Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It's Christmas! Slow Down!!

The Christmas season can easily get too busy.  How do we take time to reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ when our calendar is packed tight with events and outings?

Some church's calendar of events for December are about to burst due to overload.  (If you don’t have margin in your calendar you are headed to a  crash and burn)

When thinking about December and calendar scheduling think about:
  • Family Time - how does adding more events to the calendar have on impact family time?
  • Your Own Family - in many church settings the YP is expected to be at every church function, even the ones that have nothing to do with youth ministry.  How will this have an impact your own family time?  Do you have boundaries? 
  • Christmas Parties - most parents work and many of them will have company Christmas get togethers during December.  When we add more to the calendar we make them even busier. 
  • Less is More - it doesn’t take 4 Christmas programs to help the church reflect on the birth of Christ. 
  • Go tell it on the Mountain - what if you could scratch all the Church Christmas functions off the calendar and plan just one that would reach the community with the gospel?  What would you do?
  • Entertainment - we don’t need more of it.  Turn on the TV every night in December and you can find plenty of good Christmas music and concerts.  Turn on ABC Family and you can watch Elf 50 times in one month. 
  • Leverage - how can you leverage the season by doing something totally different, unusual, out of the norm with your normal youth group gathering closest to Christmas Day?
  • Contribute don’t Consume - it seems like a church can quickly get the consumer mentality around Christmas.  What if your church flipped it around and thought only about spreading the gospel at Christmas rather than that concert or the hand bell choir recital?
  • Have Fun - make some goodies and package them up and deliver them to the neighbors, the fire department, etc.
  • Change a Life - instead of running around buying gifts for everyone in your family and extended family give a gift  to Compassion International or World Vision and change someone’s life.  Help people stuck in poverty have clean drinking water or a goat or chickens.  Most everyone in your life has what they NEED, buy for someone who has nothing. 
  • Make the World Mad - post a negative article or negative FB status update about Elf on the Shelf.  Just joking!  But really, people get rsuper defensive about this Elf on the Shelf thing.

Busyness adds stress.  Who wants to be stressed at Christmas time?  Not me. Everyone is busy in December, this is a great time to slow it down in youth ministry.  Let families enjoy time together. Our gift to the youth ministry volunteers is a night off the last Sunday in December.

So sit back, relax, enjoy the season of reflecting on the birth of our Savior.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

It's the End!

It’s the end . . . of the year.
December is a great time to get alone and do some evaluation of the youth ministry.

Some questions to answer as you evaluate:

  • What were your goals for this past year?
I took some time to re visit our goals for 2014.  I then took some time and gave a  grade to each goal.  It was a little bit reminiscent of my childhood report cards, a little good, a little average, a little bad.
  • In view of those grades what needs to happen in 2015 to improve?
Make a list and keep it somewhere to update it as more thoughts about improvement rise to the surface.
  • Where is the youth ministry bottlenecking with me?
 Are there areas that are getting jammed up because you need to let those areas go to someone else on your volunteer team?  We can’t do it all.  You know the old saying, “do what you do best and delegate the rest.”  List the areas you need to delegate and start thinking of volunteers to plug into those areas according to how God has shaped them.  Does your team flow chart have one box and in that box is your name?  Plan to remedy that in 2015.
  • Is the current structure of our weekly youth group gathering working?
 Are there some areas for improvement?  What can we cut out?  What seems to be missing?  How can we make it better?  What can someone else do better during the weekly gathering than you can do? 

  • Evaluate your youth ministry in worship, evangelism, fellowship, discipleship and serving.
How did you do in each area?  Was there an area you were striving to focus on and improve?  Are you out of balance somewhere with one or more of these?
  • How many students came to know Christ and how many are being discipled?
How can we be more affective in discipleship?  How can we better equip our students to reach their friends?

  • Which students had noticeable spiritual growth last year?
Make a list.  Plan on taking a minute with each one you can think of and let them know that you noticed their growth in their faith walk this past year and want to encourage them to continue to grow.  How can your team help with that growth?

I would suggest after doing some evaluating that you sit down with your volunteers and get their input and then work together on improving in 2015.

Let the evaluating begin!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Turkey Chase 2014

We had a blast last Sunday night with our digital scavenger hunt.  It was hi-tech, loads of fun, relationship building, team building, and just plain awesome.  Best part is this is an event you can do and it will cost your budget absolutely nothing, zero, zip, free!

Goose Chase is a free app and web based game.  You create an account, name your game, give it a password, set up the game with time limits etc., load in the "missions" and then have fun together,

Mission:  Piggyback ride from a stranger

 Each team has one person download the app to their smart phone.  Then you travel around fulfilling the missions.  When your team takes a pic it is uploaded to the game and you can see all the teams scores and pics in real time.  Super cool!

We had 6 teams and it went great.  A few things I learned to share with you:
  • Create way more missions than you think they can accomplish in the time frame.  I thought I did and it still wasn't enough.  
  • Pull together some creative minds to help you come up with "missions".  Goose Chase has some prefab missions to choose from as well.
  • Remind your drivers that they are not on the team and are simply there to move the teams around to accomplish their missions.  Let the students figure out which missions to do and in what order.  I'll just say this because I know some out there would allow students to drive, ONLY ADULT DRIVERS (unless you like lawsuits and angry parents)
  • Remind the teams that you are the judge and have the ultimate say on who wins.  Believe it or not some teams won't follow the mission directions, some on purpose.  Cheaters!
  • End the game at a location and pull everyone together and reward the winners.  We ended at McD's and bought the winning team their food.
We chose to do this event on the weekend after Thanksgiving knowing many students would be out of town and this would be a fun break from the usual youth group gathering.  The bonus is we had 3 guests and are hoping that they will return since they saw that church and youth group participation can be fun.

Mission:  Picture with a pirate

You will have some students who choose not to participate because they will think "it's not my thing" or "my friend isn't going" or "this isn't spiritual enough for me".  Hopefully over time they will learn that fellowship is important to a believer's spiritual health and they missed out on an awesome team building event.

We will follow up this Sunday night by showing all the pics during our Hang Time up on the big screen.  The ones who participated will enjoy seeing all their pics and hopefully the ones who didn't participate will get to see the fun they missed.

Mission: Dancing with a Pastor

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