Saturday, February 28, 2009

Learned from Twitter: week ending Feb. 28, 2009

This week I learned a lot from Twitter. One of the things I learned, which I'll share in this post, was that youth ministers are awesome people.

What follows are some tweets I caught this week and what I learned from them.

1.pattigibbons (Patti Gibbons) shared a link to a video about Twitter on Dateline.
"have you see this feature about @twitter on ABC?

2.rvayp (Aaron Lee) mentioned free Quiznos subs.
"hey free Quiznos sub:

3.pattigibbons linked to a post on her blog you should check out.
"The under 25 youth pastor

4.fess2us (Gerrard Fess) linked to a free ebook on leadership.
"Downloading FREE E-book on leadership

5. crazytsup (Troy Supple) asked me a question about ministry resources. And before I could even respond, he had gotten at least 3 answers from other youth workers, all within 15 minutes of his asking. This is why I love youth workers and why I think twitter can be a great resource to your ministry.

"@lilkup hey know of any teaching resources for teens sharing their faith that is really good?"

(7 min. later) YMTV (youth ministry TV) responds "RT @crazytsup @lilkup hey know of any teaching resources for teens sharing their faith that is really good?"
(10 min. later) drumdog00 (Justin Van Rheenen) replies with his thoughts. "@YMTV @crazytsup @lilkup Share Jesus Without Fear is a great resource."
(12 min. later) pattigibbons offers another suggestion. "@crazytsup the 3Story materials are excellent life evangelism training."

6. nikomas (Nikomas) reminded me that being a Christian is not always comfy.
"I love God and my pillow. My pillow is more comfy though."

7. marklee3d (Mark Lee - Third Day guitarist) let us in on the fact that even professional musicians can do things last minute when it comes to a Sunday morning song service. He tweeted this at 8:05 Sunday morning.
"Mac texted me last night about playing in church with him this morning. Should be fun, if I can remember where all my gear is!"

Friday, February 27, 2009

Photo Friday: Plastic Jesus Figure

I'm assuming this is Jesus. Though, its hard to tell without His sash. :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #110: Longest inaugural speech

answer #109 - James Madison (he and his wife didn't even dance, they watched from a platform)

question #110 - Which president's inaugural speech was the longest? (bonus points if you know how long it was)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Youth Ministry Budgeting: Categories (2b of 5)

(This is the second part in a 5 part series on youth ministry budgeting, which has been split it into two posts due to its length. Others posts include: stewardship, categories A)

In part #3 of this series, we will go into more details on the typical process for youth ministry budgets. Right now I want to look at five more categories you will want to include in your proposed budget (and some reasoning or thoughts behind each one).

Possible Budget Categories:
6. Events
This category has the potential to be a rather high percentage of your entire budget, if you let it. You will want to include enough money to pay for a speaker, a band, decorations, materials, promotion and food (unless you include it in the food category). Included in this category would be any event you hold during the year, from your kickoff Sunday to a weekend retreat or area-wide gatherings.

7. Marketing
This category is for any expense you incur to "market" your youth ministry. Be creative with this category and use methods that will reach the students you want to reach. Do not get stuck in a pattern of marketing the same way every year or even the same way the congregation as a whole markets. Your marketing budget might include items like: t-shirts, ads on Google, yard signs, yearbook ads, banners, coffee mugs, temporary tattoos, buttons, backpacks, notebooks, shoes.

Regardless of what you spend your marketing money on, you need to remember that your ultimate goal is to tell people about Jesus Christ, not about your youth ministry. I would encourage you to not spend a high percentage of your total budget on this category; rather, let your ministry speak for itself and have your students market via word-of-mouth.

8. Classroom Materials
These materials are essential to your ministry, though you will most likely spend very little time thinking about them. Make sure you have the finances for paper, pens, dry erase markers, pencils. You could also include furniture or donuts in this category if you need to.

9. Technology
This is one of the fun categories where you have to be careful the money you spend is wisely spent (reread post #1 on stewardship if you have questions). You will want to budget for all costs associated with your website, any software you will need, digital and/or video camera equipment, iPods or mp3 players, televisions and DVD players. Some of you might even be able to include a laptop or projector in this budget category. Just remember that you do not need the latest technology in order to have an effective youth ministry.

10. Communication
This category is for those materials you need in order to communicate in a non-internet method. Some of you might think I'm crazy for suggesting we communicate with students and parents in any form other than text message. It is in this age of texting that I think the hand written note is most powerful. Think about this; how many written notes do your students get during an average month? Unless its a note passed during Science class, I bet the answer is zero. Most people do not stop to hand write anything, even invitations to parties are done online.

When you take time to write a note to a student it shows them you care. It only costs you a few minutes of your day, but its impact is greater than 10 emails. Start the habit of writing a note to each student during a month (if you have too many students, divide the students among the youth coaches and then rotate your recipients from month to month) and watch how it affects their attitude toward you and the youth ministry.

I have found that buying a bunch of blank notes and postcards is the easiest. You do not have to write much more than a few sentences, so you do not feel like you have to say too much. Pictures work well, too. Print off some extra pictures and send them to the students with a little note on the back. You will need to make sure you have enough postage, too. I recommend buying the letter stamps by the roll and postcard stamps a couple sheets at a time.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Youth Ministry Budgeting: Categories (2a of 5)

(This is the second part in a 5 part series on youth ministry budgeting, which has been split it into two posts due to its length. Others posts include: stewardship.)

Once you understand the point that its not your money, then you are ready to start putting the budget together. Putting the budget together will take time, or it should take time if you do not rush through it. In the next part of this series, we will go into more details on a typical process for youth ministry budgets. Right now I want to look at some of the categories you will want to include in your proposed budget (and some reasoning or thoughts behind each one).

Possible Budget Categories:
1. Curriculum
This would include books and materials, for both teacher and students, for any learning environment your ministry offers. The fourth post in this series will have a more in depth discussion on whether to write your own curriculum or buy it. If you buy curriculum, do not let the curriculum determine what you teach - let your lesson scope and sequence determine your curriculum. Know what topic or Scripture you want to cover and look for curriculum that matches that topic. Once you have found a good assortment of choices, take the time to look over each one. Take the time to evaluate, compare and determine which one would work best for your situation. Be mindful of the students and the teachers, do not just pick the one you like best or which one happens to be the newest material available.

When you are thinking about what curriculum to order/create, do not limit yourself to just a 13 week set of material. I know it goes against a lot of what is commonly offered, but I think the best way to present material is to cover the topic as best as you can. That means, if you only need three weeks to do that, do not stretch it to four for the sake of filling an entire month. If you need five months, then plan for five months. Finally, do not forget to include resources like movie clips, videos, books, and cds when you are budgeting for curriculum.

2. Scholarships
Mainly, I am talking about scholarships for the students to attend camp, retreat or conference - not to go to Six Flags or the beach. I have seen scholarships handled very differently by different churches. When it comes to budgeting, it is really an all or nothing category, you can either include them or not include them. In my first ministry, we did not include scholarship money in the youth ministry budget. All scholarship money was donated by individuals for a specific student. Then I went to a church where over 1/2 of our youth ministry budget was set aside for scholarship money. The church paid 1/2 the cost of every camp or trip a student attended, plus the adults were covered through this money.

In my opinion, helping a student get to a week of camp is a better use of money than buying a new video projector.

3. Volunteer Appreciation
This is a huge category. You cannot have a healthy youth ministry without quality adults. The youth ministry leader needs to be showing appreciation to those who put so much time, energy, and money into student ministry. Ideas for spending this money might include: candy, cards, books, gift cards, movie tickets, gas cards, or baby sitting money. Know your youth coaches well enough to be able to know what they would appreciate. Here are some ideas I have shared on appreciating youth workers (which can apply just the same to your youth coaches).

4. Staff Training
Staff training should include attending a youth ministry conference. There are multiple day options: YS's NYWC, Lifeway's LNYWC, SYM/Group's NYMC. As well as one day options: YS One Day, Catalyst. It should also include material for ongoing training within your ministry setting. If you want to go through a youth ministry book with your youth coaches, it is a good idea to buy each of them a copy. Do not make your youth coaches buy their own copy, unless there is no way your ministry can afford it. Ongoing training will help everyone stay on the same page and help them feel better prepared to minister to the students.

5. Food
This category could include food for weekly events (donuts, chips, soda, pizza) as well as making possible those last minute decisions to include food for something. Providing food and drinks are great ways to help visitors feel comfortable and give them something to do when they do not know anyone else.

If you cannot afford to budget much money for this category, you might want to try having a sign-up for students/parents to bring food for events.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Learned from Twitter: week ending Feb. 21, 2009

I thought it would be fun to start sharing some of the great information I get from my twitter friends. Each week*, I'm going to put some of my favorites together and post them on this blog. Hopefully you will be able to glean something from them, too.

You can expect to see links to free downloads, interesting blog posts, funny videos/pictures and insight from others who work with youth.

Here are some things I learned from Twitter this week:

1.gavoweb (Gavin Richardson) shared a great idea for encouraging your graduating seniors from his youth ministry.
"Youth Ministry Idea: @rvayp gave me the thought of sharing this tidbit of youth ministry idea "

2. YS_Scoop (Youth Specialties) started their YS One Day training this week.
"Today is the first day of the first weekend of If you're there and tweeting, use #ysoneday. Bring it on!

3. tspencer (Travis Spencer) linked to a free Brandon Heath MP3.
"FREE brandon heath MP3 and more when you look around."

kentshaffer (Kent Shaffer) shared a link to a Catalyst book giveaway.
"Get a free printed copy of Seth Godin's Tribes (or other books) just by calling a phone number."

bgray (Ben Gray) said, "I need something to do. First suggestion wins, I"ll go do it."
I suggested he change his profile pic to an old high school photo. He changed it within hours and thus I learned that Ben is a man of his word.
Ben Gray

*each week is a hope and may not reflect the actual occurrences of future posts.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Photo Friday: Giant Fake Fish

I don't remember where we saw this fish, but I do remember it was on top of some gas station.

How cool would it be to have this fish up somewhere in your youth space?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #109: First inaugural ball

answer #108 - Virginia (8)

question #109 - Who was the first president to hold an inaugural ball?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Youth Ministry Budgeting: Stewardship (1 of 5)

(This is the first post in a 5 part series on Youth Ministry Budgeting.)

The most important thing to remember when working on your youth ministry budget is that the money is not your money. It is not your own personal spending money. It is God's money and your youth ministry is a steward of it. The money has been given to the church (or directly to the youth ministry) by other people as an offering for the furthering of God's Kingdom. Before you spend any of that money, make sure you remember the reason people gave. It is also good for you to remember the fact that people have gone without and sacrificed to give that money to your ministry.

Once you understand that important aspect of the youth ministry money, you need to begin thinking about the value and necessity of the things you are adding to the budget. It is crucial in this part of the process to stop and refocus yourself on being a good steward. Ask yourself questions like: What is needed? Can we find something equivalent for less? Is that a good use of our money? Is the money better spent on something else? Taking extra time on this step can help you avoid regret down the road.

Do not allow yourself to get caught up in spending money just because you have money to spend. Just because you have money to buy something new does not mean you have to spend it on a new television, sound system, or even a new youth building. You are a steward of this money and people are trusting you to spend it wisely. You would be wise to not waste the money that people have entrusted to the youth ministry. Making quick decisions is not being a good steward. Throwing money into something you do not need is not being a good steward. Buying something just to look cool is not being a good steward.

Being a good steward of your youth ministry budget will look different for your ministry than it will for mine or the ministry down the street. Only your youth ministry team knows what is truly needed and what is just a want. You need to spend time in prayer asking God to give you wisdom with your budget. You need to talk about your budget with your team, allowing each person the chance to voice his/her opinion about how to be the best stewards of your youth budget. (I also know each person will have their own personal bias as to where the money is spent, and it is the youth minister's responsibility to discern what is best for the ministry as a whole.)

Being a good steward can also mean you "reduce/reuse/recycle" within your ministry. Is there some curriculum you can rework and use again? Can you rearrange classes to better use the space you have? Does food have to be served at such and such event? Where can you reduce your spending? What materials can you reuse? What materials/ideas can you give away to other ministries?

As you begin thinking about your budget and what it means to be a good steward, keep in mind these Scriptures:

Ps. 24.1 - "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it."

Lev. 25.23 - "The land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants."

Deuteronomy 6:10-12 - “When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

Before you assign money to any aspect of your youth ministry, determine what it means for your youth ministry to be good stewards of your resources.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine's Day lesson on God's love for you

February means Valentine's Day, which means everyone is thinking about love. From little kids handing out valentines to their classmates to adults going out for a romantic dinner, people are showing their love in special ways. And what do people love? What do you love? (get some responses) What do you mean when you say you "love" someone or something? I use the word love a lot during any given day. "I love porkburgers." "I love my wife." "I love my kids." "I love to read." "I love God." Do they all mean the same thing? I sure hope not.

We tend to use the word love when referring to things we like, admire, think are cool, or have strong emotions toward. Saying I love my laptop is not the same as saying I love my family. It does not mean exactly the same as when you guys say you love ___________. And its definitely not the same as saying God loves me and God loves you. When I tell you that God loves you, it is so much more than some momentary emotional connection or feeling. Let's look at three verses that show us what God's love means for you and me.

The first verse to look at is John 3.16. "God so loved the world..." What does God's love mean in this verse? Does it mean God really likes the world or thinks the world is really cool? No, it means that He sent Jesus to earth to die for your sins so that you can live with Him in heaven forever. God loves you so much that He was willing to let His only Son die in your place.

Do you have that kind of love for anyone?

The next passage is Romans 5.6-8. "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Not only does God say that He loves you, He showed His love by dying in your place. You and I do not the power to take care of our sins, but Jesus died so that we would. Christ died for you when you didn't deserve it.

Do you know anyone else who would do that?

The last verse I want to look at is 1 John 4.8-12. "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."

Again, this verse emphasizes the fact that God loves us enough to allow Jesus to die in our place. True love is not that we love God (for what He did for us), but that God loved us and sent Jesus to pay our price for our sins. Verse 12 tells us that if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. You and I can complete God's love for others by loving them.

Are you loving others the way He loves us?

God wants us to love others, that means He wants us to treat other people with respect, to do nice things for them, and to be willing to sacrifice for them. And above all God wants you to know that when He says He loves you, He doesn't just mean that He thinks you are cool or neat. He means that He loves you enough to send His Son to die on a cross for your sins. That is how much He loves you!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Good Idea, Bad Idea: Driving the car around

Good idea: driving your car around to the basement of the church building to avoid walking on the snow/ice.

Bad idea: driving to the basement of the church and almost getting stuck on the way out because you tried to drive on the snow/ice on the "path" out.

Just because someone else made it through on the snow, does not mean you will make it through. And if you do not have 4x4, it is probably not a smart idea to even try.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Proverbs 30.8-9 (my daily bread)

If my last 9 months had a theme verse, it would be Pr. 30.8-9.

Proverbs 30:8-9 “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”
God has continually provided for my family's daily bread. We have not had an abundance, nor have we had too little. It has not been anything we have done, everything has been a gift from God. (Maybe in the next few months, I'll take the time to write a post sharing how God has taken care of my family.)

What has God done for you in the last 9 months?

Photo Friday: Golden Sunset

A sunset like this reminds me just how great and powerful God is. No matter what is going on in your life, do not loose sight of God, who is working in your life.

Stop and admire His creation today.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #108: Presidential Birthplaces

answer #107 - one

question #108 - In which state have the most Presidents been born?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

February trivia questions...

All of the remaining trivia questions this month will have to do with presidents. How good are you at your "useless" presidential knowledge? This month, you'll get a chance to share your knowledge with others by answering some random trivia questions.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Photo Friday: Open Bible

Here is a picture of the Bible opened to Psalm 74.

When was the last time you read a Psalm?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Poll Results: Next Blog Series

The votes are in. Overwhelmingly you guys want to see a series on budgeting. Both personal and church budgeting will be covered in two upcoming blog series.

Here are the poll results:

30% (3 people) wanted Youth Minister's Budget (personal)
40% (4 people) wanted Youth Ministry's Budget (church)
10% (1 person) wanted Small Town Youth Ministry
20% (2 people) wanted Youth Ministry Blog Reviews
0 % wanted Parenting Mistakes
(1 person) wanted "Your ideas" (added to list already)

Order of my next blog series will be:
Youth Ministry's budget
Youth Minister's personal budget
Youth Ministry blog reviews
Small Town youth ministry

If you have any specific questions or topics you want covered, just leave a comment or email me and I'll answer/address them in the blog series.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #107: Vincent Van Gogh

answer #106 - Irvin Kershner

question #107 - How many paintings did Vincent Van Gogh sell in his lifetime?

(come back next Wednesday for the answer)