Thursday, April 30, 2009

Did Facebook kill the blog meme?

While talking with my wife recently about all those Facebook quizzes, I thought, "Did Facebook kill the blog meme?"

Not sure what a meme is...Go here to learn what a meme is. You can even go here and get a daily meme.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not sad to see them go.

There was a time where blog memes were being posted about every other week. It was becoming really annoying to have to filter through the multiple blog memes to get to actual blog content. But then I stopped seeing them. Maybe it was because the authors of blogs I read stopped participating or got bored with answering so many pointless questions. But I think the blog memes are still around, but now they are undercover as a "Facebook quiz."

With Facebook, you can share

  • "25 random things about me"
  • "Which ________ are you"
  • "Your top 5 ________"
and the list could go on and on...

And let's be honest (well, I'll be honest with you), I am really sick of having to filter through all of this useless Facebook stuff to get to actual pictures, notes, or updates.

But, I'd rather see it on Facebook than on a person's blog. Let's leave room in the blogs for what they are intended to be and leave the spilling of useless personal information for your Facebook page.

ps. I'm just glad there have been no "twitter memes" going around. :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #119: first TV commercial

answer #118 - Wrigley's gum. (What was the first product to have a barcode on its packaging?)

question #119 - When did the first TV commercial air?

Use these trivia questions to start a conversation with a student, begin a lesson, use in a newsletter or email. I hope they can be beneficial within your youth ministry.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Youth Ministry Budgeting: Tips for Saving Money (5b of 5)

(This is part 2 of the final post in a 5 part series on youth ministry budgeting. You can see the earlier posts here: 1 - stewardship. 2 - categories part a and part b. 3 - process. 4 - to buy or not to buy. 5 - tips on saving money part 1)

No youth ministry is immune to the economic hardship facing our country. And in order to be better stewards of our resources (and possibly stay afloat), we all need to learn to save a few bucks. Here is part 2 of my thoughts on how to save money. To see the first 5 tips, go here.

6. Involve more adults
Instead of doing things like ordering pizza or catering all of your meals, think about asking people to help cook and serve the food. It doesn't have to be food, it can be decorating for a special event, setting up, manning the tables.

This tip was shared by Sara Eden , so I'll just let her share some thoughts about it.

"The other thing we've done is moved away from the church providing dinner at youth group each week. Now what we do is ask people to sign up to provide dinner. The really cool thing is that it's giving people who don't feel led toward the traditional 'youth ministry volunteer' role an opportunity to serve the ministry and get to know the students (and allow the students to get to know them). The people who cook for us are invited/encouraged to stay and eat dinner with us and then students help with clean up. It's another step toward healthy inter-generational relations. God took something that was done as an economic measure and turned it into another awesome opportunity for ministry. He's so good like that!"

7. Donations
We all need items for the youth ministry: chairs, couches, lighting, sound equipment, electronics, transportation. Instead of going out and buying them, ask people to donate them. (Now, when you do this be prepared to get people's junk. So either you need to be very specific, simply say "no thanks," or just throw it away later.)

This is something a friend of mine, Bill Nance, said he has been able to do in his ministry, which has helped since he doesn't have a big budget and really needs to stretch it.

8. Think "in house."
When you are planning an event, the two biggest costs are always the speaker and the band. Next time you are planning an event, think about using someone from within your ministry to do the speaking or worship (concert). If that will not work, try to find someone local to cut down on travel costs.

9. Use Open Source software
Instead of paying full price for your software - you might want to look into some of the open source alternatives. Most of them are just as good as the expensive versions, and they are free.

More information about open source software will be in another post.

10. Stop spending money
This sounds simple enough, doesn't it? But there are more than a few youth ministries that simply refuse to stop buying stuff. You do not need that new Wii or flat screen TV. You may not really need new carpet right now, it could wait a year or two longer.

The best way to save money in your youth ministry is to simply spend your money wisely. Think twice before making purchases. Hold off on major purchases as long as you can.

Six more ideas on stretching your budget.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Youth Ministry Budgeting: Tips for Saving Money (5a of 5)

(This is part 1 of the final post in a 5 part series on youth ministry budgeting. You can see the earlier posts here: 1 - stewardship. 2 - categories part a and part b. 3 - process. 4 - to buy or not to buy.)

Everybody needs to save some money, including youth ministries. So what does it take? How can you save a few dollars here and a few dollars there? In this post, I want to share a few tips on how your youth ministry can save money. As you will see, a few dollars saved on a regular basis will add up to big savings over time.

I do not think I need to spend a lot of time convincing anyone that they need to save money. Well, I hope I do not need to. Youth ministries across the country are struggling just like any other organization, company or individual. People are making less; therefore, they are giving less to the church. When the overall church offering is down, each ministry has to reduce its expenses in order to help stay in the "black."

Here are a few areas to look at next time you are thinking about saving some cash.

Ways to save money:

1. Salaries
Allow me to start with the least popular thing I am going to write. The first place to look for ways to save money is in the salaries. Are you really being a good steward of your congregation's resources with your salary? Can you afford to live on less?

Let me share an example of what I mean. I know a congregation that was running a couple hundred people a few years ago. Now they are averaging maybe 80 each week. Yet, there are 3 staff members: sr. minister, associate minister, and secretary. I think the secretary is full-time, but I am not sure. I do not know what the associate minister is paid, but I know the sr. minister is being paid more than someone in this size of a congregation should be paid. The congregation is struggling to meet salary each week, and they are sending emails each week asking for more money to meet those salaries. Are those ministers being good stewards? In my opinion, no. Think about the impact the minister would have if he offered to take a paycut to help the congregation from having to close its doors.

2. text messaging
It seems as though every teen has a cell phone with text messaging. So, it makes sense that the youth staff would need the ability to text teens. But what option do you use? Here are a few choices:

This option starts at $5/mo.
(thanks Len Evans for the info)

starts at free
has option to send text from computer or cell phone

starts at $10/mo.

I have not used any of these services, but many of my youth ministry friends have and talk very highly of each service.

3. Curriculum/Lesson Material
Many of the major publishing companies offer some great resources in this category. And if you want to just get everything in one bundle, this might be the way to go. You can check out Group, Standard, teamce to name a few (well, three to be exact).

But if you really want to save money (and not spend any, either), here are a few other suggestions.

*Online "Freebies"
There are a bunch of great freebies available on the internet. Check out this top 5 list, for examples. In fact, there are so many great freebies that a youth minister could simply use freebies and not do any work. I THINK THIS IS THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO - so be careful not to become dependent on using freebie lessons!

*curriculum swap with local churches
Take your old curriculum and find another congregation in the area that will be willing to swap their old stuff for your old stuff. You will each get new curriculum, plus you won't have to find a place to leave and forget about store your old stuff.

*reuse older stuff
Or you can just reuse the older stuff with a new group within your congregation.

*Rotate material
Take your material and rotate through the years. For example, use a 4 year scope/sequence for the high school and rotate through material every 4 years. If you have a 7/8 grade class; rotate every 2 years. Using this rotation model will help you save money and will help you be intentional about what you are teaching the students.

4. Prizes/Giveaways
Students like getting stuff and we like giving it away. But it can get expensive to have prizes on a regular basis. How do you save money on prizes? By taking one of these steps...

*Buy from thrift stores, garage sales or on clearance.
You cannot afford to have really cool (read, expensive) prizes every week. So do not try. Just get some fun, old or silly stuff to use and have a big box to keep it in. Then let the students grab one prize from the box.

*Ask for donations
For those bigger events, you might want a better prize to offer. In those cases, ask companies and individuals to donate prizes (or money to go toward buying prizes) for you to give away. This gets the community involved with the group, saves you money and promotes your group at the same time.

5. Buy online
All youth ministers have things to buy: books, supplies, classroom material, water guns, whoopee cushions. Why not look into buying those items online. A few onlines places to try - ebay,, amazon, craigslist.

In part 2 of "Tips for saving money" we will look at 5 more ways that your youth ministry can save a few dollars.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Learned from Twitter: 2 weeks ending April 25, 2009

Here is what I have learned from Twitter over the past 2 weeks...

1. shawnmichael (Shawn Michael Shoup) reminds us that youth ministry doesn't stop when a student "gets saved." There must be discipleship and teaching.
"8 salvations so far this Easter wknd w/ a brand new discipleship life group starting Tuesday 2 help them start on their spiritual journey!!

2. pastorbuhro (Bradley Buhro) shares a great moment in youth ministry. Is this the new "window flyer" form of advertising for your ministry?
"We tweet our sermon notes to teens every Tuesday. A couple of my teens went to the Verizon store & set the sample phones to recieve them."

YS_Scoop (Youth Specialties) offers a few free tools for your youth ministry. You need to check them out.
"3 Free Productivity Tools for YM. Guest post from @joeldiaz & @joshcook83.

4. CoffeeWithChris (Chris Szulwach) offers some advice to another youth worker, that I think we all can use. You might want to check out this game site.
"@saraeden just was you are looking for game sites? Is that right? I'll add to the mix for ya!"

AdamLehman (Adam Lehman) is interested in starting a ym teaching pool. You might want to check it out.
"anyone want to form a youth ministry teaching pool? #stumin"

snavenel (Len Evans) shares a link to a free book with some great insight. Take the time to check out the book and see if it can benefit your ministry.
"Youth Ministry Tribe-Free book- Paul Turner's "The Cure For The Common Youth Ministry" @ Great insight & FREE"

Drpoulette (Dennis Poulette) relaxed, something youth ministers need to do often. Might I recommend a hammock.
"Relaxing in the hammock swing on the back porch. It's beautiful out tonight in Mexico city. Q"

What did you learn from Twitter this week?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Photo Friday: TMNT - Michaelangelo

Thought I was back in the 80's enjoying my childhood again when I walked down the toy aisle recently. I saw this old-school Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles packaging. This is the exact same packaging & product that I remember getting when I was a boy. (I might even still have my original Michaelangelo in my parent's attic.)

Who was your favorite turtle?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Miss California comments on same sex marriage

As I was checking my email I saw an article from Sunday night's Miss USA Pageant. The headline is "Hilton, Miss California take sides on 'Today'"

(note to those who may not want to see a young woman in a 2 piece swimsuit - the picture that goes with the article, at the time of this writing, is of Carrie Prejean - Miss California - during the swimsuit part of the competition.)

Here is the clip:

This is an interesting article, though brief, about a part of the Miss USA competition on Sunday night. Read the article to get the story.

I think that this is the type of behavior we want our students to convey. We want students who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe, even if it might cause them trouble.

One paragraph I found particularly interesting was this one:

Hilton, who also appeared on the "Today" show Tuesday, said his question was relevant and that Prejean should have "left her politics and her religion out because Miss USA represents all Americans."
She needed to leave "her religion" out of the pageant...but it was okay for Perez to bring his own personal beliefs into the pageant, as a judge. Does that sound contradictory to anyone else?

I am glad to hear that Prejean was willing to voice her beliefs in front of a national audience. I hope all the students in our youth ministries would be willing to do the same thing - and I hope they each get an opportunity to stand up and voice their beliefs for others to hear.

My favorite line of the whole article was this last quote from Prejean:
"It's not about being politically correct," she said. "For me, it's about being biblically correct."

(added video on 4.22.09)

Trivia Wednesday #118: First Barcode

answer #117 - Every six seconds

question #118 - What was the first product to have a barcode on its packaging?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #117: Blinking

answer #116 - 300 million

question #117 - You blink approximately how often?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Church Signs: money related

Recently, I have seen a couple church signs that are financially oriented. I thought I would share them with you.

"The IRS can't tax treasures stored in heaven."

"Tithe if you love Jesus, anyone can honk."

Do you have any favorite money-related church signs?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Learned from Twitter: week ending April 11, 2009

Here are some of the things I learned from Twitter, this Holy Week...

1. theuprisinglive (Chad Swanzy) offered up an idea for a "free" night of fun with your youth group.
"free slurpees for your small groups and very low budget road trip idea...

2. EvanCourtney (Evan Courtney) provides a code to get some free videos from
"10 free downloads from Bluefish TV. Use code GoGreenRev
ICEHOTEL_Sweden (Ice Hotel) is close to saying goodbye until next winter.
"Only two weeks left of ICEHOTEL - We are getting closer and closer to spring, when the Midnightsun takes over...

4. FlowerInTheRain (Janelle Painter) proves she is one proud "parent." :)
"It's Bring Your Child to Work Day. I brought my macbook. the end."

YMX (Youth Ministry Exchange) offers up a free lesson on John 9.
"Thought about a lesson for next week? Hit the link & get freebie for April 9: See Believe Live Inductive Study on John 9

6. theofficenbc (The Office) provides a link to the new opening credits.
"Notice the new opening credits? Watch the "Michael Scott Paper Company" version again @
kentshaffer (Kent Shaffer) offers up some free fonts.
"30 free fonts for professional designs -

What did you learn from Twitter this week?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

You might be a youth worker if...

Recently I had a conversation with a couple teens that reminded me that being a youth worker makes you very different from other adults your age.

Teen: "Hey, I'm on your Facebook now."
Me: "Yes, you are correct."
(a minute later) Teen: "Hey, do you have myspace?"
Me: "Yeah."
Teen: "Bebo?"
Me: "Yeah."
Teen: "MyYearbook?"
Me: "Yeah."
Teen: "Twitter?"
Me: "Yeah."
Teen: "Do you have hi5?"
Me: "No, but I've heard of it."

It was at this point that I realized something. I am a 30 year old man and I have an account on some of the more popular social network sites. (most of these accounts are at least 2 years old) Only a youth worker would have all of these accounts and not be considered a weirdo.

Have you ever had a moment like this? A moment when you were hit with the fact that as a youth worker you are quite different from other people your age. If so, I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

April Trivia

The trivia topics for April will be a continuation of the human body and a few product marketing questions.

I hope you are able to use these trivia facts during your classes, while you are eating lunch with students or just randomly inserting them into daily conversation.

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.

Trivia Wednesday #116: blood

answer #115 - True

question #116 - Each drop of your blood contains how many red cells?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Reflections on: Spring

I love Spring. It is supposed to mean that winter is over and warm weather is on its way. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about Spring and here are those thoughts (in a somewhat orderly fashion).

Reflections on: Spring

  1. Baseball is upon us. Go Cubbies - this is the year.
  2. Only in Spring can it be 70 one day and 40, with snow, the next
  3. I really like the warmer weather.
  4. Spring means Easter is upon us.
  5. Spring signifies "new life"
  6. More time outside with the kids.
  7. It means the end to the current TV season.
  8. Unfortunately this does not apply to "reality TV".
  9. While cleaning up around the house, you tend to find treasures you forgot you owned.
  10. Time to go shopping at yard sales. :)

Monday, April 06, 2009

to quote someone else: Steven Case (dealing with complainers)

"Ask yourself this: How would you react if the complainer were one of your students?"
taken from Help! I'm a Frustrated Youth Worker by Steven Case

This quote/question really struck me as a great mental filter for youth workers. We all have complainers in the church and we all deal with complaints weekly. How do you respond?

It is also good to remember this truth:

"It's important to remember not to take criticism personally. People will complain no matter who sits in the youth minister's office. It's not about you."

also taken from Help! I'm a Frustrated Youth Worker by Steven Case

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Learned from Twitter: week ending April 4, 2009

This week I learned a lot from twitter. Maybe it was a rather informative week, maybe I just paid more attention, or maybe it had to do with April Fool's Day. Whatever the reason, I'm dumping it all here for you to enjoy/learn from.

1. pastorjohnbyrne (John Byrne) shared some thoughts on evaluating your ministry. They are worth a look.
"How to Evaluate Your Ministry:

2. marklee3d (Mark Lee) goes goes "Star Wars" on us.
"Watch Mac stab me with a light sabre mid-song

3. nikomas (Nikomas) thinks you'll laugh as you watch this.
"a good read: Try not to laugh while you watch

4. YMTV (Youth Ministry TV) offered two links to free book downloads of "the Fine Line" (as of 4/4/09 it still worked) and "Get a Grip on the Basics"
"download The Fine Line audio book for free (limited time):
"RT @bethjonesFREE download of entire "Get a Grip on the Basics" book to establish new believers, www.gettingagriponthebasics...

5. hulu (Hulu) told us that you can now watch Charles in Charge online - awesome.
"Another walk down memory lane: Hulu's now streaming Season 1 of Charles in Charge.

6. Some April Fool's Day tweets:

lilkup (Me) posed this question:
"If Jesus was born on April 1st, do you think everyone would have thought it was a April Fool's Joke?
bigsmooth433430(Matt Couch) responded with this statement:
"@lilkup Maybe even more interesting to ponder is...If Jesus had died or risen on April 1st, would people have thought it was a joke?
crowderband "It's time for a new look. Hair and goatee are gone."
YS_Scoop "BREAKING NEWS! Stop the presses. RT @crowderband It's time for a new look. Hair and goatee are gone. <-- wow!"
StudentMinistry "BREAKING NEWS! Stop the presses. RT @crowderband It's time for a new look. Hair and goatee are gone. <-- wow! (via @YS_Scoop)"

foecuspastor "RT @human3rror: North Point Ministries launch NEW WEBSITE...! MUST SEE! // LOL!"

ymgeek "I think this was my favorite Tech April Fools prank. They spent quite a bit of time on it. It's even been twittering."

7. thirdday (Third Day) wants us all to know about a sale on iTunes.
"FYI - Revelation is on sale at iTunes for $7.99 as of today. The sale will run through 4/13.

8. ymgeek (Youth Ministry Geek) was one of a few people to let us know about the possibility of Google acquiring Twitter.
"google in talks to aquire twitter? Interesting...

What did you learn this week from Twitter?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Photo Friday: Full Moon

The full moon. (with Spring here, we might be able to enjoy these more often)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

5 Things that would have been great April Fool's Day jokes

While thinking about April Fool's Day jokes, I starting pondering a few things that would have made a great joke. Unfortunately these things are not jokes, they are real.

5 things that would have made a great April Fool's Day joke... if they were not real:

  1. Hulk: the movie (2003)
  2. Sanjaya on American Idol
  3. Crystal Pepsi (check out these commercials)
  4. the Seinfeld finale
  5. the day I learned that WWF wasn't real wrestling

Honorable Mention:
  1. The Cubs not being champions for 100 years
  2. Furby

What would you add to this list?

Trivia Wednesday #115: April Fool's Day

answer #114 - True

question #115 - True or False On April Fool's Day in England, jokes are only played in the morning.