Monday, March 30, 2009

Book Review: Faith and Pop Culture by Christianity Today Study Series

Christianity Today has put together a series of studies designed to be used in a small group setting. I got a chance to look at Faith and Pop Culture, one of eight books in the series. Each book uses various Christianity Today articles to use as springboards to start the discussions. In Faith and Pop Culture, the reader is challenged to answer the question, "Can we find Jesus in popular entertainment?" (back cover) The goal for this study is to "wrestle with the positive, negative, and neutral aspects of entertainment and the place it should have in the life of a Christian." (p. 9)

Each of the eight lessons have the same basic format, which helps as you are working through each one. One thing I like about the "open up" section is there are 2 options to choose from. One option might work better for your group, or it might just help you think of another way to introduce the topic for your small group. The eight lessons are diverse and cover a large range of topics. But I see one topic missing from the list: music. One other thing you might notice as you go through the study is a bias in the question writing. I understand every author has a bias when they write, so I'm not trying to be picky. I think it is important to note that some of the questions are leading toward a "right" answer.

Overall, I would say this is a good resource to use to help you talk about the use of pop culture within your small group setting.

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

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Learned from Twitter: week ending March 28, 2009

This week, I learned a few things on Twitter that I wanted to share with you.

1. gavoweb (Gavin Richardson) shared a link to a free video.
"the folks at 'the work of the people' are giving away this cool video as free download. i really like their work

2. arpierson (Allen Pierson) challenged anyone to try this science experiment. I haven't tried it yet, but plan on doing it.
"I cracked open an egg into boiling water out of sheer curiosity and it was pretty much the coolest thing ever. You should try it sometime.

3. WorshipRising (Kevin Richardson) wanted to introduce everyone involved with worship ministry to Dan Wilt. Go ahead, check him out.
"Seriously, worship pastors, if you aren't aware of Dan Wilt, you should be. Start here (.pdf article):

4. UstreamTV (Ustream) shared a link to the tour for Mercy Me and Hawk Nelson. Check it out.
"The Road Show, with @MercyMe @HawkNelson, and others, streaming their whole tour!

What did you learn on Twitter this week?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Photo Friday: PC/Mac compatible portible cooling laptop pad

Just got this portable cooling pad for my laptop. It has been a great cooling system. But my favorite part of the packaging is on the left side. It says it is Mac compatible and PC compatible. I haven't found a cooling pad that wasn't compatible with any laptop you put on top of it. But I guess the real question is, will it work with a Linux based laptop? :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #114: The Stomach

answer #113 - About 10" long

question #114 - True or False - You can live without a stomach?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Learned from Twitter: week ending March 21, 2009

This was a rather full week of twitter information for me. Here is a sampling of what I learned this week.

1. ferggo (Greg Mefford) reminded me that last Saturday was more than just the day after Friday the 13th.
"Happy #piday

2. gavoweb (Gavin Richardson) posted a link that differs with the common belief that church attendence has increased thanks to the "recession"
"@mattcarlisle Contrary 2 recent reports that econ troubles have led to increased church attend, Pew says diff

3. DougFields (Doug Fields) asked for some advice on an upcoming book cover, and listened.
"You hated this book cover and the publisher listened. What do you think of this one? Thoughts?"
kentshaffer (Kent Shaffer) depressed me with this tweet, as I've passed both ages.
"Brain ability peaks at age 22 and mental powers begin to dwindle at age 27 -

5. BtotheEtotheN (Ben Boles) posted about a twitter cartoon.
"you've got to watch this twitter cartoon

6. dbeckner (Dennis Beckner) offered a bit of advice to users of twitter, via an article about what happens when you don't watch what you tweet.
"RT: Be careful what you tweet... Check out this guy's story: (via @JonathanTelles)

7. brockgill (Brock Gill) asks for immediate response from his fans at one of his shows. I wish I knew if this tweet helped the situation or not. Either way, I think its pretty cool that he would use Twitter to try to get help with it.
"If u hav already seen my show plz giv up ur seat. There is still a busload of people in parkinglot. This is nuts
Drpoulette (Dennis Poulette) provides a link to a free audio copy of Tribes.
"Free audio copy of Tribes by Seth Godin:"

What did you learn from Twitter this week?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Photo Friday: More President Obama Marketing

You can buy this 1000 piece puzzle of President Obama.

Or these President Obama trading cards. If I remember correctly, there are a total of 12 or 16 cards to collect.

Or you can buy a copy of his inaugural address (you can find a transcript of the entire address online without much effort). Well, his address and a few others.

* Barack Obama, Inaugural Address, 2009
* Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, 1865
* Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address, 1863
* Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, 1861
* Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance, 1841
(from the description at

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Book Review: Help! I'm a Frustrated Youth Worker! by Steven L. Case

A little while ago I posted about my connection to this book, and I said I would probably buy a copy and read it. Well, I got a copy and have read it and now I am sharing my review.

You do not have to be in ministry long to experience your first feeling of frustration, and you are not alone in that frustration. In Help! I'm a Frustrated Youth Worker! Steve Case offers some very practical advice for frustrated youth workers. He draws from his many years in youth ministry to provide a field guide for the youth worker struggling to avoid burnout. Not only does Case provide tips and suggestions for common frustrations, he also offers some of his own person stories as well.

Reading Help! I'm a Frustrated Youth Worker! is like being on the other end of an email conversation with Case. The book offers help and hope to youth workers who are frustrated, and I believe this is accomplished through the conversational style of writing. While reading one paragraph you will be laughing and the next you will tear up thinking about how you have been hurt by others. You will be drawn into the conversation, which adds to the usefulness of this book.

Having gone through a few seasons of frustration in my ministry, I identified with much of the advice offered. In fact, I wish this book would have been available when I first started youth ministry. Having this book back then might have helped me avoid a few mishaps. Case does not offer any quick fixes for the frustrated youth worker and I appreciate that, because there are no quick answers on how to deal with your frustrations in ministry.

Help! I'm a Frustrated Youth Worker! is a must read for every rookie youth worker. But, all youth workers will benefit from having a copy on the bookshelf, as a reference guide. During those times of frustration, you will find helpful advice in its pages.

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

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #113: The Stomach

answer #112 - Your blood

question #113 - How long is an adult's stomach?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Movie Review: Skeeter and the Mystery of the Lost Mosquito Treasure

Since I know some of the youth workers who read this blog have young children, I thought I would share my thoughts on the new Hermie & Friends DVD. Here is my review of Skeeter and the Mystery of the Lost Mosquito Treasure.

I was excited to watch the new Hermie video with the kids for our movie night. Having seen a couple of the other Hermie & Friends, I knew Skeeter and the Mystery of the Lost Mosquito Treasure was going to be good. And I was not disappointed. Beyond the lesson it teaches, about being unique, it was plain fun to watch.

Like all good animated movies it has entertainment for both the kid and the adult. One of my favorite parts was when Sinclair presents his presentation to the garden friends. His pictures are being projected onto a sheet of paper which reads, "From the desk of Max Lucado." Beyond the little bits of humor, parents will also love the message on how God designs each of us unique, and our differences do not make us less worthy than someone else.

The DVD also includes a fun, little cartoon short, "Hermie Had a Little Lamb," along with other extras. There are coloring pages, a sing-along, a trivia game and a recipe for a fun dessert to make with your kids. I highly recommend Skeeter and the Mystery of the Lost Mosquito Treasure to anyone with toddlers in their house. You might even want to use your kids as an excuse to watch it yourself.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Learned from Twitter: week ending March 14, 2009

Here is a sample of the variety of information I learned this week, thanks to Twitter.

1. crowderband (David Crowder Band) posted several links of some work in the studio.
"Day 2.

2. thirdday (Third Day) posted some pictures from some of their shows.
"Just posted a bunch of pictures from the Spencer and Champaign shows on our blog.

3. Most people do not like the switch to Daylight Savings Time. Here are 3 examples:
- saraedenI started blogging one year ago today. What did I blog about? How much I hate daylight savings. lol. Some things don't change.
- shawnmichaelNot pointing any fingers, but whoever set our bedroom clock ahead last night accidentally set it ahead TWO hours! (help me, LORD!) ;)pattigibbonsWhy DO we move an hour of daylight around twice a year? I think the reasoning is weak!

AdamLehman (Adam Lehman) was one of the people from whom I learned about the shooting at a church in IL. I found out about the shooting a lot faster on Twitter than I would have waiting to see it on the news.
"RT @edstetzer: 5 shot, 1 killed at FBC Maryville, IL pray...."

tonysteward (Tony Steward) offers a very important tip about Twitter avatars, especially for guys.
"Twitter Avatar Tip: Guys ,any picture of you laying down in any way = unfollow. very creepy.
saraeden (Sara Williams) made me laugh with this piece of information.
"oh my word. was just looking at cookie cutters online. Saw a wedding one with the tag line "Cut out for each other" #lame
ministrymonkey (Ministry Monkey) lets us know about a new site for ministry bloggers to connect with other ministry bloggers.
"We need people in ministry from EVERY state to add their blog over @ - It's an alltop(ish) site for pastors to connect

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #112: Total Body Weight

answer #111 - 50%

question #112 - What part of your body accounts for 1/3 of your total weight?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It's Not About You

Here is the entire article:

There I was, standing in the living room looking at my wife. Why is this happening to us now? This was the question that kept swirling around in my head. I could tell it was the same question in my wife's head, too. And I bet most of you have asked it a time or two. We all experience those times when it seems like God got something wrong. You feel like you are in the wrong place at the wrong time and there is no way out.

For you, the past is a memory. The present is uncertain. The future is not even worth thinking about.

There are other times in our life where we feel pretty certain about our future. The future looks so bright and full of possibility. Every part of your life just seems to go the way it is supposed to go. Then it happens. It might be a loss of a job. It might be a death of a loved one. It might even be a long-term illness or injury. No matter what it is, it changes everything. The future which you were looking forward to has now become a memory of what could have been. What do you do now?

Reminds me of Proverbs 16.9, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." As I was going through that course altering situation, I struggled with understanding the purpose behind the change. From my point of view, I was not pursuing selfish gain or ignoble purposes. I was serving God in a place I felt He had called me to serve and it was bearing fruit. Why would God take it away when it seemed like there was so much more growth about to happen. I had my plan for what should happen - God had His plan, too.

It might be difficult for you to see at the moment, but there is a "God-reason" you are in your current situation. And it may not have anything to do with you. Remember the account of Joseph's brothers selling him into slavery. God did not allow it to happen to teach Joseph a lesson or to even allow his brothers to get what they wanted. Every part of Joseph's roller coaster situation was for one purpose and one purpose only. Joseph tells his brothers, and us, the reason in Gen. 50.20, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (emphasis added)

The current situation is not about me or you. It is about God's plan for your life. Are you living each moment like it is a part of your plan or God's?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Youth Ministry Budgeting: To Buy or Not to Buy - Spend Wisely (4 of 5)

(This is part 4 of a 5 part series on youth ministry budgeting. See part 1 - stewardship, part 2 - categories, part 1 & part 2, and part 3 - the process for more budgeting information.)

Now that you've got your budget together and know what categories have what money, you need to start thinking about spending that money. I'm not talking about going out and spending all of your budget by February or March. I'm talking about putting thought into what you are buying and not buying. You have to use your budget wisely or you'll just be wasting money.

What does it mean for your youth ministry to spend its budget wisely? In some youth ministries, it means not buying curriculum or not attending more than one youth conference a year. Other ministers might only attend a youth ministry training conference every other year to save money. You might decide that you only need two inflatables at your carnival or that hiring an entire circus to entertain the kids is a little too much. Or you can quit buying donuts and milk each week for the Sunday School class.

Deciding how to spend wisely means you have to think about your purchases. Every time you want to purchase something think twice about buying it. Even youth ministries can make impulsive purchases. I have made those purchases before. I see something and think, "we could really use that for _____." If its not too much, I will go ahead and buy it and use it a few times. Then it will sit in the corner of my office collecting dust for months. Did I really need to buy it for the ministry? No, we probably would have been just fine without it.

I learned to stop and rethink my desire to purchase. Now if I see something that seems useful for the ministry, I will talk to another youth coach about it first. If I'm out with my wife, I'll ask her opinion. Taking a little extra time to rethink whether the item is really needed has saved me from purchasing a lot of unneeded items. On the other hand, there have been occasions when I buy an item using my personal money knowing that it will occasionally be used for the ministry. If you make these "donations" to the youth ministry make sure you are not making an impulsive decision.

When it comes to more expensive purchases, I never buy anything without doing a couple things first. First, I get approval from the rest of the youth team. Second, I spend time researching the product, and similar products, to find the best option for our ministry. Additionally, during this time, I am watching for deals or sales that can save the ministry money. Finally, once I have a better idea of what my options are, then I will make the purchase. I feel it is necessary to take the extra time in order to make the best decision (and use the ministry's money wisely).

Some categories to consider adjusting:

1. Teaching Material
There are advantages to buying curriculum written by someone else. You will save time by not researching and writing the lesson yourself. The lesson material is written by someone who is more knowledgeable about the topic than you are. It usually comes with classroom helps and handouts.

There are disadvantages to buying curriculum, too. The author of the material does not know your class structure, the students or your teaching style. After reading over it (which you need to do a few times before teaching), you might find areas of disagreement or parts you do not want to use within your class. The more curriculum bought by some youth workers equals that much less studying and learning.

One of the biggest continuous expenses that any youth ministry will incur is teaching material. Not only do companies offer the teacher material, but you can also buy student booklets. If you use books for small groups, then you have to buy each student a book so they can read it. Sara Williams told me she has gone back to writing the curriculum for their small groups, because the ministry had to cut costs. I'm sure she is not the only youth minister who has made this transition lately. When its time to reorder your lesson material for next quarter, think twice about just ordering like you always have. Maybe the youth ministry needs to spend its money in a different area for now.

2. Prizes and giveaways
Prizes can be fun. Prizes can get students to show up. Prizes can be expensive. It seems that if you try to "impress" the students by having cool prizes, you are going to have to spend more and more money each year to keep up. The question each youth ministry needs to ask itself is this, "Is it worth the cost?"

3. Electronics
Youth ministers love electronics. The televisions, projectors, digital cameras, video cameras, sound boards, mp3 players and video game systems all seem to be standard for most youth ministries. These "toys" can carry a pretty good price tag; one that does not need to be paid.

4. Events
Putting on an event can be costly. Before you put on your next event, you will want to consider the costs vs. the benefits.

In case you still are not sure how to spend the youth ministry money wisely, watch this clip from Saturday Night Live. It offers one final piece of advice.

(next week, we will look at ways to save money)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Learned from Twitter: week ending March 7, 2009

This week I seemed to be away from Twitter more than usual, but I still managed to learn a few things.

1. dbeckner (Dennis Beckner) provides picture which begs for an explanation.
"Saw this sign today. I thought this was either clever, funny or odd."

joshcook83 (Josh Cook) celebrates his 2nd birthday of being on Twitter. (which reminds me that my 2 year anniversary on Twitter comes up at the end of the month)
"Hey! Its my two-year Twitter birthday!!! My first post:

3. snavenel(Len Evans) warns of the possibility of advertising on Twitter.
"Tweet Ads Are on Their Way"

saraeden(Sara Eden) provides a link to a free online issue of Youthworker Journal. "March/April issue of Youthworker Journal available online for free! >>"

iian(Ian Robertson) poses an interesting thought.
"my dog was just watching a dog on tv that was watching a dog on tv...wrap your brain around that."

Book Review: Culture Making by Andy Crouch

My review of Culture Making was recently posted on YMX.

Here it is in its entirety:

Andy Crouch has spent years looking at and being involved in culture, and in Culture Making he draws on that experience to help fellow Christians better understand the culture(s) around them. Throughout the book, you notice one of the ongoing themes is the fact that Crouch believes, ultimately, that culture is not about us, but, rather, is about God.

Crouch begins the book by talking about what culture is and what culture is not. Many Christians usually refer to culture when talking about all of the negative aspects of the world around us. Culture cannot be truly understood in such a broad framework. According to Crouch, culture "defines the horizons of the possible and the impossible in very concrete, tangible ways."

Culture can be as small as your immediate family or as large as the world. For most of us, we are part of multiple cultures and have an opportunity to influence and change, to some degree, only a fraction of them. "Real culture making," Crouch writes,"not to mention cultural transformation, begins with a decision about which cultural world - or, better, worlds - we will attempt to make something of."

As I read through this book, I found myself constantly being challenged and stretched. Crouch's writing forced me to dig deeper and go beyond the surface of my usual thinking. In chapter four, Crouch offers an alternative to our usual tendency of either condemning, critiquing, copying or consuming culture. He contends that we should be cultural cultivators and creators, offering "something new, something that will persuade our neighbors to set aside some existing set of cultural goods for our new proposal." What are you offering that will persuade people to switch to your proposal from what they already know?

After finishing this book, there is one thing I know - Culture Making needs to be in the hands of anyone who works with youth. Every youth worker needs to pick up a copy, read it alongside her youth team and apply the principles to the ministry and your family. As you begin to cultivate and create new culture for your ministry, you need to remember this, "Cultural goods cannot be imposed - they can only be proposed." May God use you to propose cultural goods within your ministry that will bring him glory and allow students to become more like Christ.

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

Friday, March 06, 2009

Photo Friday: Not a Big Bird I want to meet on Sesame Street

My wife found this picture while going through some of our old pictures on the computer. That is Big Bird at one of the local parades. I was not a big fan of the costume back then and I'm still not. What do you think? Have you seen character costumes that have looked just vaguely like the character?

I'd love to see any pictures you have...

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Reflections on: 999 posts (or Post #1000: a retrospective)

This is my 1000th post, and it took me a long time (compared to some bloggers I know) to get to this point. It has taken me a little less than 4 years to get here (May 26, 2005 was the first post). It took me more than 2 years to get to post #500 (Sept. 10, 2007). If you want to see some highlights from the first 499 posts, you will want to check out #500.

A lot has changed since that post; family changes, ministry changes, and changes to this blog. I know that 1000 is just a number, but it feels strange to have posted that many things to this blog. I know some of them were silly, some were time sensitive, some still make me laugh or cry and some should probably have never seen the light of day. But its all part of the journey and I am glad others have joined me as I reflect on what it means to be a youth minister, father, husband, and Christian.

Some of the most visited posts:
1. some quick thoughts on football's overhead camera - almost 1 1/2 years old and still gets a good flow of traffic
2. warning labels on the Sesame Street DVDs - I still want to get these DVDs
3. discovery of part of Nehemiah's wall - check the story out if you haven't already
4. skit of Lifehouse's song, Everything - is there anyone who hasn't seen this yet?
5. Christian alternatives to Facebook - A LOT of people looking for some alternative
6. lessons to learn from teenagers enjoyment of fast food - I still wonder why fast food is so popular
7. 5 qualities I want in a President - applies to other areas of leadership, too
8. youth pastors in a negative light - some thoughts on youth ministry integrity
9. my tweetdeck review - it is a great app. to use with Twitter

Posts you might find useful/informative:
1. 2 customer feedback situations and your ministry
2. a few thoughts on starting a youth worker network - I might finish this series sometime :)
3. a quote by Stalin & evangelism - used this quote the other day with middle schoolers
4. a restickable glue stick - every youth worker needs one of these
5. open source living - a collection of open source software
6. how to make an invisible bookshelf - a cool addition to your office or youth room
7. leaving a ministry - thoughts on leaving a ministry
8. 25 White Elephant Gift ideas - can you ever have enough ideas?
9. 5 ways to use the Super Bowl in your ministry - it is the biggest TV event of the year, after all

My personal favorites:
1. SNL skit on money management - its so simple, yet a majority of Americans can't do it
2. a 3 year old & money - thoughts on something that happened with my son at the store
3. 3 reasons to read a blog - not many other reasons to read a blog, in my opinion
4. signs of a good youth ministry blog - what does it take for a youth ministry blog to be useful? (a follow-up series of evaluating several blogs will be coming in the next few months)
5. 10 ways to appreciate youth workers - we can all use a little appreciation, can't we?
6. a lesson on trust - my son taught me an important lesson on trust

Going back through some of these posts reminds me what ministry is about - following God where He leads you. It can be a lot of fun and it can be a lot of heartache. In the end, I would not trade any of it. God leads where He wants you to go and He puts you in situations that you need to be in.

May the next 1000 posts encourage, entertain, teach, challenge and cause you to think (as they do the same for me).

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #111: Human bones

answer #110 - William Henry Harrison. His inaugural speech in 1841 was 8,445 words. Took him 1 hour and 45 minutes to deliver it, in the rain. (He refused to wear a coat or hat for the event, fell ill, and died 31 days later)

question #111 - Your bones are what percent water?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Discussion Starter: Do parents talk with their kids?

According to one of the "family facts" in My Family by Kurt Johnston & Mark Oestreicher, parents do not spend much time talking with their kids.

"The number of minutes weekly that most parents spend talking with their kids: 38."
As a parent of 3 kids under 5, I cannot imagine only talking with them for 40 minutes a week. I can't imagine only talking with them for 40 minutes a day. Therefore, I was a little shocked at this statistic.

What do you think? Is it accurate? Why do parents not talk that much with their kids? As your child gets older, what factors affect a parent's communication with that child?

Youth Ministry Budgeting: The Process (3 of 5)

(This is part 3 of a 5 part series on youth ministry budgeting. See part #1 - stewardship and part #2 - categories, part 1 & 2 for more information on budgeting.)

What process do you follow when putting together your youth ministry budget? If you do not take your budget seriously, then I bet you do not actually have a process you follow. What follows is a 9 step sample process for putting together a youth ministry budget.

1 - Pray for wisdom.
As you begin the budget process, you need to take time to pray for wisdom. Pray for God to guide you, and the other leaders, as you budget for the coming year. Pray that the youth ministry will be a good steward of its resources. Pray for God to provide the ministry with the right people and supplies to reach students with the Gospel.

2 - Start early!
Give yourself plenty of time to complete the budget. You do not want to rush through this process. I would suggest starting about a month before it is due. This will give you time to go through this process without being negligent. The budget is not usually the part of ministry that youth ministers enjoy, but it is a necessary part of ministry. Starting early allows you to work on the budget little by little. But if you wait until the last minute, you will rush through it and be consumed with it.

3 - Pick your team.
You should not be the only person determining the youth ministry budget for your ministry. You will want to involve other people in this process for a few reasons. First, you do not want the ministry to get in a rut of doing the same things each year just because you did them the year before. Second, the youth ministry needs to be diverse, including things you would not have picked to include. Third, you do not have time to do it all yourself, nor do you want that pressure. Have your team work on the budget on their own and set a date to get together to compare.

If you are part of a small ministry, you might want to include everyone on your youth team. It will give the youth coaches ownership in the ministry. If you are part of a larger ministry, you will want to ask a few of the youth coaches to be part of the process. In a few cases you may only need to involve the paid staff in this process, at least until you have a version for everyone to review before submitting.

4 - Review last year's budget
You will not want to skip this step. Take your budget from last year and look at what you spent and did not spend. Were there one time only purchases? Look for items that do not need to be included in this year's budget and categories that can survive (still be effective) with less money. Once you have done this, you can then start adding items that are new for this year and increasing money in categories that need more.

Do not skip this step. To save time, you might be tempted to just add a certain percentage to each category or copy and paste from last year. That will not help your ministry be good stewards of your money/resources. When you start working on your budget early (step #1) you do not feel pressured to skip this review of last year's budget. And you will notice that you like the new budget more when you review last year's first.

5 - Determine categories
Once you review the previous year' budget, your next step is to start putting together this year's. You need to determine which categories from last year will carry over to this year and which ones can be dropped. After you compare your categories to previous budgets, you will want to look at the calendar for the year to determine what events are upcoming. This will help you know if you need to add a category to cover the cost of your ministry's events. (Here are 10 possible categories to consider.)

Remember that your youth ministry budget will not look like the youth ministry budget for the congregation down the street or the high profile ministry in your town. You cannot compare the resources God has given your ministry with the resources God has given another ministry.

6 - Calculate 1st draft of budget
Once your categories are set and you know what you need to budget for this year, you are ready to calculate how much you expect to spend. There are two main ways to calculate your budget. One way is to estimate your costs based on the previous year. You would add a percentage to last year's budget without checking actual costs. Or you can research all of the items needed, looking for discounts where available and carefully calculate the total cost. I recommend the second method.

As you calculate your budget, keep in mind the cost of some items will increase throughout the year. It will cost you more to rent a van this year then it did last year. Other items are set by your ministry. You decide how much to pay a band or a speaker for an event. There will also be budget items that will fluctuate constantly throughout the year, like the price of gasoline.

7 - Evaluate your stewardship
After you calculate a first draft of the budget, I recommend you stop and reevaluate the budget based on stewardship. How can your youth ministry be a better steward of its resources? Did you include items that are not really necessary? Are you wasting money or ignoring potential resources you have access to?

8 - Get together with other youth coaches and leaders
Now that you have your version of the budget complete, it is time to met with the other leaders who were work on their version. You need to compare the budgets and look for category differences first. Allow each person to discuss why they included or left off certain categories and then, as a group, decide what is best for the ministry. After the categories are finalized, you will want to finalize the dollar amounts. This may take longer, but it needs to be agreed upon by the entire team. As you finalize numbers, remind everyone that you want the budget to be the best overall use of your money and resources - it cannot simply reflect an individual preference by any leader.

9 - Finalize proposed budget and turn in
Then, have one person type up a final budget proposal to turn in. This is your final draft; the budget you feel your youth ministry needs to be the most effective it an be in the coming year. After it is finalized and typed up, turn it into the finance committee or whoever is in charge of approving budgets. Make sure you turn it in ahead of time, do not wait until the very last minute.

What would you add to the process? How do you handle your budgeting process?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

March trivia questions...

This month, March, all of the trivia questions will be about the human body.

Do you think you know enough facts about the human body to get all of the Trivia Wednesday questions about the human body correct? We'll see.