Last Friday, our ministry tailgated two of the biggest games of the season. I got to admit, we were a little nervous about how well this was going to go over. We tried to do tailgates about 5 years ago but they just weren’t working so we cut them. But, with our huge focus on campus outreach this year, we thought it was worth another try.

We decided to learn from our past and completely reinvent how we did tailgate parties. The first big difference was our location. This year, we held our parties at parks that were near the schools. We did this for a few reasons… well one reason, the schools said no. It was a frustrating thing to hear because there are so many people that tailgate on campus anyway, but we would rather call and get a “no,” than to go and hurt the reputation of our ministry. Because of that, we ended up doing out parties at the parks, and we loved it! Having it at a park let us do more activities (ultimate Frisbee, Football, Spikeball, etc.) that kept students at the event, giving us more relational opportunity. While having the tailgate in the campus parking lot would have given us a more convenient location, I feel like students would have grabbed food and left, giving us little face time with students.

As far as the event itself, we kept it simple and fun. The games that we tailgated for were the big rival games so we made sure to capitalize on their school spirit. We decorated everything in school colors! We had the balloons, tablecloths, streamers… the whole bit. We even set up a “War Paint” booth, where students could get their face painted for the game that night! Once students started coming over, we handed out some Frisbees, footballs, volleyballs, set up a game of Spikeball, and threw a dance party in the parking lot. We fueled them up for the big night by giving them pizza, cupcakes, cookies, chips, soda, and anything else that we found cheap. The event as a whole was super fun and super easy.

I am so happy with how it all turned out. We got to meet so many new students and got to make some awesome memories with our regulars! Tailgates can be a great outreach opportunity and can work for a ton of ministries out there because there are so many different ways to do them. I’m already thinking of ways to take ours to the next level!

Has your ministry tailgated a game before? How did you do it?

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Director at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.

Dare2Share and Greg Stier are doing a free webinar on “The Missing Link in Discipleship” tomorrow (Tuesday August 7th) that includes a free giveaway of my brand new book “Firing Jesus” to everyone who attends. The goal is to help youth leaders walk away with tools/ideas to become way more effective in equipping teens to share their faith.

  • Tuesday August 7th: 12:00-1:00 PM CST(10-11 AM Pacific, 11-Noon Mountain,1-2 PM Eastern)
  • Tuesday August 7th: 7:30-8:30 PM CST(5:30-6:30 PM Pacific, 6:30-7:30 PM Mountain,8:30-9:30 PM Eastern)

JG



Fun night trying a new outreach event – lots of new students at church tonight. Part capture the flag part first person shooter, got a bunch of kinks to work out but students had a good time!

JG

A few weeks ago I got a phone call from one of my small group leaders named Lauren who asked if I could come by her house and meet with her and her family.  I had a feeling this call was coming at some point, but we had prayed for months that it wouldn’t. Lauren’s dad had been fighting cancer for several years and where hope had been, now was the realization that the end of his life was near. I have performed many funerals in my short ministry career but never have I had the opportunity to sit with someone and discuss their own memorial. Challenging doesn’t beging to describe it, but I can also say that it was a tremendous opportunity to encourage her dad and to affirm what a tremendous job he had done raising two remarkable daughters.

You need to understand a bit of her Lauren’s journey to truly appreciate this story so here it is in a nutshell. She is a graduate of our youth ministry and gave her life to Christ near the end of high school and has never looked back. She has served as a leader in our ministry for 3 years now and pours herself into her small group girls week in and week out. While she diligently led and prayed for her group, she was also praying for her dad in the midst of his illness that he would come to know Christ as well.

Lauren would send texts and ask people to pray for her as she had conversations with her dad, asking us to pray when she gave him a Bible, sharing the wins and losses in her sharing Jesus with her dad. There were times in the past years where you could sense fear and discouragement from Lauren about her dad, but she always remained hopeful even as his health declined and her dad could have easily hardened towards God.

As our discussions around memorial plans wrapped up Lauren leaned in and said, we also wanted to talk to you about baptizing my dad and my sister. The look on her face as she said that was something I will not soon forget. Her dad had given his life to Christ not long before we met that day and you could see the joy on Lauren and her sister Georgina who had spent years sharing their faith with their dad as now he was sharing his desire to take this step of baptism. Georgina is graduating high school this year and had been thinking about getting baptized for a while so the thought of taking this step with her day was one she could not pass up.

We wasted little time and a few days later, I met the family at their house again and found Lauren, Georgina and their mom meeting me at the door and behind them in his house coat and swim trunks was their dad. We made our way down to their hot tub and where first Lauren, her mom and dad watched as I baptized Georgina who no sooner was she under the water, but was back up and helping her dad into the hot tub. Georgina sat beside her dad keeping him stable and comfortable as he we went through the standard baptism questions and then carefully helped me as we baptized her dad.

The water was warm and Richard enjoyed feeling buoyant so the three of us decided to stay in and spent the next hour in the hot tub while Lauren and her mom sat beside and I was able to just listen as they shared countless stories and memories about their family.

We don’t know how much longer Richard has, but do have certainty about where he will go when he does pass on.  Its days like that, that remind me that lives are transformed when we are bold enough to talk to people about Jesus and its moments like this that put the toughest days in perspective and make it all worth it.

GS -Twitter



We just finished up a huge evangelism effort during our The Book series (40 Days in the Word church-wide campaign student series) where we ended with a Life Book saturation. We put together a whole bunch of packs of 10. Then we put a little card on top that said this:

These are Life Books – it is a tool that includes the Gospel that will change your life. The top copy is for you, the 9 others are for your friends. When you give one away, write their name on this card and remember to pray for them that they will know and follow the ways of Jesus, too.

1 ___________________________
2 ___________________________
3 ___________________________
4 ___________________________
5 ___________________________
6 ___________________________
7 ___________________________
8 ___________________________
9 ___________________________

For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” Romans 10:13-15

I’m really proud of our students – a TON of them took a stack over that weekend are actively sharing their faith with their friends. We ended up with a few packs on the table in the back of the youth room that are still being whittled down each weekend!

I’m excited to hear that you can get in on this, too – they are already taking requests for Fall – and expecting 100,000 students to hand out a couple of million more Life Books. Amazing. Get the details here!

JG

GospelJourney.com

 —  February 1, 2012 — 1 Comment

Got a note from Greg over at Dare2Share about their new website for Gospel Journey. Loved their new video trailer and website – check it out!
JG



Being intentional is a concept we are all familiar with in ministry, and more and more it is becoming a key aspect as we struggle to compete with the busyness of students lives. We value our student’s time greatly and know that we are competing against a lot of other activities that they could be doing. Since we know that a student carving out a 3-hour block of time to come to church is a big deal, we respond by making a big deal of our youth night. Part of making a big deal of our night is that we are intentional from start to finish and we have a reason for every element of the night. Here are a few reasons why you need to really intentional about everything:

For God: I believe that taking your weekly gathering of youth seriously is a priority. To steal a page from Doug Fields’ book Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, if something we do does not promote Worship, Discipleship, Service, Evangelism or Fellowship why are we doing it? This should be a primary consideration of every element of our youth program and all events and activities we put on. I am not sure that I want to stand before the Lord and say we did something “just ’cause”, because as leaders that is not good enough. We need to point students to God at every opportunity, not just sometimes.

For Students: Modeling for students that every facet of our lives matters to God is important. We are not shy about explaining why we do what we do at our youth program and I think it is a great teachable moment when students ask. Our student’s time is valuable; and when we have them, we will always try and make the most of it. From start to finish our goal is provide them with opportunities to encounter God, to connect with a caring leader, to learn about Jesus and to Worship Him. Having a clear purpose of your youth ministry will benefit the spiritual growth of your students.

For Parents: Parents have been known to be critical of youth programs sometimes because the one they were a part of 30 years ago was not like “this”. For those parents I choose to be prepared when they start asking questions such as:

-Why is the Worship so loud?
-Why do you allow secular music to be played in the Church?
-Why do you allow saved and unsaved students in the same small groups? (Actual question!)
-We never had small groups on the same night
-Why don’t you play more games? We used to play dodgeball all the time.

It is pretty easy to defuse a parent when you have a reason for doing what you do. If they question an element of your program and you don’t have a rationale for why you do it they way you do, watch out. Parents may not agree with you, but will respect that you have thought about their concern before hand.

For the sake of supporting the vision that God has given you for your ministry, and for making the most of every opportunity that you have when your students are in the building, its vital that you have a reason and a rationale for every element of your youth night from the time the first student arrives until the last one gets picked up.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.

This is such an exciting time of the year and if you have a lot of Youth Pastor friends on Facebook or Twitter, its so encouraging to read all the status updates and tweets leading up to the fall launch.

For our team, it’s been a fall of thorough and over the top intentionality with our students and potential students. Each week last year we collected information on every new student / guest and kept a record of it, and last week we called every student on our roster, every guest, every camp follow up we were given. It took a total of 12 man-hours to do, but the benefit was a 70% increase in attendance at our fall launch compared to last year. As much of a challenge as it is to call all those students I cannot say I am surprised at the outcome, since I know so many students just want to know that they are valued and wanted. A phone call is many times more powerful and meaningful than a text or FB, so if you have the resources to do it, I would encourage you to.

The other half of our strategy for this fall was to try and make it easier for our students to invite a friend out. I was trying to avoid an action packed promo video full of our best-of highlights, to me that would equate to a bait and switch leaving new comers disappointed that it wasn’t always crazy fun. We thought instead to do something that our high school students could post on Facebook, twitter etc, that was an invitation to our group. Its not a promo, not a best of, nor is it funny, but a sincere appeal to non-Christian students in our area to come be a part of what is happening. I am stoked about how it turned out, and I cannot wait to see what God is going to do with it.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.