article.2013.02.05New, new, new!

For many youth workers a big part of their job description seems to include “Think outside the box on a regular basis”… constantly coming up with new ideas and innovative programs that are bigger and better than last year, last week, and last night. And while there is certainly a place for risk-taking and improvement in each new season, sometimes what you really need is tried and true, solid stuff. Stuff that is actually totally inside the box!”

Ask yourself these questions as you look at planning the season ahead:

  • What has worked really well in the past year?
  • What is a “classic” that would be fun to revive?
  • What were people talking about after last summer?
  • What is MY favorite event of the year?
  • Where did we see the most life-change in the last season?
  • What is easy to plan but brings the ministry a big win?

There’s a fine line between tradition and boredom, so be careful as you plan—but sometimes, the best things you can do are ones that already worked in the past.

Here are a few examples of ideas that started off as new ideas and have become traditions in our youth ministry:

You Own the Weekend—This is a series where students completely run youth group. It has had an incredible response every year!

Pumpkinfest—We don’t do a ton of big events, so we tend to really do our best to go “all in” on just a couple a year. One is this fun festival in the fall that students now know and love.

Guys Trip / Girl’s Trip—These fun summer overnighters have become really popular with out students and were one of the highlights of just last year. So guess what? We’re doing them again this summer.

Take a second to think inside the box for your next season of ministry!

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.

not too late

To plan a mission trip. It’s really not too late. It may seem like it is. It might be scary. You might think, “I’ll just wait for next summer.” Please don’t. If you’re not planning on getting your group engaged in service away from home this summer. It’s not too late.

Here’s 5 things you could do today or this week to still plan a trip for this summer.

  1. Contact a mission organization to help with getting your trip together: An organization like our, Group Mission Trips, would love to help you organize and plan a life-changing experience for your group.
  2. Connect with the mission pastor/director/leader in your church: These folks have many contacts and lots of information about needs that could be met and maybe even trips for your youth group to join.
  3. Ask a fellow youth leader (in your town/denomination/network/etc.) if they are going on a trip: There’s a good chance a friend of yours in ministry might have room in their group for you and several of your students to join their group. What a great way to get some of your group involved!
  4. Find out if there is church plant or inner city ministry or rural community center (some kind of ministry that is different from your own) within a days drive: Ministries like these can often use help. Many may even be set up to bring in groups for summer ministry. All you have to do is ask.
  5. Stay at home but serve! Find a local ministry you could truly bless with a week of no-strings-attached service. Get a bunch of tents. Camp out in someone’s back yard. Use the church kitchen to cook meals. Make your own local mission trip. But serve, please!

I believe there is something amazing God does when you go away and serve people. It’s a great thing to help your students leave their comfort zones and see God work in them and through them. Please don’t miss out. IT’S NOT TOO LATE! I promise…



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Looking for creative ways to capture your students’ attention during the  holiday seasons? Your wish is our command: We’re proud to unveil LIVE  Holiday, part of our dynamic LIVE Curriculum line of resources. This  exciting volume features curriculum built around three major themes:
Christmas Series As we read through the amazing, powerful story of Christmas, we  encounter characters that form the essential foundation for this  history-changing event. This six-week series will guide you through  their stories and will help your students learn more about the Christmas  narrative and how it relates to their lives today.

  • Week 1: Mary
  • Week 2: Joseph
  • Week 3: Jesus
  • Week 4: The Angels
  • Week 5: The Wise Men and King Herod
  • Week 6: Simeon and Anna

Easter Series The Easter season is a reflective time that allows us to celebrate and  remember the sacrifice and price Jesus paid for our salvation. Your  students will explore various elements of the Easter season: Jesus’  suffering, his triumphant entry, his death, and his resurrection. The  four lessons can be used together as one series or used separately.

  • Week 1: Ash Wednesday
  • Week 2: Palm Sunday
  • Week 3: Good Friday
  • Week 4: Easter Sunday

Single-Day Holidays This series includes five lessons that cover a variety of holidays  throughout the year. Each lesson can be used in the midst of those  specific holidays or can be used at a different time to cover a specific  theme that coordinates with the holiday.

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Earth Day
  • Mother’s Day or Father’s Day
  • Thanksgiving Day

Make the holidays a memorable highlight for your students, while helping  them discover how the Bible remains relevant to their lives—every day  of every month, throughout the year!

Get your LIVE Holiday now!

-Stephanie

 

PS. You can also download a FREE LIVE lessons… Download it here!

Try It Free! Live Curriculum 

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You’ll find the best answer to that question when you follow God’s roadmap—a journey that will lead you toward authentic manhood.

Jeffrey, Mike, and Matty have teamed up to offer some sharp advice on transitioning from the teen years to adulthood. They’ll guide you through eight essential topics, including finances, dating & sex, spiritual growth & disciplines, and identity. You’ll hear about their victories and successes—plus their regrets and mistakes.

These three guys are all dads who want their sons to experience a meaningful life by following and honoring God—and they want that for you, too.

99 Things Every Guy Should Know will help you become a man whose life is filled with honesty, strength, and courage.

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Click here to find out more!

Meet the Authors:

JEFFREY WALLACE has served in local youth ministry for over a decade and brings a fresh and relevant approach to effective and healthy Purpose-Driven urban youth ministry. He is the President & CEO of Front Line Urban Resources, Inc., which focuses on training and mentoring other urban youth pastors and leaders and providing life-changing youth ministry resources. He also serves pastor of youth development at Peace Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia.

MIKE HAMMER is passionate about leadership, ministry, and people growing in who God has called them to be. With over a decade in ministry, he is currently a youth pastor for middle and high school ministries, as well as a writer and occasional speaker. He lives with his wife, Megan, and their sons, Logan and Parker—both named after superheroes. (Seriously, how awesome is that?)

MATTY MCCAGE convinced Joyce to marry him and a church to hire him. Matty has spent nearly 20 years in youth ministry, teaching the proper wedgie technique and regularly pontificating on MinistryRamblings.com. He and Joyce are living happily ever after with their three offspring: Aeden, Warren, and Emmalicious.

 

Order now!

-Stephanie



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Ministry is such a rewarding experience, but why does it create so much strain on marriages?
Jake and Melissa Kircher have learned some valuable lessons (often the hard way!) about building a healthy marriage amid the demands of ministry. They aren’t perfect, but they’ve matured individually and as a couple because of each mess, problem, heartache, and obstacle they’ve encountered. They understand your struggles and frustrations, because they’re their struggles and frustrations, too.
99 Thoughts on Marriage & Ministry will help you discover advice, wisdom, and insight in five core areas:

  • Marriage Basics
  • Balancing Marriage and Ministry
  • Finances
  • The Church vs. Your Family
  • The Darker Side of the Church

Marriage can be messy, and marriage while serving in ministry is extra messy. Whether your marriage needs just a little tuneup or a major overhaul, 99 Thoughts on Marriage & Ministry will encourage both you and your spouse, and will empower you to pursue a strong, healthy marriage.

Order your copy now!

 

Meet the Authors: Jake & Melissa have been married for seven years. Their blog (holymessofmarriage.com) explores real-life issues that most marriages and relationships face. Through honesty and humor, they provide encouragement and wisdom to couples, both married and dating. Jake has been a youth pastor for 11 years and also works with We Love Our Youth Worker and REACH Youth New England. Melissa has served as a volunteer youth worker and a mentor for high school girls. She is a freelance artist and writer. They have one foster son who loves to bang on the drums.

 

- Stephanie

Leadership in Flux

 —  February 7, 2013 — Leave a comment

A couple months ago I came across this article – “The Secrets of Generation Flux.”

I found it fascinating and very applicable to ministry life today. These younger leaders and the description of how to lead a new generation speak directly to who we serve and lead with.

I would love to know what you think? Did you find parallels to your ministry? Did the article ring true for you? Or did it seem too far fetched for you – off base?

generation flux



New Things

 —  February 4, 2013 — Leave a comment

new thingsIt’s scary to start new things. They’re different. They might not work. They might actually work and grow and become bigger than you could’ve imagined or prepared for. Starting new things is hard…

And yet… don’t we need to? Jesus basically started new things every day for the years he was working publicly and developing his disciples. Everything was new. And it was excited. It was impossible to prepare for. It failed and succeeded in ways that no one involved could predict.

The scary process of starting new things is part of the history of Group Mission Trips. For almost 30 years we only did one kind of mission trip – our Workcamp program. And we new exactly how that worked. How to prepare and plan.  How to lead. Bu then several years ago we felt God leading us to start a new ministry. A new direction for us. A new way to serve those with needs. That’s how Week of Hope was born.

The crazy, fun thing is since the moment we chose to start something new (Week of Hope) we haven’t stopped. From that choice Lifetree Adventures, Leading Edge Outreach, and The Big Day of Serving have all come (and gone). One of those was a “failure” in the sense that it didn’t work for us and the churches we serve. But we still tried and there are even more new things on the horizon now.

What about your ministry? When the last time you dared to venture out and start something completely new? Change the night of your main youth group meeting? That’s crazy talk. Stop doing your favorite outreach program for something new? Impossible. Take your students on a mission trip far from home? Just too difficult. Or it it…

What “new thing” could God be calling you to if you listened?

article.2013.01.29Church office hours—what a great subject! And while this might not specifically apply to everyone getting the newsletter, we’re hoping there are some principles that will help everyone, whatever their role is in youth ministry. So how do you make the administrative side of ministry work? Here are a few ideas that have helped me a ton:

Make your preferred method of communication known.
If you are a phone person, put your phone number everywhere and on everything. If you hate the phone (like me!) make sure that everything points to the way you work best. In my case, email is the most effective way to manage the incoming streams of information, complaints, and requests. I still check voicemail occasionally and have learned to live with another inbox (thanks, Facebook) but I want to make sure people know where I’m most available and where they can get the best results. Otherwise someone may be expecting an immediate phone call in return when that priority is much further down on my list. Go public with how you tick.

Don’t let others manipulate your time.
Every meeting has a starting time; why shouldn’t it have an ending time as well? Meetings, committees, and unexpected drop-ins have a way of eating up an enormous chunk of our day. And I need more Facebook time (just kidding). So when you start a meeting, lay out the goals and the time they need to be met by. When someone drops by, early in the conversation let them know your boundaries to help them find their way to the point of the drive-by. Of course, the idea here is not to create an assembly line of care or artificial community, just a candid revelation that at times you have to have good boundaries in every area of your life—even office visits.

Drop everything for pastoral care.
Okay, you might read that and go too far with it. But you are never more valuable then when there is a crisis. Get to the hospital as soon as you can. Rearrange that lunch with an old friend from college so you can go to the funeral. Don’t miss the big things, and at least be aware of the small things. Of course, remember this principle has boundaries as well, but as a general rule: When a crisis shows up, you do, too.

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.