Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #154: 12 Days of Christmas

answer #153 - Germany (Which country is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition?)

question #154 - How many presents would you get if you got all of the presents in the song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas?"



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This weekly trivia is provided for use within your youth ministry. You can use this random trivia in many ways: use it to start a conversation with a student, add it to your introduction for your lesson or message, include it in your next newsletter or email, or just randomly insert it into your daily conversations. No matter how you decide to use it, I hope this trivia knowledge can be beneficial within your youth ministry.

If you have any suggestions on topics you would like to see used for the trivia questions, just leave a comment and let me know.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Best of '09: Blog Posts

The year 2009 A.D. is almost over. The past 12 months have brought with them many new things; some good, some bad, and some not worth mentioning. I would like to take some time and highlight some of my favorite parts of 2009. I will call this list the "best of '09" - which simply means that, in my opinion, these are the best items in a certain category. I fully expect you to disagree with some of my choices or to be upset I did not add other items to the list. If you feel this way, please add your "best of '09" ideas in the comments.

The fifth list will be blog posts. This will be a list of my favorite posts from this site, there are simply too many from other people to go into that list. These are the posts I liked the best, sparked discussion or simply got the most traffic. This list is in no particular order.


5 Ways to use the Super Bowl in Youth Ministry - I shared five ways to use the Super Bowl in your youth ministry. Maybe you could use these tips this year.

It's Not About You - A reminder that your current situation may not be about you.

5 Things that would have been great April Fool's Day jokes (had they not been real) - Just a fun list of products that would be funny if they were not actual products.

You Might be a Youth Worker if... - a startling revelation from a conversation with a student.

Finding Rest in the Summer - a few tips on how to find rest during the busy summer months.

An Open Letter to Youth Ministry Search Teams - I wrote this to the many search teams looking for a youth minister. I hope search teams read it and make needed adjustments.

Life, Death, & the Uncertainty of it All - A reflection on the shortness of life and what God promises to those who love him.

6 Saddest Verses in the Bible - a quick look at some sad verses in Scripture.

Youth Ministry Budgeting Series - a 5 part series with tips and thoughts on improving your youth ministry budget.

5 Year Youth Ministry Contract Series - some thoughts on what would happen if youth ministers signed a 5 year contract.



Other posts in this series:
Best of '09 - Music
Best of '09 - Youth Ministry Books
Best of '09 - Non-Ministry Books
Best of '09 - Websites
Best of '09 - Blog posts
Best of '09 - Web Apps
Best of '09 - Ministry Moments
Best of '09 - Random Favorites

Monday, December 28, 2009

Best of '09: Websites

The year 2009 A.D. is almost over. The past 12 months have brought with them many new things; some good, some bad, and some not worth mentioning. I would like to take some time and highlight some of my favorite parts of 2009. I will call this list the "best of '09" - which simply means that, in my opinion, these are the best items in a certain category. I fully expect you to disagree with some of my choices or to be upset I did not add other items to the list. If you feel this way, please add your "best of '09" ideas in the comments.

The fourth list will be websites. These are the sites I used the most this past year. This list is in no particular order.


Facebook - Now, if I have to explain why I use this site then you must not be involved with youth ministry or on the internet very much. A great site to connect with students, old high school and college friends and family.

Google - I use a lot of online Google applications. My two most used are Docs and gmail. I have a Wave account (I'd love to connect if you are on wave, too), but its fairly new and still in Beta, so I do not get too much use out of it.

Pandora - Simply a great site for listening to music. For me, its a much better alternative to buying a bunch of CD's or mp3's.

Twitter - A simple way to stay in touch with friends (and like minded people) all over the world. If you can't say it in 140 characters, then you don't need to say it on Twitter.

Blogger - I use Blogger for my blog. I know there are other alternatives, especially WordPress, but I just have not moved to anything yet. Blogger has everything I need. And to be honest, it probably helps me keep the blog fairly simple.

Youth Ministry Websites
YMToday - A great site for finding a wide assortment of youth ministry material. The site is filled with articles, tips, games, and much more. If you are in youth ministry, you need to check this site out. (disclosure - I do have a few articles published on the site)

YMX - Again, this is a great site with an assortment of useful material. The best part of YMX is the forums. The best youth ministry forums out there. A great place to connect and talk about youth ministry (or anything else) with other youth ministry people.

YouthMinBlog - Hear from a wide spectrum of youth ministry voices on a single topic. Each week, the authors discuss a single topic from their own personal perspectives. I was a fan of the site before I became a contributing author, so I'm not saying its a good site because I have articles on it - I'm saying its a good site despite my stuff.


What websites did you use the most in 2009?

Other posts in this series:
Best of '09 - Music
Best of '09 - Youth Ministry Books
Best of '09 - Non-Ministry Books
Best of '09 - Websites used
Best of '09 - Blog posts
Best of '09 - Web Apps
Best of '09 - Ministry Moments
Best of '09 - Random Favorites

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Oh Christmas Troy - a late Christmas video

I wanted to post this yesterday for Christmas, but I forgot (because I was enjoying time with my family - like you should have been).

So, here it is, "Oh Christmas Troy," from the end of the last Community episode.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

I hope you have a great and restful day today with your family.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #153: Origin of the Christmas Tree

answer #152 - June 26, 1870 (When was Christmas declared a federal holiday in the US?)

question #153 - Which country is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition?



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This weekly trivia is provided for use within your youth ministry. You can use this random trivia in many ways: use it to start a conversation with a student, add it to your introduction for your lesson or message, include it in your next newsletter or email, or just randomly insert it into your daily conversations. No matter how you decide to use it, I hope this trivia knowledge can be beneficial within your youth ministry.

If you have any suggestions on topics you would like to see used for the trivia questions, just leave a comment and let me know.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Best of '09: Books

The year 2009 A.D. is almost over. The past 12 months have brought with them many new things; some good, some bad, and some not worth mentioning. I would like to take some time and highlight some of my favorite parts of 2009. I will call this list the "best of '09" - which simply means that, in my opinion, these are the best items in a certain category. I fully expect you to disagree with some of my choices or to be upset I did not add other items to the list. If you feel this way, please add your "best of '09" ideas in the comments.

The third list will be books, any book not fitting in the youth ministry category. These are the best books I read this year. Like the youth ministry books, they may not all be new in 2009, but this was the year I got around to reading them. This list is in no particular order and will not include every good book I read this year, just a list of my top reads - the ones I think you would benefit from reading.


Culture Making by Andy Crouch - I really enjoyed this book. It challenged me to think differently about my role in culture and how I need to live differently to make a bigger impact. This is a must read! Here is my review of Culture Making from earlier this year.

Storylines by Andy Croft and Mike Pilavachi - I picked up the non-American version of the book (ie. original published with "crazy spelling") and am so glad I did. This book takes a look at some of the major themes that run through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Here is my review of Storylines from earlier this year.

Called to Worship by Vernon Whaley - This is a pretty thick book and will take a little while to read, but it is well worth your time. The book takes a look at worship in every section of Scripture, sometimes book by book. I highly recommend you read this book. Here is my review of Called to Worship from earlier this year.

Simply Christian by N.T. Wright - I've had this book for a few years and finally got around to reading it this year. A truly, thought-provoking book, filled with in-depth insight and observations. Here is my review of Simply Christian from earlier this year.

Fresh Start by Doug Fields - This book is full of great insight into what it takes to make a fresh start in your life. It is a pretty easy read and would be a great addition to your reading list. Here is my review of Fresh Start from earlier this year.

Treasured by Leigh McLeroy - This has to be the surprise book of the year for me. I did not expect much out of it, but I was completely wrong! A few of the first chapters really stood out to me and helped bring a fresh light to some of my life circumstances. You will want to put this on your reading list for 2010. Here is my review of Treasured from earlier this year.


Like the music and youth ministry book lists, there are some items not on this list that were big this year. Some of them (like Outliers by Gladwell) I want to read, but just haven't. Add your favorite books from 2009 in the comments and let us know what books we need to pick up and read.


Other posts in this series:
Best of '09 - Music
Best of '09 - Youth Ministry Books
Best of '09 - Non-Ministry Books
Best of '09 - Websites used
Best of '09 - Blog posts
Best of '09 - Web Apps
Best of '09 - Ministry Moments
Best of '09 - Random Favorites

Friday, December 18, 2009

Best of '09: Youth Ministry Books

The year 2009 A.D. is almost over. The past 12 months have brought with them many new things; some good, some bad, and some not worth mentioning. I would like to take some time and highlight some of my favorite parts of 2009. I will call this list the "best of '09" - which simply means that, in my opinion, these are the best items in a certain category. I fully expect you to disagree with some of my choices or to be upset I did not add other items to the list. If you feel this way, please add your "best of '09" ideas in the comments.

The second list will be youth ministry books. These are the best youth ministry related books I read this year. They may not all be new in 2009, but this was the year I got around to reading them. This list is in no particular order and will not include every good book I read this year, just a list of my top reads - the ones I found most helpful.


Youth Ministry 3.0
by Mark Oestreicher - I picked up this book in 2008, but did not actually get around to reading it until early this year. Oestreicher writes about many of the struggles and thoughts felt by many youth workers around the country. Whether you agree with everything int he book (and you won't), you need to read it and be challenged to see youth ministry from a different angle. Here is my review of Youth Ministry 3.0.

Help! I'm a Frustrated Youth Worker!
by Steve Case - This book is small and easy to read. Most youth workers will relate to the frustrations Case writes about. I recommend reading this book, even if you only need a reminder that your situation is not "that bad." Here is my review of Help! I'm a Frustrated Youth Worker.

Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark Devries - Every youth worker wants to be part of a youth ministry that is sustainable. Devries knows a few things about sustainable youth ministries - he has been working with youth ministries across the country for years. This book is a must read for anyone working in a youth ministry of any size and shape. Here is my review of Sustainable Youth Ministry.

Speaking to Teenagers by Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins - Doug and Duffy have written a great resource for anyone who speaks to teenagers. This book is packed with useful information and helpful tips. Here is my review of Speaking to Teenagers.

99 Thoughts for Youth Workers by Josh Griffin - This little book has a lot of great thoughts inside. Josh collected his thoughts on youth ministry, which were written in journals, on napkins (I'm guessing a few of these were once on a napkin), and from his blog. This is especially useful if you are new to youth ministry or feel like you are stuck in a rut. Here is my review of 99 Thoughts for Youth Workers.

The New Breed by Jonathan McKee and Thomas McKee - I'm actually only 2/3 of the way through this book, but so far I think it is a great read. Every youth worker, who works with volunteers, needs to read this book and apply the principles.


As you can see, I spent a lot of time this year catching up on youth ministry books that I had not read. Expect to see some 2009 releases in the 2010 "best of" list, as I am sure I'll get them read by then.

What youth ministry books would you add to this list? (or what books should I add to my 2010 reading list?)


Other posts in this series:
Best of '09 - Music
Best of '09 - Youth Ministry Books
Best of '09 - Non-Ministry Books
Best of '09 - Websites used
Best of '09 - Blog posts
Best of '09 - Web Apps
Best of '09 - Ministry Moments
Best of '09 - Random Favorites

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #152: Christmas as a federal holiday

answer #151 - To compete with a pagan holiday. There were already pagan holidays celebrating the Winter Solstice. (Why was December 25th chosen as Christmas Day?)

question #152 - When was Christmas declared a federal holiday in the US?


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This weekly trivia is provided for use within your youth ministry. You can use this random trivia in many ways: use it to start a conversation with a student, add it to your introduction for your lesson or message, include it in your next newsletter or email, or just randomly insert it into your daily conversations. No matter how you decide to use it, I hope this trivia knowledge can be beneficial within your youth ministry.

If you have any suggestions on topics you would like to see used for the trivia questions, just leave a comment and let me know.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Book Review: Primal by Mark Batterson

Have you ever really given any thought to the command to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength? This is precisely the backdrop for Mark Batterson's new book, Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity. Batterson wonders what Christianity would look like if we all truly loved God with compassion, wonder, curiosity, and power. As you read chapter after chapter, you will begin to see small and not-so-small ways that your life should be transformed by living the Great Commandment by loving God with every aspect of your life.

Primal is broken down into four sections, each digging deeper into the heart, soul, mind, and strength of Christianity. Each chapter flows with personal stories, scientific information, historical case studies, Scripture, and application. Even when he is writing about the intricate details of beta waves and alpha waves, Batterson writes with simplicity. This simplicity does not lead to less impact, rather I believe it pushes you in the opposite direction. You will not be able to read Batterson's thoughts without being challenged and stretched in your understanding of what it means to love God.

As you live out the Great Commandment, remember these words by Oswald Chambers (quoted by Batterson in the final paragraphs of the book); "Let God be as original with other people as He is with you." The way you love God will not be the same way your friend loves God. And that is the point - God created you to be unique and you need to be willing to love God as only you can and allow others to love God as only they can.


My advice (rating) – go out and buy it (4.5 out of 5)

(This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Best of '09: Music

The year 2009 A.D. is almost over. The past 12 months have brought with them many new things; some good, some bad, and some not worth mentioning. I would like to take some time and highlight some of my favorite parts of 2009. I will call this list the "best of '09" - which simply means that, in my opinion, these are the best items in a certain category. I fully expect you to disagree with some of my choices or to be upset I did not add other items to the list. If you feel this way, please add your "best of '09" ideas in the comments.

The first list will be music. These are the best albums I heard this year, for the first time. They may not all be new in 2009, but this was the first time the songs have reached my ears. This list is in no particular order, and will not include a long explanation of why. I am not going to attempt to persuade you of each album's greatness, you'll just have to listen to it yourself.


Brandon Heath "Don't Get Comfortable" - Last year at the NYWC, in Nashville, I got to hear a little of Brandon's music. But I got to hear a lot of people speak very highly of it, so when I got the chance I picked up his first album. It has been one of my favorites all year. I am wanting to pick up his new stuff, but just haven't gotten around to it. (I know, I'm a little behind on this one)

Tenth Avenue North "Over and Underneath" - I got this CD from John at Lifeway, well I won it for taking a picture of my next to a tenth ave. street sign. But since my town only has up to 8th st. I got to take two 5th street pictures. I have really enjoyed this music. If you haven't heard them yet, you need to. (and here is a pdf of a $3 off coupon good until March 31, 2010)

Kutless "It Is Well: A Worship Album" - I picked up this album without ever hearing anything from it, because their first worship album "Strong Tower" has been one of my favorite albums over the last few years. I think Kutless does a fantastic job taking worship music and making it their own. I have really enjoyed this album, it has been a great source of encouragement.

Francesca Battistelli "My Paper Heart" - This album was picked up because I was looking to get something for my wife. A student had told me this was a great album and I needed to listen to it. So I picked up the CD. I'm glad I did. My wife really likes her sound and has listened to the CD repeatedly. And, I have to admit that I think its a really good collection of music.

Mat Kearney "City of Black and White" - This CD was recommended to me shortly after its release. I have enjoyed his first album for the past few years and was in need of some new music from Mr. Kearney. I am glad I picked this album up, it has not disappointed.

You will notice there are some "big" absences to this list (even for the "Christian" music industry). I have not heard any of Tomlin's new stuff, nor Crowder's, nor Owl City, nor any of a number of great music out there. I am not saying its not good music, but as I have not listened to it all, I can make no comment of it being the Best of '09. I would love to hear what music you would add to this list...

Other posts in this series:
Best of '09 - Music
Best of '09 - Youth Ministry Books
Best of '09 - Non-Ministry Books
Best of '09 - Websites
Best of '09 - Blog posts
Best of '09 - Web Apps
Best of '09 - Ministry Moments
Best of '09 - Random Favorites

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #151: Christmas on Dec. 25th

answer #150 - In the 4th Century. (When was the first Christmas celebrated?)

question #151 - Why was December 25th chosen as Christmas Day?



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This weekly trivia is provided for use within your youth ministry. You can use this random trivia in many ways: use it to start a conversation with a student, add it to your introduction for your lesson or message, include it in your next newsletter or email, or just randomly insert it into your daily conversations. No matter how you decide to use it, I hope this trivia knowledge can be beneficial within your youth ministry.

If you have any suggestions on topics you would like to see used for the trivia questions, just leave a comment and let me know.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Book Review: God Gave Us series by Lisa Tawn Bergren

The God Gave Us series of books are short children's stories that share a big message. Right now there are five books in the series: God Gave Us You, God Gave Us Two, God Gave Us Christmas, God Gave Us Heaven, and God Gave Us Love. Each book starts with Little Cub asking a question about something big, like who invented Christmas? Then she and her mom go on an adventure to find an answer to the question.

Each book is filled with pages of wonderfully drawn and colorful artwork. In fact, the artwork would convey a great story even without the words to explain it. Even though the artwork is high quality and the story is fun to read, it is the message of God's love that shines the brightest. As a parent, it is the biblical message that I love the most about these books.

If you are looking for a book that has a great message and is fun to read, pick up one of the God Gave Us books and you will not be disappointed.

My advice (rating) – borrow from a friend (3 out of 5)


(This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #150: The First Christmas Celebration

answer #149 - Benjamin Franklin (Which Founding Father wanted the turkey to be the national bird?)

question #150 - When was the first Christmas celebrated?

*correction to the question #149, it should have read "Founding Father" and not "President"

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This weekly trivia is provided for use within your youth ministry. You can use this random trivia in many ways: use it to start a conversation with a student, add it to your introduction for your lesson or message, include it in your next newsletter or email, or just randomly insert it into your daily conversations. No matter how you decide to use it, I hope this trivia knowledge can be beneficial within your youth ministry.

If you have any suggestions on topics you would like to see used for the trivia questions, just leave a comment and let me know.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Book Review: Treasured by Leigh McLeroy

My first impression of Treasured was that this was going to be another gift book. I do not usually like gift books, so I was not really looking forward to reading this book. Then I got the book and saw it was 190 pages and void of pictures - two signs it is not a gift book, in my opinion.

As I started reading the first chapter on "The Fig Leaf: The God Who Covers Me," it was confirmed to me that this was not going to be a gift book. The premise of the book is that we can learn about God by looking at the small items he has used in the past. McLeroy starts by sharing the story of her grandfather's box, which she received in the mail after his death. The box contained small items that were special to her grandfather. Just as she was able to know her grandfather better by looking at these items, we can know God by looking at the small things he might keep in his memory box.

McLeroy writes about 12 various Bible stories, such as the fall, the near-sacrifice of Isaac, and Balaam's donkey. Woven between the points of each story is a personal story from the pages of McLeroy's life. This openness makes the book real. I was truly engaged from the introduction til the final period.

I recommend Treasured for anyone who needs reminded of God's overarching love for them. God treasures you more than anything else and reading this book will provide the evidence needed to cement that fact into your memory. Personally, I was encouraged and challenged as I read through these pages. There were a few specific parts of Treasured that were exactly what I needed to read during a specific situation. Go ahead and pick up a copy of Treasured, you'll be glad you did.

My advice (rating) – go out and buy it (4.5 out of 5)

(This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Budgeting & Saving Money - 2 YM Today articles

A lot of ministries are either in the process of putting together their budgets for next year or they are in the process of tweaking the budget that got turned down by the finance committee. If you find yourself in one of those two places, I hope you will be able to benefit from some information I wrote earlier this year.

The great folks at YMToday took my youth ministry budgeting series and turned the information into two separate articles. If you would like to read the original series, just click on the link and read each blog post in the series. Or you can read the articles, which are broken down into budgeting and saving money.

Saving the Ministry Money

Creating a Budget

After reading the articles, I would like to hear what you think. What have you done to budget for the upcoming year? Is it dramatically different this year due to the economy? How have you saved money?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

New Poll: Lowest approval vote you would accept for a new ministry

Recently, I got to thinking about the process of being hired for a ministry position.

Some denominations will simply place a minister into a congregation with very little input from the congregation. Other denominations will provide names of possible ministers for a congregation to look over and then choose from. And a third possibility is that the congregation is simply "on its own" in finding a new minister.

I have always been a part of congregations who vote on incoming ministers. Most of the time, a minister has to receive at least 75% "yes" votes to be called. This percentage will vary on the particular position and by congregation. I have my own thoughts on the subject, which I might share late, but for now I want to hear what you think about the percentage of approval.

If you were applying for a new youth ministry position and the congregation had to vote, what is the lowest vote percentage you would be willing to accept for a new ministry? This is all assuming you feel God leading you to this congregation and there being no red flags or other negatives to keep you from working on staff. This is not necessarily the percentage set by the congregation. (for instance, if the congregation says you need a 76% or better and you get a 80% yes vote, would you still accept?)


What is the lowest approval percentage you would accept for a new ministry?

1. 75%
2. 80%
3. 85%
4. 90%
5. 95%
6. 97%
7. 100%
8. other

vote on the poll and leave a comment on this post sharing your reasoning. Or if you have a story to tell about approval votes, we'd love to hear that, too.

December Trivia

December is around the corner (okay, its in two days). This month, our trivia focuses on Christmas, including traditions and songs surrounding the holiday. We will not be covering trivia related to the biblical events of Jesus' birth this time, maybe next year.

This month's questions will be about:

  1. The first Christmas celebration.
  2. Why December 25th the date of Christmas.
  3. When Christmas became a federal holiday in the US.
  4. Where we get the Christmas tree tradition.
  5. The 12 days of Christmas.



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This weekly trivia is provided for use within your youth ministry. You can use this random trivia in many ways: use it to start a conversation with a student, add it to your introduction for your lesson or message, include it in your next newsletter or email, or just randomly insert it into your daily conversations. No matter how you decide to use it, I hope this trivia knowledge can be beneficial within your youth ministry.

If you have any suggestions on topics you would like to see used for the trivia questions, just leave a comment and let me know.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #149: Turkey as the national bird

answer #148 - Truman (Who was the first President to pardon a turkey from Thanksgiving dinner?)

question #149 - Which Founding Father wanted the turkey to be the national bird?

*Apparently the Truman story has not been confirmed and its more probable that George HW Bush was the first one to pardon a turkey.

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This weekly trivia is provided for use within your youth ministry. You can use this random trivia in many ways: use it to start a conversation with a student, add it to your introduction for your lesson or message, include it in your next newsletter or email, or just randomly insert it into your daily conversations. No matter how you decide to use it, I hope this trivia knowledge can be beneficial within your youth ministry.

If you have any suggestions on topics you would like to see used for the trivia questions, just leave a comment and let me know.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #148: Presidential turkey pardon

answer #147 - Neil Armstrong (Who was the first astronaut to eat a turkey dinner on the moon?)

question #148 - Who was the first President to pardon a turkey from Thanksgiving dinner?



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This weekly trivia is provided for use within your youth ministry. You can use this random trivia in many ways: use it to start a conversation with a student, add it to your introduction for your lesson or message, include it in your next newsletter or email, or just randomly insert it into your daily conversations. No matter how you decide to use it, I hope this trivia knowledge can be beneficial within your youth ministry.

If you have any suggestions on topics you would like to see used for the trivia questions, just leave a comment and let me know.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cheap Books from Simply Youth Ministry

Simply Youth Ministry is having a warehouse moving sale - and that means you can get some great books for really cheap.

Go here for the whole list, and to order your books.

It looks like they are going quickly, so hurry over and see what is left!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #147: Turkey Dinner on the Moon

answer #146 - Abraham Lincoln (Who was the first President to make Thanksgiving a national holiday?)

question #147 - Who was the first astronaut to eat a turkey dinner on the moon?


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This weekly trivia is provided for use within your youth ministry. You can use this random trivia in many ways: use it to start a conversation with a student, add it to your introduction for your lesson or message, include it in your next newsletter or email, or just randomly insert it into your daily conversations. No matter how you decide to use it, I hope this trivia knowledge can be beneficial within your youth ministry.

If you have any suggestions on topics you would like to see used for the trivia questions, just leave a comment and let me know.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #146: Thanksgiving

answer #145 - $24.17, according to the 2008 spending analysis by the National Retail Federation. (How much money does the average consumer spend on a Halloween costume?)

question #146 - Who was the first President to make Thanksgiving a national holiday?



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This weekly trivia is provided for use within your youth ministry. You can use this random trivia in many ways: use it to start a conversation with a student, add it to your introduction for your lesson or message, include it in your next newsletter or email, or just randomly insert it into your daily conversations. No matter how you decide to use it, I hope this trivia knowledge can be beneficial within your youth ministry.

If you have any suggestions on topics you would like to see used for the trivia questions, just leave a comment and let me know.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

NYWC 09: Friday & Saturday

The convention is definitely underway.

A lot of great content being shared from speakers, teachers and fellow youth workers. This communication of ideas is what makes youth workers so great - we are not afraid to share what we know and learn from others who have been where we want to go.

This attitude is what makes Open Space a great addition to the National Youth Workers Convention.

Open Space was a great experience. For me, I stayed with a group who were talking about working in a small church. We talked about finances, reaching the community, ministering to students, staying relevant, connecting students to the older generation and a little more. It was a great collaboration of those struggling and those who have found success. We shared ideas, thought outloud and listened. It was a great use of my time.

For anyone going Atlanta in a few weeks - GO TO THE OPEN SPACE SATURDAY.

Check out the YS Blog for more thoughts on the Big Rooms.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Photo Friday: Frozen Bananas & A Mutated Strawberry

Bananas just do not look right after you freeze them.


As a Halloween bonus: here is a picture of a mutated strawberry. Okay, really its just a very odd shaped strawberry that looks like it should sprout a mouth and start talking.



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These weekly pictures are provided as an available resource for use within your youth ministry. These pictures can be used for background slides, event promotion, or anywhere else you need a good photograph. What I ask is that you do not use them for anything in which you make a profit and attribute me as the photographer. I would also love to hear how you are using them (pictures of your final product would be great, too) within your youth ministry.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

NYWC 09: Thursday

First full day of the convention for me (as a volunteer).

Today was a good day. Store is set up and ready to go. I got to hang out with some old friends and a few new ones. Since we (the store volunteers) are so good, we got done early today - so we got to check out a early bird seminar. I sat in on the Real World Parents seminar, taught by Mark Matlock. I got to sit next to and talk with Patti Gibbons. Nice to actually meet her in person.

Then I got to hang out with some old college buddies (Bill being one of those guys) - a great "get away" for me. We went to LaRosa's (I highly recommend it for anyone visiting Cincy) and got some ice cream at Graeter's. I think it is good to get together and talk and laugh. Especially for me right now.

A rather good start to the convention and it has not officially started yet :)

On another note:
I am a big book reader, so I intentionally left all of my books (except my Bible) at home. I want to use my free time to either read my Bible, pray, talk with other youth workers or interact with someone.

I believe this weekend is going to be one of the best ones in a long time and that has nothing to do with what is going on with YS, but on the fact that God is bigger than anything that is going on with YS, you, the economy or your congregation. Come expecting God to be God and you won't be let down.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #145: Money Spent on Halloween Costume

answer #144 - Tootsie Rolls. (What was the first wrapped candy in America?)

question #145 - How much money does the average consumer spend on a Halloween costume?


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This weekly trivia is provided for use within your youth ministry. You can use this random trivia in many ways: use it to start a conversation with a student, add it to your introduction for your lesson or message, include it in your next newsletter or email, or just randomly insert it into your daily conversations. No matter how you decide to use it, I hope this trivia knowledge can be beneficial within your youth ministry.

If you have any suggestions on topics you would like to see used for the trivia questions, just leave a comment and let me know.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Relational Communication

(This article was originally posted on YW Journal, you can read & comment on it here on this blog or over at YW Journal)

When was the last time you had a significant conversation with a student? I'm not talking about the "I want to give my life to Christ for the first time" kind of conversation. I'm talking about the conversation where you hear about a recent fight with a parent. Or the conversation that details a student's struggle to control anger and the desire to get a handle on it. Maybe it is centered around the difficulty of being a Christian example at school.

Having any type of conversation that goes beyond a surface-level can be difficult for many adults. Let's just be honest, teenagers can be very moody and hard to understand, which makes talking with them intimidating to many adults. To make the situation even worse, most adults are so intimidated that the paid youth worker has to carry the responsibility of talking with 100% of the teenagers who come through the church doors, plus a few extra from the community. But there is a better way.

It's not just for paid staff
Paid youth workers are not the only people qualified to have significant conversations with teenagers, in fact any adult can do it. But these significant conversations do not happen by accident, it will take effort and a better understanding of teenagers. First of all, students do not withhold talking to someone just because the person is not a youth worker. In fact, there are many students who are less willing to talk about certain issues with a youth worker than anyone else.

Being on both sides of the youth worker role, paid full-time and volunteer, has given me a new insight into one of the keys to effectively communicating with teenagers. The key is not in asking just the right questions. Nor is the key found in the location of the conversation (ie. better conversation is not had while drinking coffee at the local coffee shop). The key to effective communication with teenagers is having a relationship with them.

A listening ear
This truth became vividly clear to me one day while I was subbing in the local high school. At the time I was not in a full-time youth minister position, but I had been in the area for a few years and knew most of the students in the school. Most of the students knew who I was and they knew one of the reasons I was subbing was because I genuinely care for teenagers. During this particular day, I had three significant conversations with students - the kind of "ministry conversations" every youth worker longs to have with students.

I did not plan to have these conversations, in fact I almost missed one because I was reluctant to stop what I was doing to talk to the student. (I'm so glad I stopped and listened) Since I did not plan these conversations, what made them happen? The only connection between all three conversations was my ongoing relationship with the student. I had known them for years and they knew I truly cared for them and desired the best for their life. My relationship with the student was the key to unlocking significant conversation and that day I was reminded of how much students will share when they know you care.

Build relationships
So, how does an adult who cares about teenagers take advantage of this relational aspect to significant conversations? For starters, if you sit down with a student and its the first time you start thinking about having a significant conversation with them, then its already too late. This relational communication will take foresight and planning on your part. The first step happens when you begin to intentionally focus on building a relationship with the student. Now, this is not a form of manipulation used to get the student to talk to you - if you are not genuinely concerned with the student's life, then they will know and they will not talk to you anyway. You cannot be fake with a student!

Actually if you are involved with youth ministry in any fashion, the desire to build a relationship with a teenager will come naturally. The first step is to take an interest in the student's life; learn about hobbies, family structure, interests, and what they are gifted in. You cannot have an ongoing relationship if you do not know about their life and you will also struggle to carry a conversation if all you can ask is, "How was school this week?" Asking questions about specific aspects of a student's life is important, but do not be afraid to stop and listen to what is on their heart.

The relational key
Being given the opportunity to have significant conversations with students does not involve a mysterious formula or collection of the right "buzz words." The biggest, and strongest, key is simply caring enough about a student to have a relationship with them. Not a relationship based on what the student can do for you or the ministry you are involved with, but a relationship based on one adult showing God's love to one student. If you have that strong relationship and listen to a student, then every once in a while you will find yourself on the listening end of a significant conversation. A conversation that just might change the future of one special teenager.

It does not matter if you are a full-time youth worker, part-time youth worker, a volunteer, a bus driver, or an "extra" adult - if you have a relationship with a student, then they will willingly talk and share with you. Most students do not talk to an adult based on the title that goes along with their name. They talk to an adult based on the relationship formed over the years. Knowing this truth and not utilizing it will lead to dozens (hundreds?) of missed opportunities to speak into a teenager's life.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

NYWC '09: The Variations

This week's NYWC in Cincinnati will be the 9th convention I've attended. And as I think back to the past 8, I realize just how much each convention is unique.

I went to my first NYWC while I was a student at Cincinnati Christian University. (This year will mark my third time going to Cincinnati.) At this point, I had no idea what the next 10 years would hold, but I was encouraged and challenged to minister to students. I gained insight from the classes and enjoyed hanging out with a friend from school. Oh, and I first experienced hearing Mike Yaconelli speak. His ministry was such a blessing to me those first few years.

Shortly after starting my first full-time ministry, I attended convention in FL. Somehow I had managed to become overwhelmed with youth ministry within the first few months. (something about me being naive to what would really happen...) I attended this convention with my wife and a few other couples from college. It was a breath of fresh air in my youth ministry lungs. I still remember a few of the talks (first time I ever heard Rob Bell), seminars and resources I picked up during this week. A great way to encourage my first year in ministry.

The next convention I went to as a volunteer. This is the year I truly learned that YS is not about "business" as much as it is about ministry and people. I experienced the convention in a whole new way: behind the scenes. This new perspective allowed me to experience the people behind YS. (And it is these people that make YS what it is!!) I also learned to juggle, thanks to Glenn. Sadly, the biggest memory from this convention actually happened a few days afterward. This was the last convention Mike Yaconelli was ever at, as he was killed in a car accident a few days later.

How would the convention ever be the same? Simple answer - it wouldn't.

The next year was tough. It was strange to be at a NYWC and not see/hear Yac in the halls and on the stage. But Yac's absence did not mean the convention was not encouraging and uplifting. YS is so much more than just one person, even if that person is the co-founder/president. The convention was not the same, but God showed Himself in a mighty way - at least to me.

Always Something New
I've been to convention in various stages of ministry. Like I said, I started going while I was still in college. I attended as a full-time minister. And I've attended while I was out of ministry. And each year I've learned a ton and benefited more than I thought I would. Each year I leave the convention blessed and grateful that I went.

Going into this year's convention, I was already planning for it to be different. When I signed up to volunteer a few months ago, I was really looking forward to some of the new changes - like the Open Space Saturday, and the modified "Big Room." Plus, I always look forward to hearing God and talking with others who are passionate about students. But I was not looking forward to a few other changes, mainly the absence of some of my YS friends. Over the past year (like in previous years) some of my friends are no longer working for YS. I miss not seeing my friends when I go to a convention like NYWC.

On top of this, last week, a new change was added. Marko is no longer president of YS and at this point, the future is unsure. This change will be one seen by more people (unlike some of the other friends I will miss seeing), as Marko was the face of YS and a constant stage presence during the conventions. Even though I, nor you, do not know details about the situation I am confident that God is in control and that the convention will still be a place of rest, encouragement, challenge and safety.

Changes are inevitable - as I have found out attending the NYWC's over the years. But change is not always bad.

I am a different person this year than I was last.
YS is a different company this year than it was last.
You are a different person this year than you were last.
But God is still the same this year as He was last - and that is what we put our trust in, isn't it?

See you in Cincy!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Photo Friday: Mini Cantaloupe

A close up of some mini cantaloupe. Aren't they cute?


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These weekly pictures are provided as an available resource for use within your youth ministry. These pictures can be used for background slides, event promotion, or anywhere else you need a good photograph. What I ask is that you do not use them for anything in which you make a profit and attribute me as the photographer. I would also love to hear how you are using them (pictures of your final product would be great, too) within your youth ministry.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #144: First Wrapped Candy

answer #143 - Halloween candy sales average about 2 billion dollars annually in the United States. (How much money is spent on Halloween candy each year?)

question #144 - What was the first wrapped candy in America?


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This weekly trivia is provided for use within your youth ministry. You can use this random trivia in many ways: use it to start a conversation with a student, add it to your introduction for your lesson or message, include it in your next newsletter or email, or just randomly insert it into your daily conversations. No matter how you decide to use it, I hope this trivia knowledge can be beneficial within your youth ministry.

If you have any suggestions on topics you would like to see used for the trivia questions, just leave a comment and let me know.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Life, Death, & the Uncertainty of It All

(I wrote this after a car accident took 2 young lives and severely injured a third. When something tragic happens in a small community everyone is affected and this accident was no different. Life is short and it is a precious gift. I pray this reminder might stir someone to think more about their life and strive to live it to the fullest.)


Average life expectancy is somewhere in the 70's, with women usually living longer than men. This number has increased since the 1900's, thanks to advancements in medicine and a better knowledge of diseases. But there is one thing to always remember when you hear about "life expectancy" - no one knows how long they will live. There is no guarantee that you will reach the age of 70, or even 10. Life is a gift, not a guarantee.

The ultimate authority on life is God, since He created it and everything, and He never told us we were guaranteed a certain number of days. In fact, in James 4:14, we read the exact opposite. "You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." We are a mist and mists do not last long. So instead of assuming we will live to retirement in a nursing home, we need to live each day to its fullest. Do not assume you have tomorrow, because tomorrow has never been promised!

Life is a gift. Eternal life is a promise. "And this is what he (God) promised us - even eternal life." (1 John 2:25) When a young person dies, it is easy to start blaming or questioning God. How can a loving God allow this to happen? Why didn't God save them? What kind of God would allow such a young person to be taken from this world? Why...? These questions are understandable, but I believe they are also misguided.

I believe "bad stuff" happens because there is sin in the world, not because God is not all-loving. Nor is God surprised by a sudden and tragic death. Often, after a tragic death people wonder, "Where was God when _________ died?" God was in the same place He was when His Son died.* Although God wants the best for us and loves us more than we can imagine, He will not intervene into a situation just to save us from pain and suffering. Instead, He provides us with two things that are so much better. First, God offers us a peace that passes understanding- "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7) Second, He offers us eternal life with Him. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

These two options are far better than anything we could ever come up with. With the promise of eternal life with God and a peace beyond understanding, you can make it through each day and experience joy, even when something awful and uncomprehensible happens. It does not mean you will understand or that you will not hurt. It only means that when we trust in God and lean on Him for guidance, He will give us comfort.

Knowing the days of our life are numbered, and God is the only One who knows that number, should cause us to determine to live each day as if it might be our last. Each day is a gift, not a promise. Every morning you wake up, thank God that you woke up with breath in your lungs. Every night when you go to bed, thank God for the day of life He gave you. When you practice this simple habit, you will start to move away from the tendency to take life for granted.


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* I first heard this while reading an article Mike Yaconelli wrote for Youthworker Journal entitled "I Don't Know" (Nov. 2001). In the article he attributes the thought to Leslie Weatherhead, a minister in London during the Second World War.

Monday, October 19, 2009

to quote someone else: Vernon Whaley (worship leader encouragement)

"For a moment here, allow me to address the worship leaders among you. Servants of God, stay faithful to your task. Sure, there are days when it seems you're the only one on staff with a clear vision for how worship should be. The loneliness of the rehearsal room is almost too much to bear. While those under your leadership are getting 'pats on the back,' your own labor is seemingly ignored. And trying to find songs that meet the needs of everyone in your congregation? A waste of time, you're convinced. The old-timers want songs from yesteryear's hymnals; the younger set want their choruses, products of contemporary musicians, projected on the wall. While one group claps enthusiastically, another 'claps' their hands over their ears. It's useless! your heart signs. But friend, it's not. Remember, your worship is unto the Lord. After all, our worship here is just a rehearsal for our worship in eternity. Meanwhile, just remain faithful, and God will reward your efforts. He-not the church membership-is the righteous Judge. Meanwhile, look at every opportunity to promote God's kingdom through worship as God's opportunity. Lost men and women, boy and girls, grandparents, friends, and neighbors will be impacted by the worship-and faithfulness- that you demonstrate."

Taken from Called to Worship by Vernon Whaley

May this be an encouragement for worship leaders. When you have a rough weekend, remember your efforts are not about pleasing people - but rather about pleasing God.

This paragraph can also serve as an encouragement for youth workers. Sometimes we feel the same sort of things and forget Who we ultimately are ministering to.

(pass this along to any and every worship leader you know, especially if you think they need some encouraging words)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Learned from Twitter: week ending Oct. 17, 2009

(multiple week edition)

Below are some tweets, from the last few weeks, that have caught my attention.


1. nickarnold (Nick Arnold) released a free ebook on connecting with students apart from the four walls at your church. You should check it out if you have not already. (I did add some insight/thoughts to the book, but don't let that stop you from looking at it)

free eBook full of ideas for youth leaders and volunteers to develop relationships with students, would love an RT :) http://bit.ly/J8qpk
2. YMX (Youth Ministry Exchange) asked for some help for an exchange student. (Don't know if they still need it, but if you can help - get a hold of them or let me know and I'll contact them)
HELP! Exchange student arrived with exactly 5 shirts! Have a size M guys t-shirt (maybe from a past event) he could have? @ for info
3.
lovesmesomeyou (Andrew Marin) let us know that his book is available on Kindle. That's awesome. Oh, and you should check it out.
RT @likewise_books Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community, is now available on Kindle! http://ow.ly/rZId
4. outsideallday (Andy Brazelton) linked to a free online version of Group magazine. You need to take advantage of this and go learn (ie. click the link...).
Miss the last issue of Group Magazine? Thanks to @crd55 and @zafdaddy you can check it out for free online: http://budurl.com/groupmag
5. pastorbuhro (Brad Buhro) wants to add to the number of meals that Pizza Hut will donate. I don't know how long this lasts, but it wouldn't hurt to try and help.
RT @pizzahut:We will donate 4 meals to World Hunger Relief 4 each person who RTs this: http://ow.ly/qWn8 #pizzahut (More: http://ow.ly/r3Cy)
6.
MarkMatlock (Mark Matlock) asks a good question. Do you have any thoughts?
The question many in their 20's (and 30's) are asking: How do I become an adult? http://tinyurl.com/yd3dogq What do you suggest?
7.
nywc (National Youth Worker's Convention) is coming to Cincinnati the end of this month. They want to know if there is anything weird to do there - someone has to have an idea. I'd love to hear them (and I'll pass them on).
We're looking for weird things to do in Cincy. Got ideas? Share your link!



What did you learn from Twitter over the last few weeks?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Photo Friday: Cup of Fries

Nothing quite like a homemade cup of french fries - much better than any fast-food place. (The picture also captures the pace of life, even fries you make at home need to be "to go" every once in a while)





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These weekly pictures are provided as an available resource for use within your youth ministry. These pictures can be used for background slides, event promotion, or anywhere else you need a good photograph. What I ask is that you do not use them for anything in which you make a profit and attribute me as the photographer. I would also love to hear how you are using them (pictures of your final product would be great, too) within your youth ministry.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

NYWC '09: The Preparation

As I get closer to attending the National Youth Workers Convention in Cincinnati, OH, I thought I would share a few tips for getting the most out of the convention. These are tips I have used and benefited from in the past and/or things I want to do this year. (These tips can also apply to other conventions and seminars, too - well all but #9)


9 Things You Have to do at NYWC

1. Filter out the noise
There will be a lot going on. Most of it will be good and most of it could be beneficial to you. BUT if you want to hear God's voice, you'll have to filter out all of the other noise. You might need to avoid going to the store, the hall of booths, a class or the main sessions. Do not allow the busyness (business side of ministry) to grab your attention.

2. Know what you are looking for
This goes for resources and for the overall convention. You will want to know what types of resources (books, curriculum, tech support...) your ministry needs and stick to those items. Do not venture off into buying stuff you do not need. Also, you should know what you need to take home spiritually. If you are feeling drained, you need to spend time getting refreshed and recharged. If you need some fresh ideas, you should talk to as many people as you can about ministry. If you need some rest, you should do whatever you can to get it.

3. Talk with a convention pastor or counselor
YS provides pastors and counselors free of charge. Did you catch that, you DO NOT have to pay to talk to someone about your ministry or yourself. These pastors/counselors want to help you gain some understanding and leave a healthier person - take advantage of this opportunity.

4. Listen with an open heart and mind
You will encounter more opinions than you thought possible. You will hear differing viewpoints and beliefs. But do not tune anyone out. Listen to what they have to say with an open mind and heart. Listen without preparing your arguments. Listen. And then think about what they said.

5. Do not be conformed by the schedule
You do not have to go to everything on the schedule! (reread that sentence) The schedule is provided so you have options, not to cause stress when you can't make it to everything. When you arrive and register, sit down and look at the entire schedule. Decide what you really want/need to attend. Then allow yourself the freedom to "miss" the rest of the stuff. Make your own schedule and allow the convention to be beneficial, not burdensome.

6. Get rest
You worked hard so that you could be gone for this Sunday. When you get back, you will work hard trying to make sure everything is ready for the next weekend. So during these 5 days, relax. Find - no take time to rest! Your bodies needs it. Your mind needs it. Your soul needs it. You will feel more relaxed and refreshed when you leave, if you take the time to get some rest while you are at the convention.

7. Do something out of the ordinary
How many times each year do you get a chance to experience new things? At this convention, you should take advantage of the opportunity. If you usually go to bed early, attend a late night session. If you usually sleep in, get up early and meet another youth worker for breakfast. Attend one of the prayer services. Go to the labyrinth. Sit down next to someone you have never met and start a conversation. Yell down the hallway. Skip down the street. Whatever you do, find someway to get out of your comfort zone and do something new.

*You need to participate in the Open Space Saturday. It is new for everyone (its the first year YS has done it, so LA is the only experience anyone has had with it), but I have heard only positive comments from people who were a part of it in LA. You would benefit from carving out some time to take part*

8. Find a new friend
At a convention for youth workers, you already have a point of common interest. Early in the convention make a new friend. Then make it a point to connect with this new friend multiple times during the convention. This way, you will go home with a new friend and someone whom you can talk to about youth ministry when you need an ear or an idea.

9. Meet Mike in person by finding him in the YS Store and striking up a conversation. (Free "high five" if you mention this blog post)
This one is rather self-explanatory. If you are coming to the NYWC in Cincinnati, I would love to meet you. Leave a comment and let me know you are going or just say "hi" at the convention. Either way, I would love to meet another youth worker with a passion for reaching students with the message of God's love.


What do you do to get the most out of a convention?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #143: Money Spent on Halloween Candy Annually

answer #142 - Chocolate candy bars top the list as the most popular candy for trick-or-treaters with Snickers #1. (What is the most popular candy given out on Halloween?)

question #143 - How much money is spent on Halloween candy each year?


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This weekly trivia is provided for use within your youth ministry. You can use this random trivia in many ways: use it to start a conversation with a student, add it to your introduction for your lesson or message, include it in your next newsletter or email, or just randomly insert it into your daily conversations. No matter how you decide to use it, I hope this trivia knowledge can be beneficial within your youth ministry.

If you have any suggestions on topics you would like to see used for the trivia questions, just leave a comment and let me know.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Photo Friday: Gigantic Pizza


One of the biggest pizza pies I have ever seen.



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These weekly pictures are provided as an available resource for use within your youth ministry. These pictures can be used for background slides, event promotion, or anywhere else you need a good photograph. What I ask is that you do not use them for anything in which you make a profit and attribute me as the photographer. I would also love to hear how you are using them (pictures of your final product would be great, too) within your youth ministry.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Free ebook: Tear Down the Wall of the Youth Room

Nick Arnold, from ministryallies.com, has just released an ebook on connecting with students outside of the "church walls."

Here is what Nick has this to say about the ebook:

Looking for a resource filled with creative ideas to build relationships with students? This is a free resource from Ministry Allies full of relational ministry ideas, including hanging out with students, working on projects together, going to cheer on other students together, and a ton of other great ideas.

You can get the eb00k by clicking on the link. Did I mention it's FREE and full of great ideas.


(I had the privilege of being able to contribute a few ideas and comments to the ebook, along with a handful of other youth ministry minded people)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #142: Most Popular Halloween Candy

answer #141 - C. S. Lewis (Who has written more books, Leo Tolstoy or C. S. Lewis?)

question #142 - What is the most popular candy given out on Halloween?


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This weekly trivia is provided for use within your youth ministry. You can use this random trivia in many ways: use it to start a conversation with a student, add it to your introduction for your lesson or message, include it in your next newsletter or email, or just randomly insert it into your daily conversations. No matter how you decide to use it, I hope this trivia knowledge can be beneficial within your youth ministry.

October Trivia

October is mainly associated with Halloween. (It used to be the month of the World Series, too. But now that belongs to the beginning of November)

Anyway, this month's trivia questions will focus on Halloween.

Here is what you can look forward to & hopefully learn something from:

10/7 - Most popular Halloween candy
10/14 - Amount of money spent on Halloween candy
10/21 - First wrapped candy
10/28 - Amount of money spent on Halloween costumes

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Book Review: Fresh Start by Doug Fields

(This Doug Fields book is not a youth ministry book, but it will definitely speak to youth workers and the students they work with. Plus, Doug writes like a youth worker would! As I read through the book, I kept picturing Doug standing in front of a room of high schoolers giving these chapters as messages. You can take a youth worker out of the youth ministry genre, but you can't take the youth ministry communicator out of the author.)


Have you ever wanted a second chance, but did not feel deserving of one? do you struggle to take life in a new direction because you are afraid of making the same mistakes? In Fresh Start, Doug Fields offers wisdom to help you start over. Fields uses his twenty-plus years of ministry experience to provide practical advise to help the reader make a fresh start.

Fresh Start covers a number of areas where people need a new beginning. Fields discusses pride, serving, the past, pain, conflict, rejection, anger and sharing your fresh-start story. Each chapter delves into the topic, without stopping at the surface level issue. Fields brings to light the underlying causes and obstacles that need to be addressed before a person can experience a fresh start. In the introduction it says "Let's see what happens as you keep moving forward by faith and doing the possible while trusting God with the impossible." A fresh start is not impossible, but it will take hard-work.

This book does not leave the reader with a desire to make a change, but no means to follow through. Every chapter provides a collection of practical and helpful advice. For example, in chapter five, Freedom from hurt, Fields offers steps to help the reader begin to forgive. In this case, you admit you're hurt, determine what he/she owes you, cancel the debt, and release the offender completely. Having this tangible advice offers the beginning of healing for the person who has been carrying the pain of past hurts.

You will benefit greatly from picking up a copy and reading through these pages. In fact, I would suggest you find the chapter that deals with the area of "stuckness" you want to be unstuck and read it first. Read and interact with the text. Allow God's Word and the advice in this book to help you move toward the Fresh Start you want.

My advice (rating) – buy more than one and give out copies (5 out of 5)

Friday, October 02, 2009

October Photos

During the month of October, the Photo Fridays will all be about food. I hope this doesn't make you too hungry.


Oct 2 - a nice look at the bottom of an iced tea container
Oct 9 - an amazingly large pizza pie
Oct 16 - a "to go" cup of french fries
Oct 23 - a miniature version of a cantaloupe
Oct 30 - frozen bananas & a mutated strawberry

Photo Friday: Iced Tea


The bottom of the iced tea container. That looks like some strong tea right there.


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These weekly pictures are provided as an available resource for use within your youth ministry. These pictures can be used for background slides, event promotion, or anywhere else you need a good photograph. What I ask is that you do not use them for anything in which you make a profit and attribute me as the photographer. I would also love to hear how you are using them (pictures of your final product would be great, too) within your youth ministry.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

NYWC '09: The Anticipation

In less than a month, I'll be in Cincinnati for the 2009 National Youth Workers Convention. Below is a list of things I'm looking forward to.


Things I'm looking forward to at NYWC 2009: Cincinnati

1. Experiencing the new format
This year Youth Specialties is using a new format for the convention. Go here to find out more about the changes. One of the biggest changes is happening on Saturday in Open Space. After hearing about the experience from LA (the first convention of this year was in LA last week), I am excited to be a part of it in person.

As I have volunteered at more conventions than I have attended, some of the changes will mean little to change my overall experience. Since I have not been able to attend any of the workshops or seminars, I will not miss this change. The benefit of attending the NYWC, for me, comes from the interaction with other youth workers. And that interaction is only going to be more intentional this year.

2. Seeing old friends
I love seeing old friends and connecting with them. Some of these friends are from college, some are youth workers I only know through the convention and others are people I have been able to work with. But the group I'm really looking forward to seeing is the YS staff (volunteers included) - I love working with these people. Unfortunately, this year will also be the first year that I won't be working with some old friends (you will all be missed).

There is something special about being able to spend time with people who understand.
In a place full of youth workers, you do not feel so alone.
In a place full of people who serve teenagers, you do not feel so odd.
In a place where there is always someone to talk to, you feel at home.

3. Meeting new friends
I already know of a few people I'm going to finally get to meet in person (which makes me pretty excited). Over the last few years I have been able to connect with several youth workers thanks to the internet. We have shared ideas, laughed together, prayed for each other, encouraged each other and become friends. But, since we do not live near each other, we have never met in person. Thanks to conventions like this, we get to be in the same place at the same time.

As much as I am looking forward to meeting these "online friends," I'm just as excited to meet brand new friends. I do not know who I will get to interact with and get to know, but I know we'll share a common bond. Maybe it'll be you.

4. Serving youth workers
This would be #1 if I ordered by importance. Serving youth workers is the reason I volunteer every year I can. I love students and I love youth workers. I have been through some difficult seasons in ministry and I know there are many others who are going through something similar. Volunteering at the convention allows me an opportunity to serve a lot of youth workers and watch God refresh and recharge those who are serving others.

5. Getting the new Skit Guys DVD
I am pretty excited about getting the new Skit Guys DVD. I am thankful to Eddie (one of the Skit Guys) for his kindness, which is the only reason I get to get the new DVD. I mentioned on Twitter that I wish I could get the DVD for registering, using a promo code from YS and the NNYM. Since I am volunteering at the convention, I do not need to register to attend. Thus, no promotional code for me. Eddie responded to my tweet by saying they (the Skit Guys) would make sure I got one. I'm pretty excited about getting it and using it with the jr. high students I am currently working with.

6. Finding new resources
Speaking of new resources... youth workers are always looking for a resource that will help us serve students more effectively. At the convention, you will find a variety of companies and products in the exhibit hall, so many that you will probably feel overwhelmed. But if you know what you are looking for and use common sense, you can find a great new resource(s). I try to only get what I know I can use soon after I return home. Do not come home with a suitcase full of curriculum or books to read - you will not use them all. Purchase what you will use and write down information about the other resources, so you can get them later.



If you are planning on going to NYWC in Cincinnati, I would love to meet you. I'll be at the YS Store most of the week, just stop by and say "hi" or maybe we can do lunch.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #141: Who wrote more: C.S. Lewis or Leo Tolstoy?

answer #140 - And Then There Were None (Which book has sold more copies, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie or The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger?)

question #141 - Who has written more books, Leo Tolstoy or C. S. Lewis?



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This weekly trivia is provided for use within your youth ministry. You can use this random trivia in many ways: use it to start a conversation with a student, add it to your introduction for your lesson or message, include it in your next newsletter or email, or just randomly insert it into your daily conversations. No matter how you decide to use it, I hope this trivia knowledge can be beneficial within your youth ministry.

If you have any suggestions on topics you would like to see used for the trivia questions, just leave a comment and let me know.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Prayer helps - to help you focus

Prayer is pretty important to a Christian. It is the avenue through which a Christian can talk directly with God (the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe) and share true emotions with the one person who had to power to really change things.

Because prayer is so important, it can be overwhelming. Students struggle to pray. Adults struggle to pray. Youth workers struggle to teach teenagers ways to pray or encourage them to start, even just for a few minutes.

Below you will find 3 prayer helps. The first 2 are methods that can be used to help a student (or anyone for that matter) focus their prayer time. The 3rd help is about focusing your prayers, but learning to focus more on other people and less on yourself when you pray.


P.I.N.C.a.P.
Praise - praise God for Who He is
Intercession - praying for other people
Needs - pray specifically for needs you know about
Confession - confessing your sins
and
Protection - asking God for protection for those who need it


A.C.T.S.
Adoration - praising God for Who He is
Confession - confessing your sins
Thanksgiving - telling God "thank you" for His blessings
Supplication - asking for "stuff" on behalf of yourself and others


me & we vs. You & them
How do you pray? Do you spend your prayer time focused on yourself and those close to you? Or is your prayer time focused more on God and others?


What ideas/helps have you used in the past? What would you suggest and add to this list?