Category Archives: Youth Ministry

What If I Can’t Afford a Mission Trip?

Let’s face it.  Mission Trips can be expensive.  Travel expenses, training materials, ministry supplies, possible medical expenses, meals, housing…and the list goes on.  Is the expense worth it?  Absolutely.  I’m on record that short-term mission trips can be once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to provide long-lasting spiritual life change.  BUT…there are times when the expense of a trip is simply too much.  So what do you do when you can’t afford to go on a mission trip?  To put it simply, look out your window!

Each year, we host a summer mission project for our junior high students.  It is a mission trip literally in our backyard.  It teaches them how to participate in a mission trip setting, and helps their love for serving others to grow. 

Below are some examples of projects we have done in the past or plan to do in the future that are inexpensive projects that can serve as your summer’s mission trip:

  • Landscape a neighboring apartment complex
  • Yard Work for elderly of your church
  • Help with end of the year cleaning at the local school
  • Plant a community garden
  • Trash pickup along the roads of your community
  • Free Garage Sale for community
  • Vacation Bible School Projects
  • Clean nursery toys
  • Church Spring Cleaning

That should get you started.  Even if you do international trips at your church, I strongly encourage you to try some community projects either in the summer or throughout the year.   After all, if you are not serving in the community you are in now, how can you serve in someone else’s community?

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

Young People Need You

Think back to that person that invested in you.  Where would you be without those late night conversations, the advice over a milkshake, or the shoulder to cry on.

Take this man named Myron.  An ordinary guy who decided to invest in the next generation.  And now, while in the midst of a difficult time, he is reaping the reward of all those hours spent helping young people.

Tagged , , , ,

My Top Two Mentoring Videos

Mentoring is a process that comes with a lot of meat on the bone.  It can be overwhelming to know where to begin and how this mentoring thing works.  Well, these two videos are a great place to start.  One is how to find a mentor, and the other is how to be a mentor…

Tagged , , , , ,

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)

Tagged , , , , , ,

How to Host an Olympic Youth Event

Every 4 years in our youth group, we host an Olympic Games.  Before you think this is just an athletic competition, check this out.  This weekend is for everyone and each person on the team can contribute and have a great time.

Below is the schedule & events.  Enjoy!

Leaders arrive:  Set-up – Gym Games, Tables setup for eating

Students Arrive & Dinner Served

Gym Games Begin:  Around-the-World Ping Pong, Basketball Knockout, Finders Keepers

Devotional (short, but gospel-driven) – Next Week – FREE Olympic devotional on the blog

Instructions/Sign-ups for Water Games:  Teams sign up for water games quickly.  Instruct teens about NO Horseplay.  Respect of property, listen to lifeguard, no dunking underwater.  Safety.

Arrival at Pool (YMCA does pool rentals) & Change into Suits

Begin Water Games

  • Noodle Race – Race down to one end while riding noodle. Noodle must be between legs the duration of race.
  • Splash Contest – One person per team. Based on splash size & creativity.
  • Genie in a Bottle – Students spread out around area of pool. Teens turn around & close eyes.  Leader hides the 2 liter bottle in pool (filled up with water).  1st person to find-wins points for team.
  • Belly Flop Contest – No explanation needed, right?
  • Pearl Diver – 30 Seconds to dive and get as many coins as possible. Record $ amount of find, points awarded based on $ retrieved in the 30 seconds.
  • Underwater Talk – 2 Team members. Leader gives the topic to the team, and the word to only one team member.  Team member shares word under water.  If team gets it – points awarded.  (2 tries per team)  Example – Topic:  Food  Word:  Cheeseburger
  • Best Swimmer – Race to the finish. Extra 100 points if you beat Pastor Jeff
  • Synchronized Swimming – Each team must come up with a routine. Judged on presentation, creativity, & of course synchronization.
  • (If Time) Water Polo – Goals are trash cans or bowling pins. NO dunking or put into “penalty box”.  2 small time periods.  Winner of 2 games plays for championship.

Parents pick up at Church

Optional:  Sunday/Youth Night – Do a Game Show/Quiz Night for Final Competition & Prizes (Encourages visitors and those attending Olympics to come back!)

Tagged , , , , ,

7 Things I Learned at the National Youth Ministries Conference

 

This past week I was able to attend the Vision for Youth – National Youth Ministries Conference.  Clarks Summit University hosted speakers from all over, training youth workers and pastors in youth ministry.  Here are a few of the highlights of what I learned:

  1. PTA – Looking for a way to serve the local schools…how about joining the PTA? What a great idea!  Why didn’t I think of that?
  2. Community – Build a community around myself to challenge, keep me accountable, and encourage growth.
  3. Technology – Use Animoto.com for PowerPoint, Adobe Premiere Elements as a cheap way to edit videos, graphics for PowerPoint from church media drop, Graceway Media, or church media spot.
  4. Youth Leaders – Be intentional at using your leaders in a way that uses their gifts.
  5. Reach out – Be willing to reach out into your community. The mission field is growing, and it is often not coming into your church building.
  6. Calling – Don’t just seek your potential, but your calling in ministry. When you do, that’s when mighty things can happen.
  7. Junior High – As it says in this video, this is a key time for spiritual development. Make the middle school years a priority in your church.

Maybe you can attend next year!  Check out the ministry of vision for youth, and see if they can of help to you in your youth ministry… http://vfyouth.org/

Tagged , , , ,

2016 Goals Revisited

In January of this year, I posted my ministry goals for 2016.  When you make goals, it’s a balance of faith, attainability, and measurability.  Let’s take a look and see what God did this year…shutterstock_407994838-800x400

  1. Short Term Mission Trip – Mission trips are a part of our ministry every summer in a cycle of local, out-of-state, international, and work trips. This way, the 4 year high school experience will allow for various types of mission work. This year a trip to New York is in the works.  Grade:  A.  What a tremendous trip.  Click here for the recap.
  2. Inter-generational Ministry Continued Improvement – A tech class for seniors, service projects combined with adult small groups, guest speakers, mentoring initiatives, and integrated mission projects.  Grade:  B.  There is still room for improvement, and that will be reflected in the 2017 goals, but we did host the tech class for seniors, involve adults in combined service projects, and the mentoring initiatives are starting to grow.
  3. Better Timing – Each year I look at my schedule and there is always at least one “why did I schedule that there?”.   This year I want to make a more conscious effort in the timing of events and programs. Team with parents in working out better schedules. Not all conflicts can be avoided, but why not adjust the schedule if it can be.  Grade:  B+.  For the most part, this was much better this year.  I was very strategic in providing rest for leaders, including student leaders, at key times.  Events were pretty well spaced out for maximum impact and family time.
  4. Family Series – I have been trying to find more ways to gather the family together in a youth ministry context. This year, I plan to teach a small series on the family with the entire family.  Grade:  B.  We did it, but it was not as well attended as I had hoped.  It’s difficult when parents are serving in other ministries (not a bad thing) or various other reasons…but the series went well and was well-received.
  5. Co-Mission Event – Continue the annual co-mission, which is a mission conference for students. This year, there may be some changes to enhance and improve the evangelism training for the students.  Grade:  A.  There were several adults and leaders that mentioned this was one of the best Co-Mission events we have had.  We made some practical changes and resulted in a challenging, but encouraging training for the students.
  6. Series on Fear – I read recently teens have a wide array of fears. Fear is often what keeps them from doing right and what tempts them to do wrong. Fear takes them places they don’t want to go and holds them hostage when they want to leave. Fear is something we need to talk about.  Grade:  A.  I tweaked this a little and did a “Fear Factor” event instead and used it as a platform to discuss their fear.  This event was one of the highlights of the year for sure. 
  7. Winter Retreat – In the past, the winter has been difficult to draw up enough interest for a retreat. Part of it is timing with winter sports, weather, and life. But this year we hope will be different having a younger group.  Grade:  A-.   Not greatly attended due to sports conflicts, but overall was a valuable that provided spiritual growth and group unity.
  8. Service – Each year we place a heavy emphasis on service and provide ample opportunity to serve in the church and in the community. This year is no different with continuous plugging in of students in church life and a community/church service project scheduled every month.  Grade:  A.  God blessed us to be able to participate in a service project every month again this year.  That truly is a staple in our youth ministry and the benefits are too numerous to count.
  9. Global Emphasis – With the World in Need month continuing this year, we plan to place an emphasis on the issue of poverty across the world. We hope to encourage the students to not only pray but be a world-changer and do something about global poverty.  Grade:  A.  Whenever you can expand the worldview of a student and raise awareness of poverty, it’s hard not to look at it positively. 
  10. Apprenticeships – Along with having a youth intern this year, I want to encourage the student leaders to seek out mentoring opportunities. These will be called apprenticeships within the student leadership team, but outside the group it is simply the older students helping the younger students with life. Mentoring needs to happen both up and down…being mentored, and mentoring others.  Grade:  A.  What a great experience.  I was blessed to have an incredible intern who was eager to learn and dive into ministry.  I strongly encourage others to consider having an intern work alongside you at some point in the year.
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Partner With Parents

Ask any youth ministry veteran what they wished they did more of in their first few years of ministry, and partnering with parents will probably be in their top 3, if not their top wish.  It is so important to get on the same team as your parents in youth ministry.  This book will help you be the assistant coach to the head coach (parents) that you can be.teamup

Book Review:  Team Up by Phil Bell

The Good:

Pep Talk.  Skeptical of involving parents in your ministry?  Well, at least read chapter one and then let me know what you think.  The author does a great job grabbing the reader’s attention in the first chapter to explain the importance of parent involvement.

Practice Makes Perfect.  At the end of each chapter, the practice drills are dynamite.  They provide ways to implement everything you just read.  These could also be put to good use in parent meetings.

Super Practical.  Man, I came away from this book with tons of ideas for parent meetings and boosting my relationships with parents.  How do you do parent meetings, how do you communicate, how do you _______.  It’s all there and the steps are all written out.  Right on Phil Bell!

The Bad:

Gimme Some Cheat Codes.  The only thing I really feel like this book is missing is some devotional or lessons for parents using God’s Word.  It would be nice to get some example of lessons or portions of the parent seminars that were mentioned in the book.  I’m not looking to copy the entire presentation, but passages used, more detail of topics covered, and lessons that proved to be effective would be beneficial for the reader.

The Grade:  A-.  Talk about a practical ministry book that everyone in youth ministry should read.  This would be the one.  After reading it, I texted a few of my youth ministry buddies right away and told them about this one.  So this me telling you all, get this book and be encouraged by ways you can minister to and with parents.

Tagged , , , , ,

This Generation Needs the Truth

The longer I am in youth ministry, the more I realize how much this generation needs to be reminded of the truth of the Gospel.Picture3The Gospel…

A Gospel that tells them they are loved.  Not just a little bit of love – but love that would send an innocent man to His death…for them!  That they are worth dying for!  A love that does not change – nothing they can do can lose any of God’s love and earn any more…it is perfect!

A Gospel that tells them they have hope.  Even with the bullying, with the feelings of loneliness, the difficulties in their academics…there is hope.  Philippians 3:20 says our citizenship is in heaven…we are just visiting this world that is full of sin & destruction…there is so much hope that awaits you.

A Gospel that tells them they have a purpose.  Their purpose is to spread this GREAT NEWS.  They have a voice, they have something to share, they have the key to LIFE…which leads us to our passage.  Read I Timothy 6:19-21.

Remember these two verbs from this passage:  Pursue & Avoid

Pursue:  Check out the end of verse 19 – “TRULY LIFE”

First, little background/context here – this is a the end of a message Paul was giving to the rich – not to care so much about earthly treasures…but to care about the eternal.  Live for what truly matters – “take hold of that which is truly life” – How?  Pursue the eternal.  There is so much out there for this generation to hold onto…just hoping it will bring them LIFE.

They are out there searching – hoping life has so much more.  Thinking…this can’t be all there is…emptiness just filling their souls.  Like they are hanging on the edge of a cliff and reaching for something…anything to save them.  But they keep grabbing for things that don’t hold up, sending them further down the cliff.

Pursue LIFE.  Eternal life.  Let me ask you this:  Do we give this example to this coming generation?  When we show them – the Christian life – it’s where it’s at!  This is THE life!  According to Pew Research – Rise of the Nones (those with NO religious affiliation) that is growing in this country – Most given reason for breaking off w/ religion they were raised in because…they become disenchanted.  They were disappointed in Christianity!  Why?  Could it be we aren’t living like this is the ONLY way?  We live like there are other options.  Is it worth it to us?  Worth dying for?  Is it THE LIFE?  OR Do we live boring, risk-free, non-committal Christian lives?  Is it any wonder this generation is saying no thanks?

The Christian life is HARD, takes sacrifice, will produce persecution…it better be WORTH IT!  Does our life, our passions, our speech, our actions…do they prove to our children that the Christian life is worth it?

This is how we pursue – 5 steps

  1. We talk about God in our home – According to the College Transition Project – 1in 8 teens talk to their moms and 1 in 20 to their dads about faith in their lives.
  2. Serve Together – Let’s drop off cookies at the neighbors together, come paint VBS sets together, and visit the elderly together…and then get ice cream after. Ok?
  3. Church is a priority – Not in a legalistic way…but in a “We love the Bride of Christ” kind of way…and we WANT to be there to learn, serve, and worship.
  4. Share your faith – Not just daddy or mommy…but all of us share. In our schools, our jobs, our ball teams, our band concerts our neighborhoods…LIFE of faith.
  5. Love Others – Jesus said “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love others, love the lost…and prove it by your actions.

Avoid

End of verse 20 reminds me of:

  1. The philosophy professor at the secular college that wishes to disprove religion
  2. The rants of the atheists in our media aimed to humiliate anyone that believes in a higher power
  3. The theory that many call “science” claims the world was formed by a big bang & the existence of the universe was result of millions of years of chance

The world will call this knowledge – it is false – and our children need to hear the truth from us.  Avoid pointless arguments that get you nowhere…instead live by faith, share about what faith has done in your life, and love others – these are hard to argue.  We fight on FB – when we should offer a conversation at a coffee shopWe badmouth a child’s friend – when we should invite their parents out to breakfastWe get worked up in politics when we should be on our knees in prayer

What we want for our kids – verse 20…so we can do all we can to avoid verse 21.  The minute we water down the Gospel at our church or in our home – is the moment we fail.  We fail our Savior, we fail our responsibility, & we fail our children.  We guard the Gospel and avoid false teaching in our homes – with the hope of them staying firm in their faith.  Is this full-proof, money back guaranteed?  Not in this fallen world…but…  The more you talk about God in your home, protect the truth, and live it out…the greater the chance this coming generation will follow and stay firm in their faith.Picture2

Listen to the entire sermon here (9/4/2016)

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Reflections of an Intern

62f49b237c2fe6861446e264bc4293bb[GUEST POST BY:  DEVIN GOODWIN, INTERN EXTRAORDINAIRE]

No Task is too Small

I’ve been given many tasks while being an intern. This ranges from sweeping the floor to filling water for the fridge. But none of it is meaningless. This continuously points to the servant leadership that Christ desires for all.

Cling to Mentors

Listen to everything that your mentors tell you. These are the Godly people who you desire to be in the future. Ask them questions. See how they interact with problems. See how they follow after Christ. This is all God’s way of pointing you to Himself and showing you how you can serve Him in vocational ministry in the future.

Invest in People

Just because you are only in that position for a short amount of time doesn’t mean that you can slack off with the relationship side of ministry. Find people who you can disciple and point to Jesus. They need to see how personal He is and a lot of the ways that He is personal is through His body. The Spirit points us to the people that we are meant to be with and we are able to use what we are learning in Scripture to point others to a greater knowledge and love for Him.

Don’t Focus so much on your Work that you Neglect Christ

sidebar-1 Just because you are doing the work of the ministry doesn’t mean that you can stop investing in your own relationship with Christ. Make sure you are spending time in the Word and having deep times of prayer. Find things that stir your affections for Him. This can be by getting into nature, reading a good book, spending time with others, drinking a good cup of coffee, watching a good movie, or anything else that really gets you excited to serve Christ.

Don’t put yourself on a Pedestal

While being in a ministry position as an intern it is easy to think that you need to have it all together. This is insane! Thanks to sin, we will never have it all together. But this gives us the ability to follow after a relationship with Christ with other flawed people. So if you are hurting, let them know because then they can start to point you to Christ even better than before.

Tagged , , , , ,