Category Archives: Outreach

FREE Olympics Devotional

Last week’s blog post gave you a detailed description on how to host an Olympic Youth Event.  This week is your FREE devotional to use for the event.  It links the Olympics with the Gospel.  Hope your event brings students to Christ!

Olympics Devotional

Something very special happens every 2 years…what is it?  THE OLYMPICS!

When you think of famous Olympians, there are some names that come to mind right away… Michael Phelps, Carl Lewis, or Mary Lou Retton.

 

What about Derek Redmond?  Let me just tell you his story, and I think you will remember him.

He held the British record for the 400m at age 19.  He made it to the Olympics in 1988, but had to withdraw due to an Achilles injury.

In the course of the next 4 years, he had 5 surgeries and trained to become a favorite for the 400 meters in the 1992 Olympic games.

On that day in Barcelona, he stepped on that starting line wanting desperately to finish with a medal around his neck.  The starting pistol goes off, and the race is going great.  Derek is leading the pack as he passes the halfway mark, and suddenly he hears a pop that sounded like a gunshot.  His leg begins to shake, and he realizes he has tore his hamstring.

Some of you are getting the picture in your mind right now…Derek’s dad is watching in the stands.  He sees his son hurt from the top of the stadium.  He rushes down through the 65,000 people packed in that stadium.  He yells at the security guards as he races past them “That’s my son, and I need to help him”

You see, before that race, Derek made a promise to his dad that he was going to finish that race no matter what.  And his dad came onto the track, put his sons arm around him and together, father and son, they finish the race together in front of a roaring crowd.

 

What a powerful story, but is nothing compared to what I am about to tell you.

You see each one of us in this room is like Derek.  We try to run this life of ours and do our best, but in the end we will come up short.

Romans 3:23 – “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  What that means is we all have made mistakes and we come short of heaven.

But just like that day on the track, we have a loving Father that wants us to finish.  As Derek’s dad came down from the stands, our Father in heaven, sent His Son down to this earth to suffer for us.  He died to pay the penalty for our sins.

Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

That day on the track Derek’s dad said to him – I’m here, son,” Jim says softly, hugging his boy. “We’ll finish together.”

God is saying that to you today.  I am here for you, I died for you, and I love you.  Believe & trust in me today, and we will spend eternity in heaven together.  Will you make that decision today?  Pray to God & trust Him today.

 

Pray (Invitation Option)

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5 Tips to Host a Easter Egg Hunt on a Small Budget

Rent a helicopter.  Get the real Easter Bunny to attend.  DC Talk reunion tour concert to open the festivities.  What happens if you don’t have a large budget for your Easter Egg Hunt?  No problem.  There are ways to still host a fun event for your community.

If you are looking for tips on how to host an Easter Egg Hunt – check out my previous posts here and here.

But if you are looking to host an Easter Egg Hunt on a low-budget.  Here’s some tips you need remember:

Get the Church to Help.  As mentioned in previous blog posts, this keeps the budget low when the church donates towards the cause.  Eggs, candy, bottled water…and even cash donations go a long way to keep costs down.  In past egg-fills, we might make a quick run to the dollar store for more eggs or candy, but for the most part we have enough filled eggs for the event.

Egg Return.  Make provisions to have a place where eggs can be returned.  This will save you next year when you ask for more donations.  You will already have a nest egg (pun intended) for your event the following year.

Free.  When you have an event that is free, the expectations are not nearly as high.  When people pay for an event, they desire something in return for their payment.  Keeping it free is not only good practice as a church, but also will allow for a good spirit among those that attend.

Limited but Effective Activities.  Each year we evaluate what activities are worth keeping for the following year.  The majority of our small budget is placed into bounce houses.  These are something every kid loves and are worth the money.  Other activities like crafts, face painting, and prayer table are low-budget activities.

Keep Program Simple.  Each year we make sure to share the Gospel at our event.  It’s not a bait and switch, because it is advertised as people come to the registration table.  But let’s be honest, hundreds of people (especially kids) anxiously waiting for the Easter Egg Hunt are not going to be held at bay for very long.  So the puppet show, video, or speaker should not be much longer than 15 minutes.  That’s all the attention span you got, so use it wisely.

Hope these tips are helpful for your Easter Egg Hunt.  Feel free to comment on how you accomplish your Easter activities. 

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Community Event Idea: A Free Garage Sale?

Poster

Idea: A Garage Sale Giveaway or Free Garage Sale is pretty self-explanatory. Essentially, you have a garage sale or rummage sale at your church. However, the big difference is that EVERYTHING IS FREE. The goal is to show your community you care about them as Christ cares for them, and provide a way for your church to demonstrate that love.

Rules: No donations can be taken at any time. Keep this as a strict policy. If someone presses, invite them to come on Sunday morning and drop the money in the offering as worship, not as part of this sale. Second, use tickets or set a limit of items people can take in the beginning of the event. This will hopefully prevent those that are just there to take a truckload to their own garage sale (yes, this did happen in one of our past events).

Donations: People have stuff! Believe me, people will gladly give you things lying around. Opening it up to your church family to bring in their “stuff”, if you give them 2-3 months to prepare, it will come!

Organization: Have a drop off location (ours was our garage), and make this clear. Be clear in setting a drop off date. Formulate a team of volunteers to take a week to organize the donations into categories like clothes, housewares, books, etc.

Promotion: Keep this in front of your church in announcement and bulletin information.  Place an ad in your city newsletter. Put a large banner/sign in front of your church 1-2 weeks prior to the event. Provide flyers for your church family to invite others. Put an event on the app called Nextdoor.

Evangelism: Train your volunteers to respond to the “Why are you doing this?” question. Give them tips to answer that question with “Because we love our community/neighbors” and “Because Jesus gave us forgiveness/salvation for free, so we want to follow his example and give you something for free”.

Opportunity to De-Clutter: Use this event as an opportunity to de-clutter your church. Because ministry leaders will be more willing to depart with materials if they know it is going to help their community.

Important Details: Remember to call Salvation Army (or other thrift store organization) for pick up of leftover materials. Don’t forget this! Make sure to have parking lot & security available. Registration table – give information about church and place to sign up with name/address for future mailer. Volunteers needed for loading of cars and for friendly interaction with crowd.

 

I hope this provides your church a way to love your community. It is hard work, but in the end, it was worth showing others the love of Christ.

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6 Tips for a Successful Easter Egg Hunt

Last year, I wrote how to plan an Easter Egg Hunt for the community.  This time, I’d like to follow-up with six quick tips to help you have a successful hunt.  Feel free to comment with ideas you have…Easter_0000_Egg-hunt

Gospel-Driven. I put this first for a reason. I believe these events can be an opportunity for Jesus to be shared. I’m not suggesting a 4 act play on the story of Easter, but a simple object lesson that would be enjoyable for the kids and their parents.

Church Effort. Listen, the idea of a community Easter egg hunt seems pretty overwhelming to do by yourself…so don’t. Allow it to be a church effort. Encourage your church each year to donate the candy and eggs.

Sunny Bunny Eggs. Even though we support this event mostly with donations, I would suggest purchasing a base amount from Sunny Bunny Eggs for two reasons. One, it helps ease your mind that at least you will have some eggs if donations go awry. Second, it is a great organization that supports those with mental disabilities.

Divide the Ages. Too often, I see Easter egg hunts that are not divided by age and the older kids run over the little ones, like Bigfoot over cars at a monster truck rally. Splitting up the ages is always appreciated by the parents.

Bounce House. Book it right now. Book two if you can. Trust me on this one.

Teen Leadership Opportunity. Our student leaders plan and administrate this entire event. You heard me. They recruit volunteers, plan the games, contact the bounce house people, and even give the lesson. Never underestimate what teenagers can do for their community for God’s glory.

 

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5th Quarter Video Ideas

It’s 5th Quarter season again.  Many of you are gearing up for that 5th Quarter Party, and hoping for a great turnout from the big game.  If you need some help planning, check out this blog post and this one too.  Maybe your speaker cancelled on you, you need a back-up speaker plan, or you simply wanted to show a video this year.  Here are some video ideas that may work:

 

Other Ideas: 

Feel free to comment and leave video ideas that you have used in the past.  Let’s help each other make these 5th Quarter parties a success…which means seeing students meet their Savior, Jesus Christ!

 

 

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8 Ways Christians Should Handle Homosexuality

In a message at a teen leadership conference, the speaker brought up a good point.  Oftentimes, Christian mishandle the topic of homosexuality and cause more harm than good.  While there is certainly disagreements in lifestyle and behavior, there are things Christians can do differently and better to show we love others, specifically those in the homosexual community.  Here are a few ways we can be more consistent, loving, and Christ-like.

homosexuality2

  1. Handle sin the same – don’t ignore less or more popular sins
  2. Don’t expect people who don’t follow Christ to obey the Bible
  3. Carefully choose the way you protest
  4. Remember it’s more important to make a difference than a point (Don’t crush others to make yourself feel better)
  5. How you say what you say, is as important as what you say
  6. Don’t fear sharing what you believe – Remember the argument is not with the Bible, but with the writer of it
  7. Treat those with whom you disagree with love
  8. Be willing to live with the consequences of speaking the truth in love

(Taken from a message by David Whiting, Teen Leadership Conference at Baptist Bible College, July 2014)

 

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Mocking Evangelism

What’s wrong with me, I’m currently reading a book called “Questioning Evangelism”, and I’m about to blog about Mocking Evangelism. Before you start throwing stones at your computer, let me straighten things out here. Questioning Evangelism is a book about using questions in evangelism. And I’m not encouraging mocking evangelism, but the use of Mock Evangelism events.
Mock Evangelism events are a staged event where students can practice sharing the Gospel with those they know and trust. How is it done? Well, let me help you explain by answering 3 Questions: Why, Where, & Who?evangelism4

Why? Maybe your youth ministry is different, but I’m entering my 3rd year in my current ministry, and when I polled the high schoolers, very few have ever led anyone to the Gospel. So I wanted them to learn how to do it in a “safe environment”. So the Mock Event allows the students to practice their gospel presentations with familiar faces before they go out and share with strangers.
Where? My goal is to make it real as possible. One time I set the gym up like a lunchroom, another was a park, and last year was the streets of Chicago. Also sounds are effective. So, in that lunchroom setting, I was the principal and would give announcements from the sound system. Or for a mission trip to Chicago, I showed slides with sights and sounds of downtown Chicago.
Who? In the past, I’ve mentioned the importance of intergenerational ministry.  Well, here is one way to accomplish bridging the generations together. Each time, I invite several adult small groups to come and participate. For the student lunch room, I had adults dress up like cheerleaders, athletes, or in goth costumes. For the park, one guy was passed out on a bench, another was painting portraits, and another was playing catch with his kids. BEST PART: Gave permission to adults to “step out” of character when needed and instruct or encourage the teen. Say things like “Here’s what you can say here” when they get stuck or “that was really good, keep going”. This is a real opportunity for natural discipleship/mentoring to take place.

Extra: Be Creative. Use sounds, people of your church, PowerPoint, decorations. Make it real, so when you do take your students out, they will be as ready as they can be. Cater to your Trip. For example: I knew part of the Chicago trip would be to invite people from their homes. So I had “actors” in side rooms ready to answer the door. The teens had no idea who they would meet on the other side. Hilarious! But it gave them experience of what they would face on the trip, and in real life.

Hopefully you can see the value of Mock Evangelism Events, particularly in the mission trip training process. However, I’ve used these events concluding series on the importance of sharing the Gospel. Please, don’t allow this event to be a replacement for the real thing, but as a training ground for your students to be sent out as missionaries in their homes, neighborhoods, schools, communities, and around the world.

 

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Evangelism Resources

In a previous blog on Evangelism, I mentioned the value of setting students up for Evangelism success.  Now, before I move on, let me just clarify.  There is no A + B = Angels Rejoicing in Heaven.  In other words, God is in charge, and it is up the Spirit of God moving in the heart of that individual.  A teen could have a perfect Gospel presentation, and the person listening could still say no thanks.

That being said, it is important you give your students the tools to succeed in evangelism.  One was mentioned here, giving you the website for the wordless bracelets and 4 points bracelets.  These are so valuable because you do not need to bring any materials, simply wear the bracelet for a visual presentation.  It’s like having a PowerPoint presentation on your arm.

share-Jesus-on-TwitterHere are 5 resources that I have used or have had recommended to me are the following:

  1. The Mission Ball – A soccer ball with the Gospel?  Many mission trips will have a language barrier.  This tool can break the ice, and with soccer being a universal sport language, this could be your ticket to a Gospel conversation.  Their website describes it as “simply a soccer ball covered with Biblical text. It includes the 10 Commandments, God’s simple plan of Salvation, and selected Scripture.”
  2. May I Ask You a Question Tracts – These come in multiple languages and are simple to use.  Many people who have used these tracts call them simple, clear, and effective.
  3. Solarium – Are you a visual person like me?  These tracts provide a visual presentation, by presenting the Gospel through pictures.  A tool developed by Campus Crusade, and is described on their website as 50, 4×6 original photographic images and 5 simple questions that allow you to enter and explore the lives of people around you.  Soularium is designed to create a space for authentic dialogue with people about their life and spiritual journey. It’s perfect to use with students, neighbors, co-workers, friends and family – people of all ages!”
  4. EE – 2 Diagnostic Questions – Use these questions to begin Gospel conversation:  1. Have you come to a place in your spiritual life where you know for certain that if you were to die today you would go to heaven, or is that something you would say you’re still working on?  2.   Suppose that you were to die today and stand before God and He were to say to you, “Why should I let you into my heaven?”  What would you say?
  5. eCube – This cube designed Gospel presentation is great for child evangelism.  It’s easy to learn and use, and is a fun way to present the Good News.  This valuable resource also comes in a kids version.

So there you have it.  Help your students share Jesus with these five resources.  Set your students up for success.  Five fun ways to share the Gospel, which will re-energize the passion for the lost in your teens and provide learnable ways to share Jesus with others.

What about you?  What evangelism resources have you used in your ministries that have worked with teenagers?  Share in the comments section, and help others share Jesus more effectively.

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Evangelism Events – Part 2

As promised, here are 50 events that I have participated in over the years.  Some are outdated, some went very well, some were flops…After reading the list.  Feel free to comment about some of the events that you have done over the years!

1. Where’s Waldo
2. Mall Masquerade
3. Clue
4. Diamond Smugglers
5. Video Scavenger Hunt
6. “Make your own video” night
7. Parent Appreciation Night
8. Coffee House
9. Talent Show
10. K-Nine/Matt-Ball
11. Dodgeball
12. Capture-the-flag
13. Frisbee golf
14. Monopoly – LIFESIZE
15. Open Gym
16. Sardines
17. Bigger & Better
18. Mafia
19. 4 on the couch
20. Board Game Night
21.  Amazing Race
22. Survivor
23.  Bunko
24.  Mystery Dinner
25.  Director’s Cut – Make your own movie
26. Fear Factor
27.  Miniature Golf
28.  Bowling
29.  Laser Tag
30.  Prom Night (Alternative to dancing)
31.  Disco Night (milkshakes, blob movie)
32.  5th Quarter Party
33.  Guys/Girls Nights
34.  Back to School Night/Church Picnic
35.  Theme/Water Park
36.  Word of Life SuperBowl
37. Widow/Singles Valentine Dinner
38. Camping Trip
39.  Basketball/Dodgeball Marathon
40. Teens Involved
41.  Attend a Sports Game
42.  Olympics
43.  Winter Retreat
44.  WinterJam
45.  Fall Retreat
46. Super Bowl Party
47.  Small Group Day
48.  Camp
49.  Ice Skate/Roller Skate
50.  Turkey Bowl
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Evangelism Events

Continuing our Evangelism blog series, our next stop is evangelism events.  You see, what is the point in training our students in evangelism, if we don’t allow them to use it.  As Andy Stanley says in his book, The Seven Checkpoints, “We waste our time and breath if we tell our teenagers that God has equipped each of them for ministry and then not provide opportunities for them to do just that.”

Listen, the sky is the limit here.  Events range from dodgeball to paintball, shopping to scavenger hunts, and formal dinners to eating contests.  If you are a youth worker reading this, you could probably rattle off 200 evangelistic events off the top of your head.  If not, next week, I’ll provide a list of event ideas for you.

This week is more about the preparation and purposeful evangelism of each event.  You know, there is a time and place to host an event for unity or to get to know students.  But for the most part, events need to have a purpose, and when it is evangelism, be purposeful in your planning.Evangelism

Here are 4 things to implement in your next evangelistic event:

  1. Hunting is not allowed.  Your evangelistic events should not be a hunting experience, where you shoot down visitors with the Gospel, and simply have a count by the end of the day.  NO!  Have a detailed plan of follow-up for these events.  Counselors available immediately after the speaker/gospel are vital to the students first steps in the family of God.  Registration cards for long-term follow-up and discipling are a must.
  2. No age limit.  Who said the speaker and workers had to be adults.  Get your students involved.  Let them be the speaker.  Let them plan the event and the details.  Give them opportunity to use their gifts for the sake of the Gospel!
  3. I need a witness.  Testimonies are powerful.  If you are not a speaker, or your student has trouble coming up with a message…give your story.  Your story of salvation is the second best story ever told.  The first is the Gospel.  Tell them both!
  4. Join the Party.  When someone gives their life to Jesus, join the party in heaven.  Don’t just raise your hands with heads bowed, have them stand up.  Cheer for what happened.  This may not work everywhere, but when someone accepts Christ, celebrate it whenever possible.

 

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