Saturday, May 30, 2009

Learned from Twitter: week ending May 30, 2009

Another fun week on Twitter. Here are a few things I gleaned while learning what people were doing in 140 characters or less.

1. mclanea (Adam McLane) shared a link to a pretty cool new tool for youth workers. If you haven't seen this iPhone app yet, you need to check it out. (Tough Topics discussion starters right on your iPhone or iPod Touch for only $1.99)
"Is happy about this: Feels good to finally see a project hit shelves... long time coming."

saraeden (Sara Eden) was kind enough to help another minister celebrate his anniversary.
"kid-sitting for a few hours so a ministry colleague can take his wife out for their anniversary."

outsideallday (Andy Brazelton) is looking for some jr. high specific content for something at Group Magazine. If you have anything you can share, let me know and I'll get you the contact info.
"Need jr high-specific games, Bible studies, devotions. Also partnering with parents and building volunteer team. [let me know & I'll connect you]"

bgray (Ben Gray) unveiled his new design business. Earlier this week, I said that you should consider Ben when you had a design need, well this is how you do it.
"Shadeofgray Design is open for business. Tell your friends.
billdawgcbc (Bill Nance) loves middle school lunch. But when its chicken nuggets, how can you not.
"Middle school lunch yay for chicken nugget day!"

What did you learn from Twitter this week?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Photo Friday: Spiderweb

An up close look at a spider web. Just look at how amazing that is.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #123: First Father's Day

answer #122 - A mother giraffe often gives birth while standing, so the newborn's first experience outside the womb is a 6-foot drop. (A mother giraffe gives birth standing up or laying down?)

question #123 - When was the first Father's Day celebrated?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thoughts from an ex-youth minister

I've been in ministry long enough to have seen my fair share of ministers leave the vocational ministry. I've heard some really bad horror stories of what congregational leaders have done to "force" ministers from their jobs. I've seen some ministers not only leave the vocation of ministry, but the church as well. This is not one of those cases.

I have known Ben (via the internet only - unfortunately I have never gotten to meet him in person, yet) for a few years. Though I do not know him enough to do well on a "how well do you know Ben?" trivia contest, I have been able to know him through his blog posts. And the post he wrote recently about his exit from vocational ministry is honest, open, and heartfelt. Ben did not leave because of some negative leadership or moral issue - he left because he no longer feels God has called him into full-time ministry.

Ben's post is entitled "Contemplations of an ex-minister" Here are two excerpts:

All things considered, I left ministry five years ago. Up until a few weeks ago I was still employed by a church full of lovely people but my heart was not in it. My heart was in front-end web design and I knew it … and I subsequently ignored my heart. Why? Why would someone ignore what they loved and grind out several years doing something they genuinely disliked?
That is a great question. How many youth ministers are just going through the motions or refusing to take a "step of faith" because they fear not having a steady income?

When I say, “I used to be a minister” I mean that I used to be paid a full time salary to be a minister. Ministry proper, of course, is something we all do all the time.

So true!

If you haven't already, take the time to read the entire post and leave Ben a comment. And if you need some web design work done - you might consider having Ben help you out.

As for me, I am glad Ben is following his heart (calling from God?) and pursuing what he is passionate about. I look forward to hearing where this leads and to seeing his work all over the internet. Maybe, I'll also get to meet him in person one day, just maybe.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Youth Ministry Budgeting: 5 Things a budget cannot buy

There are many things youth ministries buy with the money in their budgets: curriculum, food, convention costs, hotel rooms, food, prizes, books, etc.... (yes, I am aware that I typed "food" twice) As a youth minister, I try to determine the needs for the year as I try to figure out what budget we'll need. But there are always unexpected expenses that come up throughout the year for which you cannot budget. Beyond these unexpected expenses, there are other parts of youth ministry which you cannot budget for either - well, really they are things that no budget can buy.

5 Things a Youth Minister Can't Buy with a Budget...

1. High quality volunteers
2. Respect from parents
3. Relationships with students
4. Those "aha" moments where things start clicking
5. Eternal change

What else would you add to this list?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Learned from Twitter: week ending May 23, 2009

This week, my Twitter feed brought some laughs and great youth ministry reminders. Here are a few of the highlights...

1. MatthewMcNutt (Matthew McNutt) shared a great moment in mass text messaging. A reminder to the rest of us to always set your cell phone to silent or turn it off while in church.
"Blasted a text message out to 90+ people today with SimplyTXT. The problem? Middle of the worship service. Phones buzzing everywhere! FAIL."

youthministry ( reminded us that middle schoolers are awesome. Or they just have a lot of energy (one of the two).
"the jr highers I work with would be all over this. Mt Dew Nite Thanks Chad Shiffer for sharing!"

YMTV (Youth Ministry TV) inspired me with this quote. (Stick around Twitter during any given conference and you'll see a bunch of these quotes show up in your Twitter feed)
"[generic leadership comment that is really smart and I want to implement] - [conference speaker] (via @stephenwebb)"

justayouthguy (Jon McIver) knows that youth ministers do not need rule sheets when we play games. We either know the game or we just make the rules up as we go - that is the way youth workers operate. :)
"Watching a teacher explain Red Rover to a group of 4th graders. She keeps looking at a rule sheet. A rule sheet? Really?"

rockinyp (Tim Schmoyer) thinks there is a different way to grow a youth group than cool events.
"Seriously? This is how you grow a youth group, with cool events and marketing? I like my way better"

What did you learn from Twitter this week?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Photo Friday: baby birds

a few baby birds just hatched in a nest near our front door.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Youth Ministry Budgeting: Spending Your Extra Money (addendum #2)

(Now that the youth ministry has become a much better steward of its resources, you might have found that you have spent less money than you budgeted. This post, addendum #2 to the youth ministry budgeting series, is about helping you figure out what to do with your extra.)

How to use your saved money:
After you have spent your budget wisely, what do you do with the money you save?

A. Hold onto it for next year.
B. Splurge on unnecessary items to make sure the ending balance is $0.
C. Divide it up among the youth coaches.
D. Use it to support another ministry organization.

I hope you answered D.

One thing to do with any saved money is to support another mission. You could use the money to sponsor a child through Compassion or World Vision. You could give the money to a local food bank, shelter or community center. You might even know of another congregation or ministry in your area who could use the money for their ministry. I think the best thing you can do with your extra money is to help support another ministry. God does not want us to be good stewards of our resources to just be frivolous with the money we saved.

Here is a list of possible missions to support:
- World Vision
- Compassion International
- International Justice Mission
- Kiva
- Habitat for Humanity
- Team Expansion
- Pioneer Bible Translators
- Ronald McDonald Houses
- Local ministries (food bank, shelters, Pregnancy Care centers)
- Christian College
- Your congregation's missions committee

Chris Szulwach is sharing the left over money from his ministry. He says "all of our $ that we have left at the end of a year goes into sponsoring Compassion children & or loans."

What is your ministry doing with its extra?

Trivia Wednesday #122: Giraffe babies

answer #121 - Over 100 million (In her lifetime, a female oyster may produce how many young?)

question #122 - A mother giraffe gives birth standing up or laying down?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

to quote someone else: a youth worker's comfort zone (Mark Devries)

"Without a coach, a youth ministry is reduced to the size of the leader's comfort zone. We all need people who are honest enough to help us move from making excuses to making progress."
taken from Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark Devries

How many youth ministries go without a coach? Is your ministry reduced to the size of your comfort zone?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Book Review: Nelson's Illustrated Guide to Religions by James A. Beverley

As a youth minister, I have used a variety of resources to gather information on different religions. I just found the one book I will go to first, Nelson's Illustrated Guide to Religions. With over 700 pages, this reference book will cover just about any religious group you will encounter. Nineteen main religious groups are covered, with hundreds more discussed under these main categories.

The breadth of its coverage is not what sets this book apart from other guides to religion. What gives it the edge is the extra material placed throughout the pages. Many sections conclude with a glossary of terms - a huge help when trying to understand the basics of other religions. Also included throughout the book are time lines mapping out significant events in the history of the religious group or religious leader. Each section ends with a brief summary of the religious group; including, the founder, the headquarters, main website, other sites dealing with the group, and recommended reading.

The ability to find information quickly, easily and understandably make Nelson's Illustrated Guide to Religions a must have for anyone in the church. If you find yourself teaching a class on religions or are involved in a conversation with someone about a particular religion, there is one other part of the book you will want to read - "A Christian response to...." You will be glad you have this book on your shelf.

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

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Learned from Twitter: week ending May 16, 2009

Here are some of the things I learned from my friends on Twitter this week...

1. AdamLehman (Adam Lehman) shared a link to a post from his fiance, about marrying a youth pastor.
"quest blog post by my fiance, @alliepal : "i'm about to marry a youth pastor" #stumin"

SITM (Stuck In the Middle) is gearing up for the next year of tour. If you work with middle school students and have not checked out this ministry, you need to right now.
Stuck's jr. high event tour 2009-2010 dates are up - coming to KS, MO, CA, FL, OH and the Pac NW. Check it out!"

ymgeek (Youth Ministry Geek) let us know about some free fonts. And who can't always use a new font for the newsletter?
"Free Fonts anyone? 15 Fresh High-Quality Free Fonts - (via @smashingmag)"

WorshipRising (Kevin Richardson) shared some great news and an answer to prayer.
"As of June 1st I will be the full-time worship/arts pastor at The Journey Church in San Francisco... more details to follow soon."

YouthMinBlog (YouthMinBlog) wants to know if you would like to help get the word out by adding a badge to your blog.
"Would you be able to put a YMB badge on your blog?"

foecuspastor (Clay Conry) clued us in on the twittering habits of one particular astronaut. (I'd hate to see the roaming charges on that call)
"Twitter continues to amaze! @astro_mike is in space right now and has promised to tweet from orbit! Social Media FTW!"

mattcleaver (Matt cleaver) was the first to inform me that tatango doesn't offer free text messaging anymore.
"bummed that tatango isn't doing free group text messages anymore. Any other free options out there anymore? #ym

8. sandyhughes (Sandy Hughes) mentioned that the astronauts got to listen to a little Third Day as their alarm clock music - not a bad idea.
"they just played "God of Wonders" by third day for the astronauts wake up song this morning.

What did you learn from Twitter this week?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Youth Ministry Budgeting: Open Source Alternatives (addendum #1)

As an addendum to the youth ministry budgeting series, I want to look at some open source alternatives to many of the products a youth ministry needs on a regular basis. Before we get to the list, I think we need to start with a brief summary of the benefits of using open source software.

Benefits of using Open Source software:
The biggest benefit of using open source software is the money you save by not buying licensed software. In some cases you will be saving hundreds of dollars per computer that will run the software. Even getting a license to load the software on multiple computers will not be as cheap as getting the software for free. (but that's obvious, right?)

I have found that some open source software is easier to use than its licensed counterpart. In part, this has to do with not having as robust a selection of options. In other cases, its just a simple fact that the layout and tools are easier to find and manipulate.

Another benefit for some of the software is the ability to modify content on the internet without being tied to a specific computer. This means you do not have to be on your youth ministry computer to update your message for Sunday. If the software is internet-based, you can work on either a Mac or a PC, or both. Along with this feature, comes the ability to have multiple collaborators working on a project at the same time. You can add information to a document and any other collaborator will save the changes next time she opens the document. This cuts down on emailing updates and forgetting which file is the most recent edition.

Open Source (FREE!) Alternatives:
Here are a few places to start your search.

Word Processing:
Open Office
Google Docs - while not open source, it is a great free alternative

Presentation Software:
Impress (in Open Office)
Presentation (in Google Docs) - some limitations when using offline

Photo Editing:
Gimp - The best alternative to photoshop I have found.
(you will want to check out some of the available plug-ins , too)

Video Editing:
Kaltura - online video editing

Financial Software:

You will also want to check out Open Source Living - a great site for finding more open source software.

Saving money by using open source software frees your ministry to use the money in other ways. There are some great ways to use this "extra" money that will make a bigger impact that just buying software. This topic will be my next addendum post for the youth ministry budgeting series.

What open source software would you add to this list? What open source software does every youth worker need to know about?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #121: oyster offspring

answer #120 - True (True of False Many of the sweaters worn by Mr. Rogers on the popular television show, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, were actually knitted by his real mother.)

question #121 - In her lifetime, a female oyster may produce how many young?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Book Review: Storylines by Andy Croft and Mike Pilavachi

Have you ever read a verse in the New Testament and noticed a reference to a verse in the Old Testament? Did this cause you to wonder how the two passages are connected to each other? If you answered yes to these questions, you need to read Storylines. With this book, Croft and Pilavachi have set to help Christian better understand the themes that run throughout the Bible.

Storylines helps connect six themes by taking an in depth look at how they are connected in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Another aspect of the book that I really like is the first chapter, "The Bible in 20 Pages," where Croft and Pilavachi guide the reader through a brief look at the entire Bible. As you read about the six threads: Jesus, covenant, presence, Kingdom, salvation and worship, be reminded that the Bible was not put together by accident. God has been very intentional throughout history in his dealings with man and understanding how events are connected will help you see how your own life is connected to these very themes.

Reading Storylines is like taking a Bible college class on the Bible without having to actually go to class. This is a great resource for anyone who wants to have a better understanding of how the books in the Bible are connected to each other.

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

Monday, May 11, 2009

A few posts worth reading: May 11, 2009

Here are a few posts I think you should read. Go ahead and click the links...

1. Jeremy (over on Youth Ministry Geek) shares this link to finding the best fast food places during your road trips this summer.

2. Dennis shares 4 great tips on how to adapt lessons for your youth group as part of an ongoing discussion about using "freebie" lessons in youth ministry.

3. There is a great series of posts on evaluating success in youth ministry over at the YouthMinBlog. Posts like this one. Go check them out and join the conversation.

4. Here are some tips on Spring Cleaning - by Relevant Magazine

What have you been reading that you think needs to be shared?

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Learned from Twitter: week ending May 9, 2009

Didn't get to see as much of the Twitter stream this week, but I still managed to catch some good nuggets of wisdom and truth.

Here are some of the things I learned this week from Twitter:

1. riddlegroup (Mark Riddle) reminded us of one very simple part of leadership that we must be mindful about.
"dreaming with people brings life, dreaming for people is deadly."

2. saraeden (Sara Eden Williams) shared a prayer request that reminds us of the importance of what we do with students.
"Just hearing of an incident at a high school in the area: Senior committed suicide in the school bathroom this morning. Please pray for all.

3. dbeckner (Dennis Beckner) shared about his night teaching and reminded us that it doesn't have to go "perfectly" in order to be effective. God shows up despite our fumbles.
"Crazy night of teaching. Everything went wrong, but message still got through. I'll put that in the win column."

YS_Scoop (Youth Specialties) provided a link to the video from this week's conference call with Marko about the National Youth Workers Convention.
"Did you miss today's conference call? Watch the recorded video right now!"

youthministry (Youth Ministry) offered a link to a free Mother's Day lesson (if you still need one - which none of you reading this would, right?)
"Still wondering what to teach about Mother's day? Here's a great freebie lesson for you:

6. briandurr (Brian Durr) had a run-in with the campus security this week thanks to some school policy changes. All he wanted to do was eat lunch with his students.
"Wow- One of the local high schools changed their security procedures. I was escorted off campus for trying to eat lunch w/ my students.

What did you learn from Twitter this week?

Friday, May 08, 2009

New Contributor for the YouthMinBlog

Today is my official start to contributing to the YouthMinBlog "project/endeavor"

I'm excited to be a part of a great group of youth workers who are contributing to this ongoing conversation.

My first article is called "Microwave Ministry?" and its on the topic of how to evaluate the success of your youth ministry. Take a look at the article, as well as the rest of the site (there are a bunch of great articles waiting to be read). I would love to hear your thoughts...

Photo Friday: Baked Potato

Decided to go a little different route this week. Enjoy the picture of a really good Mexican Baked Potato (it was very tasty).

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Finding the right youth ministry job

This past Friday, May 1, 2009, I was the "guest" on the weekly YM Talk hosted by Tim Schmoyer and Life in Student Ministry. The topic of discussion was "tips on finding the right youth ministry job."

If you are looking for a new youth ministry job, take a listen. If you know someone who is looking, point them this direction. Or maybe you just need to listen because at some point in the future you might have to look for a new youth ministry position. Whatever the reason, I'd love to hear your comments about the discussion.

Also, if you have any questions about finding a new youth ministry job that you would like to ask me - send me an email (address is on the right side of the blog) or leave a comment on this post.

Head over here to listen to the discussion or get it on itunes and listen to it later.

Plus, I'd like to add one thing to the discussion that we did not get to talk about during our time. I have found that during the question and answer time, there is a good chance that the questions have to do with "fixing" a problem from the previous ministry.

For the congregation, they will ask the candidate questions about issues they felt were lacking in the last youth minister. Questions about "spending time with students" - if that is something they last youth minister didn't do enough according to them.

For the candidate, they will ask questions about issues the last congregation or leadership didn't do well. It could be questions about accountability or evaluations, if that is something that seemed to be lacking.

Keep this in mind as you are asking and answering questions. It will help you get a better feel for where the congregation/youth ministry is at and it will help you see what "baggage" you might be bringing with you into your new ministry.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #120: Mr. Rogers' sweaters

answer #119 - July 1, 1941. It was for Bulova clocks and preceded a Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies baseball game. The ad was a simple picture of a clock and a map of the United States, and proclaimed, "America runs on Bulova time." (When did the first TV commercial air?)

question #120 - True of False Many of the sweaters worn by Mr. Rogers on the popular television show, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, were actually knitted by his real mother.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

May Trivia

During the month of May (and part of June) the trivia for Trivia Wednesday will be in line with the 2 major holidays during these two months. All of the questions will be about mothers and fathers.

As always, I hope these questions will be beneficial to your ministry. Use them during lessons, when you are eating lunch with a student, in your newsletters or on your website.

Monday, May 04, 2009

6 Saddest Verses in the Bible

There are verses of Scripture that bring hope to you every time you read them. But, at the same time, there are other verses that bring sadness for one reason or another. Below are six verses that I think are among the saddest verses in all of Scripture.

6 Saddest Verses in the Bible:

1. John 6.66
"From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him."

2. Judges 16.20
"But he (Samson) did not know that the LORD had left him."

3. John 12.43
"for they loved praise from men more than praise from God."

4. 1 Samuel 15.10-11 & 1 Samuel 16.14
"Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: "I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions." Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the LORD all that night."

5. 1 Samuel 16.14
"Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him."

6. Mark 14.21
"The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."

Which verses did I miss? What verses would you add to the list? Why?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Book Review: The Principle of the Path by Andy Stanley

Principles of the Path is the newest book by Andy Stanley. Stanley writes this book from the perspective of a minister who has seen many people go down very different paths in their life. Some people end up at the destination they desire, while others end up in a place they never wanted to be. The purpose of this book is to help the reader avoid the unwanted destination by paying attention to the path they are taking in all areas of their life. We all reach destinations, and with a little bit of intentional behavior, you can reach the destination you want.

Every chapter includes an example from Scripture to reinforce the point and help the reader understand the principle of the path a little clearer. Besides the practical advice and examples, both good and bad, there is a study at the back of the book. This guide will help you process through the information individually or help you take a group of people through the book. In order for the book to be helpful, you have to allow yourself to be open and honest about where your current paths are leading you.

If you have liked Andy Stanley's other books or enjoy listening to him speak, you will like this book.

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

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Learned from Twitter: week ending May 2, 2009

This week in Twitter was full of insight, laughs, free stuff and lots of discussion. Here are a few things I learned from Twitter this past week.

1. BtotheEtotheN (Ben Boles) added something to my "wow, really?" file.
"The Catholic priest officiating the wedding opened the service with, pray for this couple to your god whom ever that may be.

2. kentshaffer (Kent Shaffer) shared this story, which is sure to make you feel a little less smart than you did this morning.
"One student gets perfect scores on the ACT, SAT, & PSAT -"

justayouthguy (Jon McIver) shared a great interaction he had with a student.
"Just asked Middle School girl 'why do you have a water balloon in your purse?'"

YouthMinBlog (Youth Ministry Blog) provided a code to get a free video download from Bluefish TV.
"Use the code BFP3 to get a free video download from"

theofficenbc (The Office) provided a link to a new ringtone that Office fans will want to get. Might I suggest not putting this as your sr. minister's ringtone - that might get you into some trouble. :)
"You asked for it, you got it! Get the Dwight "Idiot" ringtone that Jim made in "Broke" @"

6drews (Mike Andrews) brought up a great thought for all youth ministers to consider.
"weighing the risk/reward of changing culturally based thinking in the church vs. behavior modification in order to avoid controversy"

AdamLehman (Adam Lehman) mentioned a church that saved money by trying to be good stewards of their resources. [Personally, I think its sad that this type of church is different enough to be considered newsworthy. We are all called to be good stewards.]
"a church saves $268,000 by going green."

williamhartz (William Hartz) shared some wisdom/insight he learned at his small group.
"Anyone who holds to the theory that girls don't poop... Tonight's conversation at small group has amply disproven it. #awkward"

kentshaffer (Kent Shaffer) provided another article link, this one tells us that most people who use Twitter quit way too early.
"60% of Twitter Users Quit Within the First Month -"

drumdog00 (Justin Van Rheenen) shared a link to a free download from Thousand Foot Krutch.
"RT @chuffybass5: You can download new TFK free at and if you're a TFK fan like me, you'll love it!!!"

YS_Scoop (Youth Specialties) has a really cool offer going right now.
"Help us purge our offices! You get great YS stuff and help mentor kids. Spread the word!"

What did you learn from Twitter this week?

Friday, May 01, 2009

Photo Friday: diapers

Guess which diaper came from the hospital and which one came from the store? They are both pretty much the exact same diaper, its just that one has the "character" on it and the other does not.

I always thought it was strange that diapers can licensed characters on them. Do babies even care what picture, if any, is on the front of their diaper? Why does marketing have to start so early?