(From my new friend, Chad Inman. I saw where he tweeted that he would be the small church youth ministry voice for MORF Online Magazine. I contacted him,  we chatted and I invited him to do a three part series for my blog. Here’s the plan: Below is the prequel for what’s coming next. We’re putting together three Advent lessons for you to use. Each one will be set up in a consistent format. Reasons why are below. Then we’re creating a social media spot where we can all share what happenedwhen we used the lesson. Cool community idea, huh? This is fun!)




While it’s true that creativity is an important part of student ministry, so is predictability. Young people crave consistency and an effective youth ministry will provide it.  This is especially vital when it comes to the discipline policies and basic structure of a youth meeting.  Here are 10 “predictability check” ideas on what I mean:

1)    Make sure all parties involved know the process for misbehavior and make sure that all leaders follow it to the rule.  This will minimize distractions and you might find that it brings out the best in your students.

2)    Create a basic outline for youth meetings and follow it every week.  I would suggest opening with some fellowship time and a fun activity/game.

3)    If you have snacks at your youth group, build in specific times for munching and limit students to this time.

4)    As you move into the content, have a specific flow that you stick to.  I suggest opening with the scripture.  Here’s a hint, use the scripture that your pastor is preaching on.  You can choose to prep (the lesson before) or reinforce (the lesson after) the sermon with your youth meeting.

5)    Next, reinforce the sermon with some sort of media.  You can find clips for every situation on Youtube or Vimeo (even if it is from a cheesy bible movie).

6)    If you have a second text, sandwich the media piece with the two readings.

7)    Now create four or five open-ended discussion questions for the group to explore.  Yes/no answers should be treated as if they are the black plague.  Don’t try to steer things too much; you will be able to take things in the right direction with a wrap up (5 minutes or less) at the end of the night.

8)    You may pray at other times during the night but always close the night with prayer.

9)    Give students a few minutes to share praises and requests.

10) Challenge students to pray but don’t push them to hard.

Chad Inman

Unfiltered Magazine is finally out! If you haven’t heard about this project then you are in for a surprise…because its awesome! www.Unfiltered Magazine.com

Unfiltered is the first-ever magazine designed to help you thrive in life…outside the church walls. Real stories by real youth  workers on topics including…
- Your Heart
- Your Family
- Your Health
- Your money
- Your soul
And much more!

The first issue is FREE so please download it using the below links or be searching for “Unfiltered Magazine” in your favorite app store. *You will receive a free sub in the near future.

- https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.group.unfiltered&hl=en_GB
- https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/unfiltered-magazine/id566561556?mt=8

Introductory Subscription rate is $8!
Link: www.Unfiltered Magazine.com


Advent Adventure Ideas

Stephanie Caro —  November 23, 2012 — 1 Comment

I’m sitting still in a chair with 20 minutes to do nothing and I thought: Advent ideas! (Yeah, isn’t it everyone’s first thought while sitting under the dryer at their hairdresser’s?)

We’ve got some time till Advent since it doesn’t start till Dec. 2nd this year. You can still make these happen:

Idea 1) Creative Online Advent Devo’s: Set up a FB page where students and adults in your ministry are assigned a day in Advent to post their fave Christmas picture of themselves, a Bible verse and make a comment or two. Send out the link to EVERYONE to check back each day for a countdown to Christmas.

Idea 2) Interactive Advent Calendar:
Assign students and adults in your ministry a different Advent scripture and a day # of Advent. Give them each a poster board and lots of decorating materials. Have each person make a giant card with their day # on the front and their scripture on the inside.

On the Sunday before Christmas, have all the students/adults wear holiday clothing and line up in rows in the Fellowship Hall or out on the church lawn. Have the rows take the shape of a Christmas tree, each student/adult holding their own giant card. Spread out so church people can walk through the Advent Tree “opening” each card as they wish.

Oops! Time’s up! I bet you can take these ideas and make them even better.


As For Me and My Crazy House (by Brian Berry) is on sale for $4.99 (50%off)!
*This is a book about healthy families making a healthy youth ministry. http://www.simplyyouthministry.com/

Hey, Small Church YM Friends:

If you didn’t already know this, Mark DeVries writes an awesome downloadable weekly student curriculum called Spice Rack. Here is a free lesson for you to use this weekend as part of your Thanksgiving teaching. This will be especially helpful since next Sunday is NOT the first Sunday in Advent this year. For more great lessons, go to http://ymarchitects.com and click on the Spice Rack tab. In the meantime, here’s the link to this lesson: 



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.


Are you one of the many churches doing some kind of fall festival within the next few weeks? Even as I stop to write this blog, I’m in the middle of writing a game plan for two churches on following up their fall festival outreach event. Why? This is prime-time visibility for seeding your Christmas Eve worship and reaching the ever-illusive young families.
Let me explain: Lots of families with kids are about to step onto your church property over the next two weeks. This is a good thing…’cuz its something that’s not happening that easily these days. So here are a few pointers to maximizing your fall event time with them:
1) Have door prizes that require one adult from each family to fill out a slip to win the prize. These slips turn into your follow up list.
2) Make sure you’re signing children into your fall festival activities. This gives you names and ages, providing the ability for the appropriate age-level ministries in your church to invite each child back to an exciting SS class or holiday kids’ event.
3) Create an “adults only” coffee cafe at your fall event. Place info about your “holiday happenings” on each table. Have your friendliest greeters “working the room” meeting and greeting your guests.
4) Within the 7 days after the event, send a “thank you for attending” note or card. Invite them to something else over the holidays.
5) Use these same contacts to send an invite to Christmas Eve service. they’ll be looking for a place to attend Christmas Eve and it might as well be your church.
Of course, all of this is predicated on the premise that your fall festival is done well and your church people are friendly, making guests WANT to give your church a second try.

Weird post that has nothing to do with small church youth ministry…except maybe I learned this stuff while traveling for youth ministry stuff.

The holidays are coming and you may be doing some flying so here’s my best advice:

1) Travel neck pillows: don’t by them at the airport. Walmart sells them for like $9. Plus, get the kind that snap together at the two ends. That way you can hang it off your luggage or wheeled back pack.

2) Know the kind of plane you’re flying. CRJs and other regional jets are SMALL so prepare by having what you’ll need in a little bag to put in the seat pocket in front of you. That way u don’t have to worry about getting to your bag…which isn’t easy on those small jets.

3) Always have a snack in ur bag with you. It makes getting stuck on the Tarmac so much easier, especially since it may be awhile till snack service. Happened to me today.

4) If you get the chance to check your luggage for free, DO IT! Who wants to schlep your bags through the multi airports of your flight day? A lot of airlines will ask for people at the gate to check all the way thru especially on the small planes. That’s free.

5) The necessary scarf: For more than fashion, I almost always wear a scarf on flight days. It doubles as a blanket and covers up any travel spills.

6) Important workshop stuff always travels with me and never in my checked bag. I can do my training event or consultation in yesterday’s clothes but can’t without the one of a kind video clip or special Mac cord I’d need.

7) Don’t count on the wifi. I never leave home without downloading the essentials. You never know how good the signal will be at a retreat or conference center.

8) Park in the same area each time at ur home airport. When you come home tired, you won’t have to try and remember which area or level u parked at.

9) I bring my own pillow sham. My own pillow was a pain to pack so the pillow sham lets me stuff two squishy hotel pillows inside it to create the firm pillow I like with a familiar feel on my face.

10) Less clothes, more jewelry! I bring all my jewelry in a roll up thingy. Gives me a sense of variety and customization w/o packing a lot.

Think that’s about it for now. I’m about to land in Indy to send some time with UMC youth peeps. Love my job!!