Saturday, March 28, 2009

Expanding the Net

Territorial youth ministry can stand in the way of reaching the youth of a community.  There is no way one church, one youth group, one youth pastor can effectively reach an entire community of youth.  There exists the danger of a youth pastor or youth ministry becoming territorial.  I know that in our own youth ministry we want to reach as many students as we possibly can but we also realize that there are other churches and other youth groups who will reach students we can't and won't reach.

When I first started out in youth ministry I was blessed to serve in a town with several youth pastors who had a spirit of unity, we worked together to reach the youth of that community.  While our churches were different and we had our differences we agreed to work together on our priority which was to see students come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior.  That network of youth pastors and the churches we were part of grew to the point that we were able to open a youth center to be used to reach students.

Here on the Outer Banks I'm able to participate in another network of youth ministers.  A few years ago we formed the Outer Banks Youth Ministry Network.  This network is made up of youth ministers from Methodist, Presbyterian, Non-Denominational and Southern Baptist churches.  It has been a blessing to be able to sit down the second Tuesday of each month at a table of youth pastors and pray together, hear a devotional and share ideas.  Our goal is to network together to reach students. 

A few things I have learned in setting up a network:
1.  Know your purpose as a network.
2.  Be clear about why the network exists.
3.  Decide when and where to meet. (don't let it look anything like a business or committee meeting)
4.  Clarify how the network will work together.
5.  Have a person on point.
6.  Invite community churches to participate.
If there is a youth ministry network in your community I would encourage you to get involved. If your community doesn't have a network I would encourage you to gather some youth leaders together and form your own network.  It is a great to be able to get together with other like-minded youth leaders and pick each other's brains and encourage one another.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Potential Ministry Tool


Google is coming out with Google Voice. It should be up and running for the general public in several weeks. This is a free phone service that is web based and you get one phone number and can connect all your phones to that one number and decide which phone you want to take the call on. No more will you have to have three or 4 phone numbers. You can also pick up your voice mail messages in text form.

I'm trying to think of ways to use this as a ministry tool:
> The first thought I have is getting a number and using it as a youth group info line. Students and parents can call and get updates since google voice has voice mail. Let students record the message.
>Update parents from camp or mission trips using the number.
>Running late returning from an event? Place a message on the google voice number and parents can check to see what time you will be returning to the church.
>The simple convenience of having one number so no matter what phone I'm near I can catch the call.

Parents could have one number that their teen could call and reach them whether they are at home, work,  or in the car.

How do you think you could use Google Voice in youth ministry?

5 Days Left to Register



Monday, March 23, 2009

Text Me

"Back in my day. . ."  This is how you know you are old when you use lines like that.  OR "kids today . . ." .    

Cell phones, didn't have them when I was in youth group.  When I went to youth group or a youth activity I had a choice to make, join in on the fun, make connections with other students or go sit by myself in a corner.  Today students can make the choice to join in on the fun, make connections with other students or they can go off in the corner and talk or text on their cell phone.  Cell phones create a barrier for students to connect with other live and in person students at youth group.    We had a new girl visit youth group last summer.  She came with her phone on her ear and it stayed on her ear almost the entire time.  Students approached her to welcome her only to get the cold shoulder.  She didn't want to be there and was using her phone as the barrier. 

This problem would be the equivalent of you inviting me to your house for dinner and an evening of hanging out together and I show up with my lap top and I open the lap top and ignore you the entire time.  Pretty much a rude act.

Most youth groups have some sort of cell phone policy.  We don't allow them on trips.  If a student needs to call home we have enough adults available with phones.  I've even heard the "I won't call anyone but am using it as my alarm clock" excuse.  Guess what?  They make a cool little item called a digital alarm clock.  We want to remove the barrier.  Did once have a student borrow an adult leader's phone to call her mom.  She talked to mom for over a half hour.  That seemed a bit weird to me.  The adult leader hit redial and the girl's boyfriend answered the phone.  Remove the barrier.  At our weekly youth group gathering students can bring their phone but they are not supposed to use it to make calls or text unless it is to call or text parents or to call and invite a friend to youth group.  

We understand that cell phones are a part of life in our world today.  I don't leave home without mine.   We also understand that cell phones can get in the way of the bigger picture.  Students should be forming relationships and connections with other students while at youth group, that is what fellowship is about.  Relationships are what keep students coming back to youth group, not the cool and hip youth pastor, not the bag of chips and junk food.  We were meant to live life together.  Cell phones have their place but can be a barrier to fellowship.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sexting


Would George Michael produce a new song, "I want your sext" if he were still crankin out the tunes today?

Teenager Reina Hardesty sent over 14,258 texts in one month.  Her dad's cell phone bill was 440 pages long.  That is one text every two waking minutes.  A ninth grader, Emilee Cox, sent an average of 30,000 texts per month!  I think there may be some who are obsessed with a constant communication with their friends.  There is a danger because technology can become addictive. Just asked the folks who spend their entire waking moments on the internet.  People are addicted to facebook, twitter, I use both but I'm not constantly "online" using these services.

I witnessed a boy arguing with his dad in the cell phone store.  He was trying to convince his dad to buy him the much more expensive phone because it had the handy slide out keyboard for texting.  I even heard, "this is what all my friends have."  Dad gave in because he wanted Jr. to be like his friends.

I know a girl who was sleeping with her phone on vibrate under her pillow and would text during the night.  Her friend might text her at 2am and she would wake up and reply to the text.  Then the next day wonder why she was so tired.  

I have watched students sitting in a van full of students in their own world texting friends rather than conversing with the friends they were in the van with.

I'll admit that I would text more if I had a cell phone plan that included unlimited texting.  But I don't think I would be addicted to texting.  

Now we have the new texting danger.  Students are "Sexting" and sending inappropriate messages and even nude pictures of themselves.  One out of five (22%) teenage girls has posted or electronically sent nude or semi-nude photos of themselves.  One third of teenage boys say that they have had racy images sent to them.  Nearly a quarter of teenagers in the TRU study said that their electronic "sexting" makes them more aggressive in their real sexual behaviors.

I love the rent-a-car commercial where the mom admits to reading her daughter's texts on her phone and then quickly changes the subject.  

Parents, when was the last time you sat down with your teen and explained what you expect from them when it comes to using their cell phone and why?

Youth leaders, what are you doing to help parents learn more about the potential damage and danger that exists in the seemingly harmless world of cell phones?

The stats and some of the examples in this post come from Group magazine's March/April issue on page 20.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Interesting Article

Monday, March 16, 2009

"Fix my Kid!"

A question from a comment on a previous post:

"Another thing Andy is parents who feel that is it my job to make their kid better. 
THis is a little different issue than what you posted about. However, they seem to be someone what related issues. 
I love these students with all my heart but I cannot change anyone! ALl I can do is present God's Word and encourage them to do what is right. I can be there for them however, I have already found that when I spend a lot of one on one time with someone I am cheating the whole... 
So I guess my question to you is where is the balance? How do I handle parents who think I have failed and that its because I haven’t spent enough time with them that their child is so messed up. How do I balance trying to help students one on one and yet not cheat other students? I cannot spend one on one time with all of them. We don’t have a large ministry however it’s too big to spend time with everyone. Where is the balance?"

1.   It is humanly impossible to make someone better. 
We can’t force someone to improve.
  We can’t force a person to not sin.  We are individuals and we are individually responsible to God for our lives.  “You can lead a horse to water . . .”

 

2.   No student is messed up because a youth pastor didn’t spend enough time with him or her.
I found out years later that the parents of a young man blamed me for not reaching out to their teenage son while I was their youth pastor.
  Apparently they didn’t realize the at least six visits to their son at their house was “reaching out”.  I quit going to the house when I realized his parents weren’t going to anything about him not coming to youth group, even though they said they were “very” concerned. 

 

The questions should be:
“How much time as parent do you spend with your teen discipling and teaching him about God and His Word?”
Could the child be messed up from their upbringing and his parent’s parenting skills or lack of parental involvement?
Could the child be messed up because he has never trusted Jesus as his Savior so his heart is unrepentant and bent towards sin?

 

The Bible is very clear that it is the parent’s responsibility to teach their child about God.  Perhaps a youth pastor would have more time to invest into the lives of student’s who have lost and un-churched parents if he wasn’t expected to spoon feed another believer’s child?

 

Best thing a youth pastor could do is point parents in the direction of resources to use with their children.

 

3.   How do I balance?
This is why a youth ministry team is vital, not adults standing around as chaperones but adults involved in the lives of students.
  Jesus had 12 disciples in whom he invested; even in that 12 there were only a few that he really spent alone time with.  Why would a youth pastor be expected to do more than Christ by parents, the church, or an unrealistic lead pastor?

 

If a youth group has more than a handful of students the need exists to have other adults involved in the lives of students.  (Even if there are just a few students there should be another adult always present for legal reasons)  Adults who know the student by name, have met their parents, communicate with the student during the week outside of youth group, show up to their ball games, pray with them and for them.  Let’s be honest, there are some youth ministers that feel threatened by this team idea because they risk the student’s loving their adult leader more than the youth pastor.

 

Balance is found by building a team of youth ministers.  This takes time and it also takes church members who see the value of team ministry.  The lead pastor’s support in building a team is also super helpful to the youth pastor.

 

Simple answer:  You can’t balance a bunch of students, if you try, many will slip through the cracks and you need parental involvement in being the discipler to their teen.

 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tait now a Newsboy

I'm a little slow in things since we don't have a Christian music station here on the OBX.  My lovely spouse informed of this news.  She heard it on XM while at work.

Friday, March 13, 2009

High Maintenance Believers

We all know high maintenance people.  If you don't know any just sit down and watch an episode of Bridezilla or one of those reality shows about 15 year old girls' parents taking out massive loans to throw their little princess the perfect sweet 16 party.   I don't know about you but I tend to avoid high maintenance people.  

 

Sadly there also exists high maintenance believers.  Christians who appear to be a tad bit spoiled or expect the church to revolve around them.   Basically it boils down to a maturity issue.   I was thinking about this some the past couple of days and here are some of the "HMB" indicators that stood out to me:

 

>Complains that no one in the church cares for them yet they are not involved in a small group or Sunday School class.

>Gripes that no one from the church helped them in their time of need yet when asked when they last did this for someone they come up blank or "I'm sure I have".

>Complain that the pastor's sermons just aren't deep enough for them but they never crack open the Bible themselves for a little self feeding or even attempt to apply what is taught.

>First to cry out when their favorite program is cut or changed.

>Quick to point out ministry needs but never lift a finger to do ministry.

>Take their toys and go home.  Bail out and stay home and pout if something happens or is said that they don't like.

>Think that church is for them.

>Love committees but wouldn't dare join a team, that would require time and sacrifice.

>Quick for the hand out but slow to put their hand out to help

>Want to be served but don't want to serve.

>Favorite line when asked to serve is, "I'm just so busy."

>More concerned about the external than the internal or the eternal.

>Would be offended by this list.

 

Most if not all churches have this type of believer in the congregation.  So what is a church to do?  I have come to the conclusion that we don't have the time to hold a "mature" believer's hand and walk them through life.  Sadly, often in churches, more time is spent on high maintenance believers then time spent trying to make disciples.  I think all a church can do is lay it out, "Here is what we have, and here is what we do."  We can't hold your hand and scratch your every itch at some point you, the believer, must get a grip and take responsibility for your own growth.  Let's say I have a serious Reese’s' Peanut Butter Egg addiction (and I think I do) and the church offers a group for those of us that are RPBE addicts it is my responsibility to get involved in the group.  It is not the staff's job to come to my house, dress me, load me in the car and take me to the group.  It's not the group's responsibility to beg me and plead with me, a member of their church, to get involved.    

Here is the buffet!  It's your choice to dine or not.

For those with the gift of mercy - I'm not making reference to new believers




Thursday, March 12, 2009

3 "p's" in planning

"It's so easy to get into a rut and not really plan ahead in youth ministry, to sort of fly by the seat of your pants. I live in a beach culture, and we like just going with the flow. The danger is that this can have a negative effect on your youth ministry. Students want to know what direction they're heading as a group. Parents want to be informed on what's taking place now, but also what's being planned for the future of the youth ministry. The youth ministry team needs to know what to plan for, otherwise it's like taking a trip without packing-or worse yet packing for Maui and going to Alaska."  Read More

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Extreme Home Makeover


If you are a doubter. . .
They really do build the house in a week.  Sunday they demolished the old home.  By yesterday afternoon the concrete was poured.  We arrived at noon today and the entire house was framed and enclosed, windows in place.  While we were there they sprayed the insulation in the walls, sheetrocked the bedrooms and hall and closet and bathrooms, taped and mud and finished.  By the time we left they had just about nailed the plywood on the roof and they were starting to apply the roofing.  My guess is that by the end of the night the roof is finished and they are painting the interior.

It was a fun opportunity even though we didn't get to do as much as I would like to have done because they were a bit behind schedule and basically they needed real pros working on the home.  But we did what we could to help.   

To answer the question I know I will be asked, no I didn't see Ty.  I did see Michael and Ed.  I may be in a shot if it makes the cut.  Misha was there for the march of the volunteers and demolition on Sunday so she will more than likely be on the show.  This episode is the final one for the season and will air in 6 weeks.  Enjoy the pics!

Plywood for the roof

T on the left, me on the right
Fans of the show understand

Me behind the house

Me and my lovely wife on our date

You may recognize this stud.  I'm talking about me . . .  not the lumber.

My homeboy T up on the roof

Our trash pile

T and me enjoying VIP food in the VIP tent

The house, there must have been 150 people working in and on the house

Misha my wife lookin good in a hard hat

Misha moving trash

Me posing with the house

T contemplating his upcoming adventure on the shuttle ride to the house
In case there is any question the badge says it all. 

Sunday, March 8, 2009

New Shoes!

I have had the privilege to write some articles over the past several months for Simply Youth Ministry.  This past week I received my first check for writing.  Does that make me a professional writer?  Good thing they have editors, :)  as some of you know because you have the nerve to give me grammar lessons in the comments which basically make no sense to me.  I'm one class away from a master's degree if grammar hasn't sunk in yet it ain't gonna.

I have been needing some new shoes for quite some time.  The NSS shoes my lovely wife gave me two years ago at Christmas were starting to show their wear.  They smelled a bit weird also.
So I took a portion of my writing money and went to OBBC and purchased a sweet pair of Vans.
My friend Whitney, who works there, helped me pick them out.  I need help looking as cool as I do, I'm not real fashion smart.  The best part of the deal is the fact that the shoes were 40% off!

So here are my sweet new Vans:

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Happy Birthday!


Today our twins, "Fred and Wilma", baby A and B, are two months old!
They have doubled in weight.  They love to eat.  Don't cry much at all.  Sleep really good.  
I am looking forward to them sleeping through the night.
"Fred" is starting to have more awake  and alert time,  "Wilma", since she is a girl, has been a bit ahead of him on this.
Both are beginning to hold their heads up really well.  "Fred" looks great in blue and "Wilma" looks great in pink or purple.
They love to snuggle with us and we love to snuggle with them.  

Happy Birthday babies!

God has blessed our family through the miracle of adoption.  To find out more about our adoption story check out this post.  If you have questions about adoption or are considering adoption please feel free to contact me.

quick grounding story (Bump)

I was wondering this morning what I blogged about a year ago today.  Here is a post from a year ago today.  

I just thought about this a bit ago.  

I was standing in the church talking with a dad who had grounded his boy from youth group the week before.  I asked him, "Why did you ground "Johnny" from church?"  He looked puzzled.  He said, "I didn't I grounded him from youth group."  I asked, "Isn't youth group church?"
You could almost see the light bulb come one over his head.  He had an "Aha!" moment.  Then dad told me he wouldn't do that again.

I have actually had parents say to me: 
"I'm grounding her from youth group because it's fun."
"Youth group is just a game time."

Which leads me to wonder . . .
Parents out there around world. . . 
When was the last time you attended your son or daughter's youth group to see what it is all about?  Slide in the back of the room and see what is happening.  Of course if you want to make your kid melt into their seat barge in real loud and sit in the front row. :)

Youth leaders out there around the world. . . 
Is your youth group a "game time"?   Have you invited your parents to participate, even just pay a visit?

Just to add to the post from a year ago.  Not long ago I had my first set of parents come check out youth group a couple of weeks when they were new to our church. They asked me if it was ok.  OK?  You know it is and I wish more parents did this with their church's youth group gatherings, not just at our church but at churches everywhere.  Perhaps some would discover that youth group is church and that they themselves could get involved in helping out.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sabbatical and Creativity

I believe that a part of a sabbatical should be setting aside some time to work on improving creativity,  taking time to tap into parts of the brain that have maybe become dormant due to getting stuck in a rut and doing the same thing over and over.  Today I set aside some time to get the creative juices flowing.  I chose a project that would help me to work through obstacles, build, make connections, placement.  I decided that it would be best to not do this project alone so I brought my 4 year old son along with me.  We not only worked on our creativity but also incorporated team work into the project.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the fruit of our creativity project:

I've seen it all

This is a great video.  Much of what is in this video I have seen as well.  I remember sitting on the porch of the church at midnight with a boy waiting for his mom to pick him up.  After waiting almost an hour I asked, "so does your mom know what time to pick you up?"  
His response was, "No.  Should I call her?" Once again evidence that the synapsis are not connecting in the brain of a 15 year old boy.  I ended up driving him home and found out his mom worked the night shift at the nursing home.   I would love to know how many hours myself and others on the YM team have spent in our lifetime waiting for the last kid to get picked up.

Then there was the time a kid who told his parents that youth group ended an hour later than it really did so he could hang longer with his friends who were all gone within ten minutes of youth group finishing.  

I have also seen more wedgies than I can count but won't recount those stories.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Parent Discipleship Resources

Heart Connex devotionals are designed for very busy families. The head of the household can print the studies and make preparations in only about five minutes. In most cases families can complete the studies in 20 minutes.  
Heart Connex is a free service.  Simply click on the picture and go to the site to find out more and sign up and get started.  A great way to get together with your teen twice a week for a little devotion time together.  Spending this time together is vital for parents to disciple their teen.


Learn to live, laugh, love, and play together as a family. When you learn the 10 essential principles for creating a happy, close-knit household, you’ll discover a family that shines with love for God and one another!

This book is priced at $11.69 at Homeword.com  Simply click on the picture of the book for more info on this resource.




Possible stroke of genius?  

I'm currently working through this short book.  I know that students are a lot like me in that they get discouraged at times because it doesn't seem that they are successful at spending time everyday in quiet time with God.  We don't have to feel defeated.  Doug Fields has some great encouragement and ideas on refueling spiritually.  

As I was reading yesterday I thought that this would be a great book for parents and their teens to work through together.  Each chapter has some reflection and action activities as well as a discussion guide.  It is easy to read and some good humor sprinkled throughout.  I would encourage parents to go to the web site by clicking on the book and ordering a book for themselves and one for their teen (s) and work through this together.  
If I had grasped what is taught in this book as a teenager I probably would not have struggled so much as an adult in setting apart time to get alone with God.

Student Life Camp, July 13-17

Register Your Teen Today
NHC Youth will be going to Student Life at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. this summer.
Camp deposit is due by March 29.  For more information about Student Life visit their web site.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Refuel Book Report #3

Chapter 1

I've been steadily reading through the book, I just haven't had time to blog in the past few days.  
To get a better picture of what Refuel is all about check out this post.

Chapter 3 is all about Stopping.  

"It doesn't have to be a long stop . . . just stop for five minutes.  Or three.  Or one.  Or thirty seconds.  That's right . . . seconds!"

Refueling doesn't require me to spend 3 hours each morning in the word.  I can stop and take pauses throughout my day and refuel my soul.  Don't misunderstand me, if a person can spend a long period in the morning or night or during the day in the Bible and prayer then that's fantastic.  There are times I spend an extended period with God, but those are few and far between, usually it is a half hour max.  I would be spending more time with God if I created stopping points throughout my day to pray or read some scripture.  We get so busy we don't take time to stop.

"Just as you don't refuel your car while it is in motion, you can't refill your soul while you are in a flurry of activity."

Doug shared some obstacles to stopping:
Lie:  There's just not enough time to do everything
Lie:  I'm just in a busy season right now  (I highlighted this one because this would be the lie I use often to cover for not stopping)
Lie:  But this is really, really important  (when you say yes to everything.  we need to learn to say "no")
Lie:  Success and busyness are synonyms

Favorite quote from chapter 3:
"Stop saying yes to everything.
Stop occupying your life with trivial things.
Stop filling your life with too many good things and living a busy life with no margins and no space for God and what really matters.
     Stop so you can refuel your soul and have the spiritual depth to battle the superficiality of busyness."


New Site is up and Running

My new web site which now hosts my blog posts is up and fully functional. You can check it out at andylawrenson.com . There is also a mon...