Monday, November 22, 2010

Contagious Youth Weekend

We had a busy weekend with the youth group this past weekend.  It is important in youth ministry to not do activities simply to fill a calendar with events.  Some churches equate busyness with accomplishing ministry leaving some youth leaders to be basically "cruise directors".  We strive to do activities that have a purpose behind them.  So that's what we did this weekend.  Here is the snapshot:

Saturday morning:  Clean Up  Cost= a box of Dunkin Munchkins
Our youth space at the church building has yet to be completed.  Saturday we blocked off the morning to clean out the room and help prepare for the beginning of construction.  The students showed up in force (around 30) to clean.  What I thought would take all morning was done in an hour and a half!  I shared with the students the picture, from my mind, of what the youth room will be like.  We then talked about the purpose of the room.  It is a space that will be "awesome" for students to bring their friend to.  The students are stoked about the future youth room.

Saturday Evening: Fast Food Progressive Dinner  Cost = $115 budget, $155 from participants.
Everyone received a paper lunch bag with four pieces of paper.  Each piece of paper had a different course of the meal, drink, burger, side, dessert.  Upon arriving at each restaurant they reached in their bag and ordered what they pulled out, so the meal was all mixed up.  (we carried bottled water along so they didn't have to choke down food)  The evening was lots of fun.  We also put a symbol on the bottom of each bag.  Their symbol signified which vehicle they were riding in so the group was mixed up.  The purpose was fellowship, building relationships.  We charged the $5 to participate to help cover the expense of the food.  It averaged about $9 per person.  We didn't limit what they could order.  Side note:  Wendy's was our most expensive stop.  Wendy's and McD's gave me free food.

Sunday Evening:  Operation Turkey in a Box  Cost = $160.00
Church partners donated ten turkeys.  We purchased, from the youth budget, the items a family would need to cook Thanksgiving dinner.  We fed ten families for about $160.00.  The students gathered together with their POD leaders and loaded the boxes and then went out into the community and delivered the meals.  The purpose was mission, sharing the love of Christ with those in need in a practical way.  We also helped a couple families from our church so we also did a little ministry.  This event tied in perfectly with our series at Contagious and Sunday mornings series about loving others.  Some students shared with me their experience delivering and it sounds like it was a good way to remind them to be thankful for what they have.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Prepared for What you Expect? Part 3

The church wants to have a youth involved in their church. They want to see students pouring in the doors. They once had a "part time" youth pastor who saw the group grow to around twenty something students. The church staff committee didn't like the way the youth pastor did his job and that he was only putting in 20 hours a week so they fired him. Now the youth group has shrunk to 6 students and one has to be there because he is the pastor's son. If he had a choice he would go elsewhere and if his dad wouldn't catch heat from the church he would let his son go elsewhere.

Currently the only thing they have to offer is youth Sunday School at 8:45 in the morning. The Sunday School teacher shows up reads from a quarterly without any obvious preparation and then after the class is over the teacher leaves and doesn't attend the worship service (the teacher doesn't like the preacher). Two of the youth attend the Sunday School class, one is there because he has to be. The church keeps telling the students they are going to hire a youth pastor yet have budgeted no funds for a youth pastor or for youth ministry.

Problems? You bet!
  • You shouldn't pay "part time" and demand full time work
  • You shouldn't fire a youth pastor who is reaching students
  • The students feel betrayed by their own church
  • The pastor sees the reality but is trapped because he too doesn't want to lose his job
  • Don't scratch your head trying to figure out why students won't get out of bed early on a Sunday morning for a boring unprepared lesson
  • Sunday School teacher = a church leader who has problems with the pastor and doesn't support her church
  • A youth pastor isn't the magic cure for this church's youth ministry
Is there a fix? Can the church prepare for what they expect? Absolutely!
  • Be realistic when hiring a youth pastor
  • Don't expect full time work at part time pay
  • Involve the students in the youth pastor search process (that might help towards healing the feeling of betrayal)
  • Let the pastor lead in the hiring process and supervision of the youth pastor
  • Make sure the pastor has realistic expectations
  • Let the SS teacher, who is not really interested in being there, off the hook and don't worry about not having a SS class until you find a replacement. Perhaps let the 2 students attending serve in a children's class during the process
  • Help the church to see that bringing in a youth pastor does not equal immediate results (it takes about 5 year or longer to begin to see results)
  • Budget. If you are going to hire a youth pastor then budget for a youth pastor and budget enough that he can live on the income. Keep in mind the cost of living in the area
  • Budget. If you are expecting to have a youth ministry then expect it to cost money. Somewhere between $700 to $1500 per student per year. So if you expect 50 students plan to budget around $35,000 or more
  • Remember that a youth pastor is not a cruise ship activity director. There is no sense in filling a calendar full of activities that have no purpose behind them
  • If the church isn't financially able to hire a youth pastor then pray together that God will raise up someone in the church with a passion to see students radically changed by the gospel who can volunteer to lead
Finally (personal pet peev) make sure to clarify that youth ministry is not the same as children's ministry. I met with a pastor and a volunteer once who were wanting to get something going for their youth and she kept referring to them as the "chillren". I told her that teens don't want the same label as 3rd graders.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Last Sunday at Contagious

The purpose of the night was to empower students to meet their peers in their hurt and to help others rewrite their stories based on how God sees them.

Hang Time was a lot of fun. A few tables of board games going on and some ping pong. Students also gathered in little groups and just hung out talking and visiting with each other. Leaders were all in the mix with the students as well. Hang Time is my favorite time at Contagious.

We started the worship time off with an excellent ice breaker and the PODs had to work together to accomplish 25 tasks on a list. They had a 20 minute time frame to complete the tasks, all of which were fun and goofy. The winning POD received a $50 gift card to Slice Pizza so they can go out to dinner together as a POD.

We showed a clip from the movie, To Save a Life. The whole point of the clip was to help students to see that how we can help someone rewrite their story.

The students followed that video clip up with an interactive experience. They wrote a brief one sentence logline on a piece of paper and taped it on the front of their shirt. On their back they taped a blank paper. The students then mingled together and read each other's loglines. They each chose someone and rewrote their new logline, as God sees them, on their back piece of paper.

Following the experience they gathered in their PODs and read their new logline then discussed them together. We ended the evening with me sharing two stories. One story of Margaret who was an adult woman who had struggled over 40 years with an event that happened to her in school where she was the object of ridicule by her teacher and classmates. Jesus rewrote her story with his love. We looked at a short guy named Zacheus and how God took a guy who's logline was "hated by others" and changed it to "a son of Abraham" the highes compliment a jewish man could receive at the time.

This coming Sunday we take a break from our current series, sort of. We continue to learn about loving others as our students will gather with their PODs and deliver complete (uncooked)Thanksgiving meals to families who will be blessed by the meal. A hands on experience in sharing the love of Christ in a practical way.

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