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19 Jan 2024

Sidekick: Adults Love It Too!

By |2024-01-19T08:36:57-08:00January 19th, 2024|communication, Sidekick, Sidekick Hero Blog, Teaching, Teaching/Programming, Technology|3 Comments

It’s no secret that when we created Sidekick, we had youth workers in mind (they are our favorite, of course!), but recently, my wife (Cathy) and I were asked to teach a course at our church called Intentional Parenting (based off a book by the same name we wrote back in 2018). We had an idea that the course would be popular, but we had no idea we’d have hundreds of parents seeking advice each month! It’s been a whirlwind, to say the very least!

After seeing how much students love the new interactive features (such as live voting) in Sidekick, we decided to see if adults would feel the same way, and—spoiler alert—THEY ABSOLUTELY DID!

For the past few sessions, throughout the teaching, we’ve been sprinkling in questions like this:

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And, even though we knew it would be a hit, we were BLOWN AWAY by the response! Cathy and I have taught this curriculum in many different settings over the years, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is the most engagement we’ve ever seen with a group of parents!

Here are a few things I’ve noticed about the parents in our course since we started integrating Sidekick Live Polls throughout our teaching content:

  1. They are more attentive – Since they know I might ask another question at any time, I genuinely think they pay more attention to the material we are presenting.
  2. They’re having more fun – I can’t even tell you how much I love their response when the “Show Live Results” feature is enabled. It’s not uncommon for people to cheer as the results come rolling in!
  3. They’re more likely to come back – I don’t need a lot of research (although it certainly is out there!) to tell me that people who enjoy an experience are more likely to come back a second, third, or even fourth time. That’s EXACTLY what we’re seeing right now with Intentional Parenting.
  4. They’re more likely to bring their friends – I’ve seen this in youth ministry over and over again, but this is one of the clearest examples of this happening with adults I’ve ever seen. Couples who attend one session are inviting their neighbors. Plain and simple: People want to attend engaging events.

Now, before I close out, there’s one more really important thing that I realized during our most recent course. It’s in the picture below. See if you can figure out what I’m talking about:

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It’s right there at the bottom of the screen. I’ll zoom in to help:

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During the session, I asked what grade parents would give themselves based on how well they show affection to their children. And 5% answered that they would give themselves a big ole F. I can say with 100% confidence that most of those parents would never have admitted this if they weren’t able to answer anonymously.

You see, Sidekick doesn’t just promote engagement, it gives people the chance to be honest without facing immediate judgment. You can absolutely be sure that the next words out of my mouth after this poll were different than they would have been had we not done the poll. Because of what we learned with this poll, I was able to pause and tell those parents that they aren’t alone and that simply by attending the Intentional Parenting course, they were already taking steps in the right direction. I’m not going to say it solved all of their problems, but you could actually feel the sense of relief in the room.

And none of this would have been possible without Sidekick.

Blessings,

Doug

If you’re using Sidekick and you run into any issues, or if you just have a question, please feel free to reach out to our support team at: [email protected]. Or you can check out other helpful articles and walkthroughs at the Sidekick Help Desk by visiting https://help.sidekick.tv.

Finally, if you choose to use the new Sidekick… let us know how you do it and what types of polls you do because we want to highlight you. Our goal is to highlight a youth worker every week with different ways they’ve used Sidekick to help their students engage. If you’re interested in being recognized as a Sidekick Hero, just click the big red button below:

If you’re using Sidekick and you run into any issues, or if you just have a question, please feel free to reach out to our support team at: [email protected]. Or you can check out other helpful articles and walkthroughs at the Sidekick Help Desk by visiting https://help.sidekick.tv.

Finally, if you choose to use the new Sidekick… let us know how you do it and what types of polls you do because we want to highlight you. Our goal is to highlight a youth worker every week with different ways they’ve used Sidekick to help their students engage. If you’re interested in being recognized as a Sidekick Hero, just click the big red button below:

14 Nov 2022

7 Ways to Engage Students in Worship

By |2022-11-15T12:34:15-08:00November 14th, 2022|Teaching, Teaching/Programming, Youth Ministry Ideas|12 Comments

We want to draw our students into a closer relationship with God! And one of the ways we can do that is by helping them to worship the God who created them and sent Jesus.

But let’s be real, sometimes it looks like our students are falling asleep in worship.

Or, at least, they are more interested in their phones than in worshipping Jesus.

So how can we help students be more engaged in worship? Here are seven things to think about to help students engage in worship during youth group!

Let Them Be A Part of the Planning

Are students helping to plan the worship experience? If not, give them a seat at the table! Help them to see how the night is put together. Let them choose the songs. Give them the reins to whatever worship experience you would like to happen.

When students take leadership roles, they engage far more than when they are solely participating.

Take a Step Back

Are you up front and leading the moment? Take a step back and let students do it. They are more than capable of praying, singing, teaching, and leading. See how their peers engage when it’s not the “adults” in the room who are in charge, but the others who are on the same page as they are!

Encourage Them to Pray

Remind students that we get to talk to God! Let them pray beforehand as you plan. Let them pray as you set up. Help them lead in prayer during the actual worship service. Lead them in a prayer of thanks afterward. Help them cover the entire worship experience in prayer so they feel more engaged in worship and with their creator!

Worship in a Different Space

Are you in the same room every time you have a worship service? Think about being in a different space! As it gets colder, consider having an outdoor bonfire experience. Or maybe a different room in your building. Get students out of what they are used to to help them focus on what is in front of them.

Keep An Eye on the Clock

I remember a friend of mine was in a band that did a lot of youth retreats. LOTS of youth pastors asked them to do an hour-long worship set. It sounded great. In theory. But the reality was that students checked out a long time before the hour was up. Longer doesn’t mean a more worshipful experience. Plan things on purpose. And remember that a shorter service can be just as engaging.

Help Them Process

Sometimes, students can have a hard time understanding what they feel or think during a worship service. Help them walk through it by making observations and asking questions like, “I see you’re really quiet. Are you trying to think about what we just did?” or, “You were crying during the worship service. Was there any one thought or thing that you really connected with?”

Let Them Journal

I love a journal. Mostly because I can look back on the thoughts I had in a really emotional or connected moment and reflect on them better. Encourage students to write down their thoughts so they can think about them after the moment has passed. It’ll serve as a great reminder when they need it!

What are some other ways you may think to have students worship?

If you’re looking for an idea for your next worship night, check out these resources below!

 

9 May 2022

Speaking Outside Your Ministry

By |2022-05-09T09:38:11-07:00May 9th, 2022|Leadership, Teaching|4 Comments

Let’s talk speaking and teaching outside of your ministry, such as at camps and conferences. I feel like this is one of the top 5 questions I get asked from other youth pastors and I have been asked about how to get in the speaking circuit quite a few times in the last 3 weeks.

Young leaders. Listen up. Old leaders. Listen up. Myself. Listen up.

Be called. Do you, and others who love Jesus more than they love you, affirm you are called to teach.

Don’t be a tool. When looking for someone to speak, a majority of the time I want to partner with someone with who I like. Character and heart trumps talent every time.

There is the networking side. You have to network and know people and put your stuff out there, yes, but there is a fine balance of REALLY putting your stuff out there and letting others know you feel a calling. I never have asked to speak anywhere. All have come from invitation because we were friends or I was recommended by a friend who thought I would be a good fit for someone else.

To start, say yes to everything. Nothing is beneath you. Christian clubs. FCA. Friend’s ministry. Do it for free. Doesn’t matter if it’s for 10 kids or 1,000 kids. Say yes (this is how you network organically). You’re not good enough to be picky when you begin. Ha

Get better. Have people pick apart your sermons. Give feedback. Know your ticks and nervous habits. Filler words. Practice your craft. Don’t be other teachers. Be you.

Stop trying to “make it”… people can tell. I tried to put my head down and loved my ministry, my leaders and students. Do well to minister at home and God can expand the reach outside of it. When we ask for the stage it usually means your not ready for it. We usually try to reach for the higher platform but it’s God who usually pulls us up to it.

The question is…
If you never were asked to speak anywhere besides the ministry you are in right now, would you be discouraged? Why? If it doesn’t happen, would you keep doing what you are doing?

My guess is probably so.

Minister well at home and leave your influence and exposure to God and your character and personal responsibility to you. Just be faithful to where you are at. And see what happens.

Thank you for loving and serving students the way you do.

@justinknowles3

Need some help figuring out how to talk to students? Specifically middle schoolers? Check out this resource in the DYM store!

7 Oct 2021

Mariners JHM Weekend in Review: Volume 9

By |2021-10-05T01:13:08-07:00October 7th, 2021|josh griffin, junior high, junior high ministry, Mariners Youth Ministry, Teaching, Teaching/Programming, Youth Ministry Ideas, Youth Ministry Resources, Youth Pastor Life|5 Comments

Weekend Teaching Series: Fact or Fiction (series kickoff, week 3 of 5, Josh speaking)

Sermon Synopsis: This week I went after the FACT that friends are a BIG deal. Also, I got to assign the topics to everyone, so I definitely may have given “Is the Bible true?” to Tammy last week and next week’s “Is Hell real?” to Mandy. Hey, I was tired from a long summer! BUT, friends are super important and a topic we cover regularly for sure. This week we talked through the power of friends, the caliber of your friends and the quantity of friends needed to be successful in junior high.Kids always respond to this talk because it always seems to be a felt need!

Service Length: 65 minutes

  • Key Scripture: Proverbs 18:24

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This week we played a member-only mega hit game, the Fiesta Olympics. It was SO fun – in my review of the product I left some feedback to improve how we ran it this weekend, but it was STILL super super fun. A big departure from our normal screen games (which our kids love) it was more contestant on a game show type experience. SO great,

Student Involvement: We had a student helping lead/host the game this week, which was super fun. As always a robust team working the tech booth (this is a huge highlight in our ministry right now) and had a TON of cleanup this week. The game was more than a little messy … and amazing!

Favorite Moment: The Fiesta Olympics were SO fun! Burritos flying everywhere. SO SO good.

Up next: Fact or Fiction (week 4 of 6, Matt Mullins speaking)

5 Oct 2021

Mariners JHM Weekend in Review: Volume 8

By |2021-10-05T01:04:33-07:00October 5th, 2021|josh griffin, junior high, junior high ministry, Mariners Youth Ministry, Teaching, Teaching/Programming, Youth Ministry Ideas, Youth Ministry Resources, Youth Pastor Life|9 Comments

Weekend Teaching Series: Fact or Fiction (series kickoff, week 2 of 5, Tammy speaking)

Sermon Synopsis: This week Tammy went after the topic of if the Bible can be trusted or not. As Christians we center our lives and worldview around this book – so how do we know it’s true and where did it all come from? Those are some big questions that our junior highers will ask (honestly most of them aren’t right now) but want to build and apologetic-based view of the Scriptures as a foundation for the questions and doubts that will arise in the future.

Service Length: 65 minutes

  • Key Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This week we played two DYM games – one was a huge hit – the Marvelous Marvel Emoji Hunt is an easy winner and really had some clever questions. I was a fan … and all of our students love Marvel movies for sure! And the other game was fine (I should have taken it to the next level) called Whatchu Know About Watermelons? game that worked but didn’t have the same pop of some other games we’ve played. If I had given it more thought, I would have had some free watermelon for everyone, or given a giant watermelon as a prize for the winner. THAT would have been hilarious. Next time!

Student Involvement: This week we continued to see students run the tech booth, lights, sound and even had a couple students greeting. Also, turning the room between services is presenting an opportunity to have other students serve getting their hands dirty as well. Man, junior highers sure can leave a mess behind!

Favorite Moment: I was off this weekend … so that was my highlight. Honestly, being able to trust someone else with the stage is so refreshing in and of itself. It isn’t easy being gone, but knowing a solid communicator is there and the heart of youth group is fully present makes me confident I can be away and get some time for myself, too!

Up next: Fact or Fiction (week 3 of 6, Josh speaking)

14 Sep 2021

Mariners JHM Weekend in Review: Volume 7

By |2021-09-14T09:22:34-07:00September 14th, 2021|josh griffin, junior high, junior high ministry, Mariners Youth Ministry, Teaching, Teaching/Programming, Youth Ministry Ideas, Youth Ministry Resources, Youth Pastor Life|7 Comments

Weekend Teaching Series: Fact or Fiction (series kickoff, week 1 of 5)

Sermon Synopsis: This week was our summer camp reunion service, so it was packed and it was fun. We played the full summer camp video and had an absolute blast swapping stories and checking out the cast of the kid that broke his arm. Doh! We also had baptisms for the first time in 2 years, so the message this week was on baptism, why we do it and why it is important. We haven’t had any type of baptism class in a while, so I just decided to bring to the weekend to start our new series. It was incredible – 40 students got baptized this weekend. NUTS! Felt like literally years worth of baptisms in one evening … my heart is full!

Service Length: 64 minutes + baptisms

  • Key Scripture: 2 Corinthians 2:17

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We had some FUN this week – it was our week after summer camp so pushed all in with SEQUELS weekend! We played the super popular Ancient Artifacts Volume 3, which is now become a hilarious way for leaders and students to connect over long lost technology questions, and after a round of Impossible Shots for the new students visiting for the first time, played another great game that ends a trilogy. Copycats 3 is a hilarious game where students have to try to best reenact the silly cat .gif on the screen in front of them – the crowd votes for the best one. The game isn’t QUITE as good as the originals, but still did super well with our junior highers and would highly recommend!

Student Involvement: This week we had a full compliment of student greeters, the student band and kids moderating the online chat and running streaming. They’re doing an amazing job!

Favorite Moment: This week we had our highest attendance post-covid (or maybe it’s mid-covid, who knows at this point). GREAT seeing students come back, the momentum from summer camp and summer, we’re off and running again. YEAH!

Up next: Fact or Fiction (week 2 of 6, Tammy speaking)

8 Sep 2021

Mariners JHM Weekend in Review: Volume 6

By |2021-09-06T23:52:50-07:00September 8th, 2021|josh griffin, junior high, junior high ministry, Mariners Youth Ministry, Teaching, Teaching/Programming, Youth Ministry Ideas, Youth Ministry Resources, Youth Pastor Life|2 Comments

You can download the weekend program
here to see if how we do it is helpful for you or
inspires you when you create something for your students!

Weekend Teaching Series: What I Wish I Knew in Junior High (series finale, week 6 of 6)

Sermon Synopsis: This week was the conclusion of our big summer series and the week before Summer Camp. It was a great weekend, lots of momentum and excitement for the week ahead of camp. Spooner taught on her junior high experience, capping off a great series that may become and annual event. She talked about the core of who we are on the inside – using the analogy of the earth’s crust, the core, etc. She had a ton of stories about her life in junior high, and it was a solid finale for our summer series!

  • Service Length: 62 minutes
  • Key Scripture: Philippians 4:5-9

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: Say What You See was a fun game we played this week, kinda of a puzzle game that kids seemed to really like. We played it “king of the hill” style so one contestant gets a chance to answer the screen first, if they get it wrong or don’t know, the audience gets a shot. Very fun, kids loved it. Our second game we played Name That Burger, which is a super simple game where it shows a burger on the screen and you have to identify where it came. Sounds simple … but it was pretty hard. See my review on the product page for more info on how I would improve the game if you want to play it in your youth ministry, too.

Student Involvement: This week we had a full tech team of junior high students and they ran Sidekick.TV for both the Pick Me [to pick random a student who checked in for the service] and Wheel of Destiny [to select their prize]. They also ran the live stream service completely with students on camera, lights, sound and the switcher. SO proud of them!

Favorite Moment: This week was our new Huntington Beach youth pastor got to share on stage for the first time. Spooner has been working with our JHM team this summer to get the “Mariners Youth Ministry DNA” before heading to HB to lead their youth ministry. This will be the pattern moving forward as new congregations (some churches called them campuses) and Spooner CRUSHED this summer and set the bar super high for future youth ministry leaders at our new congregations!

Up next: Fact or Fiction (series kickoff, Josh speaking)

7 Sep 2021

Mariners JHM Weekend in Review: Volume 5

By |2021-09-06T19:12:05-07:00September 7th, 2021|josh griffin, junior high, junior high ministry, Mariners Youth Ministry, Teaching, Teaching/Programming, Youth Ministry Ideas, Youth Ministry Resources, Youth Pastor Life|0 Comments


Weekend Teaching Series: What I Wish I Knew in Junior High (week 5 of 6)

Sermon Synopsis: This weekend Mandy spoke about her junior high years and focused in on identity. She talked about all of the things she valued and didn’t value, and how she also felt sometimes that way about herself. She had a TON of ways to engage students, had some funny pictures of her as a junior high student (always a win). She works hard to create  lots of touch points and self-deprecating humor in her message, and could become a regular on the list of people who speak. So fun!

  • Service Length: 62 minutes
  • Key Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:17

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This week we played a SUPER game called Olym-Pics – where you are shown a picture and have to determine if the sport was/is really in the Olympics. They were just plausible enough to really fool a bunch of students and this was the hit game of the weekend. Perfect for the Olympic season and serious fun/chatter had by all. We also played a few quick rounds of 4 Corners Olympics Trivia which was good as well, got kids moving and in the Olympic spirit.

Student Involvement: This week we had 3 student greeters! Yeah, progress!! As always we also had a full tech team of junior high students and they ran Sidekick.TV for both the Pick Me [to pick random a student who checked in for the service] and Wheel of Destiny [to select their prize].

Favorite Moment: I’m a sucker for the Matt McGill sports instructional videos – they’re 3-4m of awkward fun – people think they were made recently and given this amazing late 90s vibe … but they’re actually FROM the late 90s and preserved perfectly. Stupid fun, and I’m here for it.

Up next: What I Wish I Knew in JH (series finale, Spooner speaking)

2 Sep 2021

Mariners JHM Weekend in Review: Volume 4

By |2021-09-01T00:21:15-07:00September 2nd, 2021|josh griffin, junior high, junior high ministry, Mariners Youth Ministry, Teaching, Teaching/Programming, Youth Ministry Ideas, Youth Ministry Resources, Youth Pastor Life|1 Comment

Weekend Teaching Series: What I Wish I Knew in Junior High (week 4 of 5)

Sermon Synopsis: This weekend we continued the What I Wish I Knew with our worship leader Bella Johnson talking about storms from her junior high years and the pressures on a young woman when she was growing up. It was a great message from her story that invited all students to realize that Jesus is with them in their boat and cares for them as the navigate the waters of their junior high years.

  • Service Length: 61 minutes
  • Key Scripture:

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This week we played a couple really fun games First up was Summer Games trivia getting ready for the Summer Olympics and also played the inspiring Matt McGill Sports Instructional Video each week (the 3 pack is just $1 and hilarious, cheesy, nuts) into our crowd favorite … Head, Shoulders, Knees, Cup. It’s SUCH a simple game and yet so perfect. We’ll play it again at Fall Kickoff for sure!

Student Involvement: This week we had a full tech team of junior high students and they ran Sidekick.TV for both the Pick Me [to pick random a student who checked in for the service] and Wheel of Destiny [to select their prize]. I’m proud of our tech students, they’re doing a GREAT job and even started their own Instagram, too!

Favorite Moment: This weekend the church janitor revealed his next creation – a Summer Camp promo animated video! He previously made the amazing Llama Countdown video (now available on DYM as well) and it made me SO proud. He’s SO talented! I’m hoping his stuff blows up on DYM and he can support himself someday with just his amazing creativity. I loved it! Easily my favorite moment of the week.

Up next: What I Wish I Knew in JH (week 5, Mandy speaking)

31 Aug 2021

Mariners JHM Weekend in Review: Volume 3

By |2021-08-31T23:16:35-07:00August 31st, 2021|josh griffin, junior high, junior high ministry, Mariners Youth Ministry, Teaching, Teaching/Programming, Youth Ministry Ideas, Youth Ministry Resources, Youth Pastor Life|1 Comment

 

Weekend Teaching Series: What I Wish I Knew in Junior High (week 3 of 5)

Sermon Synopsis: This weekend I had my favorite guest speaker come teach at our 5 services … DYM co-founder and our youth pastor at Mariners, Doug Fields! He taught a simple statement, “What I Wish I Knew in Junior High – serving is better than sitting” and taught students about serving. He shared some great pictures from his junior high years and how serving has shaped his life. It was a great talk that ended in an application where students could fill out a response card to serve in 4-5 areas of the church. So good!

  • Service Length: 64 minutes

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This week we used the sequel to the popular Where’s the Ball game and this was soccer edition and it crushed. Some questions are stronger than others but they’re all great and some are so unlikely they elicit a laugh. This week in the first game slot we played Where’s the Ball: Volume 2. Again a total blast – the ingenuity of youth workers never ceases to amaze me! We also tried something new in the 2nd game slot – a new DYM discussion-focused resource called Space Thoughts. I think the element got better through the course of the weekend services, but the idea wasn’t really a game with a prize, but for students to get to know each other better in circles and friendly debate some fun questions.

Student Involvement: This week we had a full tech team of junior high students and they ran Sidekick.TV (which is included in DYM’s gold membership) for both the Pick Me [to pick random a student who checked in for the service] and Wheel of Destiny [to select their prize] – we also had a couple students greeting at a few of the services, something we’re really trying to build up in the fall.

Favorite Moment: This weekend the church janitor revealed his next creation – a Summer Camp promo animated video! He previously made the amazing Llama Countdown video (now available on DYM as well) and it made me SO proud. He’s SO talented! I’m hoping his stuff blows up on DYM and he can support himself someday with just his amazing creativity. I loved it! Easily my favorite moment of the week.

Up next: What I Wish I Knew in JH (week 4, Bella speaking)

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