Thursday, December 15, 2011
There will be 5 flat screens and a projection screen, pool table, ping pong, foosball, table games, a couple of Wii units, sofas and comfy chairs, bistro tables and a coffee bar, thumping sound system, espresso machine, cabinets stocked with "goodies", and a section for our worship time.
All of those things to outfit the room will be cool (and hopefully will all be in the room one day) but all those things are just things. The room is just a room. So why do all of this?
The Vision of the room
Our purpose as a youth ministry goes right in line with our church's purpose. Nags Head Church's youth ministry exists to reach students to discover life in Christ.
The room will be cool enough for our students to invite their friends to come hang out and hear the good news of Jesus Christ. That's the "reaching" part of our purpose. Our prayer is we see many students come to know Jesus Christ in this room.
The room will be a tool to help students as they discover life in Christ.
It will be comfortable, a cozy place to hang out with other students and adult leaders. That's the fellowship part of our room. A place where relationship are built.
The room will be a place where students learn to use the gifts God has given them to serve the church, the body of Christ. They will have opportunity to serve each-other each week.
The room will be a place where there is an environment for our students (and leaders) to worship God through music, art, Bible study. Part of this life discovery in Christ is learning to worship and understanding the value of worship.
The room will be a place where students will gather each week in small groups with a caring adult and they will discuss the lesson for the week, spend time in prayer, and be encouraged to spend time in the Bible on their own during the week. This will be the discipleship tool that our room will help provide.
The room will be a place that acts as a launching pad for mission. Students will be challenged and equipped to share their story with their friends. A place where we can gather and plan events to reach their world and the world beyond our county lines.
This new youth room becomes a "tool" for us and our students to reach and disciple students. The things that outfit the room become tools to reach students.
I will be posting pictures soon!!
Thursday, October 20, 2011
This Saturday night we are showing a movie, having a little "movie night" with the students. The movie is a great film about a girl who goes through a terrible tragedy and turns that tragedy into an opportunity to share the love of Jesus Christ and the power of God with others. We took the students to see it when it was released in the theaters.
Last night after middle school youth group a young lady walked up and asked, "Why are you showing a movie we have already seen?". Her attitude was one of "why should I watch this when I've seen it already?". Great question.
At that point I was reminded of two things:
1. Consumerism ("it's about me") in the church starts young. We (the adults) do everything for the kids from the time they are little toddlers all the way up through high school rather than teaching them to "do" for themselves. We minister to them constantly and consistently rather than train them to minister to each other. The result is we produce the adults that we have all encountered (and have been that person at times) in the church that thinks church is for them and about them, "Cater to my needs. Feed me. Deal with my problems". The person who doesn't reach out and minister to others in any way shape or form or roll up their sleeves and get involved in ministry themselves.
2. I failed. I failed to communicate the "vision" of the event. Every time we do an event that has a purpose (which we should have a purpose every time) and that purpose needs to be communicated.
The purpose of showing this great movie that we have seen already is not for our students entertainment (they will enjoy it) but for out students to have an opportunity to bring a friend to see a movie about a girl with a strong Christian testimony. I guess, in a way it is, for our students. It's for our students to give them an opportunity to open up conversation with their friends about Jesus Christ.
So my lessons learned (or reminded of) at middle school youth last night:
1. Train students to serve. The servant's attitude will impact the rest of their life and the church.
2. Communicate vision over and over and over and over.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
The whole basis for this change is to better accomplish our purpose of reaching students to discover life in Christ. We want to see students come to know Christ and stay engaged and connected in the youth ministry all the way till they graduate their senior year. We want to teach students at their level and stage in life. We want to maximize the space in our youth room.
There is a huge maturity difference in an 11 year old 6th grader and a 17 year old senior, I see the differences every Sunday night.
I first met with individual team members and shot the idea to them about switching up and making the change. I then gave them a few weeks to consider and think about the change. We then gathered and together and listed the pros and the cons. The pros far outweighed the cons. The whole team was on board with making the change. The elders agreed with our decision.
Will there be some hitches during the change? Possibly. Will some parents and students not fully grasp the reason as to why we are changing? More than likely. Will the change fit everyone's schedule? Probably not. There is no perfect night where everyone can be at youth group. Will some have to make decisions about their schedules and activities? Yes. Ultimately we have to keep our purpose in mind as well as the big picture.
Discipleship is a process. Over the past ten years we have seen many students come to know Christ. Over the years we have seen many juniors and seniors do the "fizzle" and fade away.
We want them to stay engaged because those last couple of years before heading off to college are very important in nailing down their faith and what they believe.
Often we can't go deep on topics and have to stay on the surface because of the wide age range. Now we can give the older students a little more "meat" to chew on. Middle School students will be able to bring friends without any intimidation of being around much older students.
High School students will have their youth ministry that they can be excited about bringing friends to share a cup of coffee or mocha and discuss the lesson of the evening together. Middle School students are always good about bringing friends and we will use that strength in the discipleship process.
This great new beginning allows for and provides:
>Age appropriate and specific teaching and study
>Less intimidation for younger kids
>No “little kids” to discourage HS students from inviting their friends
>Focus on the strengths of the two individual groups
>For MS students the HSM will be something to look forward to. (example – kidmo kids look forward to youth group)
>Older youth with leadership potential will have opportunity to serve and minister to the younger youth on Thursday evening.
This is an excellent time to change:
>New youth room in a couple months so two groups allows us to fill the room twice with students
>New school year
>Great group of middle school kids
>Big crop of high school freshmen to build on
Excellent opportunity for the Parent Pod to birth a new small group! There are plenty of parents here on the OBX who need to be connected first of all to God through Christ but also connected with other parents of youth.
At our Discovering Nags Head Church we are told that if we don't like change than we will have a hard time at NHC because we change.
I'm excited to see how God is going to use this new adventure in our youth ministry!
Monday, July 25, 2011
11 baptized at Contagious Youth on the Beach last night!!
Last night would be categorized as one of the highlights of my time in youth ministry and my time at Nags Head Church. We had a fantastic turn out for Contagious on the beach. Ramon, one of youth team volunteers, shared and had the pods discuss sharing the gospel and sharing our faith.
Students focused in on picking a friend to share their faith with and to pray for.
We had a student put her faith in Jesus Christ as her Savior at camp so we arranged to baptize her at the beach during youth group last night. Along the way we picked up 10 other kids who had put their faith in Christ but had yet to be baptized. It was a great celebration. I was impressed with the adults from our church who had no youth in the group who turned out at the beach to watch the baptism. It's great to be part of a supportive church. It was also cool to have the dads of some of our youth baptizing their own kids, having baptized my son I know that it is a wonderful moment.
We are in a period of "momentum" at Contagious Youth. My prayer is this momentum carries into the school year and that our students will love their friends at school with the love of Christ and live a life that is different.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
We just returned this past Saturday from our first ever Camp Contagious. Our goal was to see student's lives changed. We did! So I think it's safe to say Camp Contagious was successful.
We all loaded in vans and drove 11 hours to Pigeon Forge, Tn. There in PF we stayed in a 4 story log cabin that slept 40. It was quite the experiment of meshing all the different personalities into one house. There was no real "drama" at camp. We all seemed to get along very well. The team of volunteers that went along worked together fantastically. Home cooked camp food is way better than institutional food at a campus or camp somewhere.
We had a worship time in the morning and evening. The students were also divided into small groups and had discussion times twice during the day. We carved out a half hour each morning for students to get alone with God and have their quiet time reading the Bible and praying.
Friday night's worship time the students were given opportunity to share what Christ had done in their life at camp or a lesson they learned or something new about God that they didn't know before. It was a great time of worship with some music scattered in between. Some students shared that they are going to be more bold in their witness, other's shared that they had become slack in their daily spiritual habits. One young lady said, "For the past two years I have been an athiest. That ended 5 minutes ago." Needless to say there was much applause and hugs all around.
Even though camp prep and the week of camp is tiring it is always a blessing to see students' lives impacted. Now they are back in the real world. We pray their commitments grow stronger and do not fizzle.
For fun we swam in a huge pool with a great slide, went to Dollywood, and went whitewater rafting.
One student who has been attending camp with us for several years said this was the best camp he had been to. One of our leaders said this was the best youth trip she had ever been on.
I have to agree with both!
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
The week before it is good to:
>Have all medical releases and waivers turned in so you don't have to deal with that at the same time as checking in kids, their meds, and loading luggage.
>Call and check on your van reservations. This give peace of mind and also makes sure there are no glitches. You can't upgrade from a 12 passenger van, only downgrade in size which would be a major hiccup.
>Download and print off directions for all your drivers. It's smart to have directions and phone numbers for your drivers in case you get separated. Also print off any directions you may need to activity destinations, etc. Load addresses in the GPS if you are using one.
>Call and confirm your reservations and final details at your camp. For us that is calling the rental company handling our giant log cabin.
>Communicate at least twice with parents via e-mail, FB, etc. final details, departure times, etc. Remind that you leave on time with our without. Include contact numbers.
>Call and confirm all special outings, events/activities. Make sure to have any special details campers may need in advance for the outing. Example: It is illegal for a rafting company in Tn. to take people rafting if the customers are not wearing either strap on sandals or closed toed shows. Flip flops and Crocs aren't allowed.
>Make sure to have a church credit card for fuel charges or any surprises that may arise on the trip.
>Sleep. Make sure you get extra sleep the week before and so does your camp team. I average about half the normal sleep I get when I'm at camp. The older I get the more sleep I need before and after camp.
>Pack some small tubs for each van containing trash bags (comes in handy for motion sickness), first aid kit, flashlight, drammamine, etc.
>Pray. Recruit the partners in your church who you know are prayer giants to please pray starting "today" for camp and the campers, safety and the staff.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Camp prep is coming along:
Whitewater rafting - Check!
Cabin reserved - Check!
Dollywood Tickets - ordering this week!
Campers' Handbooks - Check!
Camp Small Group studies - Check!
Menu - Check!
Vans reserved - Check!
Church van serviced - Next week!
Med Kit/First Aid Kit - Check!
Board and Table Games - Check!
Pre Camp Meeting with Parents and campers - Check!
Shedule - Check!
Morning Worship - Check!
Evening Worship - working on the talks now
Camp Staff notebooks - next week!
Trailer reserved - Check!
Dog sitter - Check!
Contagious is meeting on the beach this summer (as is our habit) and we are still in the shallow to deep series. Coming along nicely. This Sunday we talk about God and our resources.
New youth room - waiting on a couple more estimates before we can get our permit. Hoping to knock it out fast!
YM Team meeting - coming up Sunday evening. Looking towards the new school year.
Tubbs Hot Dogs - rolling along. Hoping business increases as does traffic flow this coming week.
Sleep debt - 16 hours. Hoping to catch up on that on my new space age foam mattress. Comfy.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
Students wrote their questions on 3x5 cards and the panel answered their questions.
Of course upon arrival I kicked into evaluation mode. I was watching for a few different things. Mostly looking for students' interaction with each other and the adult volunteers interaction with the kids.
I noticed several different things throughout the evening that I took mental note of. The youth group had a great bunch of students there and all were high schoolers with only a couple of middle school students.
With so many students in attendance I observed several things but will point out three:
1. The students are bringing their friends (obvious by the amount of visitors)
2. Momentum. The excitement of the obvious growth is generating a momentum which is building each week. (obvious by the amount of chairs that had to be added)
3. Small space. The space isn't big enough for the amount of students. The feeling was the room was "full" when half the kids arrived. When they other half poured in at the last minute the room felt jam packed. This too adds to the momentum.
When people see a growing youth group they always want to know "what's the magical formula?"
The obvious key factor with this group was the kids bringing their friends.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
So last Sunday night at Contagious I used an App I downloaded last week. (are you supposed to capitalize App?) With only an hour to have worship in music, play a game, have our POD discussion times and have our lesson I have about 20 minutes to speak. I often go over that. This week I used my new App and it worked great and I shut down with a few minutes to spare. With pClock you can set up all sorts of timers with changing colors or alarms to let you know you are nearing the end of your time. I set up a 20 minutes clock that changes colors at ten minutes and 5 minutes. I simply set it on the music stand next to my notes and it worked great.
Check it out. It could be helpful to you. You may also wish your pastor would use it. ;)
You can get pClock for your iPhone or iPad at the apps store.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
This summer MHS Redskins have the opportunity to attend an FCA football camp. As you know times are tight and so are budgets. I would love to see these players and coaches get to attend the camp. I'm committing, personally, to sponsor a player. I'm also planning on sponsoring a player as a youth group. The cost to sponsor a player or coach is $155.00.
If you would consider sponsoring a player/coach for this fantastic football camp (where the gospel will be shared) please contact me and let me know, email@example.com . Thanks!
Monday, May 16, 2011
Last night was the second installment in our series, Shallow to Deep. We started off with the Contagious band teaching us a new song, You Beautiful. They did a great job! We are praying for some students with the ability to play the bass or electric guitar to become part of our Contagious band and replace the old guys.
POD time was filled with good discussion about spending time with people you love which shifted gears to spending time with God because you love him. Students were also given the opportunity in their POD time to actually read Psalm 119 and spend some time having their own personal quiet time with God. The whole point was to help students see that this is an easy habit to establish in their lives that won't consume large portions of their time. You can spend time with God for 1 minute, 10 minutes, 60 minutes or for hours on end. The important thing to remember is to spend time with God on a daily basis in his Word and in prayer.
In our lesson I talked about how I spend time with my wife because I love her. When we first met I couldn't spend enough time with her. Why? Because I love her.
A few months ago we did a survey and 75% of our students let us know in their response that they did not spend any time in the Bible at all during the week. The biggest excuse was, "I'm too busy" or "I don't have time." We debunked their reasons as excuses and challenged them, if they truly love God, to spend some time everyday with God taking a look at their schedule and making sure Hang Time wiht God is a priority.
This coming Sunday we have Contagious at Rec Park during the end of our church picnic. Should be fun getting students together at the park for some fun and Bible study. We are taking a look at the benefits of spending time with God.
Establishing spiritual disciplines, HABITS, moves us from shallow faith to deep faith.
Did you spend time with God today?
Friday, May 6, 2011
Youth Ministry often has many disappointments and most of those disappointments come in the form of watching a student throw their life away or watching families break apart at the scenes. Being a minister comes in #10 in most stressful jobs and I know why.
I’ve watched kids with incredible leadership potential toss it all out the window for something that think is going to be “fun”. I’ve watched students who were once on fire in their relationship with the Lord have their fire quenched by a bad relationship that brings them down.
I’ve seen parents try to be “the best friend” when what their child needed was the parent to be the parent and to call the shots and stand their ground.
I’ve seen youth leaders choose to follow something or someone else rather than follow God and leave students disillusioned after years of investing into them.
Some say it’s the “pay level” that causes the stress in ministry. While I’ll admit I’m not getting rich I am having my needs met and that’s all that matters, it’s not the pay that brings me stress, it’s the people. Anytime you invest in someone’s life you risk the pain of disappointment.
The Fruit of Your Labor
I learned long ago that often it takes time to see the fruit of your labor. I have seen kids blow it in high school then graduate and their life seems to be spinning out of control and that within a matter of a few years they have gotten life together and are living sold out for their Lord and Savior.
Often it is a wait and see situation.
Our goal in youth ministry at NHC is that when a student graduates from high school they don’t graduate from their faith. We hope to instill in them the habits to live a successful Christian life.
A couple of weeks ago I got a FB message from a student who has been away to college.
He went off to school and got plugged into a church. He didn’t go a whole school year waiting to get back home to “his church”. In the message he asked me what he could do this summer in ministry at NHC on Sunday mornings. He gets it! He is looking for opportunities to serve and minister. Not only that he let me know that when he returns to school in the fall he is going to take the members class at his new church and get involved in serving there each week as well.
There is the reward! A combination of all a student is taught about the Lord at home, in church, in his own personal quiet time, all that discipleship working together is a beautiful thing. This is what makes paragraph #1 worth it.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Apparently this is teacher appreciation day or week or something like that. I was never a good student. I attended school for the social aspects and not for the education. BUT I would like to take some time to thank my teachers and I'm going all the way back to Kindergarten. Some will be omitted because I can see their face but can't remember their names. Some will be omitted because they didn't understand me as a child ;).
So here we go:
Mrs. Rakes - Thanks for helping me through my second year of kindergarten, I don't know why my first year of kindergarten teachers couldn't teach me my ABC's and how to color in the lines but you pulled it off. Success!
Mrs. Raines - Thanks for a great 1st grade. All I remember is the smell of the blue memiograph (sp?) paper.
Ms. Alford - My first year at LCA. Thanks for making me feel welcome and introducing me to friends that I still have today.
Miss Pearson - Thanks for a great 3rd grade year. I think I connected with you because my Mee Ma lived in Front Royal.
Mr. Welling - One of the best. I remember getting a swat in front of the whole class for not having my mom sign my homework assignment notebook. I didn't forget again after that. See spankings work!!
Miss Claiborne - You showed up the second half of fourth grade after Christmas break and we had now clue where our teach Mr. Welling went. You stepped in and took things over and I'm sure we didn't like you at first because we loved Mr. Welling.
Mrs. McKinney - just the school year before you were Miss Claiborne so thank you for bearing with us as we learned your new last name. I think a few boys in the class were mad that you got married.
Mrs. Matheny - You were stinkin awesome. You made us Peruvian food one day. Anyone who feeds me becomes my instant friend.
Mrs. Owen - You too changed your name on us during the school year but that was OK because you married our pastor so it was a smooth transition. You were fun and I will always remember you as a teacher who actually laughed and smiled in class.
Herb - You taught me how to put on a tie. A skill I use about once every two years now. You also taught me much about the Bible.
Mrs. _____________ - I'm leaving you out on purpose. You were the meanest teacher I have ever known in my existence and on this playground we call earth. I don't know why you were mean but our other two 6th grade teachers understood us and loved us.
Miss Elwell - You were my study hall teacher. You were the first teacher in my school career to send me to the principal. Not bad for a 7th grader considering my cutting up in school.
Mr. Tschetter - You taught me some math. You made me nervous because you were bigger than me. Of course at that age most everyone, including the girls were bigger than me.
Droopy - I can't remember your real name. But I enjoyed your history class.
Coach ? - I can't remember your name but you scared us into doing your English assignments. The only teacher I've seen make students do push ups in class for forgetting homework, including girls. You also tossed around the word, "whimps", which caused great respect from me. I still owe you a week in the weight room during lunch because I didn't do that book report but I was too scared of you to show up at the weight room.
Miss ? - I remember you had blonde hair and were fresh out of LU as an English teacher. You had me memorize The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe. I thank you for this. It is great to quote around the campfire and scare children with.
Mrs. Roberts - We had a love hate relationship. I loved to get you off track telling stories and you hated my shirt to be untucked and not wearing a belt and my hair touching my collar.
Mr. Klamm - You had some great stories for health and PE. Thanks for your patience in my area of throwing free throw shots. Thanks for getting to school early in the winter for indoor baseball practice. It was my advantage having two older brothers who also had you as a teacher/coach. They would tell me your stories and I would ask a leading question so you could tell us the story. I remember one where you and a friend strung up your own telephone line across the street....
Mr. Heinlein - Thanks for making economics interesting. Great class, all guys, fun times. Thanks for letting me live with you guys the last few weeks of school before heading back to Maui. Because of you I passed Mrs. Roberts final exam. You made me study and you checked the TV for warmth to make sure I had been studying and not watching TV.
Miss Newell - You played cassette tapes in class of Keith Green. I was diggin it! Thanks for being a cool English teacher. Sorry I wasn't a good student but I enjoyed your class.
Miss Reiderer - Thanks for teaching me science. If I remember correctly you had ukulele skills. Impressive. The view from your classroom of the pacific ocean was awesome which probably factored into me not doing so well in your class.
Mr. Tobita - Thanks for teaching us PE and Bible. I certainly enjoyed flag football and I'd have to say your outdoor classroom on Maui had the best views of any classroom I have ever been in. I loved Grandma Tobita!
Mr. Diment - Thanks for teaching Bible. Pilgrim's Progress, see I still remember.
Miss Carlson - for teaching me to type on antique WWII typewriters. I have mad typing skills because of you.
Debbie Clowser (sp?) - Happy times in your class our senior year at MCA. I think I'm getting your name right. I remember having to wash your car inside and out because we threw in lilikoi as we flew past you on the Hana Hwy. I also remember not going on the sr. trip because the last place I wanted to be was in NY or DC during January. Maui no ka oi.
I'm sure I'm leaving someone out but that's how it is with the memory when you get old. Speaking of which I'm now 44. How old does that make you feel?
Is there a point to all of this? Yes. When an adult invests into the life of a kid or teenager they are making an impact that can last a lifetime and possibly even eternity. Thanks teachers!
PS. I received good grades in college and grad school. I do much better doing school online. :)
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
I hate it when plan doesn’t come together. How about you?
This month the plan was to launch a series on moving from shallow faith to deep faith. The whole idea is that I’m responsible for my spiritual growth. We want to give students the tools necessary to grow in their faith, the spiritual habits they need to form in their lives today.
Great series. Great plan. I failed!
I failed to look at the calendar.
Here is what I am in the middle of now at the very beginning and it didn’t hit me until Sunday night:
Sunday, May 1 – The end of our students’ spring break. So we had the break to compete with and some incredibly awesome beach weather.
Sunday, May 8 – Mother’s Day. We always give our team “off” that day to celebrate Mother’s Day with their family. We can’t change Mother’s Day now can we?
Sunday, May 15 – We have youth group
Sunday, May 22 – Church Picnic! We also take off from youth group for the church picnic. In the past the picnic has been on Memorial Day weekend. I assumed (you know what happens) that this year it would be the same. We may punt and do youth group at the park at the end of the picnic.
Sunday, May 29 – Memorial Day weekend. You know that will take a bite out of attendance.
It’s hard to do a series with a bunch of breaks or obstacles in the middle of it. The moral of the story is to look at the calendar and not just the dates but the activities and events going on and around those dates. Been doing this a long time and should have known better. Sometimes driving in cruise control is dangerous isn’t it?
So we will make the best of it. I’m planning on (if this plan comes together):
- Utilizing Facebook to send students their daily scripture readings for each week whether we meet or not.
- Hopefully doing youth group at the picnic. Could be lots of fun.
- Doing something special on Memorial Day weekend as an added “draw”.
- Updating Parents as usual in our weekly e-mail update with some added info from our lessons so perhaps they can work some of the verses into their daily Bible reading with their kids.
What do you do when a plan doesn’t come together?
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
I love coffee! I've always been a bit particular about my drinking vessels. (vessels. is that the right word I'm looking for?)
I like iced tea in a glass, not plastic or paper cups. I think glass enhances the iced tea flavor by not polluting it with plastic, foam or paper contaminants.
I like my coffee in a mug. A big mug! Why? Cause I'm a man.
My friend Whitney brought me this mug. Whitney has a business named :the mud room. In :the mud room Whitney creates pottery masterpieces and she created this mug just for me complete with a personalized message on the bottom of the mug. I love the mug! I gave it a test run as soon as I got home from the office last night. It's big and holds a lot of coffee and keeps it warm for a long time.
What's even better is the mug was a gift from Whitney. Whitney made this mug for me to thank me for ministering to students. Here is the kicker! Whitney is not a mom of any of our students, nor does she attend our church. Whitney simply wanted to be a blessing to me with the skills God has given her.
When I drink coffee from my mug, on a daily basis, I will be reminded:
1. :the mud room is awesome
2. It is great to receive encouragement from others (and Biblical)
3. I need to constantly look for opportunities to thank and encourage those who give of their time in ministry.
Thanks :the mud room!
Monday, May 2, 2011
Students and leaders played some Polish out on the front lawn. Others were sitting and hanging out together and talking our on the sidewalk. The weather was incredible and we all agree that Contagious at the Beach can't come soon enough (June 5, we move Contagious to Bonnet St. access, mp 11)
We took a look at our new series we began last night, Shallow to Deep. We are encouraging students to make the habits that will help their faith and relationship with God to grow part of their daily lives.
Moving from the shallow to the deep doesn't happen from Bible knowledge, the growth comes from applying the knowledge. Our big idea last night was: You are responsible for your spiritual growth.
Students were challenged to take the 5/5 commitment for this series:
- Make a commitment to be hear each Sunday night.
- Bring your Bibles with you to Contagious.
- Read your Bible during the week at home.
- Pray daily
- Choose 5 friends you know who are not Christians and pray for them daily during the next 5 weeks, share your faith with them, invite them to Contagious.
In the PODs students and their leaders took a look at the 4 types of soil in Matthew 13. Soil #1 needs a relationship with Christ. Soils #2,#3, #4 could all benefit from the habits it takes to grow in your faith.
Students were given the following for daily reading this week:
Monday - Matthew 12:46-50
Tuesday - Matthew 13:1-23
Wednesday – Matthew 13:24-30
Thursday – Matthew 13:31-35
Friday – Matthew 13:36-43
Saturday - Matthew 13:44-58
This coming Sunday night there is no Contagious so students can treat their moms to some special time together for Mother's Day and so our volunteers can enjoy the special day with their families.
Sunday, May 15, we come back together and spend some time unpacking our response of being in a relationship with Jesus Christ. What do you do when you love someone?
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
This Sunday night we start a new series, Shallow to Deep, the habits you need to impact your life and the life of others.
A couple of months ago our youth group filled out a survey. I sort of had a hunch about where we are at as a youth group. While we have a few students who are striving to go deep in their faith we are mostly a shallow group when it comes to matters of our faith walk. Sixty five percent of students live in homes (keep in mind the majority of students are “church kids” from “church families”) where the Bible is not read together as a family. Seventy five percent of our students do not read the Bible on their own during the week. We have a small percentage have prayer together as a family.
We are experiencing spiritual anemia. The only time kids are feeding is at youth group or Sunday morning.
For the next several weeks we are going to look at the HABITS it takes for believers to establish in their life that will help them move from the shallows to the deep in their faith.
This Sunday night we have a conversation about this fact: “You are responsible for your spiritual growth.”
What we offer as a youth ministry:
Encouragement for parents to disciple their teens and links to some great resources.
Weekly worship with the church.
Opportunities for ministry and mission involvement.
Weekly youth worship that includes small group discussion and fellowship.
Events and activities with purpose.
So Sunday night we are saying, “Here is the buffet. It’s up to you whether or not you are going to eat. You have the tools and opportunities but the choice is yours.” More about Sunday night next Monday.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Preventative Maintenance Parenting
>Parents begin preparing their child for the teen years at an early age
>Parents engaging in discussion with their child about expectations
>Parents who clearly define expectations
>Parents who clearly define consequences
>Parents who work together with their child on a contract
>Parents who have a plan and their child knows the plan
>Parents who attend parenting seminars and small group studies on parenting
Example: At a young age the parent sets out the guidelines as to if and when their child will be allowed to date or have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Clearly communicating to their child what to expect when it comes to having an exclusive relationship with someone of the opposite sex. Discussing this plan with their child and making sure everyone is clear on what to expect. Little Johnny knows he's not allowed to initiate a dating, exclusive relationship, until he is ____ yrs. old. Which frees him up to enjoy his early teen years and removes the pressure from him. Everyone is on the same page.
Crisis Management Parenting
>Parents who don't plan or even think about their sweet little child becoming a teen
>Parents who don't communicate clear expectations with their child
>Parents who make up consequences on the fly and often in a moment of anger resulting in unrealistic discipline that they don't stick to
>Parents who have no plan, fly by the seat of their pants
>Parents who have children who have no clue what mom and dad expect from them in life.
>Parents who run to the youth pastor to "fix my kid" or "When is the next parenting seminar?"
>Parents who don't seize the opportunities to take parenting classes or participate in parenting small group Bible studies.
Example: Susan, who we used to call little Suzie (fictional character), is allowed to go out with John, who we used to call little Johnny (also a fictional character). "They are just going out to have some fun, nothing serious." Soon Susan is constantly texting with John, on FB with John, all her spare moments are spent with John. Susan's grades are dropping. Susan's best friends no longer are coming around the home because she has pushed them to the curb and replaced them with the "love of her life". What! I thought it was just for fun?!! Mom and Dad now panic, "What do we do?" After allowing this relationship to grow and build over 5 months their they tell their 13 year old daughter that she can no longer see her 16 year old boyfriend, this marks the beginning of the war at home. Now they are reaching out for help in dealing with their "rebellious" daughter.
Which type of parenting looks better to you? As a youth pastor I love to see and hear about parents who are doing preventative maintenance.
Disclaimer: Preventative Maintenance doesn't mean you will have a perfect child or be a perfect parent, but chances for open communication and understanding will be better
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
It has been a long time since I have seen a group of students who are passionate about their relationship with Jesus Christ. I have seen individuals with that passion spattered here and there but not a group movement in that direction. Over the next several months I would like to see us move in a direction to accomplish the 7 strategies below.
- More Bible digging during POD’s where students read the scripture from an actual Bible. This will help them to get the feel of having a Bible in hand and reading it.
- Challenging students to bring their Bibles to Contagious (except when at the beach)
- A run through the HABITS series.
- A 30-day challenge. Students will sign up for a 30-day challenge to read the Bible daily. We will read through Proverbs and they will journal about one verse per chapter that really means something to them and “why?” This will happen in an online forum on our group's Facebook page.
- Invest in student leaders. Good article here http://www.youthministry.com/articles/leadership/developing-student-leaders
- Provide materials for students to study the Bible on their own and memorize scripture.
- Teach them how to share their faith with friends.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Last week we went and watched Soul Surfer. NHC youth and parents were the large majority of the crowd at the viewing. I would suggest youth ministers and parents take their kids to see this film.
We followed up Soul Surfer last night with Heart of a Soul Surfer a video made by Bethany and her family and friends several years ago. I like this video because students get to hear straight from Bethany about how God is using her life. One thing that stands out to me is that before the shark attack Bethany was asking God to use her life. An amazing perspective from a 13 year old girl.
After the video the students went to their new PODs (now age divided. Seniors should be thrilled to have their own POD) . In the PODs they discussed Bethany's life and the scriptures in she used in the video. I ended the evening by telling students that a shark doesn't have to take your arm in order to be used by God. God has placed you where you are and around who you are around to have an impact on their lives.
This coming Sunday Contagious takes a break so students and the YM team can spend Easter Sunday with their families. We come back together the following week to spend a few weeks hitting hard the habits we need as believers in our lives to grow spiritually. We can provide the resources and the encouragement to the students but ultimately it is their passion and desire to grow in Christ. It is a choice they must make.
Monday, April 4, 2011
We continued our "Letters from the Mailbox" last night. "I have screwed up. How do I learn to forgive myself?" We took a look at the life of David in our POD time. We learned from Nathan's confrontation with King David. 2 Samuel 11,12 and Psalm 51 were our texts.
We were challenged to face our guilt and own up to what we have done wrong. The next step is to have a real gut check, many people say "sorry" very flippantly without meaning it and we have to get a real understand of our sin. Next we must make ammends with God through confession and with others who we may have also impacted in our sin. After making amends we must turn away from our sin (repent) and head the other direction. Finally since Jesus died on the cross for all our sins we must accept God's forgiveness and embrace his grace. Since God has forgiven us and views us as "spotless" we should rest in that fact and forgive ourselves without digging up our sins that were buried at the foot of the cross.
This past weekend I was able to attend the After Prom party our community hosts at the YMCA. It was fun to hang with the students for a couple of hours. As I get older I'm quickly realizing my days of late nights and all nighters at student events are over. I was tired all day yesterday, a sign of old age.
Today is Monday and I'm tired. I usually work on Mondays but I know that to do so today would be a big mistake. I need to re-energize spiritually, emotionally and physically. I hear stories of guys in ministry burning out because they don't take time to re-energize. I don't want to be "that guy". My day started off with some time in the Bible, breakfast with my kids and a Bill's Pastry glazed donut, a great start to my day.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Church hopping seems to be almost a part of the culture in our community among the adults. Let’s go where the latest and greatest thing is happening, where the band is rocking, where the “spirit” is “present”, where I “feel” the presence, where I can be more of a power broker (of course no one would admit to that one), where the pastor won’t offend me.
I think first their needs to be an understanding of the local church. The church (body of Christ) globally functions through the local church. This is what read in the New Testament in Acts and the letters from Paul. The body of Christ is made up of individual believers connected in a local church. (Acts 2:47)
Here are some of my thoughts:
>Believers who float from church to church as kids learn a habit that is hard to break as an adult
>Students are being invested into, discipled by adult leaders at multiple churches. This might sound good in theory but this means that if one student is getting invested in by several churches that there are students who are not being discipled at all because we get spread thin. We have roughly 182 that our local churches in our community are reaching.
>When we say it’s “about the kingdom” we forget that the kingdom is supposed to grow, not by sharing sheep but by producing new sheep, new followers of Christ. We have roughly 2,416 in our community who need to be reached.
>God places you in the body where he wants you. (1 Corinthians 12:18) If you are supposed to be the “eye” in that church’s youth group you will not be effective trying to the be the “nose” in our church’s youth group.
>The pool for student leaders becomes a very shallow pool. Students with leadership potential become spread too thin. They become mediocre in a few youth groups rather than excelling and leading with excellence in one.
>Discipleship isn’t just about Bible study and knowledge. Discipleship is learning to be like Christ. Jesus Christ was a servant. Students need to learn to roll up their sleeves and serve God the way he has shaped them in the body where he has placed them.
>Students don’t learn a healthy and proper view of spiritual leadership and interferes with accountability of the youth leader. Hebrews 13:17
I recall a letter I received a while back from a youth pastor. He was planning a big youth event and wanted to invite the other youth groups in the region to attend. He went on to explain how God’s hand was on their youth ministry because of their explosive growth that he could not explain. (Does that mean that God’s hand isn’t on ours?) I dismissed the invite because I knew of many students who were attending his church’s youth group gathering were from several other church youth groups. I wouldn’t call borrowing other churches’ students “growth”. (In cattle country that’s called poaching)
When we have events I tell our students to not invite other students who are part of another church. Am I trying to form a clique? Not at all. I’m attempting to teach students their role in reaching their friends who don’t have a relationship with Christ or are not plugged into a local church. There are plenty of students out there waiting for someone to reach out to them with the love of Christ.
I recently heard a youth leader express the opinion that it’s good for students to be involved in multiple youth groups because it keeps them busy and out of trouble. I think what keeps a student out of trouble is a vibrant, growing relationship with the Lord. When we take on the “spiritual cruise director” role of providing activities we fall way short in the area of making disciples.
So what do you do? When a student attends our youth group gathering and I know the students is a member of another church’s youth group I ask them, “Why are you here?” Rarely does this happen because we haven’t created a culture of pulling in students from other youth groups. If there is an issue at the other youth group I encourage them to get it fixed and I also inform the other church’s youth pastor that their student was at our youth group.
Why not teach students the importance of plugging into the church God has placed them in and growing in their faith, their worship, their ministry, and their mission of reaching others? Why do we accept church hopping among students but not among adults?
Monday, March 28, 2011
We continue our series, "Letters from the Mailbox". Students submit their question, verses, topic, etc. and then we build a lesson and small group (POD) discussion around their submission.
The above question above was a good one. We had students write down their parent's rules on a piece of paper and then talk about the rules. Discuss the "why's?" of the rules. Then the students, in their PODs, wrote down "Christianity rules". Most of the rules that they came up with were Biblical, some were not, some were but they didn't realize that they were a "rule". I shifted the term from "rules" to "expectations".
We started with the question, "Am I still a Christian?" first. It was obvious that the student who submitted the question thought that salvation was dependent on us and who we are and what we do rather than salvation being totally dependent on God. We took some time and ruled out "works". If I don't live by my parent's rules am I still their child? If I don't live by society's rules am I no longer a human? If (assuming a person has put their faith in Christ) I don't live by God's rules am I no longer his child?
We boiled it down to this:
- I’m saved because I put my faith in Jesus. (not because I obeyed rules)
God has guard rails. (His expectations protect us)
- So the question isn’t “Am I still a Christian?” The question is, “Do I love God?”
- The question is not “Am I still a Christian?” The question is, “Am I grateful to Jesus Christ?”
- Our love for God and gratefulness to Christ will motivate us to live by His expectations.
Monday, March 14, 2011
1. Some students missing. This happens every spring when the weather turns nice because families are ready to spend time together outdoors enjoying the great weather together which is great because they have "cabin fever", especially after this past winter. This is a part of the natural ebb and blow of youth ministry each year.
2. Hang Time spontaneously moved outdoors! Within minutes cornhole was set up and some intense games were happening. A new game, Polish, was introduced to the students and staff. A few still hung out indoors and played a table game or two and a few played ping pong and Wii.
We added delicious hot dogs, chili and relish to our usual line up of snacks last night. It's great to have a team of folks dedicated to using their desire to serve in the kitchen to impact student's lives. They do more than just hand out snacks. Each students has a contact with yet another caring adult from NHC. This has a great influence on their lives and connection to the church.
Last night we opened another letter from the "mailbox". The letter last night was part B from last week. The question was, "Why did God make me the way I am?".
We started off in our PODS and students discussed John 9:1-39 together with their POD leaders (more contact with more caring adults in their church) guiding them through some discussion questions.
We took a look at this video.
Sarah struggled with self hate, she didn't like who she was.
We then looked at Psalm 139:13,14 some great verses about God's creativity in each one of his masterpiece art works (us).
>God makes no mistakes.
God is perfect so if someone assumes they must be a mistake they are saying, "God made a mistake when he made me." That would mean that God is not perfect and if God is not perfect then he would not be God.
>God made you unique.
No two people have the same fingerprints, we are that unique. Our personality, our skills, who we are as a person is unique. Because we are unique we don't have to compare ourselves to others. When we start playing the comparison game we always lose.
>God is in control.
Not only is God the master artist in creating you he is also sovereign, he is in control. Some who wrestle with self hate often struggle with the fact that they can't control their circumstances, they can't control other's expectations. The great thing about realizing and accepting that God is in control is the freedom to relax in that fact. I don't have to be "in control" of everything in my life. God is in control, I need to trust him.
I'm thinking we are going to continue on this question/theme this coming Sunday night at Contagious. If a student can grasp in their teenage years that God is in control just imagine the difference that would make in their life in the future.
Monday, March 7, 2011
1. God loves you and wants his best for you.
John 3:16, John 10:10, Romans 12:12
2. Three factors to consider about your situation:
>Others do wrong. Sometimes our situation is the result of someone else's sin. This is the result of living in a fallen world.
>I do wrong. Sometimes our situation is the result of our own sin.
>God knows best. Jeremiah 29:11
3. You can rise above the situation with Christ and through Christ
Students followed up the lesson with their POD leaders. Each POD divided in half and did 2 case studies and then shared the studies together. The first study was Joseph. Joseph was sold into slavery and was put into a bad situation as the result of being daddy's favorite, the jealousy of his brothers and his own bragging about his dreams. But ultimately Joseph rose above his situation and was used by God to save his family. The second study was on Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary was put into a situation by God. She used her situation to magnify God.
Of course as usual the lesson was proceeded by lot of fun and games and hanging out together during Hang Time.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Our system used to be "tell Andy" if you aren't going to be there. I would then promptly forget.
Our system changed to "give Andy a written note" if you aren't going to be there. I would promptly lose the note and forget.
Our system changed to "send Andy and e-mail if you aren't going to be at youth group". I would get the e-mail, read the e-mail, then forget.
Our system is currently The Planning Center an online tool to use to schedule your church's teams for ministry. I love it! I can simply log on and at a glance see who is going to be at Contagious on Sunday night. Team members can block dates. I can schedule out as far in advance as I want. An excellent tool.
We use The Planning Center for several teams in our church and are slowly transitioning all our teams to The Planning Center. With the teams I am responsible for I have around 30 or team members to schedule. The planning center has relieved many of the stresses and frustrations of scheduling. PLUS it helps with my "memory".
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Years ago I threw sign up sheets away. You know the struggle of a student signs up so his 18 buddies sign up then student changes his mind and crosses off his name then the domino effect.
I got tired of that. I also got tired of kids looking first before deciding to go. Be a leader and sign your name up! The kids aren't broke but the system is.
So I came up with the envelope system. When we have events students register or sign up either online or by using the event envelope. It is a great way to keep track of the cash but also a way of getting information and keeping a list of who is going with better accuracy. Students can also take the envelope home to remind them to bring their money the next week. Perhaps you have done similar?
Monday, February 21, 2011
>Establish the purpose
>Make sure the theme fits the purpose
>Acquire a speaker(s) and a band. Lots out there but remember if you want to make it a "big" event it may take a "big" name which leads to the next one:
>Establish a budget. We have pulled off The Call in the past for as little at $1500 and as much as $7,000 depending on the band and guest speaker(s) we have used.
>Decide on a registration fee (if having one. I divide the budget by the attendance goal to come up with the registration fee. It's not rocket science and it is also a risk).
>Have a plan if registrations don't meet the budget.
>Publicity - use the web, Facebook, Constant Contact, e-mail. (never mail things to the youth director "care of the pastor" because more than likely it will sit on the pastor's desk or get thrown out or passed on too late)
>Publicize in advance. We start promoting The Call in April usually and the event isn't until February. I get invites to youth events often and with little to no notice.
>Recruit a team of volunteers from your church. Decide what you need. At The Call we had folks doing registration/check in, refreshments, clean up, tech stuffs. We could not pull off The Call each year if it were not for our team of volunteers from the church. Awesome people make and awesome event.
>Keep records. We use an excel spreadsheet to track expenses and registrations of both individuals and churches.
>A quality event requires months of prep and publicity.
>Be prepared to be wiped out and tired after the event is over. (last week I put in almost 60 hours at work. Our band put in many hours as well. It's normal to be tired after a big event so plan on getting some rest. I'm taking an extra day off this week to rest and spend time with my family.)
The only event we currently invite other youth groups to participate with us is The Call. Keep in mind that youth pastors who plan ahead will often have months if not the year completely planned out. We try to limit our youth group events outside of youth group to one or less a month. Kids' lives are plenty busy today. I don't want to be a "cruise director" I want to be part of something that is making an impact on students' lives.
Several students came to know Christ this weekend and many were equipped to defend their faith. The Call was well worth the effort.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Tonight we host our 10th The Call here at NHC. Several youth groups will be coming together to worship in music with MP13 and to learn from God as Alex McFarland teaches us. Alex will help students understand the way of God as he unpacks the life of Joseph.
Personally, as a youth pastor, I'm stoked about Alex coming and the topic he is teaching on. Every parents and youth leader should do their best to help their teens to understand that God uses the good and the bad in their lives to accomplish whatever His will is for them.
Next week I'll share how we plan for an event like The Call. I get so many invitations from other youth ministries inviting our youth group to an event that is about to happen in just a few days. This type of promotion of an event reveals a lack of planning which makes me nervous about taking my group and so we don't attend. BUT more about that next week.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Tip of the Day: We purchased both new TV's, 32 inch, high def, LG flat screens on E-Bay. Without shipping they were $250 each, way cheaper than you can purchase in a store. We also purchased both Wiis on E-Bay, one for around $125 and the other for $159, again way cheaper than the store and they work great. If we had not used E-Bay and the skills of two of our youth volunteers I would have only purchased one TV and one Wii from the store.
Tap into your volunteers skills! Don't try to do it all by yourself in ministry. Others have skills to use and want to serve and feel like part of something bigger. Anything we can do to make Hang Time more fun is a draw for our students to bring their friends and the return is worth way more than a $900 investment.
Nic McLean came and spoke to our students about godly boy/girl relationships. He knocked it out of the park. God is the creator of marriage and sex so His plan is best and create boundaries ahead of time for your relationships. Good stuff from God's Word through Nic. If you would like Nic to speak to your group or bring along his wife Jessica, an accomplished musician, contact me and I'll get you their contact info. Nic is the director of both Noah's Ark and Walking on Water.
Second Tip of the Day: Bring in people from your community to speak to your students, change it up, guests are often listened to by the students better because they get used to hearing you.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Several years ago Misha and I were vacationing on Maui (oh I would love to be there right now). We flew in on Halloween. The next day we started our day watching the sunrise at Heleakala and then spent the day on the beach snorkeling and swimming. That evening on the local and national news we watched the report of a young girl, Bethany Hamilton, who was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing off Kauai.
I have the DVD that Walking on Water produced about Bethany and have shown that to our students a couple of times in the past. Well produced and really clear with the message of God's plan and Bethany's determination. I highly recommend youth groups to use this film as an outreach event. (Watch for the Walking on Water t-shirt in the new film)
Last night I got to watch a sneak preview of the new movie coming out on April 8th about the life of surfer, Bethany Hamilton, Soul Surfer. First of all I was stoked because I have never been invited to a sneak preview of a major motion picture before. Second, the film impressed me. Soul Surfer was entertaining and had the talent of Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid to support the role of Bethany Hamilton played by AnnaSophia Robb.
They did an incredible job making it appear that these Hollywood stars can really surf. The movie did portray the faith in God that Bethany and her family have, I was happy to see that. Carrie Underwood played the role of Bethany's youth minister. She did a good job. I'm not sure that Carrie has acted before so this was good for her first motion picture. She even read from the Bible and encouraged Bethany while she was trying to make sense of why God would allow this shark attack to happen.
I think the film is good for middle and high school students but I think the shark attack scene might be too intense for the younger kids. Without giving it away, they did a good job on the shark attack scene.
I hope the movie makes it to our local theater. I see this as a great outreach opportunity and will definitely use this film when it comes out on DVD. Soul Surfer opens April 8th.
Monday, February 7, 2011
How do you publicize youth group activities and events?
We have a calendar on our youth group web site. On this calendar we post all our events and activities. We try to have it updated at least 2 months in advance and some events are posted even several months in advance. The great thing with having a calendar on the web is the fact that students and parents can check the calendar whenever they want and see what is happening. If your youth ministry does not have a web site you can use google calendar, it's free and you can pass the link to both parents and students. If you are in the market for a web site for your group we use Snapshot, you may want to check them out.
Each Monday or Tuesday I shoot out an e-mail update to the parents of teens. This update gives enough info to let them know what is happening. I try to keep it as brief as possible. There are some good programs out there you can use like Constant Contact. I have discovered that plain old e-mail works for us. I include in our e-mail links to information or registration if the parents want to read more. I also include what we are studying at our youth group gathering.
Texting is always an option. A few years ago I attempted using a free texting program. Only a few parents and students signed up for it. So we quit using the program. Perhaps today it would work for us since we see more and more parents and students texting. There are free texting programs out there as well as ones designed and geared for ministry use (not free).
We have created a group for our students and one for parents. We can post announcements on the page or even message those in the groups. You can also post links to event registrations and information on those pages as well.
I have learned that you can use every means of technology out there to promote and publicize your youth group events and activities some people just simply choose not to read the e-mails or messages or check the online calendar. So don't let it frustrate you. When I receive an e-mail with a question about an event or activity that has been answered in an e-mail I reply by pasting the text from the e-mail as a nice way of saying, "Read your e-mail". Sometimes I reply by simply pasting the link to the web calendar or web page that promotes the activity and includes the information for that event.
How do you publicize events and activities?
Friday, February 4, 2011
The benefit of hosting this is the fact that our youth ministry team, all volunteers, will get some training (as will I) so we can be our best in ministering to students and their parents.
Web site is coming soon!
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