lets talkKurt and I deviate from our usual structure (the good, bad and #smh) and we give you our TOP four tips on speaking to students.  We know that for some speaking my come easy, and for others speaking can be a challenge.  So for some we hope these tips confirm and strengthen what you already know, and for others we hope these tips encourage and give you more confidence in the work God has called you to do.

What’s your number one teaching tip you would share?

hope it helps

kurt & ac

definitionsSome phrases or words or topics are commonly used in the Church:

  • “We need to grow spiritually
  • “We want to make sure everyone is being discipled…”
  • “We need to train people in evangelism
  • Spiritual disciplines are important for every Christian”

But using these phrases often doesn’t mean people actually understand what we’re talking about.  People might be able to use the terms in the right context and in the right ways, but if asked to define these things most would have a hard time doing so.  Well, I’ve realized more than ever we have to make sure these types of things are defined clearly and simply.  If not, all we do is train people in Christianese – a language we use that nobody really understands.

So, I thought I would do is provide the definitions I use in our church.  You might already have your own definitions that are concise and effective.  If that’s you, then maybe mine can just be something you compare/contrast yours with.  If you don’t have these defined concisely, I would recommend doing so immediately.  Leadership requires us to be clear.

The first word or phrase I will define in this series is: spiritual growth.

This phrase is tossed around a lot, but nobody really knows what we mean.  So I have defined it.  It may not be a perfect definitions, but I believe we can say we have grown spiritually

if the time it takes us to read scripture and embrace it is less than it used to be. 

This definition does a number of things other than just providing a definition:

  1.  It leans on Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:18-20 that says the goal of our teaching people about him and his ways is obedience.  We cannot feel like we’ve grown spiritually simply because we can regurgitate scripture.  Reading the bible makes us Christian as much as reading People Magazine makes us a celebrity.
  2. Implies that we need to be growing in our understanding of scripture.
  3. It insinuates actions need to be taken after reading.

How do you feel about that definition?  See any holes in it?  Any other benefits you see it having?  If you have defined it for yourself and ministry, please share it so we can all learn.



Discovery ChannelOkay, first off – how did I not know the show “Amish Mafia” existed?

I ask because I stumbled onto it through a random web link. I later did some research and learned that the show  isn’t as accurate as it presents itself to be. A great article from Lancaster Online gives testimony to how the main personas and storylines of the show are more “between 1 and 10 percent truth.”

Still, after watching these clips, I found something “familiar” about it.

Maybe you can help me out here. I’m not Dutch, I don’t live in Pennsylvania and I’m a big fan of electricity.

So from this preview alone, what am I identifying with?

Are there any implications or comparisons for what does and doesn’t happen in youth group circles… and the role some youth workers take on?

For example, I feel there is this subculture within youth groups where some kids want to go wild but create the sense they’re staying true to their faith. Then within that subculture there’s another subculture who encourages it (i.e. the Amish mafia), and yet another subculture (i.e. parents/church legalists) who are quick to pounce.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

Kicking It Off!

 —  August 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

 

Today, Scott Rubin (that’s his picture above), the Junior High Pastor at Willow Creek and one of the best all around guys on the planet, is dropping by with a guest post. Do me a favor and say a few nice things in the comments so he’ll do more of this!  Several years ago we wrote a little book together that I actually thought was fantastic, apparently nobody else did which is why you can go to Amazon and get your own copy for as little as $0.01 yep, one penny. At that price you may as well stretch your junior high budget and buy two or three.

From Scott:

The School Year is kicking off, the NFL & College football seasons are getting ready to kick off… and the new ministry year is about to kick off, too, right?   (I’ll be honest – ministry “kickoffs” are a little confusing to me, because I’m pretty sure there’s no “off-season” in ministry!)

Even still, at least in the U.S., as Fall approaches, it’s a great time to re-launch our ministries.   I’m super-excited about our middle-school-ministry-kickoff this Saturday night – and this gathering is special because it’s just our volunteers… no students!   Here are a few simple elements that we use to help re-envision & re-engage volunteers for a great school year of ministry together!

1- Just have a gathering!   If your adult leadership is just 2 or 3 people, you can do this around a table at Denny’s.  If you have more leaders, you’ll obviously need a bit more room.   But the key is to get leaders together!  If your summer season has a different rhythm than the school year, this is a chance to help volunteers recalibrate to how your ministry will look different.  In the ministry I lead, our “regular” volunteers are less involved during the summer months… so having a kickoff like this reminds them that things are about to ramp up, and their weekend schedule is about to get busier!

2- Have something to say!   This is important whether you have an exciting new vision about how this ministry year will look different, or if you simply want to remind volunteers why their engagement with students is so crucial.  As my senior pastor likes to say “Vision Leaks” … so it’s up to us to help volunteers remember why they do what they do.  There are a whole lot of other things begging for people’s time; make sure that they have a clear picture of how God can truly use them to impact the life of a student!

3- Have a blast!  One of the reasons that volunteers stay engaged in ministry is when they really enjoy being together.   Plan something that will help them laugh, joke, smile, and anticipate a year of fun together!



Blogger Sale!

 —  August 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

blogger-sale-email-hero

Hey Simply Insiders!

Like what you read here on the blog from our awesome contributors? We do too!

Well, we wanted you to know that they write more than just helpful tidbits on More Than Dodgeball. Authors including Kurt Johnston, Jeffrey Wallace, Katie Sutton, Stephanie Caro, Cuck Bomar, and Leneita Fix also have created incredible books and resources on relevant topics for your youth ministry.

From now until midnight on Friday, August 16, some of their best stuff will be on sale for 25% off their regular price! These are great savings on unique, quality resources on a wide range of topics from 99 Thoughts for Smaller Church Youth Workers by Stephanie Caro to Urban Ministry from Start to Finish by Jeffrey Wallace.

After you stock up on the sale, I encourage you to also check out or new Blogger Marketplace. Here you will find each blogger with some of their titles featured below their name, like the example below:

Blogger Marketplace

 

So check it out! Explore the Blogger Marketplace and tell all your friends about the 25% off Blogger Sale going on until Friday!

You guys are the best youth workers on the planet. We love you!

-Amber

High School Live Curriculum   I have been using the LIVE Curriculum for the past 4 years…I love it and so do my volunteers. It is not just a great tech resource, it is a great youth ministry resource. Last year I added LIVE Junior High to our youth ministry scope and sequence and it was a HUGE WIN!

  • Low prep for leaders
  • Consistent format
  • Easily personalizable
  • Print unlimited hard copies for your team
  • Emailable to those leaders who want to personalize and print or to teach from their tablet
  • Parent letter for each lesson updating them on what their studnet’s small group went through
  • Price tag is super low! Less than $3.50 a lesson
  • DONE FOR THE YEAR…DONE FOREVER!!! (Well, you may want to tweek from year to year but ultimately if you know the lessons you want to use you can use the same scope and sequence from year to year)

With LIVE Curriculum I have shorter prep time each week and can better focus on students and leaders…and leaders have margin to invest more in their group.

Are you using LIVE Curriculum?  Is so, what is your favorite thing about it?



file-transferI find myself sharing a large file with someone at least once a month. These range from videos, to backups, to photos…If it is legal to share I have probably shared it.  Here are 3 easy to use (and FREE) file sharing and transferring service that can help take the headache out of sending large files.

  • My goto is DropBox! If you do not have a DropBox account you should grab one now…HERE. It is like having your files everywhere you go…well 2GB of files. If you are a smartphone or tablet user this is a HUGE WIN for data storage and access.  With the DropBox app installed on my PC or Mac I have all my files in folders, those folders are also available to me anywhere I go in the cloud, and I gain access to all that cloud storage on my mobiles devices without taking up any space on those devices.  With DropBox I can share a file as a link or a literal folder with a friend.
  • WeTransfer has a clean look and no confusing logins, add ons, or requirements for those you are sending files to. You do not need to create an account or download and install any apps. WeTransfer allows me to share files up to 2GB via email or web link. The only downside I see is that the link dies after 2 weeks, so no long term file storage with WeTransfer. But if you are not looking for long term storage, this is a great FREE service!  Key word here…Simple!
  • Soshareit, powered by BitTorrent, allows me to share files up to 1TB (YES 1 TERABYTE). Due to bandwidth and 2GB file size restrictions, huge files are hard to share…enter Soshareit.  Like WeTransfer you do not need a membership but you do need to install a browser plugin. Share your files via email, web link, facebook, or twitter.

Have you been using a different file sharing service? Share which one and why in the comments below.

football

In spite of the fact that I am athletically challenged, have never really known exactly what to cheer for as my children have played soccer, basketball, or baseball and don’t even really like or follow ANY sports of any kind, somehow all my son has ever wanted to do is play football.  We placated him with the “flag” version for several years,  however,  he  just wanted to play the “real” game.  This year as he enters 7th grade we gave in.  It has been an eyeopening experience for all of us.  It is teaching him discipline and responsibility in new and creative ways.  However, for the first time EVER sports will infringe on church and church activities (including youth group.)  It is interesting because in the world of us youth pastors this is what we always complain about.  How could parents/students choose sports (or band, debate, drama) over what’s important?

Here are some thoughts from the “other side:”

Unpacking  Faith

As far as he or we can figure out He is the ONLY Believer on His team. Daily in practice he is navigating listening to both coaches and players cuss and deciding if this is a good choice for him. This is only one example of ways he is forced to think about what living in the world and among the world, but not getting sucked into it really means. We have had discussions on ways he might talk about Christ with others. In short he can’t relegate his faith to certain nights of the week when he is “supposed” to be thinking about it.

Life Lessons

It has amazed me the solid life lessons football is teaching him.  He is learning the power of being truly needed on a team. This summer he has missed out on some “vacation” for the sake of the commitment he made. If he does not learn to follow directions and allow himself to be guided and “coached,” there are consequences.  As an incredibly regular and awkward JH kid he needs affirmation in addition to his parents.  It matters when Coach D tells him his strength is his greatest asset.  (Of course it didn’t hurt that he picked a kid up and pushed him back 30 yards in practice the other day.)  It isn’t “better” but he wasn’t learning  all of this in this way in youth group- a great one,  with an awesome youth pastor.  (No not me, silly, he goes to another one too.)

Programming?

My son is crushed he is going to miss youth group on Thursdays for the sake of football.  He likes the structure of small groups and deep Bible study, his youth pastor and his friends. This year he is testing if “football is worth it” going forward. For awhile he may attend another youth group as well, because it meets on a night when there is no practice.  It made me wonder what is it that we “youth people” are really angry about when parents tell us, “I’m sorry it’s (blank) season, my kid won’t be coming.”  Is it we miss their child?  Is it we are worried about the student slipping away from the Lord?  OR  Are we mad that our “program” wasn’t more appealing?  Should we perhaps find ways to reach the sports kids at their interest point?

Parent’s Hate The Pull Too

Now I know there are some families out there who move heaven and earth to make sure sports take precedence in their kid’s lives.  HOWEVER,  I think more parents are like us.  They see their child enjoys something, and might even be good at it, and they want to let them be a part of it. Each of my children are allowed to pick ONE activity besides church stuff per season.  Still I have three kids in MS so if they all pick something different- that is three directions at best.  Sometimes we are just tired, we are trying really hard, and that is why we ask you to just make this “one exception for my kid” to come to “whatever.”

 

There is a difference between kids who are apathetic and flippant about church and youth programming and those who are not.  This is in spite of sports or other activities.  We don’t expect adults to ONLY be involved in church why do we put that pressure on our students? Unfortunately we live in a secular culture that sets schedules in spite of our “religious affiliations.” My son likes football, his Dad and I care his relationship with Jesus doesn’t suffer. We will get him to youth group, and attend early services on Sunday as we have to deal with afternoon games.  I am hoping that somehow we can find support in this decision to allow him to play. After all he really wants to be the next “Ray Lewis,” whatever that means.

How are you helping your “sports” families this Fall navigate church and “other?”