Monthly Archives: October 2012

Great Outreach Idea…That Resulted From a Good Outreach Idea, That Failed

God can work in failure.  You want an example, just look in the mirror.  Wow, that was harsh for something right after breakfast.  But how true is that.  God chooses to use sinners like us…for some reason we are His plan for reaching the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ.  We fail, we mess up, and our plans often fall apart.

But here is the good news:  God can use our failures for His glory, and for His purposes.  Why?  Because God is not surprised by anything.  Let me just give you an example that happened recently.

Each month, my student ministry is to have a service project of some kind, whether it is serving in some way in the church, or in the community.  So let me just break it down for you to save you some time:

Good Idea:  Host a Spaghetti Dinner for a Local Football Team (failed when 3 schools either refused or were not able to commit)

Great Idea:  Pack To-Go Spaghetti Dinners & Deliver Them To Our Church Neighbors (Honestly, came out of the question, “What are we going to do with all this spaghetti?  God answered that question.

Here are 10 steps to make this happen:

  1. Ask the church to donate 50 meals:  Spaghetti sauce/noodles, 2 liter, can of fruit
  2. Bag them nicely
  3. Add:  Church brochure, tract, Christmas invitation
  4. Plan your route, and have a bus/church van driver to drop off & pick up
  5. Group your teens with adults (inter-generational ministry!)
  6. Make sure each group has adult male (safety) and a female (less intimidating)
  7. Each person carries 2 bags
  8. Go door to door saying something like “We are from _______, we are your neighbors, and we care about you.  Here is a dinner on us.  Feel free to visit us anytime.  God bless”
  9. Come back & pray for each street where bags were delivered
  10. Have hot chocolate & coffee to warm back up (or cold drinks, depending on weather/location)

We didn’t cook the meals, just delivered the goods, so they could have the meal anytime.  And we got to meet our neighbors, showed them we loved them, shared the love of Christ…and we were able to do that in about a half hour.

God turned a failure into something that could affect eternity!  Sound familiar, it should…just look in the mirror!

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3 Tips For Planning Your Student Ministry Teaching Calendar

I have a sickness.  The other day, I received a shipment from Staples and you would have thought it was Christmas.  New pens, new highlighters, and a fresh, blank calendar…pure bliss.  Like a 6 year old in a chocolate fountain.

While I enjoy the process of planning out the teaching calendar, the anticipatory joy of spiritually impactful lessons…it does take more work than just throwing a couple series titles together.  In fact, it is a process that has developed for months.  Let me explain the process in steps.

  1. Feed the Need.  Survey your parents, students, and others to find out what the greatest needs and greatest interest of your students are.  More than likely you will hear topics like purity, end times, devotional life, and the list goes on.  So what I have done is come up with a 6 year calendar, where in the teaching times available, I can show how a 7th grader entering the ministry will learn these things in their 6 years in our student ministry.  (*Could be 4 year calendar if in high school ministry)
  2. Glad That’s Over.  The 4 or 6 year calendar is the heavy lifting of your curriculum planning.  Now the fun part.  Picking your teaching material/curriculum.  See, for me, I don’t choose the same curriculum for all 4 years.  I like to pick and choose, allow myself some flexibility with what I teach from, and what I teach.  I’ve used materials from:  Regular Baptist Press (my personal favorite – fits my teaching style & doctrine well), Youth Specialties, Simply Youth Ministry, Group Publishing, Answers in Genesis, Lifeway, and Zondervan.
  3. Make it Your Own.  Listen to me.  You are not Doug Fields or Andy Stanley, so don’t pretend to be.  Take the curriculum and make it your own, modify and teach it as if it was written just for YOUR students.  Put together you OWN PowerPoint.  Use personal illustration and make up your own introductory hook.  Make your students feel like the lesson is FOR THEM, and not for a church in California or Atlanta.

What about you?  What curriculum do you use?  Got any tips for your teaching planning?

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Having a Baby Tutorial (For Men) – 3rd Times a Charm

Let’s take a break from the ministry posts for a second, and talk parenting.  Not to get too personal, but this is my 3rd rodeo in the delivery room.  Using that analogy, I’m the guy that holds the bull, while the rider goes through the pain and is the main attraction.  Did I just call my wife a bull?  I’m in trouble, better stop with the analogies, and go right to the lessons learned in my 3rd child’s birth:

  1. Start working on your reaction time.  Your hand-eye coordination in critical when your wife asks for an ice-chip.  You have very few responsibilities, man, don’t screw this one up!
  2. Watch your “joke count”.  If you’re like me, and you try to be funny when you’re nervous, remember you are in a delivery room, not Rockefeller Center.
  3. Be on call.  That means, let the boss know when you are going to the bathroom, blowing your nose, or nabbing a grape juice from the “community” fridge.  And don’t go too far.  The days of ESPN in the lobby while waiting for the doctor to come out and say “It’s a _____” are LONG GONE.
  4. Take a course in multi-media, if you have to.  Because you very well could be all or at least the majority of these: mobile connection to family, the Facebook Administrator, Twitter Manager, Blog Editor, and Photography coordinator.  You might want to purchase a smart phone, and sync up (this coming from a guy that lost all his contacts a week prior to birth day…thanks Apple!)
  5. Still never gonna get used to what comes out of baby in days #1-3.  If you have not experienced it, I suggest you grab some tar, syrup, and sulfur, mix the ingredients together, and practice changing your first diaper with that smell right up close.
  6. LOVE your wife.  She is the herione, the main character, the main attraction, the headliner…I could keep going, but I think you get the picture. Make sure she feels this way throughout.

Well, there you have it.  I may have repeated some ideas men from previous blogs, but that just means you better take notice.  Feel free to read my previous lessons learned…so you don’t have to learn the hard way.

Other Past Parenting Articles:  Having a Baby Tutorial (For Men) & Parenting Lessons

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The Gospel – One of the best illustrations you will ever see

Your love still amazes me!  A wonderful picture of the sacrifice of our Heavenly Father.

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5 Tips For Planning Your Event Calendar – What the students told me!

Here’s an idea for planning your student ministry events…ask the students!  What a novel concept.  Why didn’t I think of this sooner!

So that’s what I did.  I wrote out all the events and service projects (including mission trip and children ministry events we served in) and put them in a survey.  I had the students rank the events from 5 (awesomest) to 1 (never, ever, do that again).  And let me tell you, if pictures speak 1,000 words, surveys got to speak at least 124 words.  Lots of interesting thoughts came that will help your event planning tremendously.

  1. Don’t Assume.  Don’t assume since you thought you rocked out an event that all the students feel the same way.  The one event I thought was the most amazing event I have ever was ranked in the lower half of the events.  Shocking.
  2. Pump up the volume.  I’ve realized that according to the scores, it is important to pump up the excitement and importance of a service project.  Most of the service projects were ranked low, could be because teenagers typically like to have fun more than get their hands dirty…but I’d like to take some responsibility on this one as well.
  3. Summer Down.  This summer I toned down the summer events and focused more on leadership conferences & mission trip.  Why, well if you look at the numbers, it proves that summer events are just now well attended.  So you won’t see my summer filled with day and weekend events.  It is more informal and specific life-changing trips that I focus on in the summer, and the numbers don’t lie that it is the right way to go.
  4. Time to March on.  March had my bottom two rated events.  Be careful to not schedule two potential duds on the same month.  Both the service project & event (we do a service project & event every month, you should try it!) bombed…not good for momentum.  Maybe pair a risk with a known commodity to make sure you don’t do this blunder like I did.
  5. No clones, just improvements.  Here’s something to remember.  Be wise (pray for this!) about what events you think had a low number because they need improvement and what was low because they are stinkers.  Don’t be afraid to cut, but don’t be afraid to cut for surgery repair either.  Also, don’t make a clone event list like last year.  Maybe take a high rated event away so you don’t repeat and have them lose interest.  Your calendar cannot be a clone of last year’s or apathy will reign.

 

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Catchy Song Alert…about the church!

An acoustic song like no other.  “We are your church, and we need your power!”  Great prayer song about our need for God in our churches!

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As For Me and My Crazy House – BOOK REVIEW

The Good:

The overarching quality of this book is the realness.  The author’s transparency of his family life is both refreshing and re-assuring, that pastor’s families don’t have it all together, and it is as times crazy.  But, the book does a great job at providing insight of developing balance with family and ministry.

You know it is a good book when there are statements or ideas that will be lifelong “sticks”.  What I mean by “sticks” is these are things that I hope to do within my lifetime, or within the time my children are still in my home.  Examples would be the “moving of the fulcrum” on page 94, or turning off the cell phone and turning attention to the kids, finding a mentor, dating your wife, one-on-one time with your kids, the long distance race of parenting…just to name a few.  You may read this list and think those are all no brainers…yeah, but don’t you want practical ways to accomplish all those things.  This book will provide that for you, with humor and realness!

The Bad:

The transparency went a little far sometimes, for example, the mention of the “mom thongs”.  Didn’t really need that mental picture.  Overall, I thought the final parent chapter was good, but some could interpret it as “light discipline” parenting.  I’m guessing that was not the intent, but need to be careful in how you read it.  Don’t let it excuse you from disciplining your kids.  Other than that, it’s hard to find more faults.

Conclusion:

If reading was a race, I would be the tortoise.  So I enjoy books that are easy reads, fun to read, and fully practical to my everyday life.  I took my time with this book, reading just a few minutes each night and was almost disappointed when it was all dine.  Overall, this was a life-changing, fully practical, ministry & family building…book.  I hated it.  Just kidding.  Of course, I am recommending you give it a try!

Grade:  A-

 

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