little Rock, Arkansas called Indian Springs Baptist Church. I happen to believe that I have the best students on the planet, but I might be biased :).

Our youth ministry has a pretty exciting history. Before I came, Daren Neely was the student pastor, and he led it well. Our youth ministry has always had a lot of influence with the students in our area. That’s why it was staggering when we started experiencing a decline in student involvement.

This interview came about because I saw your tweet and my heart just leapt in my chest and said, “This guy is about to do something risky. I want to know more.” Tell me about the youth ministry before the change,

Yeah, we’re definitely stepping out on faith.  Our student ministry has always been one of simplicity, strategy, and intentionality. We aren’t your typical “youth group.” We learned early on that a lot of the events that were expected by parents were dragging the energy out of us student pastors. When it came time to put effort into what matters most, we were drained.

So, we stopped doing the things that drain us (filling a calendar with meaningless events). We became a very simple student ministry. The few things that we decided to do well were our Wednesday night service environment (church for the unchurched), Sunday Morning Small Groups (the “next step” environment), and camps, retreats, and mission trips along the way.

This was a great change for two reasons: we could focus our efforts on making the few things great (rather than OK) and we could send our students out to create meaningful relationships with those who are far from Christ (rather than having another church event where we can hang out together).

This is pretty much what our student ministry looked like before our transition. We did a great service on Wednesday night, designed to reach any student on any level with God. We broke down into small groups on Sunday morning to dig into Scripture and go deeper together. And we planned a few strategic events throughout the year to keep the fire going.  And it was working…until recently things changed.

What was God doing in your heart leading up to the change?

As a leader, when things don’t go the way you would hope, one of the natural responses is to start questioning your own leadership. I don’t care who you are – when you’re not experiencing momentum in leadership, you tend to start expecting mediocrity. I think there were even times I started to make excuses for why student involvement was so low. I think I was just trying to make myself feel better by explaining it away. The truth was there, though. Students weren’t getting saved. Our outreach service had turned into a Christian club.

I was so frustrated, because I know the principles that lead to apathy, and I knew I let it happen. A friend of mine challenged me to re-read Andy Stanley’s “7 Practices For Effective Ministry” around that time. This is one of my favorite books and I figured it could help me sort through a couple issues. I got to the chapter that focuses on the third principle, “Narrow The Focus” and I had no idea what I was about to encounter. I was minding my own business, reading through the chapter, when I read the following words:

“Maybe you need to eliminate what works, so something else can work better.”  (“7 Practices, p. 106)

I froze. I knew what God was saying. He’d been preparing me for this moment for months. I didn’t need to process it. It was as clear as anything I’ve ever seen or heard. That day, He supernaturally communicated to me that I should kill our services, and move to a system that empowers the students to lead their peers. No more spectatorship. Transform the students into youth pastors.

From that day forward, I spent a lot of time talking to the wise counselors in my life (my wife, my youth pastor, and some other trusted ministry friends). They all said the same thing: God has obviously spoken to you. Now, you just need to figure out how to do it and get rolling.

What did the change look like and why was this the way you thought the change was supposed to go?

The change ended up being fairly smooth. I’d always been told that church fights would happen and stuff like that. I don’t know about other people, but that just wasn’t our story.  Specifically, we were killing our midweek student service to allow our students to lead evangelistic small groups in their homes, The goal is two-fold: to reach students who are far from God and to train our core students to become servant leaders in the same event.

In order to do that, we had to spend 3 weeks talking about what it would look like. This included a lot of vision-casting, stats, plans, details, steps, and communication. We recorded it on video, so we could replay it to those who missed out (we released all this in one of our most dead times of the church year). One of the things we were afraid of was that so many people would be gone during this transition, that when school started again, the people who missed these talks would show up at our building wondering what they missed. It didn’t happen this way. The beauty of social media is that you can implement buzz marketing if you just have a few committed students who are willing to get excited about it. Soon, word spread and people got educated.

The change itself took a total of 5 months. We spent almost a month talking about it on Wednesday nights, and spent two months training our student leaders. The first two months were spent honing in on what God was doing (and if He was the one doing it). I’m glad I spent that intentional time seeking Him, because driving change without the Spirit’s power is a suicide mission.


How Strong Is Your Foundation?

It’s simple, you can’t build a 2200 sq. ft house on a 100 sq. ft foundation and yet we have all tried. We’ve tried to build on hype and hype is short lived. Those who want to build their youth ministry large, must build the foundations wider an deeper. Scripture says, ” When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3

Here are my top five foundational builders

  • Doctrine– I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. If we are not teaching our students biblical beliefs we are building on sand. Storms will come and if our students are banking on our next worship services to get them by, we are in trouble. Try teaching through the Apostles Creed for a semester. Doctrine is the steel that is laid throughout the foundation to tie it all together.
  • Relationships– Go to that wedding, that funeral , even if you don’t have to. It’s foundational. You are showing that you care about more than just a youth ministry but a whole church family. Keep your relationships with parents, staff, and students hot. Make that phone call, post FB status’ when kids succeed, send that e-mail to parents, it matters. Ministry does not happen without relationships. Ministry is relationships.
  • Vision– Where are you going? Where are you promising to take them ? What has God put on your heart and what has He shown you in His word? Organizations need vision. Make it plain and then follow up with the steps to make it happen.
  • Execution– Do what you promised. Nothing will send cracks through your foundation quicker than unfulfilled promises.
  • Mentoring– If you are not training students to lead, don’t unpack, you won’t be there long. We must have a plan and a path to lead students along. Weekly meetings with key students (see #2) and empowering them to do all that God has put on their hearts (see #3) will only strengthen the foundation. Don’t do a for a student what you can train a student to do.

There are more, but these have been my core values for over 20 years. Did I miss one? Let me know what has been foundational for you.