I miss dunking like a beast in my room on my 6.5 foot Nerf Rim.  This kid has mad skillz and is ain’t afraid to show it!  From the mid 90′s, playing some killer tunes and shattering backboards, here’s the best single person dunk contest I have seen since I was a teen… Watch, enjoy, and remember when.  I just might pick one of these up for my office!

Check out Simply Youth Ministry on these social networks!

  • **NEW** Simply is now on Pinterest! Check out youth room, event, and outreach ideas, photoshop tips, get a sneak peek of cover designs, and more!  I joined Pinterest a few weeks ago and was mocked by someone because I am a dude!  I reminded them of my love for DIY (Pinterest is great for this), I reminded him that Matty McCage has a Pinterest (that really did not strengthen the argument, so I created a Pinterest board with pictures of him…nothing but pictures of him.  I know this is totally weird but his mom likes it.
  • **NEW** Simply is now on Instagram! We can follow for random photos, beautiful sunsets, and youth related stuff! Pull out your iPhone or Android and look up “symsnapshots.”
  • You should already be a fan of the SYM Facebook page, if not click here to learn about contests and to build community with other youth workers!
  • Here are some SYM twitter peeps to follow too…

Just found out a teen didn’t sign up for our camp because his family couldn’t afford it.   Didn’t know that finances were an issue; however, apparently they were.  I found all this out from the teen’s small group leader who was curious as to why he didn’t see the boys name on the list.

Money in ministry creates a lot of tension and that’s because it’s something that’s personal.  While you would love to include everyone in your programs, events, and trips, but, is that possible?  Maybe; however, without money you would be more limited with what you could do.

A solution most youth ministers use for tight budgets is fundraising; however, all we do with fundraising is waste our time and barely cover our financial needs.  Instead of raising funds, you need to be raising givers.  But you are in need of something more immediate, because changing the culture of giving is something that requires time and commitment from your entire church, especially leadership.  If that’s you, then try these alternatives:

  1. Have Them Raise Their Own Funds: I know I just said that fundraisers are a waste of time, so hear me out.  Instead of coordinating an event to raise funds for the teens, encourage your students to write letters, make phone calls or set up a page on Facebook asking people to fund their cause, their trip.  It’s about sharing the burden and teaching them about thinking outside the box when it comes to raising funds.
  2. Be Frugal In Planning:  It’s easy to get comfortable with vendors (i.e. bus companies) when you plan the same events year after year.  However, if you want the best deal, it’s important to shop around.  You don’t have to swap out vendors, especially if you’ve built a relationship with them; however, you want to get the best deal.  The more frugal you can be with your planning the more you can bring down the overall costs for your event or trip.
  3. Budget In Expenses:  Instead of putting the burden on the teenagers, put it on the church budget.  Maybe not the most attractive option; however, one that will instantly bring down costs for the students.  This might mean cutting the costs of other things you do, but it’s all about deciding what is most important.
  4. Make Others Aware: One way to make your trips, programs and events affordable is by sharing the burden with your team, parents and members of the church.  Your church is filled with people who have connections and resources that are going to alleviate the burden of expenses.  When you start the planning process, ask your team, “Do we know anyone out there who could help us with X?”

In the end the best you can do is create a culture of giving.  A church that tithes, is a church that wants to invests in it’s future.  Plus, a church that gives is one that’s honoring God and as Malachi 3:10 says – Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not.  Use money wisely, and see how God will bless your ministry.

How do you take away the obstacle of money from your ministry?

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.

Weekend prep

 —  May 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

Sitting in Starbucks…prepping for my message this weekend.
I get to share about the Samaritan woman at the well and her interaction with Jesus.
It’s such a powerful story of what happens when someone encounters Jesus.
I found this great quote…and wanted to share it:
“As the woman departs from the well to tell the Good News in the city, she leaves her water jar behind. The Gospel writer’s mention of the abandoned water jar is an intriguing detail. Perhaps it expresses the fact that she now possesses the living water and will never thirst again. Perhaps it conveys her haste and apostolic zeal to witness Jesus. Most interestingly, many commentators see it as as the feminine counterpart to the nets and boats of the male disciples left behind to follow Jesus.” -The Women of the Gospel, Stephen Binz

Love it! Another powerful example of Jesus calling and changing lives through women!!

Random Randomness

 —  May 11, 2012 — 1 Comment

Friday afternoon….lots happening….

- Mark Oestreicher has new book published by Simply Youth Ministry titled “A Beautiful Mess”. It’s available as a free download for another week or so, after that you’ll have to pay for it. In this book, he takes a look at some of the messy, but good things about youth ministry. Mark is a good friend who has shaped my youth ministry thinking in tons of ways, and I like to think parts of this book reflect ways I’ve shaped him a little bit over the years.

- Over the next couple of years, Saddleback is going to expand to 12 international cities that include Tokyo, Berlin, Mexico City, London, Manilla, and others. I’ve been charged with launching the student ministries for each church as well as providing ongoing support, coaching, etc. Exciting….challenging stuff!

- I’ve got 5 Chick-Fil-A shakes riding on the Lakers first round play-off series. What looked like a guaranteed victory seems to be slipping away.

- Movies are my vice. I see far too many. Yet I haven’t seen Avengers! I keep having opportunities, and I keep passing them up. Not sure why.

- My wife and daughter are on a trip to NYC for our daughter’s HS graduation gift. Originally, it was slated to be a family trip but Kayla asked if she could replace me and Cole with two adult women who have been influential in her life. As sad as I am to not be on the trip, I’m thrilled beyond explanation at the fact that our kids have other adults who love them, pour into them and have helped shape them in such tremendous ways!

- Life right now feels crazy, overwhelming and exciting all at once! I am incredibly blessed and thankful. I’m not sure what life feels like for you….or how easily you can say “Blessed and thankful”, but my prayer for you as I head into the weekend is that even if those words don’t come easily, you can sense them deep in your soul.

I know you love free stuff.  Right now you can download two books from the “Everyday Youth Ministry” series for FREE. You can grab Youth Ministry Tips & Ideas By Tim Schmoyer and for a limited time you can also download A Beautiful Mess By Mark Oestreicher. 

Andy Brazelton has been the leader of youth ministry at Group and Simply Youth Ministry for the last several years (Group, SYM and Group Mission Trips are part of a family of ministries that help youth workers with what matters most).  I have had a great time working with Andy figuring out the best way to serve youth leaders.  It’s been one the best times of ministry in my entire life.  Today is Andy’s last day on the job.

I’m going to miss sitting and dreaming with him about the future of youth ministry and how to best serve youth workers.

I’m going to miss coffee on Monday mornings (I’m not going to miss him telling everyone I never buy him coffee, not true btw).

I’m going to miss coming up with crazy, stupid promo ideas to get more stuff and events in youth workers hands.

I’m going to miss struggling together to build great organizations that do real ministry, pay their employees, and have enough money left over to keep creating awesome new stuff youth workers use to help students encounter Jesus.

I’m going to miss praying with him for you folks (youth leaders) – the reason we do all this.

I’m going to miss my friend.

God bless you ab.

How to Leave Well

 —  May 11, 2012 — 6 Comments

Leaving a church is a tough decision. You’ve already weighed, deliberated, and debated the decision for months (or perhaps very briefly and acted impulsively) and the transition plan is quickly coming together. You want to leave well…but how do you do that? It’s challenging even under the best circumstances. And even if you’re leaving under tension, there’s no reason to let students, volunteers, and friends get caught in the crossfire of an ugly departure. Here are a few ways we think you can leave well no matter the situation.

Announce it far and wide.
People need to hear it from you—so make sure when you go public you make the reach as far as possible. Not to add to the drama but to make sure that people hear it from an official channel instead of through the prayer chain, errr….grapevine. If you talk about it in church on Sunday, by Monday morning it should be on Facebook and the church Web site just so it stops confusion and slows down rumors.

Keep the transition short but sweet.
Once you know, and your leadership knows, shorter is usually better. Although we love to romanticize the idea of the handoff and peaceful transition of power, an abbreviated timeline is usually the best route. Once you announce things you’ll be perceived as “halfway in” and a lame duck, so a graceful exit is preferred. By the way, has anybody ever actually seen a “lame duck”? Just wonderin’.

Maintain unity.
We aren’t suggesting you hide the truth, but we are begging you to protect the fragile unity of God’s church. Don’t dare to think your exit is a time to grandstand for change and call for resignations. Leave in the spirit of unity and you’ll never regret it. Not everybody deserves or needs to know the “whole story.”

Really leave.
You’ve made the transition plan public, quick, and abundantly clear—now stick to it! Resist the urge to babysit the students. Fight the arrogant belief that no one will care about them when you’re gone—God loves them far more than you do and will watch over his children. Besides, you always said you were working yourself out of a job, so here’s your chance to see how you did. Don’t meddle; it isn’t your place anymore. Resist the urge to ask friends and former students how the “new guy/girl” is doing. Don’t let yourself become critical of changes he or she begins to make in your absence.

Pray for the church.
The church will go on without you. In fact, it may even thrive once you’re gone. Oftentimes staff transition allows the leadership of the church to be more focused in their vision and retool any errant plans to accomplish that vision. And while it may hurt when something you built from the ground up gets unceremoniously axed, pray that God will further his Kingdom while your Empire crumbles. Besides, if you really leave like we suggested above you won’t know they changed things!

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.