live-x3I was talking with a youth worker today who was asking if LIVE Curriculum was worth it…
It is totally worth the investment of time and money. The price is more affordable than it looks. Think about all the messages LIVE offers, the consistency it provides, and it builds on itself. Win, Win, Win… And the investment of time is key. LIVE actually gives you time…it creates time in your life. I know that sounds weird, but with all the major prep complete you can grab a cup of coffee (or prune juice, I won’t judge) and have the lesson completely reviewed before your drink is gone leaving you margin in your schedule to meet with your leaders and students.

If you liked the FREE demos of LIVE Simply offers and want to take another step check out
Year With Jesus
Simple Truth or
Jesus-Centered Life
You and your leaders will be glad you did- mine are!

270208_2181937635525_2980948_nBeing a small group leader is great and scary at the same time. I took a group of guys from freshmen year to senior year.  It was great, but there were some things I had to learn to be ok with throughout the four years that I wish i knew at the beginning. It would’ve helped me shape the group better. Some of the things I had to learn to be ok with were great and others kind of came with the territory. Knowing these ten things now will definitely benefit my next group. So I thought I’d share my learnings.

  1. Be OK with it being more than bible study. – I thought I would be just doing a study and hanging out with some dudes. Little did I know, doing life together bonds you together like family. Even though they are all at different colleges, some local and some out of state, they know that I’m here for them if they ever need me. Love my boys.
  2. Be OK with just planting seeds. - I had guys in my group that came and left and I felt like they never fully got what I was trying to teach them. It would get me down at times. I had to remember that I’m called to plant the seeds of God’s word and God changes the heart. I must be ok with just planting seeds and trusting that God will produce the harvest.
  3. Be OK with students joining and leaving. - Whether it be because of a friend who’s joining another group or the season of the student’s life is super busy and they have to take a season off of small group, there is a chance students will leave. Tip: Celebrate the students who join and don’t take it personal when someone leaves. Make sure the door is always open for them to return.
  4. Be OK with your life changing. - My guys pushed me to be the example they needed me to be. I can’t tell you how much my life has changed because of my small group guys. They pushed me to really study God’s word, be a man of prayer and be a better husband/father. Tip: expect God to change your life for the better.
  5. Be OK with being interrupted. – There will be times that your small group will need you to be there during a time of crisis. From death in the family, to them making some huge mistakes and needing advice, know that they will need you at times unplanned.
  6. Be OK with not knowing what to say or do. – You will feel this way at times, but it’s ok.  It’s actually the best place to be, when it pushes you to lean on God and seek His wisdom. I lived in this area my first year leading a small group.
  7. Be OK with students being there for different reasons. - Some are there to be challenged in their faith and others are there just to hang with friends. I’ve had several of those types of students and all I can say is be patient and trust God.  I’ve seen students who were all about just hanging out one year and helping start a christian club at their school the next year. So be confident in God’s ability to change their direction.
  8. Be OK with having your faith stretched and strengthened. - Nothing stretches and strengthens your faith like a bunch of students trying to learn and grow in their walk with Christ.  I’ve seen God show up so many times in my guy’s life that it has strengthened my faith. I would study and teach things I thought I knew very well, until one of the guys would ask a great question that would challenge my thinking on the subject. Little did I know, God was using my group to stretch and grow my faith in Him. He will definitely do the same for you.
  9. Be OK with keeping parents on task. – Communicate to the parents what you expect of them in a loving and supportive way and address issues quickly as they arise.  TIP: If you want parents there on time, be there to greet them when they pull up every time. If you want them to pickup on time, end on time and greet them for pickup.
  10. Be OK with knowing you will make mistakes and/or fail. - You are not perfect and no one is expecting you to be. There will be things you will try to do that will not work out.  You will make mistakes and/or fail at times. It’s ok and we’ve all been there.  The goal is to learn from your mistakes and failures and minimize the return of the two in the same area.

What are some other things small group leaders have to be ok with leading a group?

hope it helps

ac



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!

LIVECollegeWell, it’s true…Simply Youth Ministry is giving away 72 weeks of the College LIVE curriculum for FREE.  Sheesh, that is amazing.  Before I say how this giveaway works, let me just briefly share a few things I love about this resource:

  1. It walks through books of the bible and gives your students a great understanding of the flow of each book.  
  2. Every teaching point in this curriculum points to God.  The goal here is to put the focus where it belongs.  In other words, as the content walks through the scriptures we learn about God’s reign (Kingdom), desires and intentions for our lives.
  3. It’s simple and clear, but there is a massive amount of content.  So, whether you use it for mentorship or as a small group resource, this can be a fantastic resource for teaching in larger contexts as well.  So those of you who do a large group gathering as well as small groups, you will be extra thankful!
  4. It’s written by people who work closely with college age people.  You will quickly notice how practical all this is for the issues college age people face on a daily basis.

If you’d like to take a closer look at this, you can get details as well as a free sample here.

Okay, so here is how the giveaway will work.  In the comment box below, tell me your craziest or favorite college ministry story this summer.  Winner will be announced on Wednesday.  It’s that simple.

Okay, go…..



Random Randomness

 —  August 20, 2013 — Leave a comment

 

Now that my blog has joined forces with the mighty More Than Dodgeball, I thought I’d continue some of the features that kept my junior high blog small and relatively unpopular. My “Random Randomness” posts are a good place to start.

- Just returned from four nights camping under the stars with 8 other families. We fished, hiked, shot BB guns, faced down bears (Katie Edwards did, anyway) and sat around the fire. A really lazy way to end an outrageously busy summer.

- Another thing we did while camping was play lots and lots of KanJam, the game you really must purchase for your youth group.

- May I recommend a short shopping list for your junior high ministry this fall?

  1. This Book Gets Around.  If you are looking for a fun way to help your students (in small groups, at a retreat, etc.) get to know each other a little better, this is the way to go. Such a fun idea. Or, buy some 10-packs and ask your students to take them to school to learn more about their friends!
  2. LIVE small group curriculum. There simply is not a better small group curriculum out there, in my opinion.
  3. The Challenge. Almost every junior higher loves games. Almost every junior high youth worker hates coming up with them. Make everybody happy!
  4. 99 Thoughts About Junior High Ministry. There are a few great junior high/middle school ministry books out there, and they are all too long for your volunteers to read! Give your volunteer team a pocketful of confidence with this fantastic little book.

- Want a free resource…that kicks butt?  Point your hurting students to Teen Christian Ministries. I love this little web show that is making a huge impact on the teenagers who tune in!

- Have you seen The Way, Way Back?  If not, write it into your schedule this week before it disappears. It’s a movie every youth worker needs to see.

High School Live Curriculum   I have been using the LIVE Curriculum for the past 4 years…I love it and so do my volunteers. It is not just a great tech resource, it is a great youth ministry resource. Last year I added LIVE Junior High to our youth ministry scope and sequence and it was a HUGE WIN!

  • Low prep for leaders
  • Consistent format
  • Easily personalizable
  • Print unlimited hard copies for your team
  • Emailable to those leaders who want to personalize and print or to teach from their tablet
  • Parent letter for each lesson updating them on what their studnet’s small group went through
  • Price tag is super low! Less than $3.50 a lesson
  • DONE FOR THE YEAR…DONE FOREVER!!! (Well, you may want to tweek from year to year but ultimately if you know the lessons you want to use you can use the same scope and sequence from year to year)

With LIVE Curriculum I have shorter prep time each week and can better focus on students and leaders…and leaders have margin to invest more in their group.

Are you using LIVE Curriculum?  Is so, what is your favorite thing about it?



lets talk

Small groups was our very first request for a topic (you can send your topic requests to talkaboutym@gmail.com). So here we go!

Small Groups are the lifeblood for many youth ministries, and for good reason! I’ve often said that if I was told by our Pastor that we could only do ONE thing in our ministry the one thing we would do is small groups. Workshops have been taught and books written on the topic, and today we add a few simple “Good, Bad and #SMH” thoughts of our own on the newest episode of “Let’s Talk About Youth Ministry”.

Switch It Up

 —  April 16, 2013 — Leave a comment

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut in youth ministry and, it’s also very frustrating. When ministry is moving slow it feels like no one is engaged and everything is happening below your standards. There will be seasons in your ministry when you feel like your calling has just become a job.

If you feel like your ministry needs a pick me up, then look at switching things up. Change what you do, try something new and give your ministry new life. To get out of your rut you don’t need a major overhaul, just a few teaks. To change and shake things up in your ministry try giving:

  • Someone Else The Reigns: If you are constantly making the decisions, choosing and leading activities you’ll find your ministry limited. When you are limited you feel trapped and stuck. By delegating leadership and creative responsibilities to other volunteers you enable them to take the ministry where you could not. This does not mean they are better leaders than you it’s just giving it a different approach.
  • Groups Permission To Play: Your small group leaders need to know that they have ownership of their groups. This means allowing them to once in a while deviate from the plan by just sharing life, playing a game or addressing a different issue. Giving permission to play means allowing the group to grow organically.
  • Yourself A Break: The reason your ministry might feel tired is because you feel tired too. Give yourself a break by taking a vacation, building in more margin and working on your Sabbath. When your mind and soul are at rest they are more equipped to think outside the box. A creative mind is a rested one.

 

Switch it up by giving away the burdens and responsibilities that might wear you down. Give yourself room to breathe so that that you can think clearly on where you need to go. Your ministry needs you for the long haul which means tweaking and adjusting your routine from time to time. Don’t be afraid to switch it up.

How do you switch it up? 

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)