Monthly Archives: October 2015

Need an idea for a fall youth event? Here’s one…

This event is something my wife has always wanted to do in our backyard, and I thought this fall we would give it a try.  What event?  An outdoor movie night.  Sure, it was a bit of a risk that it could be boring or not well-attended.  But it fit our teen’s personalities, it was worth a shot, and we promised lots of candy.

So how was it done?  Here are a few tips to get you started:

12049179_10156121340905246_5109909220871801803_nFood.  Food is always a good place to start with teens, so let’s start there.  We had everyone that was able bring $5 towards pizza.  The leaders brought drinks, and the youth budget covered the chips/sides.  Also, some of the leaders brought extra candy, and we purchased some theater style candy from Target in boxes.  Oh, and we got a popcorn machine!  Yeah, that’s right.  And we had all sorts of extras to make your popcorn like white cheddar & kettle corn seasonings, M&M’s, butter…the works.  We ended the night with S’mores.

1897770_10156121340565246_1592567503288246559_nMovie.  Some suggested to just put the classic Princess Bride in the DVD player and call it a day.  Well, I decided that if visitors were coming and to keep the movie appropriate for all attending (leader’s kids were there too), we chose a Christian movie.  I previewed God’s Not Dead, Do you Believe, and 23 Blast.  With it being fall, 23 Blast fit our time frame, the audience (High school characters), and had a good message.  The sky is the limit, but safe is better than sorry.

12046622_10156121012430246_913118546890468563_nSet-up.  My wife is a master at creating an incredible atmosphere and decorations.  My job was to get the projector, projector screen, DVD/Player, and some power cords.  She did all the rest.  And as you can see in the pictures, you can see why she was in charge of the decorations.  You can find the printout decorations here, which made it even more special.  I encouraged the teens to bring  a blanket or chair, and to dress warm.

1508094_10156121341085246_4756368890076109982_nGames.  Depending on the size of your yard, while people are showing up, you could have the option of corn-hole or other outside games available.  We decided to have Kubb available because it allows for many people to play at the same time.

Rules.  This was not a normal movie theater where guys and girls can cuddle up.  So we made that rule clear at the beginning.  And I had my 7-year-old daughter go around with a flashlight as the enforcer (she was very effective, and not shy about it).  We also said to help yourself to the sweets and popcorn during the movie.

Spiritual Options.  You can use the movie as a springboard to conversation and discussion.  Have a prayer time prior to the food.  Do a short devotional based on the content of the movie or a topic you wish to cover.

As you can see, we had a great time, and it was worth the risk of a new event.  The teens loved it, and even two days later at church we heard great reviews from teens and their parents.  So as you plan for next year, think about an outdoor movie night as an option.  Hopefully, these ideas will help your planning to be a little easier.







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The Promise of God in Threatening Pain

Athletics can be difficult.  Recovering from a defeat, when you gave up the winning score.  Trying to move on after being cut from the team, when all your hard work seemingly has gone down the drain.  Or to see your season go up in smoke, just because of a simple twist or turn the wrong way, and your injury takes you out for the year.  But what does God promise during these times?  Let’s turn to a National Football Player who suffered one of these fates, and allow him to teach you through God’s Word and promises.


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How to Prepare a Youth Event Calendar in 3 Easy Steps

Preparing for next year’s event calendar, for me, is one of the most exciting planning experiences. The look of the fresh, blank calendar canvas…It’s a thing of beauty. To think, with the guidance of God through the process, you will get to plan out next year’s events. These are events where teens may get saved, hearts will be changed, and hopefully grows your ministry to reach your community for Jesus Christ. How does that not get your blood pumping?

So how is it done? Below are 3 easy steps that will allow your event planning to go a little smoother this year…

  1. Event Survey. A few years back, I decided to involve the students in the planning process (Novel idea, involving the students in planning the events that are for THEM!!). The survey gives the students a voice in what the events they enjoyed, and the ones only their youth pastor thought was a good idea. You will need a plate, fork, and napkin ready. Why? Because you will be eating a little bit of humble pie as you see some of the events did not turn out well. But the reward of seeing your teens express their appreciation for other events will rejuvenate you in your planning process.
  2. Leader Planning Meeting – Set aside a monthly planning meeting that is a tradition of sorts for your leaders. There are typically two types of yearly planning meetings. Summer meetings to plan out the school year calendar, and a yearly calendar beginning in January. For us, it is so difficult to plan during the summer, it is just too crazy. So we have our BIG planning meeting in October to provide time to plan out dates and details before January comes rolling around.  Allow this to be a time where you define your purposes of events, evaluate past and future events, and get on the same page for the coming year.  This meeting allows our team to really draw closer together and forge ahead united, and excited for what’s coming.  Then, throughout the year we have meetings to follow up and plan in more detail.
  3. Balance – Keep this word in mind as you plan for a number of reasons. Financially, you need to make sure your events are not all costly, and spread out the free or low cost events throughout the year. Your parents will appreciate this intentionality. Also, think about the spiritual purpose of these events. Keep a balance of evangelistic, spiritually challenging/enriching, and service events. To keep our ministry balanced, we schedule a service project each month and spread out the evangelistic and spiritually challenging throughout the year.

Scenario-Planning-2-Image1What about you?  What do you do in your planning that allows your events to be successful?  Feel free to comment below.

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Do Teens Really Care About Social Media?

Registration cards are wonderful.  They accomplish a number of things.  They allow you to gain updated contact information from regular students.  The cards also provide a non-threatening way to gain contact information from visitors.  Typically, these cards are filled out a few time a year for special events.  And to motivate a student to actually write something outside of school, I do a giveaway.

But there is something else I do on the registration cards…I do a small survey.  It allows me to stay connected to students and attempt to stay somewhat relevant.  So this time around, I asked 3 simple questions about vacation, restaurants, and social media.  On the card was a few options, and the students simply had to circle their favorite.

In a contest of Grand Canyon, Hawaii, and Europe – it was surprisingly a tie between Hawaii and Europe.  The restaurants, as you could imagine was all over the place.  If you have ever been in a church van and asked “Where do you want to eat?”  You know what I am talking about.

But the social media question surprised me the most.  The options to circle were Facebook, Instagram, Snap chat, and None.  (I was tempted to put MySpace just to confuse some people.   Anyone remember Xanga?)  Do you know which category won?  NONE!  That’s right, the favorite use of social media in our youth ministry is NONE.  Are they just circling that to keep me away from their account?  I think it is more than that.  Teens may be moving along to the next big thing and allowing their parents and grandparents to enjoy Facebook for themselves.  What do you think?  Do teens really care about social media?  I think they may not be pushing the like button anymore.facebook_like_button_big1

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