Tag Archives: Events

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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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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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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Ideas For Graduate Recognition or Senior Night

As I mentioned last week, Senior Nights have their benefits.  And one of the greatest things about planning these events is the sky is the limit.  Typically, I try to plan the event around personality of the people graduating.  If it is a more outgoing group, I would try to get them more involved during the presentation.  For the introverted group, I would make it more low-key and enjoyable for them.  Regardless, I do my best on a reasonable budget, to make this night unforgettable and truly memorable for the senior and their families.  Here are a few ideas…Senior Night 2012

A Night at the Oscars. This took some prep work in our event planning. The month prior to senior night we had a video contest, where students would get together and produce their own short film. Little did the seniors know, this would play into their Senior Night. At the Senior Night, awards were given from those films such as best actor/actress, best film, best cinematography, etc. Oscars were made from gold paper (I still have mine in my window sill of my office.

The night was just like the Oscar night. Each senior was picked up from a designated area in a convertible donated by someone in the church. We pulled out the red carpet for our seniors to enter. The entire church was waiting for the seniors as the pulled in one-by-one. Each senior was interviewed in from of the church and cheered and celebrated.

The schedule began with an opening monologue, Oscar awards, band performance, video of seniors pictures given by parents, and time of prayer. The night also included a brief devotional by our lead pastor.Senior Night JPEG

Olympic Ceremony. Just like the Oscars, this took advance planning as well. Medals can be made or bought at a local party supply store. These medals were given in a special ceremony for each Olympic event the month prior.

A special host is needed for this event. In this case, I was Bob Hope. You can be creative with this. Other parts of the program included a live band performance, Gospel presentation, charge to seniors and families, video presentation of pictures of graduates growing up, commercials, and an unforgettable skit.MSM AWARDS

Awards Night. Again, needed a prior event for this senior night to work. So, we had a talent show the month before to allow for awards to be given. Awards were based on that particular night.  The creativity comes into play on this part of the night where you try to come up with as many categories as you can to give out as many awards as you can.

Schedule included recorded testimonies of lessons learned from the seniors, red carpet entrance and interviews, monologues for presenters, memory/picture video of seniors, and special guest host.Presentation

Price is Right. We really outdid ourselves this year. Set design, logos, name tags, host scripts, items up for bids, prizes to be won, cars given away (matchbox, of course…what budget do you think I have?), and much more. It was incredible.

Again, we invited the church. But this time, they were the audience helping each contestant. There was only 2 seniors this year, so they were the 1st two contestants called. We had 4 games ready to play (can be found here), and the seniors each played the game, along with two other contestants. We had a digital wheel to spin. And even a showcase showdown!

The night began with a devotional, and then the worship center turned into the set of the Price is Right. The whole audience had a blast, and it was a very memorable night for our seniors and their families.

It did take a tremendous effort from our leaders who designed the set, got sound effects for the show, helped the students design t-shirts, gathered prizes, and the list goes on and on.

Keys to Remember:

  • Always involve the church. Whether it is at the arrival of the seniors or as audience members…invite the church to be part of this experience. This is very important.
  • Planning – make sure parents/families are given advance notice so they can be a part of the special night.
  • Involve the younger students in the planning process – give them assignments with decorations, food prep, or parts in the program.
  • Gathering Time – After the event, gather the seniors and their families along with the rest of the youth ministry and get some pizzas and play some games to round out the night. Does not have to be long, but will help bring everything to a good end.
  • If possible – keep the theme a secret from the seniors. It adds to the anticipation in the days prior to the event for the graduations.

What are some of your senior celebration ideas?

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5 Reasons to Host a Senior Night Celebration in Your Youth Ministry

Senior night celebrations are special in many ways.  If you think it does not have an impact on the graduating seniors…think again.  Here are just a few good results of a well planned senior night celebration.Presentation

  1. Appreciation & Care. Show the seniors you love them, care about them, and are not going to forget about them when they leave the youth ministry. Shower them with thoughtful gifts like cards signed by the entire student ministry. Books that will have an impact on this stage of their life (examples: Just Do Something or Dear Graduate). And it doesn’t hurt to throw a gift certificate in there like iTunes or Chipotle.
  2. Easing the Transition. These seniors have been with you for 6-7 years, so this is not an easy transition for them. So make it easier on them. Invite the young adult ministry to the senior night celebration. Put them in an adult or young adult small group before they exit youth ministry to ease into the transition. Set apart certain times where they visit adult programs and classes before graduation. We are losing way too many seniors after graduation from the church. We need to do a better job in transitioning them into the life of the church. (By the way, this should happen from when they are in children’s ministry, but I’m talking about specifically seniors right now)
  3. Celebrate Good Times, Come on! Make it a celebration. Next week, I will give some ideas of some senior nights we have done in the past. And let me tell you, these are some of my favorite nights in youth ministry. Memorable, fun, impactful and purposeful nights that students, parents, and families have enjoyed.
  4. Honoring One Another. Senior Celebrations also allow the other students to honor the graduates. Each year I have the seniors give at least one lesson they have learned over the years to pass along to the younger students. Many have encouraged the younger students to attend certain events, or take advantage of certain things, and others have given powerful lessons they have learned along the way.
  5. Great Ending. What makes a movie, book, or story memorable…well, it’s a good ending, of course. Same for your graduates. Allow the seniors to have a lasting memory of how things ended, leaving with a sweet taste and an eagerness to continue serving and being a part of the local church.
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2015 Youth Ministry Goals

As the saying goes, “if you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”  It’s a saying that goes through my mind during this time of year.  Sure, God can re-direct, and we should always be willing to change our plans according to his direction.  But it is also wise to plan ahead and cast vision for the upcoming year.  Below are 8 goals that I have set for my 2015 ministry year…hoping they can provide you some inspiration as well.  Feel free to comment below with some of your goals!

2014-15

2015 Goals:

  • WIN Event—Continue to broaden worldview of students by teaching students the needs of the world. Also, provide an interactive learning experience where they research the world needs on their own.
  • Co-Mission Expansion—Collaborate with other youth pastors to plan a mission project or allow students to form community projects together.
  • New Events—These new events for students include CedarMania and a trip to the Creation Museum.
  • Community Reach—Continue the reach into community by working with a local school in a summer mission project.
  • Junior High Ministry—Continue to expand Junior High Ministry into more than Sunday School, but provide events just for Junior High.
  • Informal Hangout—This is a common request from teens. Add another “Hangtime”, and pursue opportunities to hang out with teens outside of church.
  • Student Led Mission Trip—Provide an opportunity for leadership students to lead a mission project over the summer.
  • Internship Track—Begin to develop ideas for future interns such as reading material, assignments, and training.

 

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