The Bionic Teenager?

Tony Myles —  August 1, 2013 — 6 Comments

I sat in a planning meeting today with several caring local professionals. They hope to host a youth summit in our area, and our conversation eventually centered on the desired outcomes of the conference. We began brainstorming  what we want to see happen in the students involved. In other words, “Who will they ultimately be when they leave this event because they were a part of it?”

After several minutes on that line of thinking, I raised my hand and offered an observation:

“It feels like we’re trying to create a bionic teenager. I don’t know if everyone remembers that old TV show the Six Million Dollar Man, but there was this concept in its opening theme that it feels like we’re sharing here – that we have the means to make students better than they were before… ‘better, stronger, faster.’

I think everything we’ve talked about are great values for kids to grow into, but if I were to force this on my own son he’d feel immense pressure because he can’t get there overnight (let alone consistently). Maybe we need to include the values of ‘rest’ and ‘journey’ somehow? Students can take steps this way, but they may need to intentionally pause along the way and take stock of their progress so they don’t crash because they feel they’re not yet perfect.”

My thoughts were met with enthusiasm, not to mention a lot of affirmation. I felt like I’d made a real contribution to the discussion.

Only…

praiseI wondered how often I’ve not had that thought in ministry. Maybe you can identify:

  • “Once kids go on this trip, their hearts will be forever transformed for Jesus.”
  • “If I can only get that student baptized, then he/she will become a role model to the others.”
  • “The more often students are consistent with youth group attendance, the more consistent they’ll be with Jesus.”
  • “They have to start (reading the Bible/praying/fasting/tithing/singing) more if they hope to have a real breakthrough.”

Even just writing those made me realize how absurd they all are.

And yet… don’t thoughts like that creep into your head and planning, too?

The thing about bionics is that something unnatural was added to appear natural.

Hmm. Is that the end?

What do you think is reasonable and unreasonable to expect in these matters?

I came across this video and it seemed all too familiar.

(thanks to ChurchLeaders.com for the tip)

A few years ago I did a similar illustration of having someone slap me hard as a part of a service. In each of our gatherings, I invited up someone whom I considered a good friend (but who wasn’t in on what was about to happen). I then shared with everyone how hearing “Jesus died on a cross for you” has become so commonplace we no longer realize some of what it means.

Between our two services, I got slapped hard two different times, with each service having it happen at least twice. My cheek was throbbing by Sunday afternoon.

sermonillustrations

Years later, I’ve heard it was the difference in the faith of one of our (now) key leaders. In his words, “When you let Jon slap you, and then again, I felt the nails going into Jesus’ flesh for the first time in my life.”

Nothing like taking one for the team.

Sometimes we take this too far, though. In one church I was a youth pastor at I had it in mind to have the kids do an altar call while walking through fertilizer. My short-sighted thought at the time was, “It will help them realize all the crap Jesus will walk with them through.” Thankfully, someone much wiser than me interjected and I backed off the idea altogether.

What have been some illustrations like this you’ve seen “work” (or perhaps a few well-intended ideas you’ve watched go south)?

Share your thoughts. Let’s brainstorm and learn from each other.



There is no shortage of content on the internet.

Case in point, check out this unique video that is a thematic mash-up of the old video game Street Fighter and the randomness of church ministry:

(thanks to David John Perez for the find)

If you’re like me, you’ll be laughing in an instant. I had a few moments where I couldn’t stop laughing, in fact.

Thankfully, the video is over seven minutes long. This gave me a little more time to think about what I was watching.

I’m all for laughing at myself as a Christian. There are plenty of resources that provoke this, such as media that mocks how church can seem like a Starbucks to great blogs like the one Jon Acuff writes. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s walked away from such creative content and thought, “I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks it’s odd that we slap stick-figure fish on our vehicles, and then war it out with evolutionists by making our fish eat their mockery of our fish.”

So back to the video – as I was having fun enjoying the archaic video game sound effects over mass healing services, I was reminded…

those are healing services.

People with real afflictions came in to seek something from God.

They’re desperate. They’ve been given little hope everywhere else.

Granted, in my right mind I wouldn’t go to such stage presentations that seem more theatrical than spiritual. Then again, am I right in my mind about that? If my kid was sick and I heard a guy was coming to town who has a reputation for healing, would I endure the hot stage lights and his hair-sprayed helmet head so my son or daughter could know the touch of God?

“Hadouken!”

(that’s “Street Fighter” for “Amen!”)

What do you think – as we circulate these with our Christian friends or share them with youth group kids…

are we doing more good than harm… or more harm that good?

I’m sure there will be some quick replies on this, and we may even toss out classic ideas like “Balance… everything in moderation.”

So before you answer, consider:

But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 1:9)

But among you there must not be… obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. (Ephesians 5:3-4)

Kreyos Watch…

Brandon Early —  July 22, 2013 — 3 Comments

KreyosI am a big kickstarter and Indiegogo fan, I wrote about them here and here. I missed out on being one of the people to help Pebble raise 10 million for they e-paper watch.  It looks pretty cool and has great functionality but I just say a watch that looks better on indiegogo that has even greater functionality.  if you are a stats person (walking, calories, motion, etc) and are constantly using your phone (texting, music, calls, etc) you should check out the KREYOS watch on Indiegogo!

What’s the big deal?

  • It replaces activity trackers
  • Keep you connected
  • get info without taking your phone out
  • Info will sync with my smartphone and the cloud
  • Voice control
  • It is COOL!

It looks like there are 300 left at $129…if it looks cool and meets your needs you might want to run and grab one before they are all gone!  I saw mine $20 ago…

Would this watch be useful to you?



summeryouthministryHow are you spending your summer with students?

I personally know of several youth groups that shut down because of their proximity to a lake or local activity that keeps teenagers busy, while other student ministries seem to amp up their programs and significantly grow during this season.

Youth worker Austin McCann offers some great thoughts that will help you spend more time with students, no matter what your situation may be.

Like many student pastors I struggle with finding time to hangout with students. In the summer I feel this struggle more than ever… Let’s face it, you can’t leave the office and spend everyday with students this summer. If you do, you will probably get fired! But how do we manage hanging out with our students this summer while making sure all the office work gets done and our ministry doesn’t fall apart? [ READ MORE ]

Austin believes it may be as simple as:

  • Get to the office earlier.
  • Take them along with you.
  • Do stuff at night.
  • Take them out to lunch.

 What have you found that works for you in the summer?

Be Present

Colton Harker —  June 14, 2013 — 1 Comment

Every year, our ministry finishes out the school year with “Senior Weekend,” where seniors take over and run the weekend. Instead of having the traditional one speaker for the service, we had two speakers and a panel (I know it sounds like a lot, but it worked out great). The panel was themed “What I Wish I Knew in High School” and each student had something different to say like having a mentor, a good group of friends, a good idea of self, etc. One student did “be present.” When I first heard it, I was thinking, “what a good point, such a great thing for our students to hear.” Then I thought, “wait, what a great thing for ME to hear.”

In youth ministry, we are constantly trying to balance working in one season and planning the next. We are always looking forward… and we kind of have to if we want to stay on top of things. But often our pursuit of the future can lead to us to an unhealthy place where we lack the ability to be present. As I unpacked this in my head I came to the conclusion that there are two different ways we need to be present, in the “big picture” and everyday life:

Big Picture: Sometimes I will focus way too much on something that happened in the past or something I want to happen in my future. That could be me holding on to a grudge and just not letting something go. I can get stuck thinking “what would life be like if this would have happened.” Or maybe it is focusing too much on my goals and ambitions. I sometimes am always looking forward and don’t take a ton of time to slow down and see what is happening in the present. Whether it is focusing too much on the past or future, it is important to be present enough to see what God is doing in our lives. To see what He wants for us to learn and do in this season of life.

Everyday Life: Focusing too much on the future doesn’t always mean life goals and dreams, it can be focusing too much on what needs to happen next in your day. While we may be physically present and an event or project, we are mentally preparing for our next meeting, weekend service, etc. Or we can physically be with our family and friends, but mentally, still thinking about our ministry. Our lack of everyday presence can have some big consequences including loss of ministry opportunities and even just being refreshed by the people God has put in your life. Pay attention to what God is doing in the moment.

Now there is a series of books that can be written about being present. There are so many different ways to be present, meaning so many ways that we can be challenging ourselves. In what ways do you need to be more present?



7am: Wake up, read the paper, drive to work
9am: Start work
12pm: Lunch break with lunchtime workout
1pm: Back to work
3:15: Coffee Break
5pm: Home time
6pm: Dinner
8pm: Kids to bed and TV Watching
10pm: Bedtime

Is this what your routine looks like? Mine neither. As youth workers we often have some weird schedules. We are up late so we start in the office later. Some days are 12 hrs long while others wrap up in a just a few, because we just came in for a meeting.

No matter what your day looks like to be effective you need to find a rhythm. Music sucks without it and so will you. What does having a Rhythm look like?

I don’t believe that every day has to look the same, in fact if it did that would be rather boring. However, I strongly believe in finding what times of day I am productive in and when am I least productive.

About a year ago I sat in on a seminar Doug Fields was leading at a conference and he was challenging people about living a balanced life. One of the things he talked about was finding your productive times and using them well. For some people that time is morning, for me it’s mid afternoon. So that’s when I focus on getting things done. I would strongly encourage you to do the same find this time yourself.

In order to figure out our productive times and how to fill them we need to look at two things:

  • Priorities: For me this looks like the time I spend with God for personal time and for work it is writing talks and strategizing. If it’s the most important thing to me shouldn’t it be what I am giving the best of my time and brain power
  • When do I have maximum brain capacity: This took some searching and messing around with the order I did things during the day. I tried writing at the beginning of my day, the middle and the end. I’ve tried starting off my day with God and ending my day with God.

Through this investigation I figured out how to make my life at home and work more effective. While my day looks nothing like what I wrote above it does have some consistency. I slot my Bible reading and message writing for mid-afternoon. I often have a snack and drink before I do this. When others are hitting that wall or slowing down, I find I can break away and really focus on God.

Now some people may be wondering what I am going to do in my less productive times, and for them I answer the things that take less brain power. I find looking for graphics, updating Facebook or twitter to require less from me so I do them during this time.

So what is your Rhythm? If you have found it, have you put your priorities in place? Are you honoring God with your time and your efforts? I want to challenge you to mix up your day and see if there is a way to make better use of it. We are never perfect but we can strive to be better.

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle

Between the two of us we’ve literally created hundreds of youth ministry calendars. Over time we’ve managed to pick up a few pointers we wanted to share in this SYM Today. A calendar focuses you on the purposes for your ministry and lays out the direction for the ministry. Here’s a process you can use, modify, or mock as you plan the upcoming school year calendar:

Strive for balance
The first mission is for the leadership to be clear that one purpose or agenda isn’t going to dominate the calendar. We lead a youth ministry that wants to be purpose-driven, not driven by one particular purpose. We will spend time talking about evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and worship—not letting any one thing drive the direction. You may not be “purpose-driven,” but we hope you want to be purposeful in your approach to ministry, and a calendar helps.

Take one purpose and run with it
If you decide balance and purpose is a good thing, the next step is to plan specific events, classes, trips, and meetings that focus on specific purposes and goals you have already deemed valuable. We also look at what we did the previous year and debrief them on the fly. If they worked, we consider it for the next year. If it didn’t work, we do our best to go after something fresh. In our setting, we like to take a specific “purpose” and spread it out over the course of the year.

Repeat that process for each purpose
Then we go month by month again, this time through the eyes of a purpose, such as evangelism. After that we’ll hit fellowship dates for small groups, then drop in discipleship retreats, camps, and trainings. We cover all of the purposes, with the goal of having each purpose represented clearly on the calendar.

Drop in the deadlines
Once the calendar is more or less “set,” we drop in deadlines for registrations and various milestones that related to the projects. For example, our mission trip requires a registration start and end, as well as three meetings for parents and a celebration weekend. Small groups don’t just start on day one; they need registration dates, deadlines, and enough time for us to process the students into groups. When you plan an event, be sure to also include the follow-up dates as well.

Look at the big picture and cut away
Then we look at the overall big picture and goal for balance and health, and we start the painful process of figuring out what needs to be cut. We also go in with the mindset of what items need to be adjusted—could we partner our event with another time our target audience is already at church, instead of asking for another night out of the team and the committed?

That’s ONE way to think about your ministry calendar. What’s yours?

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