Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Event Envelope

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

Planning The Event

We just wrapped up our 10th The Call here at Nags Head Church. With that in mind and after a super long weekend here are a few thoughts I have about planning an event.

>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

The Call 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

Sunday Night at Contagious

Last Sunday night was great at Contagious. Again Bananagrams is a huge game for some reason. The ping pong table saw no rest during Hang Time. The big deal is we rolled out two new 32 inch flat screens on a cart into the Lobby with two Wiis on it. Without a youth room to call our own yet we have to be portable. So the cart has a shelf on the bottom for our box of table games and then the top two shelves have the Wiis and the TV's which are mounted back to back. These will be mounted up on the walls of our youth room when we move into "the loft" in the fall.

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

Soul Surfer

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

Publicizing Events

How do you publicize youth group activities and events?

Web Site

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.

The Frustration

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

Overflow 2011

This week we have been working on a youth ministry training event for October 28-29. Duffy Robbins is coming to be our main speaker and we plan on having around 15 or so break out sessions to choose from. I'm looking forward to promoting this and seeing how many youth ministry folks from around the area attend. This is the first time we've done something like this.
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!

Made the Top 40 Youth Ministry Blogs

My blog made #30 out of the top 40 youth ministry blogs according to I don't know what that means but "thanks!&quo...