Monthly Archives: November 2014

Why a $325 Million Contract Does Not Equal Happiness

Giancarlo Stanton. If you are a sports fan, you know the name. He is the Miami Marlins star outfielder that just signed a 13 year, $325 million dollar contract. To put it into perspective, this baseball player will make more in one at bat than my current annual salary! Every hour, he makes nearly $3,000 or $70,000 per day. That’s insane, and still some writers say he is underpaid.

stanton_signing.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxImmediately following his contract signing, he goes out and parties the night away. His exploits included attending a night club and drinking from a $20,000 bottle of champagne. I blush at the price of a milkshake at Steak n’ Shake sometimes. I can’t imagine paying more for a drink than for my family’s minivan.

You are probably wondering my point. Athletes sign exorbitant contracts all the time. See Kevin Durant, or this list when you have a spare second. You will wonder where the money comes from, and what in the world they do with all that coin (I know I would be tempted to put it all in gold coins and swim around in it like Scrooge McDuck). Big deal (pardon the pun) right? In the end, it isn’t a big deal at all. In fact, I think of the many athletes that squander their money, only to find themselves selling their Super Bowl rings, going bankrupt, or putting their mansions on the market.enter-through-the-narrow-gate-001

What is missing? I can’t help but think of Giancarlo Stanton after he wakes up from a night of partying. Did the money really give him the satisfaction he was hoping for when he picked up the pen to sign that monster deal? (Read Ecclesiastes 5:10-20 for the answer to that question)….

For those that didn’t take the time to read Ecclesiastes, I’ll give you the short answer “No!”. Money can’t buy happiness. In fact, even the hip hop community makes the claim “Mo Money, Mo Problems”. But yet people still buy lottery tickets, flood to casinos on pay day, and hope for that next promotion. But what does money promise? Nothing that lasts.

Although in Matthew 7, we learn that few will take the narrow road to eternal happiness. Many will take the broad road filled with shallowness, futility, and corruptible gains. While there was nothing wrong with Stanton’s contract per se, I just wouldn’t waste your time being jealous of it. For those who know Christ, your reward is much greater.  If you don’t know Christ, I encourage you to sign your life over to him…it’s a contract with no fine print, but many built-in incentives, it’s not performance based, and it lasts forever.

Matthew 5:12a – Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven

DCF 1.0

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Finding the Right Youth Curriculum

Last week, I wrote a very convincing blog on why you should consider using curriculum. This week is a brief list of websites that will help you find the right curriculum. Even if you already using a year-long curriculum like XP3 or LIVE, you most likely have other teaching times. So, you inevitably have the daunting task of searching the internet for curriculum that will fit your topic, your teaching style, your group size…and the list goes on. Below is a list of websites that I have used in the past.online support

Quick tip: Open all websites, type in the topic or Book study in the search box provided, and compare the products found.

Youth Specialties. What is nice about Youth Specialties is explained in their organization’s name. They specialize in youth ministry material. Several of these other companies have a wider range of material, which does not make them any better or worse, but I feel Youth Specialties garners trust with their focused material on youth. You will not have to worry whether the material is designed for older or younger audiences, but is tailored specifically for youth ministry.

Group. What I like about their website and curriculum is it is tailored for a specific program. Whether it is a small group setting, mission trip training, sermons, or even junior high or high school material, the resource organization on their website is very helpful. Group also provides a LIVE curriculum that will last the entire junior high and high school years – 72/144 weeks respectively.

Regular Baptist Press. This one might not be as well-known, but it happens to be my favorite. Out of all the curriculum I have used, this is the most user-friendly and creative. If I ever have a guest speaker for a series, I typically will try to give them this curriculum. The only downside is there typically is not DVD-based curriculum, if you are into those, and also the topics are somewhat limited. But if you find something that fits your topic, I would strongly recommend purchasing or at least using it as a supplement material to your lessons.

Simply Youth Ministry. See Youth Specialties description. This is essentially the youth department of Group. So much of what is on this website overlaps with Group and their products. But I still go here to make sure I didn’t miss any resources.

Zondervan. This may have gone under the radar to many of you, because Zondervan is often viewed as a publisher or regular books, not necessarily curriculum. I’ve found some great material here, including some incredibly creative DVD-series that my student have enjoyed. Worth a look.

Word of Life. When a youth worker or a new youth pastor is looking for a curriculum that is already designed, planned, and much of the pre-work is done already…this is where I point them. Word of Life has done a great job at providing curriculum that saves the teacher time in lesson planning, but also provides quality teaching and material for the lesson prep and study time.

What say you?  What curriculum websites do you use when you are searching for the right curriculum.  searchconfusion

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Reasons to Use Youth Curriculum

  1. Time.  Don’t think of curriculum as cutting corners. Think of it as being a good steward of your time. Curriculum will often provide you with a lesson plan to eliminate time in planning out each individual lesson topic. Also, curriculum speeds up the lesson prep process, without sacrificing the depth of the material.4_2_09_karl_lagerfeld06407-290x289
  2. More Depth. Speaking of depth, I have found using curriculum allows my teaching to be even more in depth. With the extra time and often discussion questions already built-in, I am able to do additional research and provide a more in-depth learning experience than I could have without the use of curriculum.
  3. People Are Smarter Than You. It’s true; there are people that are smarter than you. First step is admitting it. The second step is allowing other people’s work and study to benefit your teaching. Curriculum provides additional insight that you may not have come up with on your own.
  4. Creativity.   If you are youth pastor, youth leader, or work with youth, chances are you are creative. But with curriculum, you can be even more creative. Good curriculum gives you various options for opening illustration, lesson options, and closing takeaways. Teens desire hands-on, interactive, visual and aesthetic learning. Curriculum provides you with additional and creative options to provide a greater learning experience for your students.
  5. Variety.  Curriculum provides variety. Some curriculum is DVD-based, some uses video intros, and some is more interactive teaching. With each curriculum comes variety. If it was up to you, chances are you will most likely end up teaching to your strengths and according to your methods. Variety provides an excitement for each series, and you know what they say “variety is very spicy”…I think that’s what they say, something like that.social-media-curriculum

So what about you? Why do you use or not use curriculum? Feel free to comment below.

Stay tuned for next week, where I will reveal some of my favorite curriculum that I have used in the past, and will look forward to your comments on what curriculum you have used as well.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Steps to Improving Church Announcements

You know the drill. The youth pastor oftentimes is responsible for church announcements. I get it. It provides face time for other staff members on stage, and a connection with the adult audience. Makes sense. However, church announcements can be a recipe for disaster. Let’s just take a stroll down memory lane to my church internship experience…(cue blurry picture and piano music for the flashback)

It was 10 years ago, and I was asked to announce the dessert fellowship to welcome new members who were recently baptized. Seemed simple enough…that is until I opened my mouth. It went something like this, “For all those that want to be baptized…no wait, we are going to baptize people…nope, dessert will happen after the service over there…you know where the basketball hoops are, what’s that called…

Yep, it was that bad. Sweat was pouring off my face, and I seriously debated sitting back down and asking the senior pastor for a “re-do”. Unfortunately, there are no “re-do’s” in church announcements. Over the years of doing this, there have been a few lessons I’ve learned in the process:announcements-710x325-crop

  1. Write it Down. Sure most blogs on announcements will tell you to not read a paper. While that’s true, it’s important you at least write out what you are going to say. It might even be smart to practice it, or you might end up looking like the Chevy guy after the World Series. I felt his pain…I’ve been there (see story above). In fact, I had to change the channel, it was too painful.
  2. Applicable to Crowd. The best announcements are those that affect the entire seated audience. The announcement that the 2-year-old Sunday School class is out of goldfish crackers would be best sent over email to the parents.
  3. Short & Sweet. Get to the point. Long-drawn out announcements are never a good idea. People will begin to drown you out. Give only the necessary information.
  4. Use Humor. Oftentimes, I will intentionally or non-intentionally allow humor to be part of the announcements. It relaxes the crowd and also allows the announcements to be more enjoyable. Rather than a simple reading of events they could just find in their bulletin.
  5. Videos.  Recently, I’ve been implementing videos during the announcement time. Since this can be time-consuming, I’ve only committed to doing these the 1st week of each month to highlight each month’s important events. See an example here.
  6. Research & Learn From Others. Here is how the pros do announcements. Learn from others.  Want more?  Try here and here.

Speaking of learning from others. Got other ideas? I’d love to hear from you! Leave some ideas in the comments below.

Tagged , , , , ,