Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Easy Thankgiving Outreach

Several years ago we did an outreach event and we named it “Operation Turkey in a Box”.  This event is a very easy event to plan and carry out with your youth group or small group.  We did this event for a few years but until this year we have taken a break from this outreach event.

How do we do it?  Here ya go!

Schedule
Plan on a date to carry out the event.  We have done this the Sunday night before Thanksgiving.  Sunday nights is our normal time for our Student Church so instead of staying in the 4 walls of the youth room that night we head out into the community.
Promote this date with both the parents and students.

Contacts

I started this information gathering about 2 months before the event.
Ask your church members to share with you any families they know of that could benefit from having the complete list of groceries needed to provide a  Thanksgiving meal.  With the size of our group we gathered the contact info of ten families.

Groceries
We supply each family with:
Turkey (at least a 10 pound bird)
Stuffing Mix
2 cans of corn
2 cans of green beans
1 can of cranberry sauce
Package of dinner rolls
5 pounds of potatoes 

You could divide up the list and have students bring in the supplies or, like us, use a sign up sheet.  We use Sign Up Genius.  This is a web based and is free.  We then share the sign up with our church and people sign up for the groceries and bring them with them on Sunday morning to the church.   Sign Up Genius is great because it will send them a reminder email two days before the event.
We have found that our church is excited to help with the groceries and our sign up sheet fills up within a matter of days.

Packing

We use this event as a leadership lab.  We invite students who want to help pack the boxes and prep for the event to arrive early, about and hour, and organize the packing of the boxes.  We do two boxes (paper boxes provided by folks in our church) per family.  One contains the turkey and the other contains all the other ingredients.  We let the students do this without us giving them any direction, this allows them to work together as a team.

Delivery

We divide up our students with our adult volunteers into teams and divide up the delivery list.  We have enough volunteers on our team for them to drive a handful of students to make deliveries.  Students take the boxes to the door of the house and deliver the boxes letting the family know that we hope they have a great Thanksgiving and the students ask the family member if they have a specific prayer need.  One of the students then says a prayer with the family. 

Card

We created a Thanksgiving card and printed it on yardstick.  The students then sign the card.  The card has a verse about being thankful and also some minimal contact information for our church.  We put this card in the box with the canned goods or hand it to the family member when they open the door.

Fun
Then the teams all converge at McDonald’s after the deliveries and we eat together and have some time of fellowship and fun.  I use this time to individually ask students about their experience on this event.

If you have any questions about planning this event please contact me.



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Bottleneck of Student Ministry

I have been blessed to be part of a church with a heart to serve.  Our church culture is geared towards ministry.  Over eighty percent of our church members serve on a ministry team.  This didn’t happen overnight but has become part of who we are and all new members know that to serve is an expectation of our members.



Recently I took some vacation time.  I mostly hung out around home but did take a few day road trip with my family during the holiday weekend.  

A few awesome events happened while I was on vacation:

Sunday night Student Church continued.  Serving with me in Student Ministry is an awesome team of volunteers who have committed to be there every Sunday night investing into the lives of our middle and high school students.  When I take vacation our Student Church keeps truckin.  When I’m sick (only twice in 15 years thank God) Student Church keeps truckin.  Last year when I had my sabbatical Student Church did not miss a beat.



On a Saturday night during my vacation our ladies who work with our middle school girls pulled the girls together for a fun night of watching Disney Princess movies and eating pizza and junk food.  A time to hang out, have fun and build relationships.  This was totally planned and carried out by our volunteers.  I had zero to do with it other than putting it on the church calendar when they asked me to. 

The next Saturday night two of our volunteers took some high school boys on a road trip to watch a hockey game.  These guys all hung out together in a van, around the dinner table and in the stands all evening.  Building relationships is key to ministry.  You can serve and when you minister to someone it means a lot to them but when you serve someone whom you have built a relationship with it takes ministry to a whole new level.  This was totally planned and carried out by a couple of volunteers,  I had zero to do with it other than put it on the calendar.  If fact it started out to be a camping trip but due to a holiday weekend and camp sites were full the two leaders improvised and adapted.


The point is this:  Sometimes we, the paid staff youth minister, are the bottleneck that keeps ministry from happening within our student ministries. 

We need to:

1.  Build a team of volunteers.  Invest in them. Train them.  Trust them.

2.  Give our volunteers the lattitude to plan events with the students.
3.  Turn them loose to be ministers and move away from the “chaperone” mentality.
4.  Let go of our ego.  We should be focusing on equipping the saints for ministry.
5.  Pat them on the back and encourage them when they plan and pull off a ministry event without your help or involvement.
6.  Don’t cancel your youth gathering because you are on vacation or sick.  Let your leaders handle it.
7.  Understand that this can free us up to do what we do best and are passionate about.



Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Security and Safety


It surprises me that in this day and age and understanding of how messed up our nation really is that there exist churches with absolutely zero security measures to protect the children and youth of their congregation.  Some churches wait until a tragedy occurs or an accident before taking necessary steps.  What security measures does your church have in place?



This article breaks my heart.  A little girl gets bored and roams from her classroom into the church lobby where she is abducted.  I’ve heard, especially from smaller, rural, churches, “we know everyone and so we don’t need security measures”.  This girl was abducted by her uncle!  No matter the size of your church if you have children in your congregation you should do all within your power to keep them safe.



When I came to Nags Head Church 15 years ago there were no security measures in place.
We took some small steps and our system has grown over the years.



Without sharing too many details here are our security measures for Sunday morning worship at our church:

1.  We have a policy that states that minors are not allowed to roam the building without an adult.
2.  We have a secure check in system. 
3.  Children get a name tag label with a security code on it, parents get a label with matching security code.
4.  Only children’s ministry volunteers and parent/guardians allowed into our children’s halls.
5.  All children’s volunteers are given a background check.
6.  Only those with background checks are allowed into the nurseries or classrooms.
7.  All hall doors and classroom/nursery doors are locked at the beginning of the service.
8.  Only security can open those doors during the service.  Our teachers don’t even open the door if someone knocks.
9.  Parents turn in the security label and pager when picking their child up at the end of the worship service.

10.  We have a security team member in both of our worship services and also out in the lobby.
11.  Nursery toys are age appropriate (I was on vacation and attended a small church with a nursery that was staffed by a volunteer and a little girl, my 1 year old son was hit in the head with a metal miniature John Deere tractor)
12.  We only accept new toys for the nurseries and kids areas.  If older toys are given that are worn out or not age appropriate we file those away in the dumpster.

Youth Group security measures:  (we meet on Sunday night and are the only ones in the building)
1.  Adults supervise the arrival of students.
2.  Exterior doors are locked down after we begin.
3.  No students are in any part of the buildings interior or outside without adult supervision.(except restrooms)
4.  All adults who volunteer with students have been background checked.
5.  Adults supervise students getting picked up by parents after youth group.

If you have questions about implementing security measures in your church please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. 


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The "No-Show" Generation Part 2

Read Part 1 HERE

In my previous post I wrote about the changing climate of youth ministry. Ten years ago it wasn’t difficult to get students to show up to an exciting youth ministry event, but now it isn’t so simple. Changes in students’ schedules, American culture, and family dynamics have made it more challenging to get students involved in our ministries.

I’m not interested in sacrificing truth or changing the priorities of my ministry, but I do want to make changes and adjustments to help me better connect with this generation of students. Here are five of my suggestions to reach a group of students that is busier and possibly less interested in the church than ever before.  Read more HERE . . .


Check out more helpful articles at LeaderTreks.org

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The "No-Show" Generation


From the rise of the electric guitar and Instagram to the death of the youth choir and Chubby Bunny, I have seen a lot of changes in youth ministry these past twenty-four years. Long gone are the hours I used to spend cutting out clip art and using glue to paste exciting event flyers together! I don’t tend to worry too much about these changes, but as I look at youth ministry today, I do find that one change has me completely rattled.

Read the rest at LeaderTreks

Monday, October 17, 2016

The "Rescuer"

Student ministry is all about investments.  We are making "payments" into students lives.  We would love to see return on our investment immediately but sometimes in student ministry that investment doesn't have a return until years down the road.

In our setting, our student ministry team members are not chaperones.  We don't sit along the back wall during Student Church, we sit in and among students so they can see us model worship.  During our Hang Time on Sunday evenings the adults don't all gather in one part of the room and have coffee.  During Hang Time we hang out with our students.  Last night I was eating spaghetti and meatballs (yes, we eat well on Sundays) at a table with high school guys.  As I looked around our space I saw a leader sitting with a couple of guys watching the football game on the big screen, some sitting on the sofas having conversations, some serving food and talking with the students in line, some playing foosball and ping pong.  It's all about investment.


Going to sporting events, band concerts, dance recitals all of that is investment.  When a student looks out into the crowd and sees their youth leader sitting there they remember that investment.  It's huge.  It's all about investment.

Each week in our Connect Groups there are two adult leaders in each group.  These leaders discuss God's word and applying the word with the same group of students each week.  They spend time praying with these students in the group and then continue to pray for them throughout the week.  It's all about the investment.

Last night one of our senior guys pointed to one of the men on our team and said, "______ came to my rescue this weekend."  I was a bit puzzled because we, as a youth group, didn't meet on Friday or Saturday for any sort of event.  So I asked this young man, "What do you mean he came to your rescue?"  Saturday night was homecoming dance.  This young man's dad was at work and wasn't at home to help him tie his necktie.  He called this team member and asked him if he could help him tie his necktie.  This leader got up from whatever he was doing that Saturday afternoon and drove to this young man's house and tied his necktie for him.  That was an investment!  This is the glue that will help this young man stay connected to his faith and church next year when he launches out into the real world next year, the investments his youth leaders have made into his life.

Is your team making investments?  Are your team members more than chaperones?  Are they looking for opportunities throughout the week to invest in the lives of the students they minister to?