Sick Games

 —  October 29, 2014 — Leave a comment

Every student got the flu… really bad.

This was the quick story I shared with our church’s youth pastor last week, right before we were about to do something short-sighted.

20141022_191640He’d be leading one of our student groups through a popular curriculum for the past few weeks. It just so happened that the suggested game for this particular week resembled a game I’d led 15 years ago in another youth group.

It involved teams taking turns sticking their faces into a tray of flour… to find sour gummy worms.

Back in the day, I did something similar (the only difference being that I used gummy bears, and we did it all as one team). Where I was short-sighted then?


One of the kids in our youth group had the flu. Within 24 to 48 hours, I learned that a majority of Our youth group had also started developing dramatic symptoms.

I’m not a doctor. I have no idea if the flu can translate that quickly, nor am I aware of any studies involving the transmission of germs involving healthy kids opening their mouths to sift through flour that a sick kid has also openly-mouthed. If such a case did exist, my guess is you’d find a short-sighted youth worker involved.

(Again, allow me to raise my own hand on this.)

Which is exactly why after our youth pastor explained the game and begin to move the trays to another table I covertly snuck up to him and explained how what we were about to do was not in the best interests of any of the kids… all ebola news headlines aside.

20141022_192120The catch? I didn’t want to make him look foolish in front of the students. My suggestion was the concept of the game could be saved with a simple adaption – plastic utensils. We gave the kids the option of a fork or a spoon, and the game played on… all the way right up to the takeaway of how sometimes finding the sweetness in life takes some digging.

His reply? “That’s one of the reasons why I love that you volunteer here.”

My wife’s reply, later on in the night? “There’s one more difference. This time, our kids are a part of the youth group. I’m a bit steamed this almost happened.”

Better safe than sued?

Take this as a lesson learned, however you’d like.

  • Where in your student ministry do you see little slips like this that could (if left unchanged) affect your overall credibility as a youth group or as a youth worker?
  • Any takeaways or stories on being confronted in private versus publicly on something?

- Tony / @tonymyles

stuffI have a lot of gadgets in my Timbuk2 Commuter TSA friendly messenger bag but these 9 things are the most used when I land at a study spot.

1. Portable Power Strip
2. Book (1 real book and dozens of Kindle books)
3. Headphones
4. Americano (my battery)
5. iPad/iPhone stand
6. Device charger
7. NOMAD Key Charger cable
8. PlugBug
9. Extension cord

These gadgets are nice at a coffee shop and are often a lifesaver at the airport. Other than your tablet, phone, and/or laptop what are your “must have” travel gadgets?



OK, Small Church Peeps, let’s huddle up! For the next 8 weeks, there are as many ministry moments possible as there are falling leaves. You can do one of two things: 1) Use the calendar as a way to bounce into memory-makers OR 2) Miss the moments and do blah stuff or nothing at all…and sometimes doing nothing is better than dull and boring.

Here’s just the beginning of a list of possibilities you can still pull off:

1) Go trick or treating with your students Friday (Halloween). They’re going to go anyway.

2) Have an All Saints Day bonfire or fire pit. Use it to remember those that have lost someone. Buy up the leftover Halloween/harvest supplies which will now be at least 50% off.

3) Canned food scavenger hunt. Give point values to more desirable items like tuna, tuna helper, canned chili, spam, spaghetti sauce, etc. Go as a group to take the items to a local food pantry.

4) Ask for the leftover pumpkins from local Pumpkin Patches and use them to bake stuff to sell during November.

5) LOTS of stuff you can do for fun when sales on candy corn begin. Google “candy corn ideas” and see what you get. A great way to teach on the Trinity…or just thrown them at each other till someone loses an eye. J/K.

6) Go Thanksgiving caroling. I found some funny songs online to the tune of popular carols. Deliver bags of candy corn to the lucky recipients of your group’s musical mash-ups.

7) Rake and Run = a van, a bunch of kids with rakes and black bags and you got yourself a mission outreach for others in the area.

8) Offer to put up Christmas decorations for infirmed or elderly members of your church. Many hands make “light” work. (Get it? See what I did there?)

9) Holiday Week/Day Camp is a great way to serve the parents around you who have little ones. When school is out, parents who are already barely scraping by, are scrambling to make plans for their little ones. This is sort of like a Parent’s Night Out but daytime instead.

10) New Year’s Eve Parent’s Night Out and Lock-in could be a great way to fund a mission trip in one night!

All I got for now. What do you want to add to the list?


Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 7.14.24 AMI’ve always said, “Giftedness can get you places, but character will keep you there,” for more on that, click here.

I believe that statement. But one of the toughest aspects of leading younger people who want to be in ministry is teaching them that being developed sometimes means limiting the use of “gifts.” This can be viewed as hindering them, misunderstanding them, devaluing them…on and on. Now, to be clear, we don’t want to (and cannot) unnecessarily hinder God using people. But, in leadership there is a balance. And this can be a relationally tough line to walk sometimes.

Here’s the consistent bottom line issue I’ve seen the past decade or so: Millennials (and in many cases anyone who wants to be developed for ministry) can view the Church as an object where their “gifts” are developed rather than a subject they humbly serve. In other words, in the former view, the “gifted” person is at the center of the equation whereas in the latter view, other people (i.e. the Church) are in the center.

The discipleship battle is really felt when someone thinks that to be developed for ministry means they should gain more exposure to decision making, they should gain more influence over people (particularly in teaching) and they should have more experiences in developing their giftedness. Those aspects can be and most often are part of developing people for ministry. However, experience in these ways can NEVER be a hindrance to developing character in someone. And, sometimes, limiting their exposures is what is best for the development of them as a human being. In my view, developing the person for ministry is less about giftedness and more about the leadership heart. And this is less and less cliche for me. In the development process there are many battles to be fought..most of which are not chosen by the younger person being developed.

Too often I see the development of giftedness being at the center of “leadership development.” And, well, I think this is detrimental to those being developed. Being short-sited in the development of leaders in this way, in my mind, is simply poor leadership. Developing people includes both sides, but even though God using someone in the life of other people (i.e. gifts) is important, I happen to think God is more concerned about the heart of the person we are leading.

- Chuck / @chuckbomar



Okay…so 1 gazillion percent isn’t a real calculation, but it doesn’t change the fact that for a limited time, ALL of our sermon series are on sale! This includes sermons on every topic, from every author, spanning 2-9 weeks in length…with savings of up to 80% on some of the best sermon series ever made.

Here a few of the MANY sermon series on sale until Wednesday:


The Red Stuff 

3-Week Sermon Series, By Kurt Johnston

As you guide students through “the red stuff,” they’ll discover the rewards of building a life on the foundation of Jesus, whose words are filled with life and hope and purpose.

Regular price: $20.99

SALE Price: $10.00

You save: $10.99 !!

Learn more or purchase now.


2-Week Sermon Series, By Josh Griffin

 In a culture obsessed with consuming and keeping up with the Joneses, this is a powerful two-week series that shows students how they are God’s delivery system, not His storehouse. 

Regular price: $13.99

SALE Price: $5.00

You save: $8.99 !!

Learn more or purchase now.


All My Belongings

5-Week Sermon Series, By Jeff Maguire

In this five-week super-series, you’ll expose some of the world’s more deceptive lies about belonging. On the flip side, you’ll also give them a picture of how the church can be a place where everyone belongs.

Regular price: $34.99

SALE Price: $20.00

You save: $14.99 !!

Learn more or purchase now.

Hope you find the perfect series for your ministry! If you have any questions, call Jake at 1.866.9.Simply.

**HURRY! Be sure to get in on this sermon series sale before it expires at 11:59pm mdt on October 29, 2014.

 Thanks for loving students,

Amber / @youthministry

Study Helps

 —  October 27, 2014 — Leave a comment


I led a workshop and Half-Track on technology in ministry at KidMin last month. I shared a little about Bible software and message prep, attendees had some great suggestions for free study resources. Check this out, maybe you will find something new, and if you know of a useful online study resource share it in the comments.

The Gospel Coalition
Blue Letter Bible


You’ve been there. I’ve been there more times than I care to admit. “There” is that moment when you admit, and determine to do something about, what you’ve already been sensing for a little while: Things in your ministry just aren’t clicking. You’re frustrated. You’re stagnant. You’re hitting the gas but can’t get traction. You’ve quit hitting the gas and are idle. You know something isn’t quite right, but can’t put your finger on it.

What do you do when things aren’t clicking? Here are a few places I’d look at first.

The Structure:
Oftentimes the various structures we have in place are like old wineskins, unsuitable for the current realities of our ministry. “structures” that may need to be reexamined might include your budget, your schedule, your ministry paradigm and strategy, your physical meeting space, etc.

The Team:
Ministries with healthy structures aren’t always healthy! Because ministry is “of the people, for the people”, the team leading the charge is usually highly instrumental in whether things are clicking or not. And, when looking at the team, the question isn’t, “are things clicking?” so much as it is, “Are we clicking?” Are people being used in their areas of giftedness? Do we trust each other? Can we disagree without being disagreeable? Are we all pulling on the same side of the rope? Do we have a clear sense of purpose? Is anybody a continual source of frustration and conflict?

The Leader:
This may come as a shock, but you aren’t a perfect leader. And your weaknesses affect (and sometimes infect) your ministry as much as your strengths. Because leaders are influencers, a ministry that isn’t clicking requires you to take a look at yourself, too. Are you spending time with the Father? Do you still have a passion for the movement you are leading? Do you still feel called to it? Are you pursuing a life of health (personal, spiritual, emotional, relational, financial)? Do you feel supported by your supervisor(s)?

When a ministry feels stuck, there’s rarely a silver bullet that will get things moving forward again. But I’ve learned over the years that the answer oftentimes lies in the structure, the team or myself.

Have you heard of Fiverr? It is a freelance marketplace where you can get just about anything done for $5. Part of me wants to try it out, but the other part says it is too good to be true. Maybe a new ministry logo, series graphic, or some digital event bling? They have categories like design work, audio, marketing and more.Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 10.59.28 PM

Let me know in the comments below if you have used them and share your experience.