Games have so much potential to add to the youth group environment and help students be ready to better engage with the message and worship. They are such a great way to include all the students in something ridiculous, break the ice, get some energy out before the message and mix friend groups up so they interact with other people! In my opinion, games are the bomb diggity!

I had very little idea of what made a good game before I got my job as the Junior High Director. Growing up, I was the student that hated playing! Now games are a huge part of my life, I love playing them, and I am slowly learning what makes a great game.

These are the three best things that I have found that I can do to ensure the maximum amount of my students play and enjoy:

1) Make it visually appealing. My biggest wins have been games where the students walk into the gym and KNOW something’s up. (Best games hands down: life-size Angry Birds, Pirates, and Minute to Win It)

2) Keep it simple. Don’t overcomplicate with unnecessary rules. My students have Sesame Street attention spans. Yours probably do too! The less rules the better. Get them playing and add rules if you need to. I usually DO but it’s easier if they’re already well on their way to understanding how the game works. Keeping it simple is also awesome for kids who show up a bit late. They can easily get the hang of things and don’t need a huge string of instructions as they come in.

3) Include different skills/abilities. This is the biggest thing! If you create a game that is only for athletic kids, chances are, only the athletic kids will have fun. Have several different challenges within the game that can allow for every student to feel successful in some way.

4) Get your leaders involved! If they get into the game and are willing to laugh at themselves and get sweaty running around, your students will be SO much more enthusiastic! I cannot emphasize the difference it has made to our games when the leaders buy in, and do what it takes to see all their kids engaged in the games. Incredible.

What have you found with your crew? What have your major wins been? I’d love to snag some new ideas from you guys!

Emily Bruins is the Junior High Director at Peace Portal Alliance Church in Surrey, BC. She gets to work alongside Geoff Stewart and it’s pretty awesome (Geoff did not force me to say that)

 

Its no great secret, but the power of story is massive and in youth ministry and getting students to articulate their experiences and testimony is key. For years we’ve done our best to share students stories, but its been something we have nearly always done live. When students stand in front of one another and testify to the impact that Jesus has had in their life I get chills but it often ends there. We don’t record our services as of yet, and after that night many of the finite but important details of a students story or experience are lost or forgotten

It is for this reason that as the end of last year we made a conscious switch to doing all story via video. The motivations for this move were 5-fold:

1 – When the video is posted online, it can be shared or watched again by students who were impacted by it.

2 – Students tend to rehearse a bit more and have come more prepared for filming because we don’t allow them to read off a sheet of paper. Because they are prepared  they also tend to be more concise and clear.

3 – It allows our creative type people to use their skills and passions to serve in the production and editing process.

4 – We are able to share some stories without using any words.

5 – Students connect well to media (no surprise there)

The benefits have been huge already and the reaction so far to our “Journey Stories” have been very positive with leaders providing names of students whose testimony we need to hear. Students are drawn to media, so leveraging that into a vehicle to share the Gospel is a must do and something that there is great potential in for those that aren’t doing it already. My disclaimer is that it does take a lot more work. I like many of you am a bit of a Youth Ministry generalist, and wear a lot of different hats week in and week out so adding filming and editing video to my job description has been challenging, but the time invested is still more than worth it to me. I will be the first to admit that there are nights when a students testimony is more applicable, and communicates more effectively the life changing power of Christ  than any sermon I could preach.

So with that, here is out latest project which is an overview of our trip to Uganda this summer. The goal was to tell the story of our missions trip in a way that could be shared over social media. The response from our students has been overwhelming and the next missions trip might fill up very fast now and I am thrilled that, that could be a reality.

-Geoff (Twitter)

 



Yikes! The summer is nearly over and that means that students are getting ready to go back. They are filling the malls buying skinny jeans,  fresh new Toms, loading up on Axe body spray and Hollister perfume.

For some students, there is the excitement and anticipation of seeing friends and being back at school. But for others, it might be a new school, or their first time in high school and that can be really scary. Students for the most part have a deep desire to be accepted and the first few weeks at a new school are pivotal as kids will often make friends with the first person who is willing to befriend them regardless of who they are. The role that friends play in the life of young person is huge, and falling into the wrong crowd early can have disastrous consequences, so that is where we come in.

Here is how it plays out at Journey: We have grades 6-12 meeting on the same night but somewhat separately, but the students do mingle and older students often know many of the younger ones. When the school year starts in a few weeks, we know that our students will likely know some people at their new school and that is where we get involved. During the first week of school we will be visiting every high school in the area at lunch time, visiting, encouraging and most importantly connecting our students. We can do so much to help make the transition into a new school, healthy, fun and life giving as we help to connect students in a new environment.

There is obvious value for us, to connect and shepherd our students, but this is one of the biggest reasons that the schools around us let us visit all the time. The administration at the schools see the value in us helping students make a smooth and healthy transition into their new school.

-Geoff (Twitter)

 

A few weeks ago I shared with you about having the opportunity to baptise a man whose daughters both were a part of our youth group with one being a leader the other a high school senior. Their dad had been sick for some time but recently made a decision to give what remained of his life to Jesus as well as get baptized. He passed away 10 days ago, and I officiated his funeral this past weekend. I have officiated many funerals in my short ministry career, but none were as challenging as this one. I could barely speak at times as the emotions were almost too much. But in the end, his life was honoured and the work that God had done in and through him celebrated. I thought I would share with you this video that we made, it was the opening of the memorial service and to me it was so encouraging for a few reasons:

1 – The Gospel was proclaimed loud and clear from a student and a leader not a pastor

2 – It made it clear that Jesus was the only way

3 – All who attended the memorial were able to hear the Hope that Lauren and Georgina have in Christ and Christ alone.

If you have 7 minutes, I hope this can encourage you today.

-Geoff



Its been a while since we have compiled a list of the songs that our worship teams are playing these days so here they are. It would be great to hear some songs that are really resonating with your students as well. So add a comment with your current top ten.

          Josh at HSM – Saddleback

  • We Are The Free – Matt Redman
  • All I am – Phil Wickam
  • Learn To Love – Cluster of Students
  • Child of God – Tim Timmons
  • Saviour of the World – Ben Cantelon
  • Forever Reign – Hillsong United
  • Divine and Holy – Cluster of Students
  • One Thing Remains – Jesus Culture
  • God Above All -  Hillsong United
  • We Can Change The World – Matt Redman

 

        Geoff at Journey – Peace Portal Church

  • Unending Love – Hillsong United
  • Saviour of the World – Ben Cantelon
  • All Glory – Nikki Fletcher
  • We Are The Free – Matt Redman
  • Reign In Us – Starfield
  • You’ll Come – Hillsong United
  • How He Loves Us – Jesus Culture
  • God is Able – Hillsong United
  • Dancing Generation – Matt Redman
  • Tear Down The Walls – Hillsong
GS – Twitter

 

This week I’ve talked to a couple youth workers who had come down with the same symptoms of a serious disease that infects all of us from time to time: they stopped believing in their church. We’ve all been there (if you haven’t welcome to your first few months in youth ministry – I promise you it is just ahead). So what is your response?

Time for a change in attitude
Quite often when you stop believing in your church or leadership it is time for prayer, not departure. Seasons of discord and discontent are common in ministry – your first response to a frustration should be prayer and consideration to the fact you may just be out of line. Ask God to show you were you need to change, rather than quickly dismiss your inadequacies, arrogance or pride. A just a little heads up – usually you don’t see yourself very well and someone will have to help you with your attitude adjustment. It won’t feel very good.

Time for a change in your job description
Most frustrations can be addressed by a simple change in a job description. Did your youth ministry position recently morph into an associate pastor type of role? Does your job look WAY different than what was pitched to you when you were hired? If you’re feeling it right now, write up some adjustments to your description (or help yourself by writing an official job description if your church never gave you one) that is fulfilling of your responsibilities and calling.

Time for a change in your leader
It’s possible that the leadership you report to needs to change. It will be very difficult to truly discern this – they need to sense God’s Spirit leading them and hear the words of wisdom in their Christian community. Pray that God will open their eyes to poor leadership decisions and pray that you may have a role in helping shape the vision which you are about to abandon because you’re giving up hope.

Time for a change in where you serve
If it isn’t an attitude problem on your part. If your job cannot be edited and adjusted to be a better fit. If your leader is unwilling or unable to change, you might need to begin praying about what God has next for you. When you stop believing in a church or a leader I believe you are quite possibly in the early stages of transition. I put this option last for a reason – this is usually what I flirt with first when I’m losing the vision for the church. Fight through the other steps first, and if/when you get here, pray for clarity and wisdom.

To youth workers who are hurting … I’ve walked that road in the past, and still dabble in it now from time to time. Don’t stop believing … and when you do check your heart, your role, your leader and if God wants to make a change.

JG