Sexting-PhoneSexting.

You can talk about this until you’re blue in the face. Still, a large majority of teens and adults see nothing wrong with it:

“Our only way of being alone was to do it over the phone.” – one teen, about why she began sexting

It doesn’t help that people students look up to find a reason to justify such pictures, even in the midst of public embarrassment. Consider Jennifer Lawrence’s response after pictures of here were leaked online last fall:

“I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for. I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.”

Toss in a variety of other behaviors…

texting while driving…

pornography online…

cyberbullying…

all of it is contained within this infographic:
teen-online-dangers-infographic

So what do we do?

What about using curriculum, like the Pure Sex materials?

Have you found this can help?

Feeling like throwing in the towel on sexting and more?

Have you had any successes or failures in addressing this with students?

Arizona-Super-Bowl-2015

Are you, your ministry, or your small group(s) hosting a Super Bowl® Party this year? Did you know that Super Bowl XLIX will be available FREE via Live-Stream from NBC Universal? You could stream the BIG game directly into your party. XLIX will kick off with pregame coverage at 12:00 p.m. ET on Feb. 1. This streaming service is a gift from NBCUniversal.

Following the launch of NBCUniversal’s first ever TV Everywhere consumer campaign titled “Watch TV Without The TV,” NBCUniversal is creating “Super Stream Sunday” on Feb. 1, providing consumers with an unprecedented ability to enjoy 11 continuous hours of NBC streaming content without having to log-in, designed as a way for consumers to trial NBC’s TV Everywhere content offering. “Super Stream Sunday” content will include NBC’s presentation of Super Bowl XLIX, Katy Perry headlining the Pepsi Super Bowl XLIX halftime show, the Super Bowl XLIX pre- and post-game shows, and NBC’s post-game presentation of The Blacklist.

This is great news if you have “cut the cord” or do not have cable/satellite service where your party will be held.

In addition to a room full of students and great stadium shaped foods you might choose to do a special halftime show. If so, LifeChurch.TV is pulling through with another great FREE resource called Football Sunday. Football Sunday is…

A 30-minute sermon-replacement video hosted by ESPN’s Trent Dilfer and presented by TheIncrease.org. Featuring exclusive interviews with active and retired NFL players, as well as players from both Super Bowl Teams (yet to be determined, naturally), this production highlights how the increase of Christ and the decrease of self (John 3:30) has played out in their lives; sometimes through experiences that are unique to pro football players, but more often through experiences that are common to all people and thus extremely relatable.

Check out the FAQ section from this link (FootBall Sunday) and download free resources to promo your event at this LifeChurch.TV link.

In addition to these great resources check out this Super Bowl® safety link from 2013, “Are you Having a Super Bowl® Party?

 

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A Poor Understanding

 —  January 23, 2015 — Leave a comment

You likely have an opinion about the poor.

You may have even served the poor.

Do you have an understanding of the poor, though?

 

CheckCashing

“When you are broke, you can’t plan ahead or shop sales or buy in bulk. Poor people wait to buy something until they absolutely need it, so they have to pay whatever the going price is at that moment. If ten-packs of paper towels are on sale for half price, that’s great, but you can only afford one roll anyway. In this way, poor people actually pay more than others for common staple goods.”

That quote was spotlighted in a Washington Post article that compiles a Reddit thread discussing this very topic.

It’s worth a read, even if it’s for insights on things in youth culture you’ve never fully understood:

“I just learned this from a teenage burglar a couple years ago. Baseball caps with a completely straight brim and the sticker still on it were made popular because inner city kids wanted to prove they could afford brand new name brand things. It’s kind of sad that’s how some trends start.”

So…

what is something you wish you or others understood more about poverty?

It’s one thing to desire to be in leadership…it’s another to actually lead people.

As I watch other leaders, consider my own life in leadership or think about all the people I have had on my staff, there are some common denominators in those that are effective in leadership. I can also think of a few commonalities I see hindering effective leadership. These are often missed at first glance, but over time they are usually seen clearly by those that open their eyes.

There are many definitions of leadership, but the one I refer to the most is: Leaders get people to do things they never wanted to do, and like it.

This definition has the idea of being able to positively effect someone’s actions AND desires. These leaders can get to the heart of someone in ways that cause movement. From a spiritual leadership position, where we view this as being used by God for His kingdom purposes, this is a lot of fun. Mature leaders are hard to come by sometimes, but we have some phenomenal leaders in the Church today. That said, there are also a bunch of “wanna-be” leaders that inevitably hinder their own leadership potential by thinking wrongly in the following 2 ways:

  1. They take themselves more seriously than their work. Effective leaders take their work seriously, but don’t take themselves that seriously. This allows them to encourage other people to lead and empower creativity/ingenuity in others. If leaders take themselves too seriously, they protect their position and seek to control what other people are doing through either micro-management or overly assigning things to do. This would be, at best, a manager – not a leader.
  2. They think they need a position to lead well. I know a lot of people who think they need to have a position before they can lead effectively. Granted, we do need a voice in people’s lives to positively effect them, but our lives are what give us that voice. If a position is required to lead people, you are not a leader. This mentality will actually hinder your leadership in the long-run.

What do you think? Have you seen either of these characteristics in yourself…?



phoenI have been playing around with a Samsung Galaxy S4. It is pretty slick. I purchased it at a used phone dealer so I can play with a review more Android apps. As I have been reacquainting myself with the Android system, I decided to try to make it work with one of the pay-as-you-go providers.

In addition to all the major cell providers (Verizon, ATT, Sprint, etc), there are several more…
Republic Wireless
Cricket
Tracfone
Virgin Mobile
Net 10
Freedom Pop

And the list goes on…

My Samsung Galaxy S4 is a Verizon phone so I decided to test out Walmart’s Straight Talk. I pay $7 to have a sim card mailed to me (they are free with most major companies but these guys are cutting corners to keep costs low). I paid $45 for a month of unlimited talk, text, and data (and it is less if you choose a flip phone/no data). The data is actually 3gb at 4G LTE speeds, then drops to super slow speeds. (I can’t report how low the slow speeds are because I haven’t burned through my first 3gb yet). Straight Talk‘s coverage looks outstanding and so far works great in my area. The cost is great, I pay Verizon way more than $45 for one of our phones and they only give me 2gb of downloads. And Straight Talk has no contract. Straight Talk even sells a year in advance for under $500. I will be speaking in Colorado, Central Iowa, and Pennsylvania in the next 4 weeks, I am eager to experience calls and data coverage in these areas.

So what is the catch with a budget cell provider? The biggest catch is the cost of a good phone. you can get a very inexpensive smartphone but you will pay full price for the latest phones unless you have a reseller near you. You can use an iPhone 6 on Straight Talk‘s network but you will be paying the full $800…no 2 year contract discounts.

If you are a youth worker on a budget this may save your family a lot of money! Maybe you have an old phone lying around, see if it works on the Straight Talk network here.

Check out this Consumer Reports link for more info on each and do a little research (Cost, Coverage, and NO Contracts).

livegraphic1

Strategic Youth Ministry; nothing new about that idea. Doug Field’s classic book, Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, began it’s quest for youth ministry world domination almost TWENTY years ago. And while it outlined the most popular (and in my experience extremely effective) youth ministry paradigm, it certainly wasn’t the first or last.

Most of us could write our purpose/mission statement on a whiteboard and draw out the strategic ways in which we fulfill it. As a whole, the youth ministry nation is fairly strategic.

But a friend of mine takes it to another level; one I find fascinating: He teaches strategically.

Now, most of us would say we teach strategically; we have our teaching calendars planned, our important topics dialed in….heck, we may even have an official scope and sequence that we follow to make sure we hit all the important stuff. But that’s not what he’s talking about.

Alan Mercer does all those things….and then takes it a very interesting step further: He teaches every lesson, writes every small group study, following the same flow:

How it was (creation), How it is (fall), How it can be (redemption), How it will be again (restoration)

Most of us probably only use that language when talking about the whole story of God or presenting the Gospel, but Alan would say the whole story of God and the Gospel can/should be part of everything we teach!

Friendships: How they were meant to be, how they are, how they can be and how they will be again.

Sex: How it was meant to be, how it is, how it can be and how it will be again.

Pain and Sorrow: How it was meant to be, how it is, how it can be and how it will be again.

Etc.

Talk about strategic teaching!



The big game is Sunday, Feb. 1st. Game time is also when lots of youth groups regularly meet. What to do, what to do?

REASONS YOU SHOULD HAVE A YOUTH SUPERBOWL PARTY:

  • You meet anyway. Why not?
  • Its generally pretty low key planning-wise.
  • Students like being invited to a SB Party since everyone around them is having one.
  • It could be a great draw for inactive or guest youth.
  • Lots of opportunity for subtle “this is how we live as believers” conversations.
  • Resources are available to give it a Christian formation component. (edutopia.org, iamsecond.com, fca.org

REASONS YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE A YOUTH SUPERBOWL PARTY:

  • Depending on where you live, many students don’t really care about the game themselves.
  • Younger youth get quickly bored with the game/event unless there are other things to do.
  • What do you do about some of the inappropriate commercials?
  • This is often a big family event. Do we want to interfere with that?
  • This is a great church-wide event. Do we want to interfere with that?
  • This is a day you could give your youth adults a “day off.”

I’m not going to give you my opinion because it all depends on your church and your circumstances. I’m just putting this here for you to think about. Either way, if you haven’t decided by now…you need to.

Stephanie

Chameleon Youth Pastor

 —  January 20, 2015 — Leave a comment

Many people have asked me to share with them the best methods of gathering and engaging students in a youth group so that they may come to understand and experience God in a powerful and deeper way. The word that comes to mind here is…chameleon! Webster Dictionary defines a chameleon Ambanja Panther Chameleonas: a type of lizard that can change the color of its skin to look like the colors that are around it.

I always encourage youth pastors to be like a chameleon. Being a chameleon pastor means constantly adapting to the change in students, culture, and society, without compromising your biblical foundation. This means changing HOW YOU DO MINISTRY but NOT WHO YOU ARE AS A YOUTH PASTOR. I believe this idea of a “chameleon mindset” will help you stay true to yourself and help you develop creativity, innovation, and personal growth within your ministry.

Having a chameleon mindset:

1) No need to “Keep up with the Kardashians”or Justin Bieber, but it is important for you to be aware of social media and current events that the students are following. You need to be relevant to relate to your students and to have conversation starters.

2) No need to wear skinny jeans or have Beats headphones. Students don’t want you to cramp their style by trying so much to look like them, but it is important to have a style that fits best for you and your context.

3) No need to be their BFF- do not forget that you are their pastor. But it is important to be connected and build up relationships with the students.

4) No need to be a celebrity pastor, like Kurt or Rick, but it is important to be well prepared and equipped to minister and provide the best culturally relevant worship service or gatherings.

5) No need to look for the “next big thing”…Samsung got that covered. It is important to always search and be aware of the next thing for youth but YOU ALREADY HAVE THE BEST… JESUS! Seek His Word and guidance.

Serving alongside with you,

Estevao “Steve” Yu