A friend's attempt at the "Resurrection Bun."

A friend’s attempt at the “Resurrection Bun.”

In the last 40 days we have taken the time to reflect, be solemn, and come to celebrate the sacrifice God made on the behalf of our humanity. He was mocked, beaten, humiliated, and tormented. He suffered more than what a body could bear. His heart was broken on behalf of mankind when He took our sin, conquered death. and came out from the grave.

We have used illustrations, videos, object lessons, analogies, stories, games, devotions, sermons, and even an “outreach” to make our point. Yesterday, Easter, was the epitome of the celebration.

Today is Monday.

In the past I have wrapped much stock in the “holy day” celebrations in my ache to help students grow closer to the Lord. Admittedly, I did it this year as well. I had all of these great ideas, and honestly, some worked and some bombed. Even in my own home yesterday’s church service had different impacts on each of my three kids. One saw it as another day in their journey with Jesus, one was terribly bored, and one was deeply convicted by what they heard.

We have all heard more than once that we should celebrate Jesus everyday, not just on Christmas and Easter. I believe we know the Holy Spirit is always working, and He is moving hearts beyond Christmas and Easter. Yet, somehow the “day after” can feel like a let down.

It hit me yesterday when a couple of Middle School boys I know posted jokes to Instagram about Easter falling on 4/20. (A “day” for getting high.) I was like, “Have they been listening at ALL?”
Here are my thoughts on the morning after the holiday:

You CAN’T MAKE someone want Jesus.

The Bible talks on more than one occasion about how a “veil” is over the hearts of many. I have witnessed it in loved ones and students who have heard the Gospel over and over and over and over and over and still “don’t get it.” In the end, the decision of whether or not to respond to Jesus is an individual one.

We can use “gimmicks,” but not everyone will respond.

I am not saying we shouldn’t be creative. Last week I was talking with two friends who admitted they came to youth group growing up because there were games and food. Ironically, the focus on these were the very thing that made me want to stay away. I wanted to go deeper. Recognize we have different students, with different needs, who learn differently.
Sometimes our great plans flop:

I have learned this particular Easter that my best “laid plans” do not always strike a chord. I tried a couple of things that worked in the past and didn’t this time. I tried some new stuff that made students just stare. Even if it did “great” I was reminded it wasn’t about me anyway. In addition, I was taught just because it flops for “most” doesn’t mean one didn’t walk away affected and that matters.

Recently, my son came home from youth group and was talking to me about a friend of his. He said, “At first tonight when he said he didn’t know much about Easter I thought he was joking. I mean he has grown up in this church. Then I realized he really didn’t know. I don’t think he’s ever listened before.”

Today we keep our eyes forward. We simply don’t know which day anyone will hear and respond. Remember this day is the one called for salvation.
How are you feeling the “day after?”

Leneita / @leneitafix

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?

LetstalkYM

“Let’s Talk Youth Ministry”, the short little video blog that me and my friend A.C. (who has written some great blog posts on this very site) have done very sporadically is gonna start taking itself a bit more seriously. Starting next week we will have a new, 15-20 minute post every Wednesday. It will be sort of like the old “Simply Youth Ministry Show”, but not.

One new thing we’d like to try is guest appearances via video from members of the youth ministry nation! Here’s how that will work (we hope)…You film a super short (30 seconds) video and email it to letstalkyouthministry@gmail.com and we’ll make you a guest on the show. Video categories include:

* “Can You Talk About…” - Simply put your youth ministry question in video format and send it in!
* “I Can’t Believe I Did That!” - Share a bonehead story, mistake, or embarrassing ministry moment.
* “30-seconds of Wit or Wisdom” - Share something on your heart, share a joke, inspire us in 30-seconds.

Be sure to start the video by giving us your name and the city/church you are from.

Hey, if we’re willing to put a horrendous cartoon of ourselves on this post, you should be willing to put yourself on a short little video!

Make a video…send it to us…and together we’ll talk youth ministry!

Kurt and AC



Simply Youth Ministry teamed up with World Vision to create a 4-week LIVE Curriculum that can be downloaded for FREE by registered 30 Hour Famine participants and used by leaders as they prepare students for the event.

If you are unfamiliar with World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine, I recommend you check out this incredible opportunity to help your students grow in their faith and care about providing for those in need. The next national 30 Hour Famine is April 25-26!

30hrfamine

The 30-Hour Famine LIVE Curriculum will prep your students in the month leading up to the Famine. Here are the 4 lessons:

  • Week 1- We Are: Invited
  • Week 2- We Are: Neighbors
  • Week 3- We Are: Hungry!
  • Week 4- We Are: READY

live curriculumOne lesson is written by Leah Swindon, World Vision’s National Director of Youth Mobilization and the 30-Hour Famine (Fun Fact: She has also been involved in youth ministry for the majority of her adult life.) and the other three lessons are written by other seasoned youth pastors.You can learn more about the 30-Hour Famine LIVE Curriculum here!

*If you registered for 30-Hour Famine, then download your LIVE Curriculum here.*

When asked about her favorite part of mobilizing youth for the Famine each year, Leah said, “I love helping young people realize how strong their voice is. People hear statistics and needs all the time, but when they see a teenager speaking up, caring, and taking action, it’s moving. People listen.”

If you, or someone you know, is interested in getting involved with the 30-hour Famine, visit 30hourfamine.org to select a national date (next one is April 25-26) or pick your own.

Have questions about the 30 Hour Famine 4-week prep LIVE curriculum? Give Matty McCage a call at 615-349-7111.

Thanks for caring about the hungry!

Amber / @youthministry

Happy Easter Week Simply Insiders!

Hope you are having a blessed week leading up to Good Friday tomorrow and Easter Sunday this weekend. Wanted to let you in on 2 amazing Good Friday Resources that are only 0.99 on the new $5 Youth Ministry Store!

Good Friday Scripture Reading - $0.99

goodfridayeasterreading

Use this dramatic reading straight from Scripture to elevate your Good Friday services. Students will convey the tortuous events of Good Friday as they extinguish candles at the conclusion of each section until nothing but darkness covers the room. Powerful. Dramatic!

INCLUDES:
-1 Discussion Starter in Word & PDF formats
-1 Title Slide
-1 Teaching Slide

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE OR PURCHASE.

Good Friday Prayer Event - $0.99

goodfridayprayerevent

Six stations are completed with elements from the crucifixion story – vinegar, a crown of thorns, and other items found in the story. Students read or paraphrase scripture as they place special elements at each station. Then the stations are used as hand-on prayer opportunities. It’s great for youth ministry or the larger congregation.

INCLUDES:
-1 Event Document in Word & PDF formats
-1 Title Slide
-1 Teaching Slide

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE OR PURCHASE.

 

Hope it helps as you help your students focus on Jesus this Easter!

Amber / @youthministry



Millennials and Money

Chuck Bomar —  April 16, 2014 — 1 Comment

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 11.07.33 AMWe all grow up being told we “can do whatever we want to” if, in fact, “we work hard enough.” As we grow, we think if we can just jump through the hoops of education then we will be prepared for the workforce.

But if that was true, why do companies have ongoing training programs?

The fact is a college degree is pretty much necessary for someone to get a full-time job. Even in the trade industry, there is usually some sort of schooling necessary before getting a job.

But to think that these things prepare you for the work you will be paid for is crazy. Sure, there is a foundation developed in ways. But just as seminary doesn’t prep someone to pastor and lead a church, neither does a college-level degree prepare people to interact effectively in the marketplace. We all need to start somewhere.

This is where I find the rub to be in many cases. I find many college graduates thinking they should be paid more than they are making when they get out of school. Certainly not all, but a growing number it seems. In my discussions I have found a core thread that seems to lead to this conclusion: they have jumped through all the necessary hoops we have told them they needed to jump through and therefore feel like they deserve comfort.

But who can blame them? Most of them were raised with this mentality!

Well, I recently read an article that may bring some settling to this issue for some. There is something about seeing real-life numbers and this article surprised me a little. One of the topics hit in this article was the median income for Millennials. Here are 10 major cities in the U.S. and how much Millennials (people between the ages of 25-34) make on average in these cities:

  1. Raleigh, NC: $31,899
  2. San Diego, CA: $30,196
  3. Dallas, TX: $29,830
  4. Denver, CO: $32,422
  5. Boston, MA: $33,659
  6. San Francisco, CA: $36,119
  7. Chicago, IL: $30,061
  8. Austin, TX: $30,816
  9. New York, NY: $31,703
  10. Washington, D.C.: $42,226

Are you surprised by those numbers? Share your thoughts!

Chuck / @chuckbomar

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