For those of you who have never heard of the Tim Tam Slam- I’m sorry. I’m sorry you haven’t experienced this cultural, communal phenomenon. I’m sorry you haven’t tasted this creamy, chocolate bonanza. I’m sorry. The reason you don’t know about it is because no one has told you- and that’s against the rules. Wait, rules? How can a no-holds-barred-chocolate-bonanza have rules!? Calm down. There are only two:

  • Rule 1) You must tell people about Tim Tam Slam
  • Rule 2) Never slam alone

It’s not an exaggeration to call the Slam a communal experience. It’s an experience that’s meant to be shared, both in participation and awareness.

By most accounts Tim Tam Slam has Australian origins, but also has a strong tradition in the UK. To begin the Slam, bite a small corner off the chocolate cream cookie (said Tim Tam), turn to the other end and bite the other corner. You now essentially have a cookie straw to drink your hot chocolate (or tea in the UK). Dunk the Tim Tam into the hot chocolate and begin to suck. When the hot chocolate gets to your tongue you pop (or slam) the entire cookie in your mouth and let it dissolve without much chewing, if any at all. What ensues is a rush of chocolate intensity you’ve yet to experience. Clearly, this degree of chocolate consumption is not an exercise for the weak of heart!

I introduced the Slam to my high school students at our winter retreat a few weeks back. It was a strategic decision that went beyond just having some giggles with the students. There were 4 main reasons I wanted to do the Slam at camp:

1. Tradition- The students in my high school ministry love being a part of something bigger than themselves. Of course, this is not unique only to our group, but their level of commitment to tradition is one I haven’t seen before. I’ve commonly heard, “but we’ve always done ________” from adults, but here students love saying they’ve been a part of/dressed up for/planned/attended something for years. I knew by unveiling the Slam at camp we would be creating a new tradition for them to enjoy.

2. Buzz- Our winter camp was at a program camp that usually packs out with 400-500. Our weekend was particularly low in attendance and I worried some of the buzz or energy students get when they’re around hundreds of peers might be lost. My hope was that the mystery surrounding the Slam (“Tim Tam Slam? What is this madness? Tell me!”) could help create some anticipation that we could use as fuel for other camp activities.

3. Momentum- After what would have surely been a successful maiden of voyage of the Slam, our students would have bought into the tradition aspect and we’d have higher buy-in and more buzz for the next occurrence of the Slam (or more specifically the camp or event where it took place) therefore perpetuating reasons 1, 2, 3, and

4. Teachable moment- Remember those rules? Well, those rules in the hands of a wily youth pastor could turn the Slam into an illustration describing following Jesus, evangelism, things we’re passionate about, etc and how we’re supposed to share those things that change our lives and make us do goofy things.

Just to clarify, I’m not claiming ownership of the Slam, nor do I think its some sort of ministry miracle. It is, however, something that when used thoughtfully, can be used for the good of ministry. And anything that reminds us to be intentional, strategic, or thoughtful in ministry is a great thing.

I haven’t cashed in on that teachable moment yet, but the Sunday morning message moment is coming. It won’t be an earth shattering illustration, but hopefully one that students can immediately relate to, personalize, laugh about, and share…. or at least give us another excuse to do the Tim Tam Slam!

Matt Johnston is the High School Pastor at Journey of Faith in Manhattan Beach, CA. He’s been alive for 26 years, in youth ministry for 8, and married for 3. The married part has improved the first two parts greatly- coincidence? He also enjoys slamming Tim Tams on occasion. You can follow Matt on Twitter, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Next weekend we finish up a series we’ve done 3 years running called You Own the Weekend. In fact, we added a 6th week by popular demand – that’s how exciting this series has been. It is one of the biggest series we do every year (beaten only by our kickoff weekend and the sex series) and has become a staple in HSM’s culture.

The idea is that each high school gets their own weekend to run from start to finish – they do everything from the message to the videos, testimonies and bits. Each school starts a Facebook group and has an adult mentor, but no adults take the stage at any time for the entire month. How crazy is that?

Here’s why it totally works:

Students get involved in ministry
More students get a taste of ministry during this month than any other time of the year. Students step up and there’s a positive peer pressure on them to be a part of what is going on. There’s something for everyone – from greeting, decorating, videos – even speaking!

Students bring their friends
Without a doubt this is the most evangelistic series we have – teenagers bring their friends to something they are a part of. You Own the Weekend captures school spirit and gives students an easier opportunity than normal to bring their friends. Every student from every school gets an invitation to church.

Parents show up
I’m amazed at the number of parents who attend a weekend service during You Own the Weekend. They love seeing their kids doing ministry, not just watching it. Parents leave with a better idea of what the high school ministry is about and infectious in spreading a positive word to others when they leave.

One fun byproduct of the series is that it allows students to see just how challenging it is to create a youth group every week. They appreciate sermon prep, great videos, awesome stories or a funny bit way more in the future.

JG



One of the powerful new trends I’m loving is how our students are using Facebook in friendship evangelism. They are sharing their faith and love for Christ with their circle of friends online. For the You Own the Weekend series, students took the series graphic they made for their school’s week and proudly displayed it as their profile picture. Pretty incredible way to get the word out about your student ministry. Maybe something in there is transferable to your church, too?

JG

The promo music video for the upcoming You Own the Weekend student-led series in HSM.

JG



As you all know, it takes a lot of effort to deliver a stellar outreach meeting, and opinions differ on which of the following are most likely to draw teens in and transform lives:

  • A worthy, engaging service project
  • Great pizza
  • Crazy, fun games
  • Your skill at juggling flaming poodles

While the argument could be made that any and all of the above have played a role in bringing teens to Christ (maybe not the poodles…), I believe the very best outreach meeting looks entirely different.

That’s because your teens themselves are the very best outreach meeting ever. When you train and equip them to share the gospel with their friends, you unleash them to become a walking, talking outreach meeting everywhere they go!

Check out the Apostle Paul’s effectiveness in multiplying his ministry by pouring into the lives of those in his spiritual care:

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts (2 Corinthians 3:2-3).

Your teens are a letter from Christ, known and read by everybody.

But do you have a strategy for training and equipping your students to become a powerful and compelling letter from Christ? Do they know how to share the gospel? Have you unleashed them to impact their friends for Jesus? If you have an evangelism training strategy that’s working, GREAT! If you don’t, it’s time to get one!

After all, the average teen has 102 friends. And friends have 100 times more influence on their own friends than a stranger does. By training and equipping your teens to be that outreach meeting every day, you leverage their influence and unleash them for relational evangelism. And friends who would never set foot in a youth group meeting will have the chance to hear the Good News.

When you motivate and mobilize your teens to share their faith, everywhere they go they’ll be unleashed to be the best outreach meeting you’ve ever delivered.

If you want some help with evangelism training we have a conference that has helped thousands of teens become more comfortable sharing their faith. In fact, that is what our evangelism training conferences are all about! Click here for more information on Dare 2 Share or to find if the un. Tour conference is coming to an area near you.

Greg Stier is a husband, a father, a preacher, an author, a twitchy revolutionary and a fanatic for Jesus. His life work is Dare2Share, followed closely by his blog about youth ministry.

Stumbled on to an older post from Len Evans that had some great insight into the etheral concept of “fit”. Here’s an excerpt of his thoughts on how to fit on a team, in a youth ministry or at a church. Good stuff!

1. Theological Fit: This should be obvious but too many youth workers who grew up Baptist wonder why they have a difficult time in a mainline church, or the other way around. Unless you plant your own church there will rarely be a 100% theological match so know your theological non-negotiables.

I had a perfect fit theologically at my first church because the entire pastoral staff went to the same seminary. The differences do make a difference. Just because you are able to get along with someone that holds different theological views doesn’t mean that you can serve in the same church with them. I have a lot of friends from the entire spectrum of Christianity, we can pray together and I know they loved Jesus but I would never be able to work in some of their churches. It’s a matter of conviction and integrity.

2. Philosophical Fit: You and the church may value evangelism but if you don’t agree on how to do evangelism eventually you will have conflict. If one person in your church wants to hand out Chick tracts to anyone and everyone and another person wants to have a holistic approach to reaching their friends, there will be a conflict when they discuss evangelism. If the church defines youth worker as events coordinator and you think of yourself as a pastor who is about equipping others for ministry, there will be problems eventually.

3. Personal Fit: This applies primarily to the working and personal relationship with the senior pastor, although it also impacts other church leadership and personal interactions. A friend of mine spoke to almost 400 senior pastors at the ’96 National Clergy Conference in Atlanta. He asked “Who’s really close to their youth pastor”? Only one pastor slowly raised his hand. Everyone in a church setting should do what they can to ensure that more hands are raised at the next Pastor’s Conference when that question is asked.

JG



Doug Fields has just released the first info about his Student Leadership Conference 2011. Many people have been wondering when it would be back and I even posted about alternatives while Saddleback’s was on hiatus. But it is back on – hit the banner for details.

We are planning an experience where leaders (and potential leaders) from within your ministry will be enlightened with a new and deeper understanding of evangelism, fellowship, ministry, discipleship and worship. Through practical ministry exercises, engaging experiences, and general sessions taught by Doug Fields, student leaders will catch of vision for how they are individually wired to express God’s purposes in service to their youth ministry, family, friends, school and community.

JG

It’s been an incredible year here on More Than Dodgeball (MTDB as the locals call it) – thanks so much for joining with me in the journey of youth ministry. I’ve had so much fun and appreciated all of your comments, emails, Tweets, Likes and guest posts. Close to half a million pages viewed during the course of the year with the blog now totaling 5,012 posts with 13,158 comments. Holy smokes!

Here’s a selection of the top 50 youth ministry posts of the year as told by Google Analytics:

And the most visited static page was My Recommended Youth Ministry Resources page – if you’re looking for some good stuff to use in your ministry setting in 2010 there is a good place to start.

Thanks for stopping by, subscribing and spreading the word in 2010. Here’s to 2011!

JG