Welcome back Doug Fields with his co-host, Katie Edwards, and his co-co-host Josh Griffin. Dont forget the star of the show Matt McGill. This episode has some crazy stories and questions, so make sure you listen all the way to the end. We have a revenge of the nerds segment to kick off the show listening to Matt go on about Settlers of Katan board game. That ends quickly and they answer your questions about Parent / Student activities for incoming students, weird volunteer stories, using Facebook to confront a student, communicating with students from a past ministry, Cell phone / Internet rules during youth group, medical marijuana use by volunteers and telling parents about students sex life.

JG

If you are into sports, you might be able to relate to what I am talking about. I personally am a huge hockey fan, I love the Vancouver Canucks and watching hockey is something I really enjoy doing. But this year I have realized that my passion is just not healthy, in fact arguably sinful. I am certain that I am not the only person that gets wrapped up in sports, but when I hadn’t eaten for 24 hours leading up to an important game God convicted me in a big way about this obsession.

The combination of stress, joy, malnutrition and unusually high heart rate should have been a dead give away that something was amiss, but when my brother brought me home a T-shirt from the game that read “this is what we live for” that I realized just how wrapped up I was. Could it be, that this is what people including me are living for? A seasonal passion for a sports team, and how could it be, that I could get so wrapped up in it. I wasn’t hungry on game days, I was grouchy when they lost, pumped when they won, its not right.

But what about the thing that is most important in my life, where is my undying passion for that, and that is where it hit me. I was in over my head and more invested in sports than my ministry and here is what I have been praying God would do in light of this deep conviction that I had let a sports team become an idol.

1- That God would help me to be more excited about what He is doing in the lives of our students than how my team is doing in the playoffs.

2 – That I would be as passionate about seeing hearts won for Christ as I am about games won by my team.

3 — That I would be living for something that matters and that passion would be obvious to my students, leaders and others, saved and un-saved.

In the age of Facebook our lives are more transparent and students can easily see what we hold highest and its really easy to let other things upset what should be a clear hierarchy of priority and I am sure that many of us have been in the same position. If you are someone that gets easily wrapped up in things other than His Kingdom, ask Him to work that out. It’s been a great week as God has worked on my heart to make sure its pointed to Him.

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.



Hey everyone from CMTA 2011! Thanks for making our youth ministry workshops fun this weekend – I enjoyed meeting many of you and here are the links from the 99 Thoughts for Youth Workers trainings I promised you this weekend:

JG

Yesterday, we posted our Twitter strategy and coincidentally, Collide Magazine posted a similar article. I wanted to offer four questions to answer before you go forward with developing your own strategy so as to streamline the process. Giving well thought out answers can make the process painless and achievable. Tomorrow, we will look at how we plan to handle networking.

Who do you post tweets for? This can be as simple as “for myself” or as complex as what we said: “Everyone who wants to impact the Church as well as those who love technology and social media …” Remember, the broader you get, the more you will have to keep track of, write for, and network with. In a business model, hopefully this is already written done somewhere. If not, look at your mission or vision statement and hopefully it will become clear. For those that are just posting for fun or as freelance workers, what topics do you find yourself wanting to post?

What is the endgame of your tweets? Do you want your followers to go somewhere to buy something? Are you intended to have them see your blog? Or maybe you simply want us as followers to see how brilliant you are, awesome! For churches, it might be reminders of events. For us, we have stated that “the first line of interest is our ‘product’ including our blogging and projects we are working on.” Whatever it is you are wanting to do, remember that this is your top priority. Retweets and #FridayFollows are great, but these are not the top priority in the vision of this Twitter account. Always keep perspective of that.

When is it best to tweet consistently? For some, once a day is all that they care to post. Others have an automated WordPress plugin like Twitter Tools or scheduling web app like HootSuite to plan things out for you. One advice for multiple daily tweets, space them out through the day. It is good marketing to not only let followers know you exist but remind them throughout the day. For us, we have scheduled tweets from 8AM EST to 5PM PST as well as semi-hourly networking tweets.

Is there value to what you have to say? It is one thing for us to have a strategy of using Twitter and whole other problem of not having anything valuable today. The last thing I care about is that the Chinese food you had for lunch was too much for you. In fact, I might stop following you solely for that reason. We are not asking you to reinvent the wheel, a Scripture verse that caught your eye or a retweet about the latest Google or Apple press release is perfect, but will your audience like it too? At the same, some of it should be coming from you. It does not have to mind-blowing, but should represent you or your organization.

Jeremy Smith is a 26-year old youth pastor at the Air Force Academy chapel, working for Club Beyond, and attending Denver Seminary for his Master”s of Arts in Counseling Ministries. He has been involved in Youth for Christ for eight years and absolutely loves sharing the life of Jesus with teens. Check out his blog at Seventy8Productions.



Brilliant new Easter-story as told by social media from Igniter. Awesome. As seen on Youth Ministry Geek, if you want to pick up a copy for services this week or next, you can right here.

JG

WorshipHouse Media

I have been thinking lately about how influential our students are, they have Church and Youth Group, but are very much immersed in “the world” in their High Schools, sports teams and jobs. I find it can be easy to forget what life is like out there because in reality, the longer you are a Pastor, the more your circle of influence can become Church people. I had an eye-opening reminder of this last summer when I was working on camper follow-ups for a large local summer camp.

Each week through the summer, the Camp would send us a list of campers who made decisions for Christ, or showed interest in being a part of a Youth Group when they got home. Our agreement was that we would follow up with them, inviting them to our group, the task seemed simple, until I realized that I was going to receive 40 names a week for 8 weeks! I accepted the challenge and made a point of contacting student, via phone, email, mail and Facebook the latter of which was my biggest mistake.

One of the students on the list was a guy that I could not get a hold of on the phone and when I looked him up on Facebook, he had 40 friends already involved in our group, so I sent him this message on Facebook.

Hey Nathan, you are probably wondering why I am sending you a message on Facebook – I am the Youth Pastor at Peace Portal Alliance Church and I heard some great news about your experience at Camp ****** last week. I tried the phone number that your camp gave me but it didn’t work so I am messaging you’re here.

What I was wondering is if you would like to get together at McDonalds for a Coke one day this week. It would be great to get to know you, and just so you know 31 of your friends are already attending our Youth Group if you look at our friends in common.

Take care Nathan; I am looking forward to meeting you.

Pastor Geoff Stewart

It took 3 days to hear back, but who I heard from was his parents who were fuming that an adult would message their son and “solicit” a meeting with him. They felt it was inappropriate and asked that we never contact their son again and blocked me on FB.

Being accused of being a predator was really tough to deal with, but it reminded me that being called as a Youth Pastor and wanting to invest in the lives of teenagers, is really strange in the eyes of people who are not in the bubble. But we need to remember the culture we are trying to work in and what may seem normal to us, might be strange or worse offensive in the eyes of some despite our best intentions.

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.



I’ve been hearing some great comments and questions about our just-finished You Own the Weekend series, thought I would post a few more answers and clarifications in case it is an idea that might be transferrable to your youth ministry setting. A couple years ago we posted a few different questions about the series idea, here’s a few more answers to the questions you asked this year:

How do you organize the students willing to help? This year we focused our organizational efforts almost entirely through Facebook. Students organized themselves online as well as had meetings in their school a few times leading up to their weekend, too.

Does each school have a point person they go to to organize the logistics of the weekend series? Yes, each week had an adult assigned to be their mentor to help guide them. The idea is that students do everything, but having a key volunteer/staff/intern guide them through unfamiliar processes (like printing the bulletin) and make sure they stay within acceptable youth ministry boundaries.

How do they volunteer, is everyone from the school able to participate? To what extent? A few leaders naturally rose up from each school, and helped determine each other students involvement. Without a doubt there are a few tensions and conflicts that arise, but that is a GREAT learning byproduct of the series. Usually students settle on who will do what, and there are many opportunities to serve in many different capacities.

How do you keep the school spirit side of it from creating division in the group? Great question! Without a doubt the excitement over someone’s school can actually hurt the unity of the student ministry. We took that into account and ended on a strong unity theme. I do think that students enjoyed coming to the other weekends, just to see how the other schools would do.

How do you keep the students from booing when a school is mentioned? This really happened and to be honest, I think as long as it is kept in check it is acceptable. I think there is a little friendly rivalry happening, but the positives outweigh the negatives.

Does creating an environment of healthy competition make the event more successful? It does. We were clear from the beginning that this was in no way a competition, but a little of that does surface during the series. Everyone tries to do their best, and usually weekends take on very different shape/tone from each other so it seems to work out.

JG

Here are a few things that are working well for our ministry right now in social media:

1. iPray. It’s a closed group that students have to request to join. They can post what they need prayer for and pray for each other.

2. Groups. Before or after almost every event there seems to be a group started for it. Before the event groups are started to promote the event. After events like camp, groups are started to help students find each other on Facebook and stay connected.

3. Pictures. EVERY week I take pictures (even if it’s just a few) at our weekend service or at Chick fil A afterward and throw them up on Facebook. Students love it. Not everybody can get away with that, though. It’s kind of funny. A friend dressed up as me at our Halloween party last year and was taking tons of pictures. People kind of freaked out a little until they realized he was just being me for Halloween. I don’t know how to explain that, but there’s something to be learned about having a person known for taking pics in your ministry. We’ve never made me an “official” photographer, people have just gotten used to me doing it.

4. Tag. I usually tag at least one student in each picture and they usually tag each other from there. Always tag your ministry in each picture. As students tag each other, they might see your ministry tagged. That’s just one more door for people to check you out.

5. Open profile. Have your ministry’s profile open to the general public. People should be able to see everything there is to see without being friended with your ministry. I suggest having a profile instead of a page for your ministry. There’s more stuff you can do that way.

6. Daily activity. Go on once a day and wish people happy birthday. That’s a great way for friends of friends to see your ministry. It’s also a great way to have an extra touch in the lives of students… especially students who have stopped coming.

7. Troubleshooting. Look for concerns. If you see students who post status updates that show they are hurting or are posting inappropriate content, shoot them a Facebook email to touch base, encourage, invite out for a Coke. Be careful not to jump on their case if they’re posting inappropriate content. Address it in a redemptive way.

Dennis Beckner has been a volunteer youth worker for 10 years in the high school ministry at Saddleback Church and now runs Celebrate Recovery for Students on Friday nights. Check out his blog for fellow youth workers at VolunteerYouthMinistry.com.