One of things I love to do is watch students use their gifts and abilities for the kingdom of God. I have a student who’s aspiring to do videos and photography on a larger scale. So I gave him the opportunity to shoot and edit this video for our weekend service. He did an awesome job and the students loved it. I spoke on the armor of God at youth group. So for an element of fun I did this video with my son. Just to give you some context: I played it while revealing the fact that I love old kung fu movies. Especially the really cheesy ones. Check it out!!!

So I thought I would write this post asking the question: what would it look like if you created areas in your ministry where students could use their gifts and abilities for the ministry?

The value is immeasurable when it comes to creating areas in your youth ministry where students can lead and serve using their gifts and abilities. Here are a few of the wins from doing just that:

  • A door into the ministry for students.
  • Easy way to get students connected to the ministry.
  • Easy way to build communities within the ministry.
  • Great serving opportunities for students.
  • Gives them a sense of ownership of the ministry.
  • Gives them confidence in themselves.
  • Shows that God cares about them using their gifts and abilities for spreading the gospel.
  • Brings value to the ministry in the eyes of the students.
  • It could draw more students to come see their friends.

Here are a few areas your students maybe gifted in or have the ability to do:

  • Making Videos
  • Photography
  • Music
  • Djing
  • Singing
  • Creative Brainstormers – you may have students in your youth group that love thinking up creative stuff.
  • Dance
  • Graphics
  • Serving
  • Stage Design
  • Planning Events
  • Cooking
  • Skate Boarding
  • Sports
  • Surfing
  • Doing Audio
  • Speaking
  • Writing
  • Researching

How does this look in your ministry?

Hope it helps

ac

cellphonedrawSLIDE2

Here’s another free game you can use in your ministry setting.  Cell Phone Draw is pretty simple…

  • Show the graphic
  • Explain that the 5th caller (or any number caller you choose) wins a prize (make sure you have a prize)
  • Show the slide with your cell number and let the ringing begin
  • Answer your phone…make a Big Deal!!!
  • Give Prize
  • Done

We have 2 graphics here (Click Here To Download); a TITLE slide and a BLANK slide. The title slide is to show as-is announcing the game and the blank slide is for you to add your cell phone number to (if you do not have photo editing software try http://pixlr.com/editor/ and just do it online). To download the font I used, click this link or go to dafont.com and search “western.”

If you do not want to make your cell phone number public, consider getting a free number from Google Voice or paying for a disposable number with an iPhone app like “Burner.”

Have fun!

Brandon

@uthguy9



I surprised Kurt this week with a rapid fire Q&A. I wanted him to tap into his 20 plus years of experience. Here’s the list of questions. 1.Balance ministry and life? 2.Ask for more budget or a budget? 3.New position, new church what do I do first? 4.Staff dating each other? 5.Regain trust after a moral failure? 6.Stress of ministry? 7.Disruptive volunteer/parent/student?

Leave questions or topics you would love to hear us discuss in the comment section or email us at talkaboutym@gmail.com.

hope it helps

ac & kurt

HOPE

People are messy. Life is messy. Church is messy. Ministry is Messy. Youth Ministry is Messy.

So it’s no wonder we get it wrong from time to time. It’s no wonder that there have been flaws in our attempts to use messy people in messy churches to minister to teenagers. So today, I was saddened to see another youth ministry book dedicated to discussing what’s gone wrong in the church’s attempt to reach students. I think I’ve reached my tipping point, my “we suck” threshold, folks. I’m over it. Youth ministry is messy, yes, but I refuse to believe it’s completely messed up. I have tremendous hope that what you and I are dedicating our lives to is actually making a difference. And despite accusations of being overly optimistic, chipper and pollyannic, I don’t see my hopeful attitude as akin to the band continuing to play while the Titanic sunk.

HOPEFUL. That’s my new word to describe my attitude toward, and outlook concerning, youth ministry. Synonyms would include confident, positive, buoyant, expectant, sanguine, bullish, cheerful, lighthearted and optimistic. Yep, when it comes to youth ministry I am ALL of those things. And I hope you are, too!

Read, sharpen your mind, don’t put your head in the sand, and listen to people who may have insights you don’t.

But never lose hope, friends.



lets talkWe’ve all had conversations that we wish we didn’t have to have. The reason tough conversations are so tough is because they are awkward, unpredictable and we want to be liked by all and happy. So Kurt and I give two tips each on how to navigate these types of conversations.

I know there are more so I would love for you to leave a tip, and help the simply youth ministry nation become better at tough conversations.

Also, can someone teach Kurt how to do a proper drum roll. I don’t think a drum roll makes that sound. ha

hope it helps

AC & KURT

Hooray
Youth workers, for the most part, are creatures of habit. We have a hard time admitting that, though, because we see ourselves as innovators, creatives and the ones leading the charge for change in the church. Those things may be true…but we are still, for the most part, creatures of habit. When we find something that “works”, we have a hard time letting go.

One case in point for our junior high and high school ministries: Outreach Events.

Our primary tool for evangelism and outreach has never been events; it’s been students being salt and light and eventually inviting their friends to church. But to assist that process we have always hosted one or two big outreach events each year, on Friday night. And we’ve done it this way for a long, long time because it has worked. Of course, “worked” depends on your definition. The big Friday night events worked in so much as they attracted tons of students, but very few of those students ever came back to church the following weekend (we have our primary youth meetings on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings). And by very few, I mean VERY few!

So this year we are trying something different (I wish I could say it was my idea): We are attaching all of our big outreach events to the Saturday night service instead of putting them on a separate night. The idea is that our students will invite a friend to church, then they will stick around for the activity. Pretty basic stuff, folks!

We’ve done this once or twice now, and here is what we’ve already discovered:
* Less first-time students show up to the event.
* But WAY more first-time students attend church as a result (actually, they attend church as a PREsult because church happens first).
* Families and students appreciate that it’s not another night out.
* The event can be “smaller” because it’s not a stand alone thing….expectations are less.
* We can do a few more of them a year because they are smaller and less elaborate.
* It makes for a really easy church invite. “Wanna come to church with me? And afterwards there’s gonna be a massive dodge-ball tournament!”

Revolutionary? no. Cutting Edge? Not even close. Worthy of a blog post? Barely. Effective for us? Totally!

So here’s a question that I’d love the readers to share with the rest of us: What is an “Easy Button” moment you’ve recently had…a simple change in some aspect of your ministry that yielded significant results?



youthgroup_logoHere are a few topics I believe we as youth workers need to speak on in our ministries. I do believe that the increase in the statistics of these areas is largely due to social media. So as you read through think about how is social media affecting these areas and how can you affectively address them in your ministry. Notice that I don’t give solutions, because I believe every youth group is different and you know your students better. I wrote this to hopefully open our eyes a bit to what could potentially be going on in our youth groups.

  1. Bullying: (Source: stageoflife.com) – Bullying is still prevalent as it has always been, but with social media it has increased. Now students can be bullied 24 hours around the clock. 91% admit to being a victim of bullying.
  2. Texting and Social Media: (Source: stageoflife.com) - 57% of teens credit their mobile device with improving their life. They also see it as key to their social life. The average teen spent 31 hours a week online which is like 5 hours a day via a poll done in 2009. I can imagine that number has grown with the infusion of smart phones.
  3. Sex: (Source: diseasecontrolcenter) – 47.4% of the students surveyed had sexual intercourse and out of the 47.4% that had sex 39.8% of those students did not use protection. 15.3% admitted to having sex with 4 or more people during their lifetime.
  4. Drugs and Alcohol: (Source: SADD) – Statistically 72% of all students will have consumed alcohol by the end of high school. 37% have done so before the eighth grade. 6.7% of teens between the ages of 12-17 have smoked marijuana.
  5. Body Image: (source: stageoflife.com) – More than 90% percent of all girls between the ages 15-17 want to change their appearance. Body weight is ranking the highest. 13% admit to having an eating disorder. 7 out of 10 girls believe they don’t measure up or they’re not good enough concerning their looks, performance in school and relationships. 12% of teen boys are using unproven supplements and/or steroids to improve their body image. 44% of teens use skipping meals as a way to lose or control their weight.
  6. Depression: Students are dealing with depression. From the severe to the not so severe, at any rate they are dealing with it. The NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) states that 1 in 5 teens have experienced depression.
  7. The Future: (Source: stageoflife.com) – 66% of teens are afraid of the future or life after graduation.

Now, I’m not a huge statistics type of person, but I do believe it paints somewhat of a picture for you and I to internalize into our own ministries. When I look at the numbers, I think, “how would these numbers fair in my ministry?”

Now, I know that there are more than 7 issues, and I also can tell you that these things are happening in my ministry. And if you were to take an honest look into your ministry you would probably say the same. I hope there isn’t anyone out there thinking that none of this is going on in their ministry.

Praying for students and telling them not to do something is not enough.

So the question is, what are some ways, with a Biblical perspective, that we can educate and open up dialogue about these topics with students and parents?

My first suggestion would be to share this with parents and let them know you are here to support students and families that are going through these things.

hope it helps

ac

volunteer21One thing I can freely assume about volunteers is that they want to help. Other than that I should be careful about anything else I assume. I’ve been working with volunteers for a while and can say I’ve probably had more failures then successes, but through those failures it’s helped me become better at leading volunteers. So I’m writing from my failures in mind hoping it helps.

Making assumptions is one of the worst things I’ve done concerning volunteers. So I thought I’d share a few of my learnings.

  1. Never assume that they understand the cause just as much as you do. – Learning: You must articulate the cause, and your heart and passion for it. Remember they just want to help, and not everyone helping in youth ministry is called to it. So share and help them understand the impact of what your ministry does.
  2. Never assume they are going to take the initiative. - Learning: Take the time before hand and map out what it is you need them to do. When I say map out, I mean be very detailed in your instructions because they will only do what is expressed. For example, once I had volunteers and I gave them the instructions to clean up. Well, they did not do a good job and they actually left boxes and trash because they didn’t know where to put it. You see, I assumed that they would clean the way I wanted them to clean. I also assumed they would break the boxes down and take out all of the trash. The issue is I was clear on the “what” but not on the “how” so they cleaned the way they wanted to.
  3. Never assume they are self-motivating. – Learning : Volunteers need you to be a cheerleader for them as they care for students at either an event, small group or the weekend service. Be intentional about pointing out some small wins to them as well as big wins. Let them know the affect it has on the ministry. Thank them for allowing God to use their gifts and talents.
  4. Never assume they are going to know what to do next. - Learning:  Idle time to a volunteer is like water to oil. Idle time, if not communicated beforehand, can mean an unorganized ministry to a volunteer. They automatically think “didn’t they know we were coming?” Also, if not communicated you can become frustrated yourself thinking no ones doing anything, when actually it could be that they just don’t know what to do next.
  5. Never assume they want to do more than communicated. – Learning: Until your volunteers buy into the purpose of the ministry, assuming they want to go the extra mile could insure they never return.

For me, these assumptions would happen unintentionally. I would find myself playing catchup and having to stay to clean, and redo some of the work I had asked volunteers to do. I had to really evaluate the assumptions I was making and how because of it, I was not being a great steward of my volunteers time. So this is something to think about as you deal with volunteers this week. I know there is more than just 5 and I know I’m not the only one(maybe I am..ha), so what are some assumptions you’ve made about volunteers that wasn’t so smart?

hope it helps

ac