Today  Google launched their redesign of Google+. I have not used Google+ for months, it seemed clunky, a little awkward, and all my connections were on facebook.  I did not see the need to leave one social network that is working great for another that is not tremendously better. This redesign make the site look simple and it’s easy on the eyes. My site is up and running but I hear it is not all happening at once. Looks like they will roll out gradually over the next few days.

One thing i love about Google+ is it’s “hangouts.”  I will host a “hangout” in the near future.  A designated time when we can gather via Google+ video and chat about a youth ministry tech topic or two.

Thanks for the heads up Justin Boling ‏ (@Jbols)!

Recently I have been reminded about a painful truth about ministry life and the pastor sub-culture that each of us is a part of whether we like it or not. Sitting having a coffee with a student last week I was reminded of this:

What doesn’t matter to students:

1-Who follows / mentions us on Twitter

2-Where we spoke on the weekend

3-How many people read our blogs

What does matter to them:

1-That we love Jesus and passionately model that relationship to them.

2-That we sincerely care about their life and their story.

3- That we encourage them and pray for them often.

In the midst of opportunities and distractions, its so easy to forget that the students that we lead don’t care about all the other stuff. They just need us to Pastor and lead them, to accept them and encourage them, be there when we say we will and passionately shepherd them. Our integrity to speak about leadership is rooted in us being healthy, rooted leaders at the local Church level working in the trenches.

-Geoff (Twitter)




I hit several sites a day, staying conencted, looking for deals, checking social media.  Here are the sites I hit most every day…multiple times a day.

DEALS…
•  I usually do not go to be until after midnight so the first site I hit is WOOT!  Woot is the best one deal a day website and they have several sister sites listed on the right of their page, click’em all.
•  AppShopper top 200 (sort by changed to see the fast movers)
•  Bens Bargains
•  1SaleaDay

NEWS…
•  Google Reader
•  Engadget
•  Digg

SOCIAL MEDIA…
• 
Twitter
•  Facebook

APPS…
•  Fighter Verse
•  YouVersion
•  Logos
• 
Facebook
•  HootSuite
•  Zite
•  Pulse
•  Reeder

This week I started something new – something honestly I’ve been meaning to do as a young dad and as a safe driver. This week when I’m driving, my phone is in the glove box. It isn’t something I feel totally comfortable doing yet, but I’m making it a priority from now on. I’m telling you, there’s both some incredible freedom and opportunity in this! Here’s why my phone is in the glove box:

To be more disconnected from the information hydrant
Life you – my phone is constantly buzzing. A Twitter here, a text there, a flood of emails – it doesn’t stop. Even when my phone doesn’t ring or vibrate, I sometimes instinctively check it to see if I missed anything! It’s kind of sad, to be honest. Living that way isn’t healthy, so disconnect yourself at least while you drive. You’ll be surprised how little you miss when you drive to the local high school or to your lunch appointment. A few less inputs will help your output, I promise you.

To be more focused on my kids
I drive my kids around quite a bit – to school each morning, to football practice in the afternoon and tons more throughout a given week. Putting my phone in my pocket isn’t enough! I’ll cheat a glance here and there, stopping great conversations while I place importance on what other people are broadcasting instead of what my own kids are saying.

To be more focused on the road
I’ll admit it – I text while driving – despite while being illegal here in California. Last week I was stopped at a light and absent-mindedly let my foot slip off the brake pedal. I just nudged the car in front of me with absolutely no damage, but I was also nudged to take care of this. I have a responsibility to the road and I’m not honoring our state law.

To be a good example
If a student asked me if I texted while driving this week – I would have no defense. It is a battle I haven’t chosen to fight – until now. I want to model what a safe driver and responsible law-abider looks like – if I sacrifice my integrity or cheat a little bit here, it will subtly encourage them to lve the same way – and usually in far more important matters than this.

Who’s with me?

JG



I think most of us in the camp of facebook being a good ministry tool, although its effectiveness at time to communicate and actually elicit some sort of response to who is attending an event, or can help out at an event can be minimal. I am still of the belief that Facebook is useful and here is why I make a point to be a FB friend with every student possible that is a part of our group.

Humility: Lets admit it, most of us have gone home after youth group and scanned through Facebook to see what students wrote for a status update and if they mentioned being at Church. This is less about pumping up my own tires, and more about spotting trends. How did we teach tonight and did it stick? Are students sharing what happened or grieving missing the newest episode of Glee. More often than not, there is not much posted, and perhaps that is a reflection of how the night went. Its not a litmus test, but a decent indicator of whether or not we were clear in communicating God’s word and if we helped them understand how to apply it. The other half of the humility coin, is realizing just how much work needs to be done. My heart breaks regularly as I watch students wander down paths of destruction and pain and any time someone tries to pat us on the back about our ministry I want to reply with “we are not even close”. There are thousand of students near us that need to know Jesus and there is so much to do and just we can’t get full of ourselves.

Accountability: Facebook was gives us the ability to have a window into students and leaders lives that we never had before and vice versa. I love that students have a view into my life and can see the things I do when I am not “on” and I hope that they would see that my faith, my love of my wife goes deeper than just saying it. I want students to see my whole life and that means I need to live it. For students, since you are one of their hundreds of friends, they tend to be pretty real on FB which allows us to engage in parts of their life that are sometimes not good and have conversations about their struggles. I have been able to intervene with students before they get too far down a path of destruction and those conversations are not fun, but I am thankful to be able to have them.

Follow-up / Connection: This has been a huge win for us as far as getting students plugged into our program. We have lots of summer camps near us and several send us a list of students that made decisions, or showed interest in being a part of youth group when they got home. The challenge has always been cold calling students and inviting them to an unfamiliar place and everything we tried just seemed to miss. This year we plugged each of the names into Facebook and that revealed any friends in common who were a part of our group. Taking that information we contacted them and let each student know which of their friends were already here. We then took that list of friends in common and chose a few current students to suggest that they invite the new ones to our group. Retention of camp referrals and “new the church” students has increased significantly.

It’s a delicate balance being “friends” with students and remaining their leader and it’s a unique luxury that not even teachers are allowed to have. I see it as an opportunity to lead them better, encourage them more and model my Christian walk with more than my words on a youth night.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.

A couple weeks ago we noticed we were closing in on a significant milestone of friends on our student ministry’s Facebook page. We decided to give social media a little intentional push during announcements and also to hold a giveaway to one of the new friends as we went over the goal. Don’t be distracted by the number of friends – what’s the point here?

  • Set a goal - 3 months ago we had 1/3rd this number of friends. The goal made a huge difference.
  • Make your Facebook page worth visiting – mobile uploads are your friend. Score a volunteer to oversee updating of pictures and statuses. I would guess most people will visit your Facebook page before visiting in person.
  • Pictures speak volumes - a picture is worth a thousand words. Get some pictures of students having a great time at youth group online.
  • Give to get – yes, the iPod giveaway idea cost us, but gave us an open door of communication with a much larger group of students than we had last week.

Grow your Facebook influence and it will help grow your youth group.

JG



I might not be the best person to take time management advice from – I perpetually run about 15 minutes late to everything. So I don’t have it all together but have found a few ways to squeeze a little extra productivity out of the work week. Here are a few of the ones I like the most:

Get a 10-minute jump start on your day the night before
This one might not be the best one for everyone in case it would upset your restful sleep – but for me I can get a ton of work started if I do a quick check in right before bed. Once the family is set for the night and the house is quiet, I like to steal 10 minutes on webmail to set the day tomorrow. Maybe a quick scan of the calendar, a short reply, or an awareness of tomorrow’s challenges help me prepare mentally for the next day.

Turn off work on your day(s) off
When it is time to be off – be off! I realize that many church cell phones are also your personal phone, but you’ve got to shut them down. If you play hard, it’ll help you focus on work when it is time to work. Religiously take a day off, and make sure you’re really off.

Ditch TV unless you’re exercising or being productive
A great way to make sure you get both exercise and entertainment in during the week is to combine them. If you find yourself killing too much time on the couch, limit the amount of TV you watch by time on the treadmill. You might be surprised by what you could do (start a blog, write a book) if you force yourself to be productive at the same time or drop TV altogether.

Cut the distractions in the office
Turn off your email alerts. Disable Facebook’s constant stream of interruptions. Make sure Twitter isn’t always stealing your focus and concentration. Close your door if you have to. When you give yourself wholly to a task or complete it, reward yourself with a social media break or walk around the church office.

Lump similar tasks together
Let’s say you have to make 5 phone calls, write 15 cards, return 16 emails and work on budgets with multiple people. By putting these tasks into chunks of time you’ll be able to knock them out more quickly. Get in a rhythm, crank out the calls or projects all at once.

How do you squeeze more work into your work week?

JG

HSMBlog.com

 —  May 5, 2011 — Leave a comment

We just launched HSMBlog.com – our new official site for the High School Ministry at Saddleback Church. It was created and designed by our recently upgraded-to-full-time Parker Stech, and is built on the Tumblr platform. Turned out great!

JG