Making a Difference in the Bronx! A Webinar about the Big Day of Serving.

Join Jake Rasmussen Wednesday, February 20 for a LIVE CHAT about the Big Day of Serving in the Bronx.

Tune in to this Webinar and discover answers to all these questions and more:

  • What IS this event?
  • Why will your students LOVE it?
  • How do you SAVE big bucks when registering?

This is a fantastic opportunity to learn all about our work in the Bronx this spring!

Check in out 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…



Leadership in Flux

Jeff Thompson —  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

In a casual sense, the term “entitlement” refers to a notion or belief that oneself is deserving of some particular reward or benefit. (Wikipedia)

I am entitled. So are you, I’d imagine?

Time to put the brakes on it. You don’t deserve anything. Not your position, your salary, your status, your youth room or your budget. Why do we act like it? How did we become so arrogant, above the people we are supposed to be serving? I see it in myself (still, sigh) and I see it in younger youth workers all of the time. We get easily frustrated at a big church decision that affects us in a way we don’t like. We blow off guidance or shrug at counsel because it would be inconvenient to our beloved methods. We get an out-of-whack sense of importance about who we are and how blessed this church is to have us running this incredible youth ministry for them while they slowly decline into irrelevancy.

Stop! Be thankful for what you have, however much or however little it is. Thankfulness is an expression of humility. Be thankful for the little youth budget you did get. Be thankful God is blessing another ministry in your church and you got kicked out of your own youth room. Be thankful for your leadership God chose to put over you (I’m sure He would love to put you there, but you’d think you were entitled to it anyhow). Say thank you when someone generously blesses you. Slow down enough to respond to someone in need rather than only thinking about yourself.

Being thankful keeps your heart … and your entitlement … in check.

JG



simple truthOur friends at Simply Youth Ministry have created a great new resource for your students.  I wanted to share it with you.  Imagine empowering your students to spend just a few minutes each day discovering a life-shaping, thought-provoking, Jesus-centered truth that can transform them into the kind of people God crafted them to be.

Sounds like a worthwhile investment, doesn’t it?

The Simple Truth Bible features 366 daily devotionals—each one a tasty, bite-size morsel that powerfully reveals what it means to deeply love and trust God, to lead a Jesus-centered life, and to lean on Scripture for guidance and wisdom.

Teenagers will discover how to experience hope in the middle of tough times, how God deeply and passionately loves them, how to build an authentic friendship with Jesus, and how they were created to lead a life of impact in this world and for eternity.

Each devotion includes:

  • Thoughts on a specific passage of Scripture and how it relates to students’ lives
  • Insights to help teenagers turn their thoughts into prayers as they spend time with God
  • Ideas to follow if students want to spend more than a few minutes each day with God
  • Perspective on how that day’s passage fits into the big picture of the Bible

 

matt_mcgill_blog

My friend Matt McGill has started a new blog! If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check out Imitating Christ. He’s expanding his range of topics for and writing for a broader audience than just youth workers. If you know McGill, you know his heart for discipleship and spiritual growth. This blog is an expression of that passion, focusing on the spiritual life and leadership. Most of his posts end with a few questions that are good for personal reflection or small group discussion.

Good stuff – be sure to check it out now and subscribe!

JG



In the last decade, huge advances in technology have allowed us to do what previous generations never thought possible. We can use it to record our favorite shows commercial-free, send video instantly to the other side of the world, or to heat and cool our homes more efficiently. One school district in my area has even used technology to replace textbooks in classrooms. That’s right. No textbooks, anywhere. Every student has a touchscreen netbook, equipped with open source software and curriculum. This departure from traditionalmethods has other districts and churches in my area watching very closely. I believe that in our ministries, we can intentionally use this available technology to teach the unchanging message of the Gospel.

In student ministry, you can use technology to help busy students stayconnected. Often times, students miss Bible study due to work, sports, and even other ministry obligations in the church. You can use Facebook chat throughout the week, Skype, the ministry website, and other Social Media to keep students informed. I work with a busy student  who uses the resources on the youth website and social media to have spiritual conversations with friends, applying what is being taught in youth group. It is truly a blessing to have an instant connection to provide help finding scripture about a certain topic or to simply pray for the situation.

So, how do you begin to implement this new learning style in teaching spiritual matters? How do you teach students to transition technology into spiritual tools? I am learning as I go, but here are some key principles to help bridge the gap from the digital to the spiritual:

1. Use tools that are cross-platform. A great example of a cross-platform tool is The Bible App from YouVersion . YouVersion is available on a wide variety of devices from desktop computers to Java-enabled “Dumbphones”. You have access to over 300 translations in 150 languages . The Bible App also has the ability to share and sync  notes, bookmarks, and highlighted passages between multiple devices. This feature is one of my favorites. You can also post Bible verses and notes to your Facebook and Twitter feeds from within the Bible App.

We also use Youversion’s Live Event platform to distribute notes and resources. Whether it is a student or parent choice, today’s teenager is incredibly overcommitted and for many, church becomes “a casualty of the calendar”. There are so many sports, clubs, and other activities that take students’ time and attention away from spiritual
growth, so ministries must be intentional about keeping students connected. The Live Event Platform is convenient because it is built into the Bible App that many of them already use. They can also go online with a computer to get the notes and keep in touch with what is happening. In today’s youth ministries, being able to get information to students who miss Bible study is very important. It’s a way you canshow that you care about their spiritual growth, regardless of whether they are able to be at church or not.

Another tool I use is our youth ministry website . It is specifically designed for use with smartphones, desktops, and tablets/iPads. The site is also designed to be a resource in connecting with the church ministry and with other available resources. Our website includes a calendar of events and Bible studies, as well as integrating Social Media. Students can also use the site to sign up for text information alerts that we send using SYM Tools . On the resource page, we provide ways for students and parents to find out more about the current and upcoming curriculum and events. There are also links to blogs, game and idea sites, and tools that can be utilized by our church and other
ministries. Staff and students also use the site as a vehicle for sharing the Gospel with a Gospel presentation video produced in-house called “the Plan” . Links to this page have been distributed by Social Media, attached to Frisbees and water bottles, and included in candy bags handed out at local events.

2. Set clear expectations. Most of the time that I have been in youth ministry, I have expected students to keep cell phones unseen and unheard. Going from a strict “no cell policy” to embracing the use of technology in the youth room has been a change I never expected. Teenagers, like cattle, need good fences; therefore, setting expectations may be the most important principle when implementing technology into your youth group.

The device and Internet should never distract you or your neighbor from Bible study. The Bible says:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. -Matthew 22:36-39 ESV

In our youth group, I set the expectation that the device is a tool to help the students gain a better understanding of the text of God’s Word. We use the technology to funnel spiritual material into their heads and hearts. I require silent ringers and notifications, no taking calls during Bible study, and no checking Facebook, etc.

3. Bring your own device. In the business world, Information Technology Administrators shudder when you mention BYOD. It can be challenging to support multiple devices in one network environment.

However, in a ministry setting, I encourage it. We have several students that bring their own iPod touch or smartphone. They use a Bible app and connect to Wi-Fi as needed. Truth be told, this is an area where my pre-youth ministry employment comes in handy. I have an IT background, so I don’t mind helping configure their devices. It
also gives me more opportunity for one-on-one interaction with each student. I am a firm believer that God never places you in a situation or job that you are not going to use later (except maybe advanced calculus).

4. Make the technology accessible. It is important to provide “hands on” opportunities for students to use technology to help enhance their Biblical literacy and spiritual growth. There is such a vast amount of Biblical resources at their fingertips. Not everyone has access to printed volumes of scripture commentary, but they are now available online, often for free.

Our church actually purchased a few Android tablets a couple of years ago. We have taken a “one device per table” approach. We have four students per table in our youth room so they can work together for research and discussion. They can pass their device once or twice and everyone can see what is on-screen.

As a ministry, you have to find what works for you and your students. For some, there may be budget limitations. You do not always have to buy new equipment. Some universities have technology auctions, where you can find some great deals. Years ago, buying new was the only way to get a warranty. Some refurbished equipment now includes a short warranty. There are also companies such as SquareTrade that offer a warranty on used equipment for a small fee.

Your church may even be in an area without reliable Internet. One option could be a Mobile Hotspot that converts a cellular signal to a Wi-Fi connection. Costs and service plans can be tailored to your usage and budget needs. Another option might be a monthly meeting someplace with Wi-Fi, such as a local coffee shop, restaurant, or church member’s home.

5. Making sure you prepare. Where I serve, we had to increase the WiFi coverage by adding additional wireless routers. We also added an open-source Linux-based server that works as a web filter and firewall for our network. There are some great options out there that will help keep your network and students safe. Some are very expensive, while others are free/open-source. You will have to find what works for you.

Another important consideration is making sure that there are enough software licenses available for antivirus packages and office suites (if needed). Software and antivirus companies all vary in how many licenses are included in the purchase price, so know what you are buying. Both office suites and antivirus packages can also be obtained
online for free. In addition, make sure that the license covers ministry/office use and not just home/personal use.

I also recommend that you secure the devices while not in use. Keeping the devices under lock and key protects the church’s investment and deters temptation. You can lock them in the church office, buy a locked cabinet, or do like I did and enlist a woodworker in the church to build a cabinet. Our cabinet has holes for charging cables and for heat dissipation.

6. Don’t give whiplash. Although there are great benefits to using technology in ministry, it can become overwhelming if it is used in every youth meeting. If you make the decision to integrate technology, it is not a point of no return. The technology should be an enhancement of what you are already doing. You can still use Bibles,
paper notes, and other methods to reach students. Teaching using a variety of methods also helps engage students with different learning styles.

The Bottom Line
No matter how much you agree or disagree with its use, the implementation of technology is only going to increase. Whether it is employed for economic, vocational/technical preparation or personal use, technology continues to change the way our students learn and spend their time. As youth workers, we have to be willing and able to
utilize newly available tools for sharing the Gospel’s message and helping our students to grow and mature into the disciples that Christ desires for them to be.

Brent Lacy serves as Youth Pastor in rural Western Indiana. He has served in rural youth ministry for 13 years. His first book, “Everyday Youth Ministry: Rural Youth Ministry: Thrive Where You’re Planted” is now available from Group/Simply Youth Ministry and on the Amazon Kindle Store. You can check out his blog at http://ministryplace.net

How much time do you spend in Scripture a week? Now take that time and figure out how much of it was for your role and how much of it was for yourself?

If you are anything like me, you struggle to find a balance. Whenever you are reading the Word of God you are thinking about ways to apply it to your students. Sounds really positive doesn’t it? Well it isn’t. If you aren’t constantly trying to grow yourself you are eventually going to be useless.

One thing I have struggled with is the turning myself off from work and just focusing on what God wants to teach me through scripture so I have come up with a few ways I try to do this. I hope that some of these will help you, or perhaps you have some you could share with others. Please share these ideas with others below in the comments.

Have a Notebook- I keep a notebook beside me in which I write all my ideas that pop into my head down. That way I can come back to them later and don’t have to be fleshing them out right then and there.

Eat, drink and use the washroom- I don’t know about you but I think hunger and thirst get used against me when trying to spend time with God. So does using the bathroom. It sounds silly, but if I have a small snack (preferably something healthy now that I am on the youthpastordiet.com) some water and go to the bathroom I get less distracted. I don’t get up and down 3 times just to do the basics.

Have a separate Bible- Geoff has written a couple posts lately about students having paper Bibles; and I’m a fan of what he has to say. But what about you, you probably have 4-10 paper Bibles. I know I have a lot so I decided to dedicate one just to my personal time with God. For some reason that little step helps me focus when I sit down to read.

I know some of these seem silly or maybe you have heard them a thousand times but they work for me and it an ever changing battle for me to find something that works. So give these a whirl if you are looking for something new. If you have other great ideas or something that has worked for you please share them in the comments below.

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle