What’s in Your Bag?

Brandon Early —  April 12, 2012 — 1 Comment

What’s inside Cam’s Bag?
Cam, a youth pastor from Kansas and one of the winners of the 50% off shopping spree at Timbuk2, sent over a list of the contents in his new Timbuk2 Commute 2.0 Messenger Bag and a pic for another “What’s in your Bag?”

Cam made a great choice, I have this bag and I love it.  I recently took it on a flight and going through TSA was quicker with its TSA compliant external laptop compartment.  It unzips and lies flat for going through security without removing your laptop.

1) Timbuk2 Commute 2.0 Messenger Bag
2) iPad2 Wall Charger and cord
3) iPad2 to HDMI adapter
4) extra iPod/iPad2 connector cord
5) Youth Ministry Life by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston (download or physical copy)
6) Quitter by Jon Acuff
7) Bible by God
8) Apple Bluetooth keyboard for iPad2
9) Laptop power supply
10) Skull Candy Headphones
11) My Info Cards
12) Sony Bloggie HD video camera and USB connection adapter
13) iPad2 with Smart Cover
14) Dell ‘I really wish I was a Mac’ Laptop
15) Keys to important places
16) iPod Classic 80GB
17) Seagate 1TB portable hard drive and USB connection adapter
18) Sharpie Pens and iPad2 stylus
19) LED flashlight…in case of Zombie Apocalypse
20) Air Hockey table…not portable but still awesome.

Thank you Cam for sending in this post.  Check out Cam’s blog at aNewGravity.com.
How about you? What are the things you just cannot leave the house or your office without?

Got a very nice email today from Justin at Simply Youth Ministry telling the SYM bloggers about a GR8 Grad bundle. It’s like $25 worh of books for $14-something. A good deal, anyway.  Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/Itu3rQGraduation Gift Set

Small churches, we are the fortunate ones. We can make celebrating the accomplishments of our students a church-wide event. We’re not bound by size and people limitations. Making a big deal of a student’s life milestones accomplishes two key purposes: 1) It garners precious critical mass, making an event feel “successful” and 2) Provides precious inter-generational moments, bringing the youth ministry into a church’s spotlight (in a good way!).

So where to start? Grab the key leaders from all parts of the church and ask them how they want their ministry area to participate. In the meantime, I’m going to post some grad ideas over the next few days.


Grad Pack

troy —  April 12, 2012 — Leave a comment

Today Simply Youth Ministry has a deal going on a little gift pack for graduating seniors.  You should check it out.  One of my books, 99 Thoughts for College Age People, is included in this bundle.  Hope it’s a help to you!  Check it out, here.

Want to have a great summer? As youth workers that have planned summers that have both crushed and crashed—let us share some tips for planning a great summer calendar.

Don’t wait until the pressure is on.
Here’s some good news right up front: If you’re thinking about summer now, you’re in good shape. Next year, start even earlier! If you plan in advance, even in broad strokes, it will greatly improve the chances of your summer’s big ideas becoming a reality. Resist the false belief that waiting until the pressure is on makes you better—it doesn’t; it just makes you more frantic.

Change it up.
Summer is a GREAT time to change it up. Get out of the school year rhythms and programs and shake things up. Always have youth group inside? What about taking it “under the stars” for the month of July? Always have small groups? Change it up and go with Midweek for a few months. Summer allows you to try something new and experiment in the short-term effectively. Maybe you’ll stumble onto something great that you can bring into the full year, too!

Think free first.
Summer gets expensive quickly. Aside from camp, what if everything else was free? It would make you get creative for sure! This summer we’re trying out a weekly event we’re calling Five-Dollar Friday trying to keep things super relational, super effective, and super cheap. A few years ago we employed a “cheap and easy” philosophy where everything was super cheap AND most things required no advanced registration, paperwork, etc.

Push hard toward a central event.
For us, Summer Camp is THE event of summer—all events before it point toward it and everything after rides the wave it creates. Maybe this summer take the same strategy and put your eggs in one basket. If you plan too much, it creates confusion as to what someone should really attend. We want it to be obvious: COME TO CAMP—and if you make it to the other stuff, great!

What are your summer planning tips?

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

We have not put many set designs together over the years, but when we do it seems to draw our students into the series more.  If you are looking for ides on basic stage design, check out Church Stage Design Ideas for some inspiration.

PLAN IN ACTION: In our current series, we are kickin’ it old school with an overhead projector. In the opening image you see a black curtain with our logo “re:” shining on it.  That is an overhead projector throwing a transparency on the curtain.  We could have paid $60 and purchased a gobo but I did not want to spend any money.  You can see what we did here and here.

We have used that pink foam insulation from the home repair stores to carve and create objects and characters for our stage.  Here is a video I found on Vimeo walking us through the creation of a set design from Brandon Baker.  I met Brandon Baker at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference this year, this is great work Brandon, thanks for sharing!

What are some of the tools you are using to create stage design?  Share a comment, post a link to an image…

Simply Youth Ministry has put together a little graduation bundle that might be perfect for your graduating seniors. It includes books by Doug Fields, Chuck Bomar and myself and is close to half price when bundled together. Check it out!

Here are a few other posts if you’re checking out gift ideas for seniors, too:


I am back from 2 weeks in Kenya with a student team! And I am finally starting to feel human again. I am not sure I could fully communicate what the trip was like for me. It was exhausting, inspiring, challenging, gut-wrenching, fun, etc…

I am sure I’ll be writing more over the next few weeks but here are a few highlights for me:

 We took a team of 9 students – 6 of which were girls! These girls were amazing- what we asked of these students was tough and they rose to the challenge. There was no drama…which is amazing for 12 days in Africa with 6 girls (plus leaders)! I bought each girl a little journal and each day I wrote a note in it about what I saw in them that day…they made that job super easy! Love them deeply…world changers!!

We visited Dr.Ken Gerdes Girl’s High School one day…and I had my world rocked. We watched 55 girls, who have come from some of the poorest homes in Kenya many of these girls were orphaned,  present poetry. One girl shared a powerful poem about how society and culture try to keep girls from ever achieving and she spoke of the power of education in her life. At which point, I burst into the ugly cry…and I left the room, so has to not alarm or scare anyone…because it’s that ugly! Anyway, it was powerful to watch girls get a chance to make something of there life with the help of this school and Jesus. For me, I thought of the power for those girls…and for the girls that at I work with everyday right here in Seattle. God has gifted every person for a purpose and society is lying about their potential to change the world…God can win in us when we embrace his call and his potential for us. I am sure you will hear about those girls again!

This last picture is of Margaret.  I girl we met on the streets of Kisumu. She was living there after giving her birth to her child 2 months prior. She wanted help. Unfortunately, there was nothing for girls in Kisumu. So, we did the best we could and got her in a juvenile detention center. We visited her there a few days. And what was surprising to find is that several of the girls in there – weren’t in there because they were in trouble but because they needed help getting back to to their homes. On the streets these girls become victims to trafficking – Margaret had an older boy on the streets who called himself her husband. The streets are not safe for kids, especially for girls. So, because there is nothing for them…we turned to the detention center. Agape Children Ministries which runs a program for boys in Kisumu is working to help get Margaret back home with her sister…So I am thankful for their willingness to step up. Margaret will stay with me for a long time.


Well, those were the highlights! Thanks to all my guest bloggers- You were awesome!!!


Do you ever feel like your ideas are confined by the size of the devise or space available to write or draw them out?  Something that is important for ministry is to stretch the imagination and allow God to use the creativity He gave us for His glory.  I am very excited to share about a new product that creates not only the atmosphere, but the space to hold any idea or picture someone in your ministry can dish out.  IdeaPaint is a paint-on dry erase board that can go on any surface imaginable.

What are the perks? 

  • Imagine a space in your ministry that allows the freedom to express and respond to God outwardly.   The idea of creating an environment for a student to freely respond to God through writing or drawing should get you excited.
  •  IdeaPaint doesn’t have to stop in your classroom. Imagine brainstorming with your co-workers on an office wall, and posting quotes of fun things kids say.
  • Greatly priced, there are two products; one with a 10 year warranty and a second backed with a lifetime warranty.
  • The IdeaPaint WRITE dry-erase ink (Markers) offer bold color and is certified AP Nontoxic and conforms to ASTM D4236” (this means anyone with allergies won’t have a problem with it)

Does this pique your curiosity? Check out IdeaPaint’s website yourself.  Their site is very user friendly and will open your eyes to even more ideas of what you could do with it.

Below is a short video of how the product is used in a classroom

John Jensen is currently an intern in Children’s and Family Ministry at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin.  He is also in his senior year at Moody Bible Institute, majoring in Children’s Ministry. Read more posts from John at kid-minquicklinks.com.