Arms

Below is another great post from Scott Rubin….enjoy!

I’m not pretending to be some marathon expert on running; I actually only run a few times a week to attempt to fight off out-of-shapeness. But this week I had a revelation that more serious runners probably all know. What you do with your ARMS actually makes a gigantic difference when you’re running. (wait… there’s a comparison coming … )

I even looked it up online when I got home; it turns out that swinging your arms properly makes a huge difference in how fast you go! (If you don’t believe me, challenge a student to a 100-yard dash… but where you have to keep your arms pressed against your sides, while they get to pump their arms.) For the most part, I live with the illusion that my legs are all really all that matters when it comes to running.

Comparison: I think it can be dangerous to see our role in student ministry like the “legs”… and somewhere deep inside believe that my contribution is most of what matters. How I teach, how I lead, who I connect with. I’m not even talking about forgetting God’s function in all of it … I’m talking about forgetting the enormously significant role of all the volunteers around us! What you do with your VOLUNTEERS actually makes a gigantic difference when you’re in youth ministry!

— Do you give volunteers “real” responsibility in your ministry? Or do they mostly “support you” while you do the heavy lifting? (or the “visible” stuff?)
— Do you recognize the places where volunteers around you can do something BETTER than you can do it? When we invite someone to unleash that ability in our ministry, everybody wins!
— Do you train volunteers to make the most of what they can bring to your ministry? Once you help volunteers understand some of the basics, it’s amazing how they do awesome things that I would never have thought of.
— Maybe most importantly, do you ENVISION volunteers, and help them believe that the “real” youth pastor… is ALL of us!

“DIRTY LITTLE SECRET” alert… WHY wouldn’t every single youth ministry leader invite all the qualified volunteers they could find to come serve students? Oh, we can come up with our reasons:
Sure, it can be tough to locate great, safe people who are ready to invest in students. Sure, it’s hard work sometimes to get them equipped — that could be a part of it. But I think that maybe one of the dark reasons could be that I LIKE TO BE IN THE CENTER OF THINGS! Anybody else?? I love when students come running up to me and say “SCOTTTTTT!!!!!! Let me tell you what happened this week!” But when a student runs right past me towards a great volunteer and yells “DUSTINNNNN!!!! You’ll never believe this!”… I have to be confident enough to celebrate that — and count it as a giant victory!

So these days, I’m reminding myself that the “arms” in the youth ministry race are as important as the legs. And lots of times… they ARE the legs! Up for a challenge? Right now how ’bout you text one of your volunteers & tell them that they’re awesome?! And you can’t run without em! ☺)

postcard
Another great guest post from my good friend, Scott Rubin:

I understand that the US Postal Service has it’s challenges these days. But for middle school ministry, taking a few minutes to actually handwrite a postcard to a student or 2 can be a relational win beyond what you might first guess! Here are just a few reasons:

1- Jr. highers don’t get a lot of snail mail… so your note will be special.
2- Who retrieves the mail in most houses? Parents! They’ll definitely read what you wrote, so you kind of get 2 audiences at once.
3- There’s not much room on a postcard – so you don’t have to write a lot!
4- There’s not much room on a postcard – so they don’t have to read a lot!
5- You can point out something specific that you appreciate about them.
6- Odds are high that they tack it up on their wall somewhere, reminding them of your ministry.

A mom came up to me last weekend, with tears in her eyes; one of those moments you’re not sure whether you’re about to hear something awful or awesome. “Nathaniel got the postcard you sent…and it meant the world to him.” Do you think Nathaniel mentioned anything to me about the postcard? Of course not! But I’ve heard from enough parents to know that these short, easy-to-write notes can become super-valuable bits of encouragement in a jr. higher’s life … and one more reason for them to connect with your ministry, where you can keep pointing them to Jesus.

Feel free to comment with other ways that you remind middle schoolers of their value!



9square

Scott Rubin is back with another post:

 

This post will sound like I’m “advertising” something, which I sort of am, but I promise I’m not getting a dime for saying good stuff about this game.

If you’re like me, you’re always on the lookout for activities that just about every middle school student can participate – and that aren’t lame!   9 Square in the Air might be just what you’re looking for.   Not only that, the inventor is a middle school pastor!

If you haven’t heard of it, you really need to check out this web site: http://www.9squareintheair.com.  I’m fired up about this because our students have been playing it every week for the past 2 months, and the intrigue just continues to rise.   Seriously – it’s fantastic… and easy for almost every middle schooler to play, whether they’re super-athletic, or not-so-much!

We introduced this game to our students at our summer camp in June.   It’s become such a huge hit in our middle school ministry that I decided to call the guy who invented it — and found out that he’s been a youth pastor for 15 years, and the last 10 of those specifically working with Jr. Highers!

His name is Steve Otey, and his church is in a suburb of St. Louis.  A number of years back, he had a group of students in his ministry who loved to play volleyball … and another group of students who loved to play 4- (or  9-) square every week.   Every time he tried to get the volleyballers to play 4 square, or vice versa, he got resistance – so he hatched the idea of combining the 2 games.

Even though I think this invention makes Steve Otey a little like the Steve Jobs of youth ministry games, he says that his passion is really all about youth ministry – which is very clear as you talk with him.

He tells his students “if you can put 2 hands above your head… or even just let a ball bounce off your head… you can play”!   And for me, it’s been a blast to see a 4’6” middle school eliminate a 6’6” leader.    Every week for the last 2 month, students are lined up to play.   We even had a parents-open-house one week, and parents jumped in, too.

You already know that a good game can be a great “connector” for middle schoolers & leaders.   If it fits in your budget, you’ve gotta check this thing out.   (or use Steve’s “kit”, and make your own, like we did!)

Kicking It Off!

Kurt Johnston —  August 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

 

Today, Scott Rubin (that’s his picture above), the Junior High Pastor at Willow Creek and one of the best all around guys on the planet, is dropping by with a guest post. Do me a favor and say a few nice things in the comments so he’ll do more of this!  Several years ago we wrote a little book together that I actually thought was fantastic, apparently nobody else did which is why you can go to Amazon and get your own copy for as little as $0.01 yep, one penny. At that price you may as well stretch your junior high budget and buy two or three.

From Scott:

The School Year is kicking off, the NFL & College football seasons are getting ready to kick off… and the new ministry year is about to kick off, too, right?   (I’ll be honest – ministry “kickoffs” are a little confusing to me, because I’m pretty sure there’s no “off-season” in ministry!)

Even still, at least in the U.S., as Fall approaches, it’s a great time to re-launch our ministries.   I’m super-excited about our middle-school-ministry-kickoff this Saturday night – and this gathering is special because it’s just our volunteers… no students!   Here are a few simple elements that we use to help re-envision & re-engage volunteers for a great school year of ministry together!

1- Just have a gathering!   If your adult leadership is just 2 or 3 people, you can do this around a table at Denny’s.  If you have more leaders, you’ll obviously need a bit more room.   But the key is to get leaders together!  If your summer season has a different rhythm than the school year, this is a chance to help volunteers recalibrate to how your ministry will look different.  In the ministry I lead, our “regular” volunteers are less involved during the summer months… so having a kickoff like this reminds them that things are about to ramp up, and their weekend schedule is about to get busier!

2- Have something to say!   This is important whether you have an exciting new vision about how this ministry year will look different, or if you simply want to remind volunteers why their engagement with students is so crucial.  As my senior pastor likes to say “Vision Leaks” … so it’s up to us to help volunteers remember why they do what they do.  There are a whole lot of other things begging for people’s time; make sure that they have a clear picture of how God can truly use them to impact the life of a student!

3- Have a blast!  One of the reasons that volunteers stay engaged in ministry is when they really enjoy being together.   Plan something that will help them laugh, joke, smile, and anticipate a year of fun together!



Today we’re simply pointing you to great tools that will help students grow on their own. Check them out in consideration of something that would work in your ministry context as well:

1-Minute Bible by Doug Fields
You’ve committed yourself to more Bible reading plans than you care to admit, and you’re 187 chapters behind in your latest attempt. If this sounds familiar, then the One Minute Bible for Students is what you need to get back and stay on track. Do the math. There are 1400 minutes in a day. It will take you One Minute to read a passage of Scripture. “Hey, that’s doable!” Additionally, veteran youth pastor Doug Fields has contributed some great insights to help you apply these short, one-minute Scripture readings to your every day life.

Student Leaders Start Here by LeaderTreks
Student Leaders Start Here is a practical, interactive workbook, to help students grow in leadership. It focuses on three topics that are crucial for developing as a leader, and gives students a personal leadership profile for their strengths and growth areas in each topic. Give this book to the individual student who is growing in leadership, or use it in your student leadership team and small groups when you follow the bonus pages for small group facilitators.

Stripped Clean by Jeff Storm

Give your teenagers a guilt-free, up-close look at materialism—one that strips away the overwhelming messages of a consumer society. You’ll see authentic changes in readers as they tear out pages to use in Jesus-centered activities.

Case for Christ Student Edition by Lee Strobel
Who Was Jesus? A good man? A lunatic? God? There’s little question that he actually lived. But miracles? Rising from the dead? Some of the stories you hear about him sound like just that—stories. A reasonable person would never believe them, let alone the claim that he’s the only way to God! But a reasonable person would also make sure that he or she understood the facts before jumping to conclusions. That’s why Lee Strobel—an award-winning legal journalist with a knack for asking tough questions—decided to investigate Jesus for himself.

Live Large. Be Different. Shine Bright. By Josh Griffin and Doug Fields
In Live Large. Be Different. Shine Bright., Doug Fields and Joshua Griffin share about some important character qualities that will help teenagers live large, be different, and shine bright. A lot of what Doug and Joshua write about doesn’t seem to get much sermon time, but these topics are definitely worthy of consideration and experimentation—topics like competition, laughter, cliques, encouragement and several others will help teenagers in the process of being a more vibrant follower of Jesus.

More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell
With almost 10 million copies in print, More Than a Carpenter continues to be the most powerful evangelism tool worldwide. Josh McDowell’s timeless examination of the true nature of Christ and his impact on our lives is one of the best-selling Christian books ever. Written by a former skeptic of Christianity, it is a hard-hitting book for those who doubt Jesus’ deity and his purpose.

Your Own Jesus by Mark Hall
A true storyteller and a teacher with a heart for ministry, Mark Hall traces the downward spiral caused by spiritual compromise with the world, and then charts the upward road to wholeness and restoration that comes when we claim our very own Jesus. When that happens, believers experience authentic fellowship with the one living God. Through fascinating personal stories, scriptural insights, and discussion questions for practical interactive study, Your Own Jesus: Student Edition will set readers free to live without compromise with the Jesus they come to know intimately and love fully.

ETHIX: Being Bold in a Whatever World
High school and college students are bombarded today with mixed media messages of moral relativism. ethiX: Being Bold in a Whatever World helps young adults better understand how to make Bible-informed ethical decisions on the issues of abortion, homosexuality, marriage and divorce, the morality of war, cloning, euthanasia, capital punishment, sexuality, and more.

Middle School Survival Series by Kurt Johnston, Mark Oestreicher, and Scott Rubin
There are six books in this series: My Faith, My Family, My Friends, My School, My Changes and My Future. Each book consists of 72 easy-to-read mini chapters written specifically for young teens.

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.