Here's a fun video from our youth group this past week - we took a fun spin on the What Are the Odds game that students have been loving the last couple of years. So fun!
Here's a fun video from our youth group this past week - we took a fun spin on the What Are the Odds game that students have been loving the last couple of years. So fun!
Another week, another episode of the Download Youth Ministry Webshow. Excited to have you aboard for this week and thankful for our sponsors: Our primary sponsor ORANGE as well as Leadertreks, YM360 & Azusa Pacific University.
Earlier in this Student Leadership Team Basics series, we talked about how the role of your student leadership team is to create a culture of welcome in your youth ministry. One specific way you can do this is by having your team recognize and honor birthdays. Here's how:
At the start of your program year, spend several weeks asking everyone to update their information. As part of this, collect everyone's birthdays.
Ask your Student Leadership Team to come up with a way to recognize everyone's birthday. This can be a monthly, weekly, or an “as-needed” recognition. Depending on your ministry's budget, this can be an up-front recognition that costs no money, a birthday cake, or individual birthday gifts. For example, in my ministry, we give each teen a birthday gift that typically costs about $1. Then we personalize each gift so that in some way, it speaks into a teen's identity. What's important about this tradition is not how much you spend but rather that everyone's birthday is recognized and perhaps even more importantly, that everyone's birthday is recognized in the same way. By recognizing everyone in the same way, you show that your ministry values everyone involved in it.
Once your team decides how to recognize and honor birthdays, give student leaders an active role in this process. For example, in my ministry, one year we gave each teen a decorated frame containing a picture of that teen from one of our youth ministry's activities. Student leaders decorated the frame with words describing that teen. Another year, we gave each teen a friendship bracelet. The team chose the colors of the bracelet to reflect each recipient's personality. One teen wrote up a blurb that explained why the colors were chosen. Another made the friendship bracelet. This year, we've given out journals. The team decorates the notebook covers and then each person on the team writes a note to the recipient on the first few pages of the journal. Each week, a student leader presents birthday gifts to students who are in attendance.
Figure out how to address summer birthdays. If you take the summer off of programming, a good way of doing this is to celebrate people's half-birthdays.
Decide how to celebrate the birthdays of those who don't regularly attend your youth ministry's gatherings. In my ministry, if we've had a teen's birthday gift for longer than month, a student leader takes the gift and drops it off at the teen's home. Doing so is a great way to communicate that a teen's value is not dependent on their attendance. It also provides student leaders with a great opportunity to connect with more marginal teens.
By recognizing birthdays, not only do you give student leaders real responsibility, but you also show each teen in your ministry that they are loved and known.
Other posts in this series:
It’s easy to grow too comfortable in ministry. Things can be going so well that you won’t question what’s going on in your ministry. The problem is that you will miss small issues that can quickly escalate into larger ones.
To avoid growing complacent you need to constantly review what’s going on in your ministry. And to know what to look at you need to ask the right questions like:
DOES THIS MEET THE VISION?
In other words, “Why are we doing what we are doing?” It’s a question we ask ourselves when we are stuck in something we do not enjoy. Many times it’s asked too late.
To know if something meets the vision you need to know your vision. You need to understand what you are called to do. Anytime you create anything you can then ask, “Does this meet our vision?” and if the answer is no then you know you shouldn’t do it.
WHAT’S A COMPETING SYSTEM?
A competing system means you have two programs, positions or experiences fighting over resources, time or space. You will know something is competing if you constantly feel pulled in multiple directions.
You can determine if something is competing if you feel that your focus is all over the place.To fix a competing system look at either eliminating one side of the competition or readjusting it’s time or location.
DOES THE LABOR OUTWEIGH THE FRUIT?
There will be programs and events that people love or once had a positive impact. But, if you have feelings of, “Is this worth it?” or if it wears you out for the long haul you might want to take another look at its value.
IS THE PURPOSE CLEAR?
You could have a solid purpose for why you do what you do and then someone else could have a different reason. This happens when there is a lack of clarity. As a leader you need to make sure people get on the same page so that a great thing doesn’t become derailed.
Preach the vision, share the purpose and communicate over and over again. People might get tired of you saying the same thing over and over again, but they will still have clarity on what needs to be done.
When you ask the right questions you’ll build confidence. With that confidence you can address problems early on and strengthen your leadership. When you know the why and what people will buy in and you can take your ministry further.
What other questions do we need to be asking?
Topics: evaluate your ministry
One of my favorite things our team loves to do is go on campuses. whether its for plays, sports or just to go hang at lunch, we try to take advantage of it. We try to go on a campus twice a week. Not every week allows this but that is the goal. It fun to see students where they are at and to meet some new ones. Here are 5 thoughts on the benefits of going on campuses:
You see them in their "natural habitat" - We wouldn t like to think it but some students act different when they are at church than when they are school. The environments are different. The atmosphere is different. We get to see them where they are most of the day for most of the week so when you are on campus, take a look around and take some notes. We can learn something, both good and bad.
Bonus points if parents see you - If you are at a game or track meet and you run into a parent, you earn more and more chips. What a great way to get to minister and connect with a family. Most parents love the fact that there is another adult who cares about their child and wants to see them succeed. Most parents don't mind another adult speaking a positive influence in their kid's life. Going on campus when parents are on campus is always a great deal.
You get to meet friends who you wouldn't meet at church - One of my favorite things is when I see a student on campus and they are with their friends and they have to explain to them how they know me. Most of the time, they are pumped to see our staff on campus and they will come up and chat for a bit with their friends. usually it's friends who never been to our church before and it is a great way to make that first connection.
The faculty gets to know you - The more and more you get on campus the more and more the staff at the school knows who you are and what you are about. Follow their rules, don't be "that guy". One of our staff is the freshmen basketball coach at a high school and it's great because we already have then in. We can walk on the field during football games and track meets and he gets us easy access because they know him already. Be friends with the staff and they will be a great asset.
You remind them that they matter - When we go into their world we remind them that they are worth coming to visit. We had a kick recently go to the hospital. Our team went to go see him when he got home and you could have thought he just won a million bucks. When we visit our students at school just to hang and be with them, it shows we truly do care.
There's a constant agitating thought that occurs every time I think about youth ministry. It’s a thought that every youth pastor is plagued by. There are so many Christians in this world, but very few are disciples. I see a lot of students accepting Christ, but it seems like very few are taking the next step towards discipleship. Sometimes I feel like Elijah, looking around for leaders that are furthering the cause of Christ. I feel like I'm scrounging for disciples, and very few seem ready to take that journey. I want to be as transparent and honest about this as possible. I'm struggling, guys. I find myself wide awake at night thinking, "Where did I go wrong? Where is the boldness we read about in Acts? Why are the kids that call themselves 'Christians’ so apathetic about discipleship?”. Am I alone at the top of this mountain, or are there leaders waiting in plain sight, ready to pursue this?
The past few weeks, I've been praying for direction, praying about where I missed God's guidance on equipping the next generation. As I questioned every action, a single thought came to mind. I've been so caught up trying to invite my students to become Christians; I never thought to first invite them into discipleship.
Go back and reread that last sentence. Seriously, read it. Meditate on it. Be captivated by it. Because when you first read it, you might be thinking "No duh." Discipleship is our commission; it’s a no brainer that we need to be inviting students into discipleship.” Really think about all the programming and the conditions we've placed on our students to become disciples. Think about what you've been inviting your students into when you invite them to Christ.
I don't know about you, but I've been creating an unnecessary step to discipleship. I've created a step that says, "Okay, you've accepted Jesus Christ as your redeemer, now wait a couple of years, hear a wisdom series every now and then, work on reading your bible more, start praying more, follow God, and when you've tested the spiritual waters of faith, a leader might see your character development and invite you into discipleship." This might be an exaggeration of what I've created, but you get the point. We've designed these little steps of improvement before a student gets an invite to go further. Why? So we can see that our time won't be wasted on someone who doesn't care? Where in the early church did we ever see the invitation to Christ portrayed as a delayed process of behavior modification AND THEN an intimate life changing walk with Christ? "Oh you want to acknowledge Christ as Savior? I'll see you in a year when you're really ready to follow him…."
This isn't to put anyone down; this is revisiting what we may have lost sight of in our ministries. Jesus, John, James, Peter and Paul never created a step before discipleship, it was always a command, "Come follow me” (Matt 4:19), “Take up your cross and Follow Me” (Matt 16:24), “Follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1), “You have heard the gospel, but also with power from the Holy Spirit in full conviction. You saw who we were. And you imitated us and the Lord, for you received the word with affliction yet you received it with joy from the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:5-6). The first step to discipleship is simple. Follow Christ. Follow me as I follow Christ. Imitate his disciples and the Lord. Why add more work on a decision that's made in faith?
What about the Cost of Discipleship? What about the parable of the tower and the army? What about the rich man that left disappointed, and the crowd that walked away freaked out when Jesus said, "Eat my body, drink my blood?"? What's so simple about that? How is that inviting? We look at Jesus laying out the cost, as if Jesus is complicating the process, but the cost of discipleship was not set in place to make life harder, it was an acknowledgment that life IS hard. These stories are a realistic look at what discipleship is like. It’s not about making good life choices, but taking on a lifestyle. The Cost of Discipleship isn't the step after salvation; the Cost of Discipleship is our step into salvation.
Discipleship is knowing that life will throw everything it has at you once you take up your cross. It’s acknowledging the enemy has a bullet with your name on it. When you go against the grain of culture and rise above the human standard, people will notice and hate you for it because they are living in the same misery and torment that you're living in, but for some reason you're not shaken by it. Death, sickness, and persecution wait for you at every corner, but the Creator of the Universe is walking with you in every heart breaking moment. He is the comfort that will follow every tear, and just when you feel like you've lost it all, He whispers hope into your soul, and victory sparks in the midst of defeat. This is the cost of discipleship. It is a call to salvation, which is transparent about the odyssey unfolding before you. The first step of discipleship is simple. “Follow me”.
What are your thoughts? What are the first steps you create for new believers in your youth? What are some challenges you face in creating a culture of discipleship? Agree? Disagree?
Sam Pettersen is a youth worker and a DYM Author - check out his resources right here!
Some of you might be reading this on your smart phone, or tablet, or maybe you're the kind of person that still uses a a desktop computer..... The point is, technology is apart of every aspect of our lives and so often our students know much more about the newest tech than we do. This time around we are talking about safety. When it comes to our students it isn’t so much a question of, “do we trust them?” But instead it is knowing how temptation works, and temptation goes hand in hand with technology.
There are so many different reasons that we should be involved in the technology that our students are using and all of them revolve around the idea of safety and protection. Whether we are keeping them safe from those whose intent is to cause harm from the cyber world or attempting to keep them safe from their own sin nature and the temptation that comes from every corner of the internet, the ultimate goal is protection. According to http://www.nobullying.com as of February 11th, 2015,
– “25 percent of teenagers report that they have experienced repeated bullying via their cell phone or on the internet. Over half (52 percent) off young people report being cyber bullied.”
– “Embarrassing or damaging photographs taken without the knowledge or consent of the subject has been reported by 11 percent of adolescents and teens.”
– “More than half of young people surveyed say that they never confide in their parents when cyber bullying happens to them.”
– “Victims of cyber bullying are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem and to consider suicide as a result.”
Scary right? These are just a few of the statistics that this website has compiled that have to do with your students and how cyber bullying comes in contact with them, for a more comprehensive list of stats you can visit this website – http://nobullying.com/cyber-bullying-statistics-2014/.
I am not a parent myself so I am not here to give you parenting advice. However, I do know about technology and I would love to give you some advice on protecting your students from the harm of technology improperly used whether by others or themselves. With that comes our title, Safety > Privacy.
….sorry for the long introduction
When it comes to devices you are the parent, you are in charge. Whether it’s a cell phone, computer, tablet, iPod, or fax machine, I don’t care, YOU are in charge (however, your kids probably aren’t using a fax machine to send messages to each other… that would be really loud… and they probably don’t even know what a fax machine is…) That being said, I’m going to tell you about a few apps that your students will hate ME for, but will thank YOU for later in life. Some of these you will have to pay monthly for and there are some that will be free, you decide whats your students safety is worth :-)
1. SecureTeen Parental Control – iOS & Android Play Store
This app allows you to monitor basically all online activity that your students does on his or her phone or tablet. You can login via their web page and keep track of the different websites they are visiting, block keyword searches, and add enhanced protection. For a detailed breakdown of what this app does you can click on the links above to take you to the app store.
2. My Mobile Watchdog – Android Play Store
This app for Android allows you to see the text message history on your students devices. It can also allow you to block the downloading of new apps, use of the camera, block the use of phones at certain times, along with a wide variety of other functions. To see a full breakdown of all functions this app has you can visit the link above that will take you to the Android Play Store.
3. TeenSafe – iOS & Android http://www.teensafe.com
TeenSafe is known as the #1 iPhone tracker and from what I have seen it seems like it is worth the money that you pay monthly to use this app. Some of its features are; view text, view calls, see phone location, monitor social activity (including Facebook and Instagram – which is important, students live on Instagram), view messages sent through WhatsApp – a popular texting application, view messages in Kik, see web history, and view contacts. You can even see text messages that have been deleted from your students phone. Also a great perk this program gives you is that it can be used on unlimited devices, you can monitor all your students devices all from the same place. There is a one week trial and I highly recommend checking this out. Click the link above to go to their website and read all about what they do and how their product works.
I know what some of you are thinking, “I don’t want to budge in on my students privacy” or, “I trust them to use technology the way they should.” Like we said earlier, it isn’t always about whether or not you trust your students, it is about knowing how temptation can sink into their lives and that not everyone on the internet has the best intentions for them. Remember, you are the parent and you should know what is going on in your students life. In 3 John 1 : 2-4 we see John talking to his friend Gaius and he says, “Dear, friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling me how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
While Gaius is not the son of John he still chooses to say, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” That is something that we all want to say about the students in our life and if choosing that Safety > Privacy helps them to continue to walk in the faith long after they have left the grasp of you the parents, than it is well worth it. Protect your students from the dark corners of the internet, the people that don’t have their best interests in mind, and know whats going on in your students life, it’s really… really really important.
Remember Safety > Privacy
Logan West is a youth worker who cares about teens in the real world and in the virtual world as well.
I don't know about your ministry, but Instagram is the biggest way of communication and interaction with our students right now. Yes they are on other social media outlets, but it seems Instagram is the dominate one in my area. So we have been having fun with it. I have been taking fun videos I have seen from youtube and have made them my own to post on Instagram. He have done them for prom, for service, for worship, summer camp and more. Some have purpose, some are just to make them smile.
It's super simple. I just download the video from youtube using keepvid.com and throw it in Final Cut. I take music I have and match it up. They are pretty well known video but with today's music and they made for some fun videos to throw up on Instagram to interact with your students and spice up your newsfeed a bit.
I have been at Christ's Church of the Valley now for 8 months. It has been so fun and so challenging. One of the things we have been working on is getting new footage of our Wednesday night program so we can have something on our website for any parents or new people to get a glimpse of what a typical night looks like. One of the hardest things when talking with new people is describing what a night looks like, so why not have something to show them. We will put it on our website and we will have it out on our patio tabel during the weekend services when we meet parents or new students as well.
I love updating our stuff and has been something we have slowly but surely moving towards. I think it's helpful.
We're so proud of our youth ministry resources scholarships! The program has been in place since July 2013 and local businessmen have purchased youth ministry resources for hundreds of programs across the US and around the world. Here are just a few of the more recent stories from this month's receipents:
[CHURCH 1] Thank you so much, when I saw this it was just a prayer to answers. We really love all your resources. I showed our Junior High Pastor and she was loving it and we decided to split it and use it with both our programs. Tell whoever the gentleman it was to decided to do that, thank him from all of Pathways Community Church. Its awesome to see when people are blessed by God and they bless others, that's what its all about.
[CHURCH 2] I wanted to wait until I knew I had a few minutes to type out, as best I could, my gratitude for DYM and what you guys stand for. First and foremost THANK YOU! I received this email as I was dismissing small group and was able to share this news with all of the kids. They were pretty excited as well. These resources are so vital in a time where reaching a kid is no longer as easy as inviting them to pizza. We have to retain them and help grow their relationship with Christ after the pizza and that takes creativity; something I struggle to pull out of myself after a long day at the office but thankfully it's something you guys do flawlessly. A note for the giver: "A 'Thank you' is not a good enough repayment for what you have gifted to my youth ministry and the kingdom of God. To gift the ability to reach kids in a way that could lead them to a new and/or deeper relationship with Christ is priceless. Please know that your donation means the world to me and my fellow youth leaders. I pray God blesses you for being a champion for teens everywhere. Thank you for all you do..." Thanks again for everything, I hope to have the budget in the future for the membership. (it is, after all, the best thing since digital sliced bread!)
[CHURCH 3] Thank you so much for your donation. Ministry is very hard, and in low income and high refugee areas sometimes it feels almost impossible. I can't begin to describe the feeling of gratitude I have for you donation. I remember growing up in a low income family. My mom did everything she could to hid the fact that we were very poor. I always respected that about her. Now that I find myself working with students and seeing parents that are obviously struggling; I want to pay that forward. I hope my students never have to see another youth group and say "Why can't we have that?" With your donation we will be able to provided top programming for them. We have already seen such a growth, just one year ago our program had 1 student on Sundays and 15 in our after school program, we now have an average of 15-20 on Sundays and over 75 in the after school program. We have recently launched a large group service once a month last month we had about 6 and this month 12. With the resources from DYM we will be able to provided them with top notch programming and games. It's really going to help us provided an atmosphere that students will want to invite their friends. Thank you so much for helping us help students find their way back to God.
Do YOU need a resource scholarship? We can help! Check out the DYM Scholarships page to GIVE or RECEIVE.