Friday, August 31, 2007

Book Review: Small Group Strategies by Laurie Polich & Charley Scandlyn

Small groups are wonderful avenues for growth. Small groups help students connect with each other. Small groups help adults connect and mentor students. Small groups are vital to many ministries around the world. Small groups are not always easy. So, how can you make them the best they can be? Allow Small Group Strategies to help.

Whether you are thinking about starting a small group or have been leading small groups for 20 years, this book will be a great resource. Small Group Strategies is not a book on starting or maintaining a small group structure. It is not a manual for how to run or lead a small group, though these topics are discussed briefly. It is a resource for strengthening and challenging individual small groups.

You will find ideas which will challenge and stretch a small group. Ideas are separated into five main categories: community, worship, discipleship, service and outreach. Within each category are levels. If your group is looking to go to level six in community (looking for ways to expand your community) then you have six great ideas to try. The six ideas are: the empty chair, a theme night, on campus community, Jesus in my community, small group family night, and bring a friend night. Each idea is fleshed out in greater detail to help you understand how to implement it within your small group.

Not sure where your small group is? Then you can use the small group profile provided on page 30 to evaluate. Once you have evaluated your group, you will want to study the small group matrix on pg. 28 and 29. The small group matrix helps you understand each growth area and the six levels in each area. It also allows you to see the bigger picture of where your group is spiritually. These two pages all alone are a great resource for anyone leading a small group.

As you look through the 182 ideas offered, you will find yourself building off of some of the ideas. Some of the ideas will stick out in such a way, you will want to implement them in your next meeting. Two such ideas, for me, are cross of brokenness and bags of sin. These two ideas are in level four of worship: giving students opportunities to experience intimacy with God.

Could you use some fresh ideas? Do your small group leaders need some ideas? If so, then this book is a resource you need to pick up.

My advice (rating) – go out and buy it (4 out of 5)

Photo Friday: Pink Elephant Drives

Yep, that is a pink elephant driving that truck.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Starting a Local Youth Worker Network: getting to know the area

When I worked in GA, there was an existing network of youth workers who met regularly. I joined the group shortly after I started ministry and was sad to leave the group when I left the ministry at that church. The connection I made with the other youth workers helped me get through a ton of stuff. Since I was new to ministry, I was able to glean a lot of wisdom from a few of the more seasoned youth workers. I was even able to get some mentoring (which was greatly beneficial).

Then I moved to a small town in southern IL. There is no youth worker network. There is really not too many youth ministers (part or full time). A majority of the youth workers in this area are volunteer. The youth ministries have, in the past, not really done too much together. I wanted to change that.

I know the benefit to having a network of youth workers, so I have been working on starting a network in this area. As the network grows and changes, I am going to try to share insights and lessons learned with you (the reader). So, this is the first of many posts on how to start a local youth worker network.

How to start a local youth worker network:

1. Become familiar with your area.
Are there a lot of full time youth ministers? What is the average youth ministry like? Do the youth workers have other jobs? Is there a history of interaction between the local ministries?

This step can be done fairly quickly, depending on how long you have been in your area. Unless you understand the area you are ministering in, you will have a hard time working together with other youth workers.

The importance of this step is that it is foundational. Once you understand and become familiar with the area, you can plan for the best way to connect and encourage the area youth workers.

This step is also beneficial to you as you start a new ministry.

5 Things that last longer than youth ministers

5 Things that last longer than youth ministers in the local church:

1. 4 C batteries in a toy fire engine

2. A grande coffee from Starbucks

3. A pack of gum in an orthodontist's office

4. The long suffering of a Cubs fan

5. The student loan from going to college to be a youth minister

Tag is bad, according to this school

No more tag on the playground.

A Colorado school as banned tag from being an option during recess. I don't see it as too much of an issue. I just find it interesting that you can ban tag. The assistant principal said,

Running games are still allowed as long as students don't chase each other.

When I was in high school, I tried to ban "spoons" from being played at my house. I haven't banned any games in the youth ministry yet, but I have tried to adjust games to even the playing field between athletes and non-athletes.

Have you ever had to ban any certain games from your youth ministry?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Office: Summer Vacation video

Don't watch this if you don't want to see any new footage from the upcoming season 4 of the Office. If you want to laugh and/or wonder what happened between season 3 and season 4 - then you will def. want to watch this video.

There, you have been warned:

small town trust

Last night, I got a glimpse of the beauty of small town trust. I took the boys to Dollar General to pick up a few items. While there, we ran into someone from the church (I know, shocking in a town of 2000 that I would see someone I know). After talking for a little bit, we went back to getting our last item. When we walked to the checkout I saw some hamburger buns in a bag. So I asked if someone how left them after paying for them. The two ladies said "yeah, I think it was that lady." Neither one knew her (which was strange for a small town). I asked if it was the lady with the young boy (this being the women I knew). "I think so," was the answer I got.

I told them that I knew her and could get the hamburger buns to her. Keep in mind, neither of these ladies really know me. The cashier looked at me and asked if I wanted to do that. I said that I would. She then said, "Okay, and I guess if this is not hers you can bring it back tomorrow."

She trusted me to do one of two things: 1. contact the lady and see if she left the buns in the store. 2. return them to her or the store

Turns out the lady did leave them, but told me to keep them.

Is there anywhere in your town where they would trust you to do something like this? Do you trust people this way? Do we (in the church) trust people this much? Can we in today's culture?

The picture just doesn't fit

This is the cover for the athletic booklet at the school in town. The mascot is a fighting lion. But doesn't that lion look like he is dancing, not fighting. Thankfully this is not the regular "logo" the school uses.

If you are from northern IN, you may know of Bob Rohrman (he sells RV's). Doesn't that lion look like the lion that says "Rooooooohrman" in the TV commercials?

Trivia Wednesday #32

answer #31 - Singin' in the Rain

question #32 - Which popular doll, introduced in 1959, cost $2.99 at the time?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Aaron Shust: Whispered and Shouted

The sophomore album from Aaron Shust is packed with great songs. For fans of the first album, Anything Worth Saying, this new album will come as a much appreciated continuation of great music. For those who have not heard of Aaron Shust, this album is a great way to start.

From the first track, Long Live the King, to the last, Worthy/Let All I Do, you'll be singing along in no time. Along with the extra singing, I also find myself a little happier after listening.

My favorite song on the whole album is Long Live the King. Shust says it was inspired in part from watching The Chronicles of Narnia and continually hearing all of Narnia refer to Aslan with those words. Long Live the King is a great reminder of how I need to respond to God. Look at all He has done, I should show Him honor and respect.

This album is a great addition to your collection. Put it in your iTunes, your iPod or whatever you happen to use. But I would suggest you buy the album at Family Christian for one reason. When you buy Whispered and Shouted from Family, you get the Inspired Heart edition (which includes an additional interview DVD). This DVD is a great resource to hear the stories behind the songs and to get a glimpse into the process of writing and making the album.

(photo from

Household Tip: Getting Your Laundry Done Quickly

Maybe you have a pair of jeans or a shirt you really like to wear, but you can't wear it as much as you want. Every time you want to wear it, its in the laundry. What are you to do? Here is what I do when I don't want to wait a long time...

Put the clothes you want to get back quickly in the laundry room. Preferably the best place is on top of the washer. What I have learned is that the laundry that is on the washer gets done in the next load - regardless of what else is getting washed. It may take a week for my laundry to get washed, but the boys' laundry might get done tomorrow. So, if I put a favorite shirt in the laundry room then it gets washed with the boys' laundry and I'm free to enjoy wearing it again sooner.

Now this may not work if you live alone. :)

Even if you don't have children, it can work for you (sheets and towels can always use filler).

Try it and see if it works in your house. If so, "you are welcome"

Monday, August 27, 2007

New Poll: Your Role in the Church

I just posted a new two-week poll. This time I want to know your role in the church (ie. local congregation). I'm wondering how many non-youth workers read this blog. Take a minute and answer the poll. If you would like to clarify your answer or share a little about your role, please do so by leaving a comment on this post.

I work with mainly jr. high and high school students. I do oversee a Kids Worship (3-6 grade), but for the most part it is just the older students.

Scavenger Hunt: jr. high vs. high school

Yesterday, for our kickoff we split up the jr. high (7/8) and the high school (9-12) for the games and scavenger hunt. The high school did the hunt first, while the jr. high played the games. Then we switched.

Afterward while talking to some of the youth coaches I was told about a big difference most of them noticed. The high school was more into it then the jr. high. There were some jr. highers (mostly girls) who didn't want to participate in certain things because they were scared a friend would see them and would make fun of them at school.

I was really caught off guard by this conclusion. I thought the jr. highers would be more willing to "be silly" than the high schoolers - but I was wrong. I haven't watched much of the video or seen many of the pictures yet, so we'll see. But I have a feeling it could have just been the few girls who were a little "too good" to participate.

Have you noticed this difference between jh & hs? Is it normally the high school who are more willing to "be silly" and embarrass themselves?

Poll Results: Years in Youth Ministry

How long have my readers been in youth ministry? (that is to say, the ones who voted at least). 50% have been in ministry for 1-5 years. 33% have been in ministry 6-10 years. And 16% over 11 years. That is translated into 3 people within the first 5 years. 2 people in their 6-10th year. And 1 person with over 11 years of ministry experience.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Discussion Starter: Mormonism taught via cartoon

Here is a video that discusses Mormonism using a cartoon format. It is a very interesting video. We are going to be starting a small group on other religions and faiths in a few weeks, and I'm going to use this video to start our discussion on Mormonism.

Any other ways to use the video? What else could you use it for?

(gracias a Ben)

Fall Kickoff

Our Fall Kickoff is this Sunday. The way our church is set up, the students don't move up til the first Sunday in Sept. (even though this is their second week of school already). So, last year we had the high school and jr. high split for parts of the kickoff and together at the end. It worked pretty well, so we thought we'd do it again this year.

This year, we're doing a scavenger hunt and outdoor games. Our theme is "The Hunt" (so the scavenger hunt just seemed obvious). One group will do the scavenger hunt, while the other does the games - then they'll switch. then for the for last 2 hours it will be combined for a bonfire with dinner/worship/devo.

I'm excited about all of it - I'm hearing a good amount of excitement from the students and think we could have a great group. The one thing I'm not excited about is filling all the water balloons. I hate filling water balloons.

Sunday, the Hunt will be on. I'll post any pictures and stories next week. I'm especially looking forward to the scavenger hunt. It is a combination of video/photo hunt. I went around town and took upclose shots of places for them to find and do "something" at to get points. We'll see how well they know their town.

Photo Friday: 1st Day of Preschool

the picture that will make me cry at his graduation.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

deep spiritual questions from a 3 year old

While reading our nightly story from our "Jesus Book" tonight (which was from Mt. - on the rich man who throws the feast and ends up inviting the lowest of society) Nathan asked a very deep question. He asked Amy and I if the four of us (us, him and his brother) were all going to be with Jesus in Heaven.

It caught me off guard, though it shouldn't. We told him that that would be a decision he and his brother would have to make as they grew older.

But, what a question...

Free Robbie Seay Band CD

Robbie Seay Band has a new album coming out and you can download it for free, thanks to Relevant Magazine. Go here to download it. You are required to sign up for 2 newsletters: 850 Words (Relevant) and a Robbie Seay Band newsletter. I already get the 850 words and enjoy it, so its worth the sign up. You only have until Friday (tomorrow) to get this entire album for free, so go quickly.

I've been able to listen to most of the album and I like what I hear. Go check it out, download the album and enjoy some new "free" music.

(gracias a Brian)

Rangers score 30

Check out the story here. Now that would have been a game to watch in person. The article says it hasn't happened in 110 years. Apparently, they are not counting church softball games.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

to quote someone else: David Clarke (God)

"If you don't have God at the center of your life and your relationship, something else will be at the center."
taken from A Marriage After God's Own Heart by David Clarke

This is a quote taken from a marriage book, but I think it is a great quote for any and all of our relationships - including connecting with students. In our marriages, we can put anything at the center: kids, yard work, physical relationship, your job, your social status. Whatever it is that you spend a majority of your time talking about and being involved with is the "center" of your relationship. For youth ministers and the connection we have with students it could be: sports, books, music, being cool, opposing authority, movies. When you are spending time with students is the focus on only surface level issues? Now these two relationships are not closely related and you cannot compare them, but the principle is the same.

When God is at the center of your life and your relationships, you will not be easily knocked down. You will not be shaken by the changing world. But when it is something else, suddenly you are not so steady. It is not hard to be crushed when the "center" is filled with something that will not withstand the pressure.

Is God at the center or is it something else? If it is something else, what do you need to do to get God back where He needs to be?

at the Christian bookstore...

I saw an item that had the initials FBI (and used it to turn into some "catchy" saying). But this one was a stretch - even for a "Christian" product.

FBI = Faithful Believer In Christ

now, that's cheesy

Trivia Wednesday #31

answer #30 - The Wizard of Odds

question #31 - The silent film The Dueling Cavalier later became which 1952 musical classic?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Day 1 of preschool

Today was the big day for Nathan (our oldest). His first day of preschool. It was weird to be home and not have him with us. He's only 3, and he's already started going to school :(

It was a good day, though. He enjoyed it and is ready to go back Monday (he only goes 2 days a week). He was super excited about his backpack (he has sesame street), even though he didn't bring anything home in in today.

Just thought I'd share a few random thoughts about this huge day in our house.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Discussion Starter: Ninja or God?

Over at Indexed, I saw this post:

I've never thought of God and a ninja as being equal. And I still don't. But its an interesting post on an interesting site.

In Sunday School, we're talking about what we believe about God this Sunday - maybe I'll use this picture to start conversation about how we view God.

3 boys, 1 bike, a dog & a busy street

What would these 4 things have in common? Normally not much, but yesterday they combined to form one of the strangest (saddest/scariest) sites I've seen in a long time. We were driving home from playing mini-golf (another interesting story) on a four lane, with middle turn lane, busy road when we saw it. There were three boys riding one bike. You know, the completely unsafe way - one sitting on handle bars, one sitting on seat, and one standing on back wheel. And they were riding down the right lane, acting like they were a car (only going much slower). The kid in the back also had a fishing pole. Then to top that off, they were being followed by a dog. This dog was just walking/running right behind them (I can only assume it was one of the boys' dog).

The funny part was that after we passed them, I looked back and the dog was getting up on the grass before the boys did. I wish I could have taken a picture of it - it was a sight to see.

Thankfully, as far as I know, none of them got hurt. But its a wonder their parents were either ok with it or didn't have a clue.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Left Behind... the rapture song

I saw this song/video over on Mark Riddle's blog (who found it via Mike King) and had to post the video here. What a great song!

Here is the video...

Telling youth apart

I have one set of twin guys in my group right now. I have had a difficult time telling them apart. Up until two months ago I was hesitant to use their first name for fear that I would be wrong. I've got it now, but for a while it was sad how I could not keep them separated.

I ran across a story today about identical quadruplets. Thankfully the story says that all four girls are doing well. As I read the story I was just thinking about trying to tell them apart. It is hard enough for youth ministers to remember students' names, let alone twins. Then imagine trying to remember quadruplets.

How do you tell identical twins apart? What "tricks or secrets" do you have?

I try to have a picture of each and just look at it over and over. Or I'll try to connect a physical trait with their name (like Timothy has long hair and Todd has short hair - longer hair is longer name). The best thing for me, though, is to just be around them enough to just know. After some time, you just start seeing them as not being identical.

Photo Friday: Bob Russell

On Sunday night, I attended Super Summer Celebration at camp. It was a "thank you" from the camp for the 60 years of support. The main speaker was Bob Russell, retired sr. minister at Southeast Christian church. He did a great job.

I just took this picture for fun, because he was sitting a few rows in front of us.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

NYWC: St. Louis (countdown)

2 1/2 months til the National Youth Workers Convention in St. Louis from Nov. 2-5. If you haven't been to a NYWC before, you need to check it out.

See if you can take a few youth coaches with you, too. Or your spouse.

My yearly review: Lesson Learned #1 (promotion)

I got the rest of my evaluation at this month's elder's meeting. It was good. As expected, there were some things mentioned that I need to improve on, some I am doing well and some I need to start.

I wanted to share a few of the lessons I learned from the review. This is the first of a series of posts on lessons learned from my annual review. My desire is that these lessons will encourage you to be a better minister, too.

The first lesson I want to pass on is about passion. This is not about passion for God or the students. This is a passion for the programs and events you do. Really its about a passion for "selling/promoting" the event or program. One of the elders said something that stuck with me. He said,

"You must be convinced of what you are "selling" before you can convince others"
This was in reference to some of the events we've tried to do and some low attendance at said events. Now the elders don't know everything about how I promoted or didn't promote events or who I talked to about them, but they were just sharing some thoughts. Despite the fact that I believe there were other reasons for low numbers, this sentence struck me as true.

As I've looked back on how I promote events or programs, I have not always been excited when talking about them. For some reason I make it a quick announcement, in a low/hushed voice. Like I'm interrupting something and don't really want to be heard. I'm not sure why this was a habit, but it is something I know I need to change.

How to promote/sell an event or program:
1. Be excited about it. If I'm not excited then I either don't need to plan it or need to get excited about it.

2. Be more creative with promoting. I need to start using more methods than just announcing it. This is harder because we meet in a room that is really too small for our group and we sit in a circle. I don't always have access to a TV/DVD, so I have avoided using video. What other creative ways could I use?

3. Get someone else to promote it. I could have a student read the announcements or get a random adult to come in and do them.

4. Remember I'm giving them one more event to attend. Not that I want to compete with other activities, but sometimes I am. Most of them will have to choose between the youth event and something else.

5. Talk about it more than just during a youth event. Share with individual students outside of church. Get feedback from them and discuss any issues they might have.

How do you promote an event? What have you learned about "selling" an event or program?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I would make a horrible bachelor

My wife and two boys have been gone since Monday afternoon. I am bored and miserable. It is so quiet at home without my family here. I have been reminded of one thing, I would make a horrible bachelor. I have little desire to cook. I get easily distracted by technology. I don't think I would do nearly enough yard work. The house would be pretty dull. I would probably be a bit more unhealthy, because I would guess I would eat out more.

It's just not the same. I miss my family.

but the good news is that they come back home tomorrow!!!

Discussion Starter: Armless Man Gets 5 Years for Driving

I saw the headline "Armless Man Gets 5 Years for Driving" and didn't know what to think. It turns out what happened is exactly what the headline said.

A man with no arms and one leg who wouldn't stop driving despite a long list of traffic violations was sentenced to five years in prison Friday on felony driving and drug charges.

Apparently he taught himself to drive at age 13, after losing both arms and a leg in an electrical accident. At one point he had a valid driver's license, but lost it due to a number of violations.

The article ends with these two lines:
In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Wiley said he's done driving.
"I'm beat. The white flag is up," he said. "You can only bang your head against the wall so long before it hurts."

Use this article to start a discussion. It could be on anything, just hear the students' reactions. Specifically, I think you could use this to talk about: perseverence, knowing when to quit, stubbornness, asking for help.

Trivia Wednesday #30

answer #29 - Antioch (Acts 11:26)

question #30 - What game show did Alex Trebek host starting in 1973?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

to quote someone else: Elizabeth George (gentleness)

"Gentleness Means Bowing the Soul - I also found a lovely word picture that helped me with gentleness. The Old Testament term for gentleness, anah, describes a mature, ripened shock of grain with its head bent low and bowed down. Just think for a moment on the beauty of this word picture. As wheat grows, the young sprouts rise above the rest. Their heads shoot up the highest because no grain has yet formed. It their immaturity, little fruit, if any, has appeared. But, as time passes and maturity sets in, fruit comes forth - so much of it that the burdened stalk bends and its head sinks lower and lower - and the lower the head, the greater the amount of fruit."

taken from A Woman's Walk with God by Elizabeth George

Which one are you? It's easy in ministry to be that tall stalk. May you bend your head and heart!

Monday, August 13, 2007

New Poll: How long have you been in youth ministry?

I just added a new two week poll to the sidebar. I'm curious as to the length of your ministry. Not necessarily at your current congregation/ministry - but total. I would love to hear if its mostly full or part-time, too.

I've been in full-time youth ministry since '01 (so 6 years - with a 9 month "sabbatical" from ministry). I am currently at my second ministry.

What about you? Add any comments or clarifications to the poll by commenting on this post.

Old friends & a new ministry

Last night we got to see some old friends. They were up (from GA) near the area for a funeral. We were both going to an event at camp, so we got to meet up. What a blessing it was to see them. Then after the event we went to Burger King (along with about 1/2 the other people at the camp event) to get some food and catch up a little. Despite the longgggg wait for our food (and the incorrect completion of our order) it was a great catch to talk. They have a little boy who is almost 3 months younger than Wes (our youngest), so the 3 boys played a lot together.

One of the best parts was getting to hear about the new ministry Brian and Katie are getting ready to start (well, they move in Oct.). But to hear the excitement and passion in Brian's voice is great. You see, Brian is the guy who took my position (but only part-time) after I was gone from my former congregation. He got to learn a lot while he was there (he is no longer at the church) and is looking forward to being in ministry full-time. And from hearing what he is already doing - sounds like he is ready.

I was reminded of a few things about ministry last night...

1. The staff you work with makes a HUGE difference in your ministry!
2. Not all ministries are created equal.
3. New ministers start every day.
4. Ministry is long-term, there are no shortcuts.
5. God is always faithful, despite what people try to do.

I am looking forward to getting to hear more about the ministry once he gets there in October and following him as he journeys.

Church Signs: Better than DQ?

We had this on our church sign a few weeks ago. I don't know if anyone stopped by because of the sign or not, but I thought it was fun. The great thing is that there is not a Dairy Queen anywhere close to the church (we had one in town but now its just a local diner). You have to drive a good bit to get to a DQ.

Friday, August 10, 2007

10 Minute email

I saw this disposable email on It wasn't the concept that caught my attention as much as one of the reasons Lifehacker gave for using it...

10 Minute Mail offers free email addresses that last for only 10 minutes -- perfect for forums and signing up for porn (lined through in their post) sites that you think will sell your email address.

Though I would hope they were not promoting porn sites, I was caught off guard by the mention. Mainly because there are probably a good majority of people who use sites like 10 minute email for that very reason. That saddens me.

Have you ever used a disposable email address? (not for porn sites, just to avoid spam) I just use an old email address that is mainly for signing up for sites I don't want to get mail from or to avoid spam/unwanted email.

Poll Results: Fall Kickoff Planning

With the start of the school year less than a week away around here, its time for fall. According to my poll: 75% of you are planning a fall kickoff, 12.5% are not planning one and 12.5% haven't planned that far yet. With 8 people voting that translates into 6 yes, 1 no, and 1 not planning in advance.

We're in the final stages (hopefully) of planning our kickoff. I always look forward to the start of a new school year. The excitement and freshness.

Photo Friday: family project

This is a picture of me and the boys putting up a multi-hook wall hook in the playroom. It was such a fun project to have them help with.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Book Review: Teaching That Works by Cliff Schimmels

Have you ever walked out of a classroom and just shook your head glad that you are done teaching? Do you pray for next week’s lesson to be better? Have you walked into the classroom hoping certain students are not there? Do you feel you have a good grasp on your teaching, but know you could do better? If you answer yes to any of these questions then you would benefit from reading Teaching That Works.

Teaching that Works is full of great insight and strategies for more effective teaching. Each chapter is an exploration of a passage of Scripture. Subjects range from teachers being under stricter judgment to telling a story. Every chapter is easy to read and comprehend. Personal stories are used to help expand on a topic and to give you another visual representation of each teaching strategy.

In “See the Field” Schimmels writes, “The first step to assessing the field assigned to us is to recognize Jesus as the Great Arranger. Jesus knows that you have Kevin and A.J. in the same class. Jesus knows that you teach in the back room of the basement. Jesus knows how many come and how many don’t. Jesus knows that you are a teaching assistant. Not only does he know, but he arranged it all with a definite purpose. Jesus gave you your field. He put together the field, and he picked you specifically for it.” These words alone offer encouragement to keep teaching. Knowing (or being reminded) Jesus has not placed us in a teaching situation by mistake should encourage us to remain faithful to teaching and not to start coasting.

In a chapter on questions, Schimmels takes a look at how Jesus teaches from Matthew 16. Jesus asked the disciples two questions, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” and “Who do you say I am?” Schimmels calls the first question, the reporting question. It is designed to get students talking. There are no wrong answers, it is solely based on what the student has heard or seen. This allows the students to process information, share and build confidence. The next question is the penetrating question. This question allows them to dig deep and take all the information and discover their own perspective and beliefs. Too often, teachers try to go straight to the penetrating questions and neglect to ask the reporting questions.

Reading this book opened my eyes to teaching strategies I was not utilizing.

My advice (rating) – go out and buy it (3.5 out of 5)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

i-caught & your ministry

I was able to watch the first i-caught Tuesday night on ABC. Basically it was an hour long show about viral videos. They took some of the most popular videos on YouTube or Myspace and talked to the people in the video or the people who captured it. The crazy part for me was that I hadn't seen most of the videos (even though some of them had gotten 3 million hits).

Here is what I got from what I saw... it worked. They took stuff that people have watched (viral videos) and put them on TV. But they didn't just show an hour of "3 minute videos" - they took it further and got the story behind the video. They got me to watch.

So, I was thinking about how that would connect with youth ministry. No, I don't think you need to use viral videos each week at youth group. But what drew me in was the stories that went behind the videos. There are many stories that can be told.

When you see a student's life changed and it is noticeable, try to get a way to share that student's story with the group.

Make a short interview video.
Do a live interview.

Remember people are drawn in to a story. People want to know the "behind the scenes" information. So get the stories heard!

How do you get stories heard? What impact has a testimony had on your group?

Trivia Wednesday #29

answer #28 - Marty McFly

question #29 - According to Acts, where were the disciples first called Christians?

Monday, August 06, 2007

to quote someone else: David Clarke (marriage)

"No marriage dies of natural causes. It has to be killed by the behavior of one or both spouses."

taken from A Marriage After God's Own Heart by David Clarke

Is your ministry like Wal-Mart?

There are a few things I do not like about Wal-Mart. The other night, I experienced two of them and found a new one.

Here is the timeline of events for Wednesday evening at Wal-Mart:

7pm - have man riding zamboni-type machine cleaning the floors
8pm - put pallets on the floor
8:30pm - have only 2 non-self checkout lanes open

The first one - cleaning the floors - was a new one for me. I understand that Wal-Mart is open 24 hours and therefore cannot clean the floors when they are closed. But at 7pm? Why not wet the floors down sometime in the middle of the night, when there are not that many people in the store?

And the pallets issue always bothers me. They put all the pallets out on the floor when people are trying to get around and shop. Besides the fact that it looks horrible, you can't get around the aisles. And then on top of that, the people pulling the pallets out usually do not bother to notice that there are shoppers and act like they have the right of way and can bull you over. Again, lets try doing this at night, when not many people are in the store.

The issue with the registers is not as bad (at least it wasn't that night). We didn't wait in line too long before someone opened up another lane. So they handled it well.

But I always feel like I'm an inconvenience to the store when they act like I'm not there. Isn't the point of the store to get people to buy stuff and don't people buy more stuff when they can get around? It also shows me they are more concerned with getting the product out than anything else.

But then I got to thinking. How often do I do the very same thing on Sunday morning. I'm busy running around trying to make this copy or put "that" in the classroom. I can become so engrossed in "last minute" details that I run people over. I treat people like they are in my way and I just need to get stuff ready. Because if I get stuff ready, then those people will be able to learn about God. How foolish.

So, how do I change?

Here are a few things I need to remember...
1. Be prepared. Get the copies made during the week. Put stuff in appropriate rooms before Sunday morning.
2. Get to church early, if needed. If something comes up, I need to get to church early to handle it.
3. Slow down. I need to stop "running people over" on my way to more important things. Take time to listen and talk.
4. People are important. People are the reason I do what I do. I need to make sure I act that way.
5. Adjust when needed. Be willing to step up and do what needs to be done without hesitation. If I need to talk to someone, do it. Watch my surroundings and adjust accordingly.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Kirk Cameron: Bringing Religion to the Internet

I just saw this promotional picture on my yahoo mail page. Interesting.

I hadn't realized that it was Kirk Cameron who brought religion to the internet, I always thought it was Al Gore.

Photo Friday: Big & Old Tractors

Here are a few of the tractors from our big county fair parade.

This one is my favorite color. I love living in a small town.

New Poll: Fall Kickoff Event

The new poll is up. Are you planning a fall kickoff event?

If you are planning a fall kickoff event, I think we'd all benefit from hearing about it. What are you planning? What makes it special? Anything you do every year? Leave a comment...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Discussion Starter: The Simpsons Burger King Commercial

Here is a Burger King commercial with the Simpsons. You'll notice its a tie-in with the website. I like the commercial because its just fun, plus Ralph is in it.

Besides being a fun commercial, you can use it to talk about change. How do people see us differently when we change our attitude or a habit? When you become a Christian do you change so people notice? Is your change just on the surface? Have you truly become a new creation? Do you look more like Christ?

to quote someone else: Kenda Creasy Dean (challenging students)

"Failing to invite these youth into deeper theological water only convinces them that, because they are too big for the baby pool, they have 'outgrown' the church."

taken from Practicing Passion by Kenda Creasy Dean

By letting students only experience the shallow end of a spiritual life, we only hinder their growth and development. Whether it is said or not, no one wants to go to the pool if they only spend time in the shallow baby pool.

Challenge your students to go deeper.
Challenge your students to use what they have learned in the shallow water to venture a little deeper.
Challenge your students to venture to a point where the water is over their heads.

By teaching them the basics and allowing them to safely (in the shallow end/with a safety net) experience life and connect their theology/beliefs to how they live, we are enabling them to take that knowledge and apply it when things are not so safe/easy.

But the problem is that a lot of youth workers never let the students get to the deep end.

Are some of your students ready for the "big pool?" Or maybe the question is, are you swimming in the "big pool" or are you wading safely in the "baby pool?"

Spiritual Peripheral Vision

Peripheral vision is something we usually do not notice. Some people take it for granted. Other people, like myself, who wear glasses do not see it clearly. But what happens when we lose it?

Tunnel Vision.

I hate tunnel vision. I do not like to wear a hoodie with the hood up, even if its cold, because I do not like the inability to see around me. Having the ability to see the edges (even if they are blurry) is extremely important to me.

What about my spiritual peripheral vision, though? Do I notice it? Most of the time we get so focused on what is straight ahead of us, we fail to see there are edges we can see. We think we know exactly what it is that God wants us to do - the exact direction He is leading. But if we fail to use our peripheral vision, we might miss out on a great opportunity. An opportunity that is just to the side of the direction we are going.

I think we don't even care. Most Christians have never used their spiritual peripheral vision and have no desire to start.

In ministry, do we do the same thing? Do you get so focused on where you "know" God is leading the ministry that you neglect the edges? Is it possible there is something just to the left or right (outside your direct view) that is better than where you are going? Maybe you need to be watching for obstacles or danger to come from the edges.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Poll Results: Favorite Summer Church Activity

All the voting is in on my first poll.

And it looks like 80% of the voters prefer to go to CIY or other conference.
20% prefer camp.

There were 5 total voters for this first poll. Not bad, but I'd love to see more voters for our next poll.

Surprisingly enough, I was hoping to be at CIY this week. But no one signed up to go (which could be an entire post to itself someday).

Trivia Wednesday #28

answer #27 - Simon & Garfunkel

question #28 - Name the main character in the film Back to the Future.