factThis is a super quick read.

Still, I believe something on this list will change your life for at least the next ten seconds… maybe even leak into a conversation sometime soon.

Ready? Here goes:

  • Whenever someone says “club sandwich,” just think of a regular sandwich wearing Axe Body Spray and a rhinestone covered dress shirt.And, you’re welcome.
  • “Your password must contain 8 letters, a number, a Transformer character, a green bean casserole recipe and Danny Devito.” – Every website
  • Apparently the best thing about a juice cleanse is there’s never time to eat as you’re too busy telling everyone you’re on a juice cleanse.
  • If you watch The Blind Side backwards, Sandra Bullock becomes so disappointed in her new son that she abandons him on the side of the road.
  • When stressed consider – “How much of my brain will be consumed by this in three years?” Let that context give you context.

Still unfazed? Here’s a bonus: Men Who Look Like Kenny Rogers

Once again, you’re welcome.

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)

If you are not meeting with your volunteer team, stop right now and plan on doing just that! Getting together is vital for the health of your ministry. Here are 5 tips on how to make your meetings worth your time and theirs.

5 Tips for better volunteer meetings

1) Make this a regular part of your calendar. If you have a regular time that you always meet, it becomes part of the rhythm of what you all do together. Whether this is every month or every week before your midweek program, you need to have this on your calendar. When you don’t have it on your calendar 2 things happen. 1) You rarely meet because you don’t think about it. 2) When you do think about it, you send out a Facebook message or group text to everyone a few days before hoping that everyone will be available (and few show).

2) Feed your team! We all love to eat. We all have to eat. Why not do that together? Having food at your meeting does several things for you. First of all, it is a great incentive for your team to show up. Secondly, it shows that you care about them. Third, it is one less thing for them to worry about when they are getting off work and coming directly to your meeting.

3) Have a plan. Don’t come into your staff meeting winging it. Put some thought into what you are going to say and do. It is not a good idea to come up with that plan 30 minutes before your meeting either. Know what you are going to do and what you are going to talk about. Put time and effort into this! Your team needs you to lead them well and coming unprepared tells them that they are not worth the effort. This will quickly give them reason to not show up at future meetings if it is a regular habit of yours.

4) Do some training. Most of us, if we were honest, would jump at the chance to go to a training conference of some sort every year. (Side note: The Simply Youth Ministry Conference (SYMC) is my absolute favorite conference! I am not being paid to say that…no one asked me to say that…it is just plain truth…be watching for updates on the new format for next year.) Knowing that we want training, it should be evident that our leaders want/need training as well.

Take some time in the “slower” months of summer and come up with a list of potential training needs your volunteers have. You may even want to put out a questionnaire to them of what they would like some training on. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • How to lead a student to Christ
  • Do’s and Dont’s for leading small groups
  • How to deal with students who are hurting

You could also find other people to do your training for you, if you plan it well enough in advance. I am sure you are an amazing and riveting speaker, but occasionally it is good to hear from a different voice, especially if they are an expert in that area.

5) Plan out your calendar. Take some time to look at upcoming events and spend some time talking through them. You may even break your team into groups to plan some of the events or collaborate on your next event together. Don’t try to do all of that on your own. When your volunteers are involved with the planning of an event they have more ownership of it and are more likely to be part of it (this goes for students too BTW).

- Erik w/ a “k” Williams



holyweekHoly Week means many different things to many different people.

People who serve in ministry are not exception. Many of us have some kind of awkward slant on it. I’m one of them.

It occurred to me that I view Holy Week like an anniversary date.

I don’t mean the actual calendar date of my anniversary, but the “date” you’re “supposed” to go on when it’s your anniversary.

  • “We should get dressed up. It’s our anniversary.”
  • “We should get dressed up. It’s a special church service.”
  • “I imagine we should go out and do something to remember our anniversary.”
  • “I imagine we should go out and do something to remember this holy day.”

Maybe you can relate. Maybe you can’t.

The “obligation” of an anniversary date can choke the life out of you when all you see is the obligation of it. It’s the same thing with special services your church hosts… you’re so busy working on getting everything ready for what you’re doing this weekend that you have no idea how to show up to everything on the calendar other people have planned, let alone to do so without a distracted mind.

  • So during the anniversary meal, you don’t have a conversation like everyone else but bury your head in your plate and try to eat slowly so you can have a quiet dinner without work/kids/obligations. 
  • So during the special Holy Week service’s songs, you don’t stand up like everyone else but instead bury your head in your hands and try to have a quiet, holy moment with God.

Keep struggling. It’s okay that you’re not okay on this. It makes you realize what’s important.

Consider:

  • What makes Maundy Thursday personal is when you realize the prayers Jesus prayed were for you, including that moment right then and there when you’re not “feeling Him.” Do you just struggle when you struggle, or do you struggle your way in His direction?
  • The most noticeable miracle of Good Friday is there was no noticeable miracle. Instead of God rescuing Jesus, He let Him rescue us. Have you breathed that in?
  • “Holy Saturday” - the day on the calendar between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday – is often ignored… mainly because we don’t know what to do with it. On Good Friday we remember the Passion of the Christ… on Resurrection Sunday, we recognize the fact that Jesus is risen. So what if Holy Saturday can remind us of the day when people weren’t quite sure if the “Resurrection” they hope for will happen.Imagine yourself as a disciple, wondering what was going to happen. Or what was happening. Or what had just happened. All they were experiencing was the full weight of death and lost hope. Can you identify?
  • The Resurrection reminds us that there are a lot of precious things we take for granted because we’ve “seen them a few times.” Sometimes we forget the story is much richer, much deeper than a historical event we honor at a certain time of the year. And yet… Easter didn’t just happen one time 20 centuries ago but is always happening. Where can Resurrection happen in your life today?

I’m coming up on my 20th anniversary with my wife this year. I feel the pressure to do something big and important.

Still, I want to use that “obligation” as my on ramp to what really matters… time with her… reinvesting into what’s important between us… seeing her for the “first time, yet again.”

on-ramp-sessions-480x330Which transforms it from an obligation into an on-ramp.

What does it practically look like for you to do that this year during this Holy week?

I suppose it’s sort of the new version of the “put your oxygen mask on first” story that we have heard a bizillion times. You know the airline attendant will always runs through the safety precautions before a flight.  They inevitably make the statement, “In the event of unexpected pressure drop in the cabin an oxygen mask will drop before you. Make sure to put yours on first before helping others.” We have heard it referenced often in Christendom as well. Take care of your relationship with Christ before reaching out to others. Now we look to Facebook (for those of us still using it) for analogies. It too has been “played out,” I’m sure. On our profiles, under the about section there is the space for you to declare a “Relationship Status.”  Every once in a while we see it change when someone gets married or breaks up with a significant other. When Facebook first became popular it felt like some pastor somewhere was always asking, “So what’s your relationship status with Jesus?”

Yes, us Christians like to over-use these “real life comparisons.”  Youth pastors are the worst. We think tying stories from every day life to our spiritual life will help others make the transition to “doing something” about their faith. Of course, when as I was thinking about this I actually had to go on Facebook to see what my “relationship” choices were. I just had to know. Here is the screen shot from my discovery on my own profile:

 

Screenshot 2014-04-16 12.12.07

Goodness it’s true. I have heard the analogies so many times I rolled my eyes, and said, “I get it. I should be close to the Lord.”  Then I saw this. It made me think of my own “relationship status” with Jesus. (Yes, I said it.)  I do have to go “there,” before I can even talk to my students.

I think of how many of these ideas I have indeed taken in my time with Christ.  I won’t belabor “explaining” each one, I think you are smart enough to have your own “AHA” moment.

How many of our own students would describe their God relationships as “open” or “complicated?” I guess those who have never heard are “single.”  For us in our heart are we “civil” or just “in a relationship?”

Yet, I believe His best choice for us would be to be “married” to Him. He wants us that close and intimate.

How many of us honestly are “separated” from the Lord right now as we struggle with disappointment, grief or frustration?  Do we accuse our students of being “engaged” and not taking the plunge when it’s more true for us?

Have you lost your first love?

I think as we celebrate Easter, it’s vital to truly figure out our “status.”  I guess analogies really can be convicting after all. At least for me. Now I need an oxygen mask or something.

Where do you stand?

Leneita / @leneitafix



You don’t have to be the most organized person on the planet, but I think it’s high time we stop hiding behind a youth ministry stereotype. It’s a terrible stereotype that we love to buy into. I am just as guilty as anyone else with this. If there were details that didn’t get covered I would hear, “Classic youth pastor move.” This allowed me to be even more disorganized. It’s a terrible cycle.

So, I have taken steps to improve in this area of my life. I want to share with you 5 relatively simple steps to move you towards being a bit more organized: 

1) At the end of each day, take 5 minutes to think through what you need to get done tomorrow and write it down.You would be amazed at how that really helps you be more productive the next day. You have somewhat of a plan set before you.

2) Make your list attainable. No one likes to fail. If you make a list of things that is so large you will get mad at yourself and you will actually accomplish less.Try to keep your list to 5 things.

3) If there are more things than you know you can accomplish, see if there is anything you can delegate. Whether you have assistant or not, likely there are people in your church who love to do detail work. Ask around and see if someone could help you with some of your details to the project you are working on.

4) Start your day off with the toughest project on your list. Brian Tracy wrote a book called Eat That Frog.The title comes from the idea that if the hardest thing you have to do today is a eat a frog, eat it first. If you have to eat 2 frogs, eat the ugliest one first.

5) Find a few apps to help you along the way. I use an app called “Things” as a to-do list. You can make different projects that have lists under each of them. I have a “project” for each day of the week. At the end of each day, I open up “Things” and plug in my list I want to accomplish for the next day. I also use a Pomodoro app which is basically a countdown clock. It counts down 25 minutes. At the end of the 25 minutes it gives you 5 minutes to take a break. Get up and walk around. Fire off a text. Call someone. Get a drink of water. Whatever. This is actually really helpful for your productivity.

The key to making these changes is this…do it.

Choose all 5 or 1, but do something, anything that takes a step toward being more organized. It will certainly pay off for you, your family, and your ministry.

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Communion Alternatives

Tony Myles —  April 14, 2014 — 19 Comments

I could use your input. Maybe someone else can, too.

Got 60 seconds?

Communion FullA typical communion service focuses on the death/crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

This weekend on Easter Sunday I’m hoping to present it in a way that doesn’t just reflect the cross of Christ but also the Resurrection.

Normally we use a cup of juice and broken bread or crackers. One thought I have is to vary our elements -

  • Instead of juice, we’ll use grapes
  • Instead of crackers, we’ll use freshly baked bread.

So what do you think of this?

  • Is it appropriately creative or too creative?
  • Can you think of any other ideas that could also work?

At minimum, I’d appreciate your feedback. At maximum, how can we take appropriate risks in telling the Story of the Resurrection?

Thanks!



FearThe one thing we all fear is not the devil. It’s change.Throughout history change has never been easy. The Pharisee’s didn’t hate Jesus because He was doing good things.They hated him because of the fact that He came to change things.They were so set in their ways of thinking that they missed the Messiah even though they knew He was coming the way that He did.The pain endured during the civil rights movement was all about certain people fearing change.

I remember when Blockbuster was the largest video rental store in America doing around 6 billion in sales year.Then came Netflix who said “Subscribe to us and don’t leave your home. We’ll send your movie rental to you.” Well, in the beginning Blockbuster could of taken Netflix out by turning millions of their customers into subscribers. But no, blockbuster who was comfortable with their 6 billion cushion, thought Netflix was a fad, and that they would eventually go away. Well, they were definitely wrong, and in 2010 Blockbuster was 900 million dollars in debt and had to file chapter 11 (bankruptcy).

We as human beings don’t like change. I would even go as far as to say we as the church don’t like it either. And if we are not careful we could end up like the Pharisees’ missing out on a great opportunity in advancing God’s kingdom…all because we allow change to scare us instead of motive us. We let our comfort with the way things are dictate how we react to change.

We have to understand change happens all the time. The world we live in now is completely different then the world our parents grew up in. My kids will grow up in a world different then the one I grew up in. Change is inevitable.

I love how Jesus adapted to change in His ministry. He used relevance to be relatable. He related to people where they were. He never told people you must conform to me first, then I will do for you or give to you. He just meets people where they are, and you never see them go back to the way they were before. I have to assume based on Jesus’s ministry 2000 years ago here on earth, that if He would have lived today, His messages would reflect the things of today. I have to assume that His parables could include the iPhone, TV’s, Ford Fusion hybrid, and yes, even Chick-fil-a. Jesus’s ministry was relevant.

Also, many times Jesus did things before He was supposed to. That’s why you see Him many times telling people not to say anything. He knew it wasn’t His time yet. So I can just imagine Jesus saying two things to us that He modeled, “Let’s stay relevant so people will have a interest in listening to us and let’s not fear doing things differently just because tradition says you can’t.” It seems like change gave Jesus a creative license to reach everyone. Now, Jesus didn’t change His message. He just changed the presentation so that He could reach everyone.

We must do the same. We must be willing to change with the times. I was listening to the radio and heard this song from the 90′s and they mentioned Myspace. (HA!) If you mentioned Myspace today, kids would laugh at you or look at you as if you are crazy, because times have changed. Myspace is no longer a cultural norm.

My prayer is that we don’t become like the Pharisees when it comes to change. Where we become so comfortable with the way we do things that we see change as a threat. And we do whatever it takes to stay the way we are, even at the cost of reaching more for Christ. I also pray we don’t become like Blockbuster doing ministry with our heads underground not paying attention to growing trends and innovation, thinking the way we’ve done things for 50 years is the way we can do things forever.

So the question is “Does change move you towards fear or innovation?”

hope it helps

ac

Do miracles happen?

If so, how often?

If not, why not?

I came across this quote that I think sums up the tension quite well:

meatballs“Miracles are like meatballs, because nobody can exactly agree on what they are made of, where they come from, or how often they should appear.

Some people say that a sunrise is a miracle, because it is somewhat mysterious and often very beautiful, but other people say it is simply a fact of life, because it happens every day and far too early in the morning. Some people say that a telephone is a miracle, because it sometimes seems wondrous that you can talk with somebody who is thousands of miles away, and other people say it is merely a manufactured device fashioned out of metal parts, electronic circuitry, and wires that are very easily cut.

And some people say that sneaking out of a hotel is a miracle, particularly if the lobby is swarming with policemen, and other people say it is simply a fact of life, because it happens every day and far too early in the morning.

So you might think that there are so many miracles in the world that you can scarcely count them, or that there are so few that they are scarcely worth mentioning, depending on whether you spend your mornings gazing at a beautiful sunset or lowering yourself into a back alley with a rope made of matching towels.”
― Lemony Snicket, The Carnivorous Carnival

miraclesThe ministry of Jesus is filled with miracles that stand out like extraordinary wrinkles in an otherwise flat world. Each occurrence announces that God’s reality can break into our broken existence, from those who receive sight after being somehow blind to the oppressed who are freed from their particular captivity. Such wonderful transformations are not only good news, but also make known the Good News.

So… do miracles happen?

If so, how often?

If not, why not?