child2I’d love your perspective…

How young do you think a child can be to legitimately become a Christian?

We can certainly have some fun with this, and definitely get off on some tangents…

but I’m genuinely asking.

Please share your thoughts.

As you do, here’s something to complement our conversation from the late Rich Mullins.

Cute-Kid-PrayingHow young can a kid become a Christian?

What’s been your experience?

What’s your thought?

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 9.04.12 PMI have written a bit about the issue of school debt and how detrimental I believe it can be for people. But it’s not just me, there is more and more research about the negative long term effects of school debt. More on that in a minute.

I just know many people who wish they would’ve handled getting loans differently; many wish they never did it. On the other hand, I have a friend that is very thankful he went into debt. He is a brain surgeon, so his wages are far beyond the normal person. I would like to share an article I recently read about this issue that I think you would be interested in regardless of where you fall on the spectrum. But before I do that, here are 5 things I commonly tell high school/college students when they are trying to figure out whether they should take out loans:

  1. Consider spending time talking with people who have debt to gain real life insights into the experience you will have paying back the money. (Hint: It usually takes 15-20 years.)
  2. Consider taking 5 to 8 years to complete your bachelor’s degree so that you can work and pay your way through (or at least a big portion of it). I personally did this, taking 6 years to work my way through.
  3. Consider attending a community college the first couple years to get general education out of the way.
  4. Consider going to a state school versus a private school.
  5. Consider applying for as many scholarships as possible, regardless of where you go to school.

Even though the price of a college education continues to rise (for many reasons!), there are still options to get through school with minimal, if any, debt.

I recently came across an article about a Gallup project that found the well being of people with school debt to be less than those without school debt in the following 4 areas: purpose, community, financial and physical health. In fact, the article states people with debt to be “struggling” or “suffering” in these 4 areas. Granted, school debt may be the only means for some to obtain a degree, but the long-term effects are beginning to be realized.

Here is one direct quote from the article: “Gallup noted that even after controlling for socioeconomic status (using the common proxy of the mother’s highest level of education), the most indebted graduates still had lower ratings in well-being.”

How does your experience relate to this?

Chuck / @chuckbomar

Be sure to share this article with college students you work with/minister to. Also, check out LIVE College, an editable curriculum designed specifically for college-age students!



Back to School books for Teenagers on sale! Shop Now!

We have all the slick new stuff you need for the fall season in youth ministry.

Sure, they don’t open your garage door or remind you to feed the cat…but these books WILL help enhance what you’re really passionate about: youth ministry!

Three of our best sellers are only $0.99 right now!

3 top-selling books for students on sale. Shop Now.

99 Thoughts for the Creator

Regular Price: $6.99 

Sale Price: $0.99

Totally Infatuated

Regular Price: $7.99

Sale Price: $0.99

99 Questions Jesus Asked

Regular Price: $6.99

Sale Price: $0.99

Plus, dozens more resources are flying off the shelves with A+ worthy prices! Click here to see all the awesome ways you can enhance your youth ministry this fall without busting your budget.

For questions on anything Simply Youth Ministry, contact Jake at jrasmussen@simplyyouthministry.com or 1.866.9.simply.

Facebook = Data Hog

 —  September 10, 2014 — Leave a comment

Have you noticed that recently the videos that are popping up in your Facebook timeline are playing as you scroll?

If you haven’t, that might be a good thing.

A “feature” in the iPhone app in that videos can auto-play without prompt in Facebook. This is okay if you are on wifi or have unlimited data but if you are paying for limited data you most likely want this “feature” off. All you need to do is click Settings>Facebook>Settings>Auto-play now select your preference. Done! That will help your data consumption…or maybe you are like me and have unlimited data, but want automatic play turned off because it is a tad bit annoying.

wifi-facebook

Stay tuned for more tech stuff,

Brandon / @iamBRANDONEARLY 
P.S. - Here are two great resources that Simply Youth Ministry has to offer on Facebook and other social media:

SocialMediaGuide

 

Social Media Guide For Ministry

By Nils Smith, $7.99

 

ParentsSocialMedia

 

A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Social Media

By Mark Oestreicher and Adam McLane, $6.99

 

 



506714807

This past weekend I had an interesting opportunity to chaperone a trip for “another” youth group my kids are involved in. It is not one in which I am a leader in any capacity. In this setting I am a mom and a volunteer.  My eyes were opened at just HOW hard it is to be the parent/volunteer on so many levels!

For years I have avoided this position, because I wanted my kids to have someplace they could go where we are not leading everything. They get to have a “genuine”  youth group experience without Mom and Dad around. Yet, this time around I gave in. (They needed a van driver who was over 25.) Often the volunteers who tend to sign up happen to be parents of kids in our group. This experience gave me a HUGE appreciation for the parents who show up to serve.

Here is what I learned:

1.  The Youth Pastor Always Views You Through the Lens of “Your Kid.”

Let’s say you have a suggestion about the way something should go. You think it’s a great idea. It may have nothing to do with your child. Even when they listen and treat you with respect it feels like they don’t take ideas or strategies from you seriously. Why? They appear to run all ideas through a filter of, “So are you truly just trying to do this for your kid?”

2.  We Ask Questions For Clarification Not To Annoy You

I knew I wasn’t the leader, I was a volunteer. So I just wanted be clear on what was expected of me. It felt like I asked “too many” questions all the time. I wanted to be proactive, but also wanted to play by the same rules as everyone else not just think about my own kid. I realized that parent/volunteers are very aware of the two hats they are wearing. They/we ask loads of questions to ensure in this setting we are being a “good” volunteer.

JHgirlshulk3.  There Are Times When It’s Really Hard to Have Your Child in the Room

Now my kids are used to me wearing two hats. They have often seen me in situations where I am being the youth worker and then having to put on my “Mom” hat. I know many groups have the “rule” that parent volunteers don’t “teach” their own children. Still there are times when you interact with your kids. When they do things that are not acceptable you have to decide at what point you give them a “Mom” lecture. On the other hand, I had an experience this weekend where another student treated my child really poorly. If it hadn’t been to my child, I 100% would have stepped up and called the student off. However, because it was MY child, I knew the situation would have only been seen as “Mommy saving them.”  It would have made it worse. So I couldn’t do anything but watch my child navigate a hard life lesson. It was excruciating.

4.  Students Actually Like Parental Volunteers

JHgirlsselfie

JH Girls with Leneita

There were several “younger” and “cooler” chaperones on this trip. It was an event where students were required to “check-in” but not spend the whole time with an adult. Somehow I ended up with a posse of 8 Junior High girls who hung with me. I kept telling them they didn’t have to. They kept sticking around. One of the girls actually whispered in my ear, “I like having a Mom around, it makes me feel taken care of.”

In the end as a parent, it made me appreciate my kids way more than I had before. My children are imperfect, quirky and sometimes difficult. Yet, I also came to appreciate the amazing qualities my kids do possess,  and they are mine. As youth people, I think we need to remember that parents who volunteer don’t HAVE to. It isn’t always so they can “spy” on what you are teaching their child or a distrust of their safety. Sometimes it just gives a mechanism to connect with our kids. The feeling that they are “growing up too fast” is overwhelming and sometimes it’s just a way to be where they are.

Just remember to love on those parents, and direct them. I think they are a great addition to any team. (That of course is strictly my biased point of view.)

What’s your thought on parent/volunteers?

Leneita / @leneitafix

YM_pc bridge banner

Do you know your role?

720001Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have been in the news this week. We can all empathize with how difficult it must be for them to sort out ordinary events in the public eye. While this young couple navigates the exciting news of their pregnancy with the hurdle of acute morning sickness (attributed to hyperemesis gravidarum), the rest of the world takes it all in, wondering in the background if and when William will be named the next King of England.

Can you relate?

Years ago, I was a youth worker in a church where our senior pastor was resigning. Suddenly I felt like my life was on display just a bit more than usual as people began wondering if I (or other staff members) would take on the soon-to-be-vacant role. I started attending board meetings a bit more, as I was invited to share my perspective on various things happening. I had to wrestle with the desires of God over the desires of people, including my own.

Can you relate?

Today I was reminded of this older photo of Prince William and Kate (fresh off their honeymoon) visiting with President Barack and Michelle Obama.

Which person in the picture are you?

prince-william-kate-middleton-relationship-photos-obamas

Did you decide?

What do you think Barack and William are talking over?

What are Michelle and Kate chatting about?

Oh… and did you notice the gentleman in the background toward the right?

Look at his face. What is he attentive to?

Look at his posture. What is he ready to do?

Was he one of the choices you considered?

Why?

Why not?

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:3-5)



E.V.A.L.U.A.T.E.

 —  September 9, 2014 — 2 Comments

I recently attended the premiere of When God Left the Building. It was a movie documentary based on the book Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore written by Thom & Joani Schultz. First of all, I have to givewhengodleftthebuilding lots of credit to Thom and Joani for their boldness to tackle on such a topic as this. Through this documentary, I realized the importance of not getting caught up on the size of the church or on the programs that are implemented to determine its spirituality. Just because the church is small in number, it does not mean that God is not present. Similarly, there are many churches with a packed house that possibly might not have God’s presence.

As youth workers, I want to really challenge you to reevaluate the spirituality of your ministry. The students might be excited, numbers might be increasing, and volunteers could be steady, but that does not necessarily mean that God is in the building. I came to the conclusion that numbers or programs are not the most important aspect of determining if a church is spiritually healthy. So how do you know if “God is in the building” at your church?

Here is a check list that might be helpful to reevaluate your ministry’s spirituality.

E- Essence of ministry is Christ-centered.
Are the students’ foundations being built upon the obedience of the Word?
V- Velcro community.
Are the students expanding the community through evangelism?

A- Active in spiritual training.
Are the students seeking for some type of bible study, discipleship training or spiritual formation?


L- Leaders development.
Are the student leaders developing other leaders to be Christ followers?
U- Unity of the ministry.
Are the students able to share life together and not form too many cliques/division?
A- Active in church gatherings.
Are the students participating in church worship and church activities?
T- Tithing.
Are the students tithing from their paycheck or allowance?

E- Excitement in the church.
Are the students attending with expectancy to meet God, fellowshipping, and bringing constant fresh energy?

Hope this checklist will be helpful and serve as a good reminder to keeping your church healthy!

Estevao Yu / @estevaoyu

ChristiansAd_JBL

 

 

 

P.S. – Check out Thom and Joani Schultz’s latest book, Why Nobody Wants to Be Around Christians Anymore: And How 4 Acts of Love Will Make Your Faith Magnetic. 

Yesterday I had a conversation with a new youth worker who just got a lead youth ministry position. The conversation was on when should they change the name and thought I’d share a few of my thoughts. To be honest, I believe there is a strong case to have or not to have one, so I thought I write some pros and cons that I see to having one. So here it is:

PROS

  • Gives identity to the youth group.
  • Helps students promote the ministry.
  • Helps drive the mission of the youth ministry.
  • Help students gain ownership, when they have a say in naming the youth group.

CONS

  • It could create a disconnect from the church as a whole.
  • It could create a separate mission for the youth group.
  • It could reinforces our ability to only care about the youth group.
  • It could be confusing.

I think naming your youth group is a preference call with benefits and pitfalls. And so I, as a leader, need to be aware of the pitfalls and be intentional about enhancing the benefits.

 

Hope it helps,

AC