Tag Archives: Youth Ministry

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!)

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2017 Youth Ministry Goals

Another year and more goals for the Lord to accomplish!  It’s great to look forward to another year of serving in youth ministry and another year of God doing amazing things.  This is just the tip of the iceberg…because I know God will do so much more.  But still, it’s always good to put goals out there to aim at as the Lord directs our shots.

Goals for 2017

  • New Book! –  Blessing to announce my 1st book has been published and my goal is for 1,000 copies to be sold to help people fall in love with God’s Word.
  • New Curriculum Plan! – Hard to believe this is my 6th year ministering at MBC, which mean a new 6 year plan will be put in place—with the input of parents, students, and research this plan will be implemented in the fall of 2017.
  • Mentoring – Teach a 2 week Mentoring series to encourage mentoring of generations within the church.
  • Short Term Mission Trip – Due to monthly local mission project, the 3 year cycle is now work trip, out-of-state, international trip. This year we will be traveling for our work trip.
  • Life After High School Series—Special speakers to speak on after high school temptations like drugs, how to witness after high school, and leader advice for the young adult years.
  • Public School Partnership – Continue to find ways to partner with local schools to serve them and bring the hope of Jesus Christ to students.
  • Social Media Interaction – Bolster ministry social media footprint with student leadership help and more interaction on Facebook.
  • Implement G.R.O.W.T.H Chart– Encourage parents to follow chart of spiritual growth for their students and provide training and help for students to reach these spiritual goals.

 

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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.

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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.

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Two Secrets That Will Help Build Your Summer Ministry

Has this ever happened to you in the summer?  You plan a canoe trip and three teens show up?  Or you put together a whiffle ball home run derby, one guy shows up, and is automatically declared the winner?  These are true stories from my ministry.  Summer events can be frustrating.  Whether it is the different schedule of summer, vacations, or sports camps…it proves to be difficult to host a successful summer event.  So, over the years, as I have evaluated the summer ministries, I have found two effective ways to do summer ministry.

#1 – Scale Down

imagesTake a breather.  Listen, with week-long mission trips, camps, mission projects, Vacation Bible School…your attendance at weekly meetings will begin to dip.  The philosophy of scaling down in summer youth ministry is highly debated.  You will find the “summer is the best time to do ministry” crowd.  And if that works for you, Praise God.  But, in my experience, keeping the normal ministry schedule has resulted in low attendance, picking and choosing of ministry involvement, and tired leaders.

Instead, we put our energy and passion into the other events of the summer.  We serve together for big children’s ministry events.  We build our efforts towards mission trips and projects.  Our leaders recoup and find refreshment.  And you know what happens when fall rolls around?  They are pumped and primed for ministry!  The summer builds up that opening night of the school year schedule.

#2 – Summer Hang Out

PosterThe summer schedule is unpredictable.  So, as Kevin Durant would say, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”.  Use informal time to build into the students.  Take a few guys out for ice cream, babysit for your wife to take some girls out for coffee, or invite some teens over for a ministry project during the week.  Use this time for some informal discipleship, catching up, and building unity over the summer.

We posted an announcement on Facebook to let the students know their leaders were available to hang out sometime this summer.  Some girls called my wife to have dinner.  I was able to have lunch with a few guys the last few weeks.  It’s nothing earth-shattering, but the conversations have been priceless.  What I want to happen at events (informal discipleship) is happening in this brief get-together.

What about you?  What works for you in the summer?  I’d love to hear your secrets to a successful summer.

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2016 Youth Ministry Goals

In Philippians 3:14, Paul was not talking about youth ministry goals.  But I still love the phrase “press on toward the goal”.  In ministry, you must do just that…”press on”.  It is important to reflect on your past accomplishments, like I did last week, and grow from your mistakes and build on your successes.  But, it is also vital in ministry to look ahead, plan, and seek God’s guidance for the year ahead.  Below are 10 goals for the 2016 ministry year.  Hopefully these will provide you with ideas and/or encouragement for the coming year.shutterstock_263635745

  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
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2015 Year in Review

What is the point of goals if you do not look back and see how it went?  Seriously, it would be like a basketball player shooting and never looking to see if the ball made it in the hoop.  You want to see how successful your attempt was at your goals, and it also provides an opportunity to praise and thank God for all He has done.

Let’s take a peek on last year’s goals and provide an update…

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.  Grade: A. Teens were able to assemble potential charity projects, learn about needs across the world, and provide Biblical solutions to these problems.Blog4
  • Co-Mission Expansion—Collaborate with other youth pastors to plan a mission project or allow students to form community projects together. Grade: Incomplete. To no fault of trying, the logistics to making this happen proved to be too difficult. However, the event still turned out to be a success and provided great evangelistic training to nearly 100 students.
  • New Events—These new events for students include CedarMania and a trip to the Creation Museum. Grade: A. These events were well attended and well placed into the event calendar. The students really enjoyed each event and provided a great off-campus experience.
  • Community Reach—Continue the reach into community by working with a local school in a summer mission project. Grade: A. Community outreach has not always been a strength. However, this year God provided great opportunities such as a community garden rehab for a local school, spaghetti dinners for low-income housing, and homeless outreach to name a few.
  • Junior High Ministry—Continue to expand Junior High Ministry into more than Sunday School, but provide events just for Junior High. Grade: A. God has provided us with some incredible junior high directors that have made this ministry expansion possible, including our first junior high only event. The growth has been a blessing to see, and excited to see what God does in the coming year.
  • Informal Hangout—This is a common request from teens. Add another “Hangtime”, and pursue opportunities to hang out with teens outside of church. Grade: C. Although the goal was accomplished, it was not the best timing. We tried it in the summer, and things were just too busy. It was a lesson learned though to build in this hangtime within the events already scheduled. Once we learned this, it has been a benefit to the ministry.index
  • Student Led Mission Trip—Provide an opportunity for leadership students to lead a mission project over the summer. Grade: A. Sometimes you need faith and risk what God puts on your heart. This was one of them. There was more trust placed into the student leaders this year for the local project, and they delivered! Very proud of how hard they worked to bless our community this past summer.
  • Internship Track—Begin to develop ideas for future interns such as reading material, assignments, and training. Grade: B. While it is not deserving of an incomplete, there is still room for improvement. I was able to gather some books that will be good for training myself along with books the intern will be required to read. There is also a basic plan for the responsibilities of the intern.

2015 GPA – 3.6.  Is that considered honor roll?  Either way, God gets the honor!

 

 

 

 

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Youth Curriculum Review Series – 2015 Edition (cont.)

In the final installment of the Youth Curriculum Review of 2015, let’s take a look at some small group curriculum.

41efF+SLSLL._SX404_BO1,204,203,200_Creative Bible Lessons in Job by Doug Ranck.  Let me just say this.  I have searched and used many youth curriculum, and one of the curricula that I often recommend is the Creative Bible Lessons.  Here’s what you get with this curriculum.  A starter or icebreaker for the lesson that often comes with multiple options with minimal setup but maximum effectiveness.  Then the lesson is dynamic, easy to teach, good foundation of Scripture, and a good challenge.  In the end, there are discussion questions and worksheets that work very well in the small group setting.

66475Serving Like Jesus by Doug Fields & Brett Eastman.  This was a good fit for small group, but on a heavier teaching night, it would not work as well.  The teaching material is limited and often required some additional work.  However, the discussion questions and outlined series were phenomenal.  I actually added to the series by inviting people in the church who were serving like Jesus to interview them.  That added to the material.  The highlight of this curriculum was definitely the plethora of interaction and discussion questions.  So if you struggle in the teaching side, this might not be best series.  But in a small group setting with shorter teaching and more discussion, this is perfect.

indexSurrender by Francis Chan.  Disclaimer to begin:  I’m a huge Francis Chan.  I’ve read every book he has written and Crazy Love happens to be in my top 5 books of all time.  That being said, this series is a small group goldmine for many reasons.  It provides a DVD series to break up your teaching.  The subject matters are not fluff, but are very challenging, relevant, and hold the interest well.  The lesson is very well put together and Biblically based.  The discussion questions provided allow the small groups to flourish and have great follow-up.  The only down side is it only 4 weeks.  Other than that, it is well worth using for a “break” series during the year, to finish the year, or even in a retreat setting.

 

 

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Youth Curriculum Review Series – 2015 Edition

As mentioned in a previous blog article “Why You Should Teach Theology to Teenagers”, I decided to bravely go where few youth pastors have gone before…a series on theology.  Theology and doctrine are the foundation of our beliefs.  And it is what you believe and who you believe in that drives how you will live your life.  This makes this theology series called “Theology of a Teenager” a potentially life-changing series.  So, realizing the importance of these lessons, I decided to use several resources to enhance my study and prep for each lesson.  Below is a review of the resources used…

Curriculum Review:  Theology Resources

The Good:

41meerfMKnL._SX343_BO1,204,203,200_Clear by Chris Folmsbee.  This curriculum does  a great job of breaking down each major doctrine in a very understandable way.  The writer presents the material in a way that is very teachable with workable outlines.  This resource was used heavily in the outline phases of the lessons.  It often hit the major points that I desired to discuss and helped me narrow down my discussion points.  Also, Folmsbee does a great job of integrating Scripture throughout.  Large volume of Bible passages to work with in every chapter was very helpful.

51Sk5VTCtzL._AC_UL320_SR212,320_Practical Christian Theology by Floyd H. Barackman.  Why is this on the list you ask?  While it is true, this is not a teen curriculum.  However, this was very helpful in bringing it a notch.  I warned the students that there would be challenging lessons throughout.  But rather than getting eye rolls, I got enthusiasm and teens who were up to the challenge.  With this book, you are able to dive a little deeper and challenge your students.  I found the students appreciated me not dumbing down the material, but taking it to a higher level.  Those that were still new, I still had balanced lesson with the Gospel clear throughout the series.

516Sh0GA57L._SX404_BO1,204,203,200_Creative Bible Lessons in Essential Theology by Andrew Hedges.  Compared to the two above, this resource was not used as much.  But, this curriculum was valuable for other reasons.  It provided great discussion questions to keep the lessons interactive, rather than a long lecture.  Also, each lesson has a “breaking the ice” section which was helpful to bridge a game time or announcements to the lesson time.

The Bad:

41ESJRxLh3L._SL500_SY375_BO1,204,203,200_  I feel bad for even putting this in the bad category because of all that Kara Powell has contributed to youth ministry.  But I have to be honest, and it is not entirely her fault.  This resource was a hand-me-down from 1999.  So the material is a bit out of date.  There has been quite a progression of technology since then, and it puts many of the illustrations and teacher resources non-usable.  Also, the curriculum is very difficult to use and many of the teaching ideas require prep time and a great deal of materials.  This is not a curriculum tool that I would suggest using for a theology series.

Videos:

Introduction to Series:

Theology Matters – Dug Down Deep – Joshua Harris; #truth Jesus Wins

Other Illustration Videos: 

Does God Existevan-almighty-movie-clip-screenshot-you-did-good_large

Does God Exist – Albert Einstein

Evan Almighty Speaks With God

That’s My King

Heaven – It’s Not What You Think

 

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5 Reason Church Promotional Videos Are So Valuable

For years, I have wanted to make a promotional video for my youth ministry. I envisions action shots from youth group along with interviews and cool music in the background. Here’s the problem, I don’t know how to do any of that? Or at least not enough to make it not look like the public access channel.

Lo and behold, my brother-in-law starts a cinematography (I can’t even spell that, thank you Microsoft Word) company called 740 films. He graciously agreed to help me with this project. As we talked, I began to expand the vision to the entire church. How cool would it be to have a video for not only the youth ministry, but also a message from our senior pastor, a children’s ministry overview, and another video highlighting the young adult ministry. Why would I go through all this trouble (well, I actually did very little in the production process) to make these videos?

Here are 5 reasons why church promotional videos can be valuable:

  1. Front Door. As you may have heard already, the church website is the new front door for visitors. In 2012, as many as 1/3 of visitors went to the church website before they came to the church. I’m sure that number has gone up since then. So, having a professional video of the ministries of the church will only enhance that first impression.
  2. Awareness.  When we unveiled all 4 of these church promos late last month, it had an interesting reaction from our people. There were several people who came up to me and thanked me for all I did in the youth ministry. Why would they do that now? Well, maybe because they have never visited the youth group.   Maybe they thought all we did was play ultimate Frisbee, put rubber bands around a watermelon until it bursts (which is super cool by the way), and talk about MTV (anyone watch that channel anymore?). But now, seeing the vision and heart of the ministry, it raised the awareness and importance of the children, youth and young adult ministries to the whole church. It raised a whole new level of support.
  3. Advertising.  This basically goes without saying. But in the first day of showing our church vision video, it had over 1,000 views. Being a small church, we rarely see 1,000 anything. This was great to see the word of our great church spreading among our people’s friends and families.
  4. Social Media. This past year, I have had the task of upping our social media network. With the help of some willing teammates, the scope of our Facebook and Twitter has grown from non-existent to somewhat viable. To put it into perspective, the likes on Facebook have grown 5 times what it was a year ago. So with these videos posted on various Facebook pages connected to the church, it will only add to that growth.
  5. Experience.  For some visitors, the unknown makes visiting a church most terrifying. Providing a video of many of ministries along with interviews of the ministry leaders, it provides a number of things. It provides a familiar face when they walk in, even if it just was a face on the computer screen. Also, an explanation and vision behind the ministries here at the church provide reassurance. Our church is not after you money or will do anything that will make you feel uncomfortable when you walk through our doors. This reassurance is vital to anyone that desires to visit the church.

So without further ado…here are the 4 videos (credit:  740 FILMS)

Memorial Baptist Church

Memorial Student Ministries (MSM)

Kaleidoscope Children’s Ministries

Turning Point Young Adult Ministries

 

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