When I inherited my budget I remember thinking, “Okay, where do I start?” I had everything from moon bounces to ski trips. I had volunteer stipends and non-capitalized equipment (Not sure what that meant). I just took a stab at what I thought it would be and to my surprise it got approved. To tell you the truth not much was different from the previous year. That next year I would go over my budget in some areas and under on others, which is typical. As the ministry began to change and evolve my anxiety levels increased and so did the need for a larger budget. Instead of analyzing what I was doing with my budget, I just felt like it needed to grow.

No one gets into youth ministry to manage a budget; however, it’s a necessary part of the job. If managed correctly you can maximize your resources and extend your impact even further. It’s not always about needing more, instead it’s figuring out how to be wise with what we have. To maximize your budget you need to understand it, and to do that you should:

Consult The Church Financier: Sit down with the person who runs the overall church budget and ask them to explain how it works. Where is the income for your budget? Is it purely giving? Tuition, and camp registrations? Where is the money coming from? Get the big picture of how money comes in and it will help you see why your budget won’t always grow.

Seek Outside Advice: If someone in your church is an accountant or is just awesome at budgeting, sit down with them and get their insight on how to track a solid budget. Sometimes the challenge isn’t creating a budget as much as it is tracking. Get their advice on bookkeeping so that you can maintain the margin you need.

Label, Categorize And Organize: Whether your budget is itemized or just one big lump, it’s important to categorize. When your budget is in categories it will help you track where money needs to be spent and what need to be eliminated. This can be hard, but it’s important. Sit down, look at where you spend your money and categorize it.

Ask The Difficult Question: Do you really need it? It’s easy to assume everything on your budget is necessary because you put them there. But if an outsider were to sit down and look at your budget could you justify to them why you spend, what you spend? This is where you may need accountability so that you aren’t wasting your money.

If you can accurately build and maintain your budget you’ll be able to give accurate information to leadership when they decide whether or not to increase it. It won’t happen every time; however, they’ll value the work and research that goes into it. Times are tough, everyone is living tight and that’s why we need to be wise with our money. If you don’t get an increase in budget it shouldn’t deter you from being a wise steward. When we are wise with our money, we open ourselves to God’s blessings.

How do you maximize your youth ministry budget?

Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more great youth ministry articles and thoughts on his exceptional blog Marathon Youth Ministry.

It’s November 3rd. Already! I won’t even mention how close it is till Christmas.

So…you’re wondering: What has November got to do with your 2013 summer trip? How do your November next steps influence the teeter-totter between success and “meh?” I’m so glad you asked. Here’s what I’m thinking:

1-If you haven’t set the dates, picked the place, and gathered/sent in deposits, what are you waiting for? Christmas? The earlier you get your mission tribe on board, the better the buy in. The better the buy in, the better the attendance and support. The better the support, the more kids you’ll take.

2-November is Thankful Month in many churches. NOW is the time to sell mission stock or get sponsorships for your young missionaries when folks are feeling grateful. Sponsor a Thankfulness Breakfast one Sunday to applaud past supporters and invite new ones. Plus, remind people that your youth summer trip is a great end of the year tax write-off.

3-Recruit the best adult volunteers sooner than later. They’re great in many ways and usually that means they’re busy…so they need to know NOW whether you’re going to want their participation on the trip.

So use all that extra time you have from “No Shave November” and use it to get to work.

Stephanie



Chris Freeman sent this great story along to the blog today … worth the read:

A few weeks ago one of our former high school students named Hunter was hit by a car as he was walking on his college campus.  He was immediately flighted to a hospital in town and has been in the ICU ever since.  He’s slowly starting to show some signs of recovery, but he’s nowhere out of the clear yet.  Our entire church community has been covering him in prayer like crazy.  His mom started a Facebook page called “Pray for Hunter,” and she posts updates on it daily.  The community has really rallied around Hunter, and people are praying for him all over the country now.  A group of high school and college students ordered hundreds of “Pray For Hunter” wristbands, and everywhere I go I see people wearing them.  Groups have been meeting up at local high schools to pray for him.  People have been meeting at our church to pray for him.  Business owners in our community are wearing the bracelets and praying for him too.

But it doesn’t stop there.  That same group of students who made the “Pray for Hunter” bracelets decided they wanted to do something to help.  You see, Hunter has always been an extremely active and athletic guy.  He loves playing soccer, snowboarding, and all sorts of other athletic endeavors.  But the doctors aren’t sure if Hunter will be able to walk or regain use of his legs again.  So these high school students decided the best thing they could do in Hunter’s honor is put together a dodgeball tournament to raise funds for his recovery.  They are calling it “Play for Hunter.”  It’s $30 for a team of six to play, and it looks like we are going to have several hundred people playing.

I went to see Hunter in the hospital the other day.  It’s really difficult to see him like this.  But he’s able to whisper short sentences and move his arms around.  When I talked to him about the dodge ball tournament, he lit up.  He was slowly pumping his fist in the air, and he was able to utter the words, “I love you guys.”  It’s pretty incredible how such a simple thing like a dodgeball tournament can make such a difference.  I walked away realizing that sometimes dodgeball is more than dodgeball.  It reminded me that as youth workers, nothing we do is insignificant.  God is using it all, even dodgeball, to show his love, mercy, and grace to young people.

Thanks for reading this and for saying a prayer for Hunter tonight.

Weekend Teaching Series: Stuff Jesus Didn’t Say (week 2 of 2)

Service Length: 74 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we had Kay Warren (Pastor Rick Warren’s wife) speak at all 4 services to high school students. She had offered a few weeks ago at an HIV/AIDS meeting we were at so I quickly adjusted the calendar to get her in right away – it was SO great! Not only was it an incredible message about following Jesus, it was great to have support from the leadership of our church. She taught about Jesus talking to the crowd, but specifically referencing the disciples in the crowd. She challenged students to rise up out of the crowd and be fully committed disciples. Not that the path of the disciples is easy – it requires dangerous surrender, a disturbing and surrender to the mission He has chosen for you. Powerful stuff!

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend we left it pretty clean except for one fun music video called “A Whole ‘Notha Level” by my friend AC and one of our students. Hilarious student-made video that helped everyone have a smile on their face.

Music Playlist: Take It All, The Earth is Yours, God Above All, All I Am/Learn to Love/All for Love/With Everything Medley

Favorite Moment: This weekend Kay gave away a TON of copies of her book, Dangerous Surrender, to whoever promised to read it and ask God what He wanted to do with their lives. We gave away so many she had to get more on Sunday morning! Having her in our high school ministry is such a treat – great weekend.

Up next: Worship Together Weekend (November)



3 blocks from our house. Storm surge was so powerful that the pole was snapped, and taken out to sea- while the rest was left hanging.

 

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to speak at a local church.   I had wrestled and prayed about what to share.  Hurricane Sandy was looming off our coast.  The projected path was literally set for over my house on the Jersey Shore. For days, news and weather channels were raising panic within all of us calling this,  “Frankenstorm.”   Tense laughter filled aisles of supermarkets as water was eerily missing from shelves.    So as the Lord spoke to my heart, asking me to talk on Jesus calming the storm in Luke 8,   you can imagine my reaction.   I wouldn’t talk on “that,” I couldn’t imagine it not sounding corny.   Although He tugged at my soul harder, I made a different set of notes.

As I sat in the pew awaiting my name to be called,  I heard Christ, once again ask if I might talk about this story.   The church was only half full as I stood before the congregation.  Many were already home making preparations for the impending doom.  Exchanging notes, I set out to tell of 12 disciples scared for their lives in the midst of what I believe could have been a hurricane.   All the while their Messiah was asleep.  What stuck out to me from this passage was a phenomenal idea.  Yes, we all know that Jesus calmed the storm.  This is important.  However, I don’t really think that was the point.  You see when the winds have been subdued Christ rebukes his friends for their lack of faith.  Why?  They should have understood that no matter what HE WAS THERE TO PROTECT THEM.  As we left that day, I knew the sermon was for my own heart.  As this colossal threat stood at my door what would be my own reaction?  Would I know that no matter what happened,  Jesus was close at hand,   caring and loving all of us.

Now I sit on the other side of this monster storm.   Jesus did not push back this mammoth into the sea.  It’s power did not dissipate.  Instead it plowed through the homes and neighborhoods around us.  The pictures many are witnessing on CNN are literally blocks away from me.   Personally,  I am thankful for friends who took us in to evacuate the coast.   Our house is still standing, with  some shingles off the roof. We were  and are safe.  However,  the house next to us is standing with a tree on the roof.  The streets are barely passable.  We know many who have lost everything: homes, cars,  all their “stuff” is gone.  You may be watching it on a screen, I am looking into the eyes of those I know. Important places in the life of our family are literally washed out to sea.  Sitting in stunned silence,  you wonder what to do?  Where do I start?

Luke 8 is the beginning.   Christ is not asleep.  He is here to take care of us.  He is needed in this area more than ever.  As we began the clean up today,  I was struck with at thought.  All of our “stuff” may be in jeopardy at any moment still we are standing together. Thankfully,  my family  and friends continue to have  each other.

At this point on the “inside” we don’t really know what to do.  We keep waiting to wake up from this dream and have “normal” restored.  There is no routine.  No school.  No work for many to go to.  We have no idea when many of the children will even be able to go to school again,  as  it is acting as the shelter for those who like us,  can’t be in their home.  Some are wondering,  with no home at all what will be next?  Others,  (like us) just can’t be there full time because it is cold, and dark and has no water.  So you sleep at home and find some place to be during the day. There are curfews to get off the streets at 7 PM.  Power and will not be restored in some areas (like at our home) for another 14 days.  We are all just pulling together and figuring out the best way to stand together.   Local churches are simply grilling hot dogs and giving them out.  We are just making sure neighbors are alright. I am thankful that many of my friends have family where they can go.  

We are only beginning to assess the needs in our own community. Currently,  we can’t even get there to know what else they might be without. It is starting by being neighborly.  Neighborhoods are camping out and working together to pool resources.   My husband stopped by our street today and gave away food we didn’t need to those around us.   It’s as simple as knowing we have not been abandoned or forgotten.  We can’t be swept up by the massive effort it will take to come to the other side of this.  There is one bigger than all of us who remains in charge.

It is a time that we are learning once again what is most important.   It is about family.  It is about pulling together.  It is about remembering who Christ is.   It is about not giving up hope even though it feels like it might be “gone.”   He is still here.

These trees were all upright and standing just 2 days ago.

 

On a practical note what can you do?

 

  • Pray.  We need to know we are supported and loved.  I have been thankful for friends, acquaintances and family that have checked in on us.  It has felt so much less surreal to have others just checking in.
  • Keep checking in:  It feels like we are living in a bubble.  We have one friend with power and so that is how I am able to send this to you.  However, except for the radio we have not been able to see the world around us.  People are wandering around devastated.  We need to know that although the world has moved on,  and the winds have died down,  you still care we are here.
  • Know there are levels of need:  Some have lost everything.  Others have lost some.  On a practical note those who live paycheck to paycheck can’t get to work .   Everything remains closed.    While the emergency agencies are handing out food and water,  everyone will take a while to  get back together.
  • Give Locally- Instead of “nationally.”  Do you know a church in NY/NJ that you can send money to?  They are on the ground and able to truly able give out to individual needs. We at our ministry at Aslan Youth Ministries, have families in three of the areas that are hurting desperately.  We have not been able to update the website.  If you would like to help you can donate at www.aslanyouth.org.   Please make the gifts to general funding.  This gives ministries the opportunity to meet the greatest points of need.
  • Give money and gifts for Christmas.  One of the ways we work with our families at Aslan is to collect Christmas presents for them.  Many are going to be starting from scratch.  Make a way to give a Christmas.
  • Plan a Spring Break Trip or Summer Trip to help people in the area.   This clean-up is going to take A LONG TIME.   Along with that we have winter nipping at our heels it may take some time.  Take the time now to pull a time together to come our way and serve.  Even if you help run a day camp for local children it is a practical way of helping.

 

Again know that we are more than surviving here.  Pictures are not doing anything justice.  They seem so small.  Still when we look around it seems like there is not a place that isn’t “broken.” More than that we are amazed at all those that are working to serve in every way.  There is no way to small to help…

 

Here is a snippet of a post from Leneita Fix who is a youth worker near the Jersey Shore and had Superstorm Sandy pass right over her community. Its a great piece and an opportunity for us to get students involved to give to help those most in need right now. Please read and go check out the full post for the rest of the info about how to get involved today.

BEFORE THE STORM: This past Sunday I had the opportunity to speak at a local church.   I had wrestled and prayed about what to share.  Hurricane Sandy was looming off our coast.  The projected path was literally set for over my house on the Jersey Shore. For days, news and weather channels were raising panic within all of us calling this,  “Frankenstorm.”   Tense laughter filled aisles of supermarkets as water was eerily missing from shelves.    So as the Lord spoke to my heart, asking me to talk on Jesus calming the storm in Luke 8,   you can imagine my reaction.   I wouldn’t talk on “that,” I couldn’t imagine it not sounding corny.   Although He tugged at my soul harder, I made a different set of notes…

As I sat in the pew awaiting my name to be called,  I heard Christ once again ask if I might talk about this story.   The church was only half full as I stood before the congregation.  Many were already home making preparations for the impending doom.  Exchanging notes, I set out to tell of 12 disciples scared for their lives in the midst of what I believe could have been a hurricane.   All the while their Messiah was asleep.  What stuck out to me from this passage was a phenomenal idea.  Yes, we all know that Jesus calmed the storm.  This is important.  However, I don’t really think that was the point.  You see when the winds have been subdued Christ rebukes his friends for their lack of faith.  Why?  They should have understood that no matter what HE WAS THERE TO PROTECT THEM.  As we left that day, I knew the sermon was for my own heart.  As this colossal threat stood at my door what would be my own reaction?  Would I know that no matter what happened,  Jesus was close at hand,  caring and loving all of us.

AFTER THE STORM: Now I sit on the other side of this monster storm.   Jesus did not push back this mammoth into the sea.  It’s power did not dissipate.  Instead it plowed through the homes and neighborhoods around us.  The pictures many are witnessing on CNN are literally blocks away from me.   Personally,  I am thankful for friends who took us in to evacuate the coast.   Our house is still standing, with  some shingles off the roof. We were  and are safe.  However,  the house next to us is standing with a tree on the roof.  The streets are barely passable.  We know many who have lost everything: homes, cars,  all their “stuff” is gone.  You may be watching it on a screen, I am looking into the eyes of those I know. Important places in the life of our family are literally washed out to sea.  Sitting in stunned silence,  you wonder what to do?  Where do I start?

WHERE WAS GOD IN ALL OF THIS? Luke 8 is the beginning.   Christ is not asleep.  He is here to take care of us.  He is needed in this area more than ever.  As we began the clean up today,  I was struck with at thought.  All of our “stuff” may be in jeopardy at any moment still we are standing together. Thankfully,  my family  and friends continue to have  each other.

THE REALITY IS HITTING: At this point on the “inside” we don’t really know what to do.  We keep waiting to wake up from this dream and have “normal” restored.  There is no routine.  No school.  No work for many to go to.  We have no idea when many of the children will be able to go to school again,  as  it is acting as the shelter for those who like us,  can’t be in their home.  Some are wondering with no home at all what will be next.  Others,  (like us) just can’t be there full time because it is cold, and dark and has no water.  So you sleep at home and find some place to be during the day. There are curfews to get off the streets at 7 PM.  Power and will not be restored in some areas (like at our home) for another 14 days.  We are all just pulling together and figuring out the best way to stand together.   Local churches are simply grilling hot dogs and giving them out.  We are just making sure neighbors are alright. I am thankful that many of my friends have family where they can go.

We are only beginning to assess the needs in our own community. Currently,  we can’t even get to them to know what else they might be without. It is starting by being neighborly.  Neighborhoods are camping out and working together to pool resources.   My husband stopped by our street today and gave away food we didn’t need to those around us.   It’s as simple as knowing we have not been abandoned or forgotten.  We can’t be swept up by the massive effort it will take to come to the other side of this.  There is one bigger than all of us who remains in charge.

Go here to read the rest and see how you can help.

-Geoff

 



I shared this image on Instagram the other day – got lots of like and comments with youth workers thinking about doing something similar. Thought I should share it here on the blog as well – just an idea to nudge your students about sharing their faith with their friends and reminding them to shine bright!

JG

There are lots of words that I would classify as swear words, most have four letters, would make your grandmother threaten you with a bar of soap if you said them and cause you to be unemployed if you use them in a sermon. The Bible says in clearly in Ephesians 5:4 that obscenity and and foolish language are to be avoided, instead offering thanksgiving.

Today I want to encourage you to think of another word that is a part of most people’s vocabulary should become a swear word and that word is PROBLEM. It has seven letters instead of four, but in my books its among the worst things I could hear someone say or communicate myself. I used to work with a guy who would come up to me all the time and tell me about all the problems he had, the problems with my ideas, the problems with his job expectations, with students, problems abound! It drove me crazy because it was just so negative.

So I had to make a rule for him  – no more problems. That word was now consider a profanity and was never to be used with me for 3 reasons.

1 – People Generally Don’t Like Problems: 99 problems, math problems, car problems, relationship problems, digestion problems, financial problems. I don’t like problems and I am pretty sure you don’t either. They imply something is broken, something is in need of solving but does not convey that a solution exists. Starting a sentence with “The problem with that idea is….” kills the creative process and I’ll be honest, I deeply dislike problems, I much prefer challenges.

2 – People prefer challenges: You wouldn’t go to a camp and run the problem course, you run the challenge course. Challenges are exciting, they are something that can and should be overcome. They require thoughtfulness, shrewdness and tactical skill; problems are different. When people bring problems, its almost an admission that they have not thought there could be a solution. Challenges imply there is a solution and that we need to work together to find it. Don’t bring me problems, bring me challenges, challenges get me pumped!

3 – No Parent Wants a Problem Child: The negative connotation of the word problem is no more obvious then communicating to parents a behavior issue. Imagine as a parent hearing from you that their child has been:

a – Causing problems and distracting other students

b – Challenging in the past few weeks and acting out in small group

I have seen the movie problem child, and I would not want to hear that my child was wreaking havoc at the youth group, I would like to partner with the youth pastor to find a solution instead. Telling me my student is a challenge implies that you want to make it work; telling me that they are a problem implies you want them gone.

Do you think you could get rid of that word? It means a shift to solution-based discussion, seeing problems as challenges to overcome not roadblocks to stymie growth. Try it out and watch your mouth!

Geoff – (Twitter)