Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A prayer during communion

I was sitting by my boys (5 and 3), one on each side of me during service. Nothing unusual was happening, mostly the same routine for us during the service. Then came the Lord's Supper. This part of the service is always interesting for us, because it can be difficult to quietly concentrate on Christ's sacrifice when your child is asking you to get him a crayon or help read a book. Over the weeks/months, we have been trying to teach the boys what the Lord's Supper is about and why we partake each week.

Before I continue the story, you need to know that we pass the bread first and then pass the juice separately.

Well, on this Sunday, something unusual happened. On this Sunday, after I ate the bread I decided to go ahead and just pray silently. It's not the first time the boys have seen my wife or I do this. But, on this occasion, my oldest did something different. While I was praying, he started to ask me a question. I do not know what the question was about, because he stopped himself mid sentence. And without opening my eyes, I continued to pray. Then, less than a minute later I heard him quietly talking to himself (which is not that unusual). What was different was that he was not talking to himself, he was praying.

He began to pray and this is a paraphrase of what I remember him saying:

"God, thank you for dying on the cross for me, so that I can have eternal life and live with you in heaven. I'm glad you did."
Then, when the juice was being passed and I took it and then prayed, he did the same thing. He prayed pretty much the same prayer again.

After I was done praying, I opened my eyes and looked at him. He asked if I was praying, to which I said "yes." Then he told me that he was too. (I did not tell him that I heard him or was so proud of him - I'll save that for later). I told him that it was good to pray during the Lord's Supper and smiled.

My son understands the connection between the Lord's Supper and Christ's sacrificial death on the cross. I mean, he could have prayed about anything, but he chose to pray about Christ's death and eternal life. He prayed a simple, genuine prayer of thanks - a great reminder of the simplicity of what Christ did for us on the cross.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Learned from Twitter: Week ending June 27, 2009

This is the first full week of summer and for the youth worker that means not being in the office. That was noticed this week on Twitter, as many days were low on the tweeting by friends. I can only hope this means a lot of ministry was done with teenagers. Anyway, here are a few things I learned this week...

1. jenhowver (Jen Howver) shared an article on conducting surveys.

"an ingenious way to conduct a survey (& probably get a good grade on your research project!): http://bit.ly/xtxfV"

2. ellerytheband (Ellery) has been sharing thoughts on what is going on in the studio. A new album is coming. If you do not know Ellery, check out their music - its good.
"Several times through "Christopher," and a new idea w/ each try. Finally have an arrangement we're living with; feels good."

MarkMatlock (Mark Matlock) passed along an article on teens and sex. If you work with teenagers, you'll want to check out this article.
"Teens Just as Likely to Have Sex, But Less Likely to Use Contraception Than They Were A Few Years Ago http://tinyurl.com/m5mp8o"

outsideallday (Andy Brazelton) announced a brand new small group curriculum from Simply Youth Ministry. The Live curriculum is a downloadable 4 year curriculum that is easily customizable to fit your group. (I am honored to have been able to contribute a few of the lessons for this curriculum and hope they challenge students to live for God)
"Drum roll please...after several years in development, check out our brand new 4 year small group curriculum plan. http://budurl.com/bwaf"

FlowerInTheRain (Janelle Painter) passed along some sad truth about Apple and the iTunes App store. They are now allowing porn in their apps, which means I am disappointed in Apple.
"RT @kcampos: Porn is now allowed on the iTunes App Store, because 3.0 has age restriction ability. http://is.gd/1daEV // such a shame Apple"

What did you learn from Twitter this week?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Photo Friday: Rainbow

Rainbow, as seen from the car window.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Youth Ministry Story: Amusement Park Edition

(First, a confession: I do not like roller coasters. I will not willingly spend my off days waiting in lines to ride a 30 second coaster. But I do love going to theme parks with students.)

I thought I'd share a few stories from the many trips I have taken to amusement parks over the years. One from being in youth group and the other from being a youth minister.

Story #1 - Repeat
The first story comes from my days of high school. It was my junior year, I believe, and we were on our way to Cedar Point for our annual trip. This trip involved a caravan of a few cars, vans and the church van. Three of my friends and I were in a van with a couple adults and we had a blast. I say "we" had a blast, that "we" would not include the adults and here is why. During the few hour ride to Cedar Point, my friends and I had a tape (yes, a cassette tape) that we asked the driver to put in the tape deck. I do not even remember the name of the album, but I do remember listening to it a few times.

Well, a few times is not quite right. And in fact, I do not think we made it through the entire tape. Instead we listened to one song over and over. I think we listened to it like 28 times. We thought it was the funniest thing to hear it over and over. (note of thanks to adults who endure this kind of behavior during trips - your suffering through this type of pain is a huge part of youth ministry making a difference in a student's life. I will forever be grateful to the adults who willingly listened to and rewound the tape that many times) I do not even remember much about the rest of that day, but this car experience will forever be ingrained in my brain. It is one of my favorite moments from youth group.

(I'd love to hear if Doug and Jeremy remember this trip)

Story #2 - Roller Coaster Wimps
The second story comes from my last trip to Six Flags with my first youth group. It was during a tough summer for me, I knew it was my last summer and the students did not. During this trip, there was one student who shared my "dislike" of roller coasters. So, we spent the day together and it was such a great time. We rode this "kid" ride (one of those indoors, "scary" rides) at least three times in a row.

We walked around, looking in the gift shops and watching people do silly stuff. Toward the end of the day, we went to the water park (newly opened) and hung out. We had no change of clothes, but we kept walking under the waterfall. (common sense reminder: if you have on a leather belt and you allow it to get wet and remain wet for hours, you have essentially ruined your belt. Just thought you'd like to know) Though we did not go on a single roller coaster, we had a blast. And I got to spend some quality time with a student. A lot more time than I would have on a normal day.

What is your favorite amusement park story?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Poll: Favorite Amusement/Theme Park

This week seems to be "Amusement Park Week" on this blog, so I added a poll on the topic.

What is your favorite amusement/theme park?

  • Cedar Point
  • Six Flags
  • Holiday World
  • Coney Island
  • Kings Island
  • Knotts Berry Farm
  • Disney
  • None of these
If you answer "none of these" on the poll, please leave your answer as a comment on this post. I'd love to hear the reasons you like your park, too. Is it clean, close location, cheaper, great rides, awesome water park, amazing shows.

Trivia Wednesday #127: The Passion of the Christ & Finding Nemo

answer #126 - #2 (What number is "The Dark Knight" on the all-time domestic gross list?)

question #127 -
Which movie has grossed more domestically, The Passion of the Christ or Finding Nemo?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Youth groups & amusement parks

During the summer, it is common for youth groups to take a day or two and go to an amusement park. Some youth workers look forward to this trip and some endure it. But, whatever you personally feel about amusement parks, I want to offer a few helpful tips to make the day go smoother.

1. buddy system
This is the old standard way to keep someone from being left out or getting lost by themselves. But at the amusement park, it is even more important. I like to modify this system while at the amusement park - it has to be an even numbered group of buddies. It can be 2, 4 or 6 - but it has to be even. When you go on a ride and there are five people, one person is most likely going to get left out (and have to ride alone).

2. meeting points/times
Throughout the day, have check in points. Depending on your group and the park you are at, you might only need one or you might need a couple. An easy way to handle this is to have everyone in the group eat together (#6 below). You can have several adults set out around the park at meeting points, so a student does not have to walk a mile just to check in.

3. utilize cell phones
Since most students (at least one in each group) will have a cell phone with them on the trip, you can use it as your check-in system. Have the students call an adult during a certain window of time and let them know their location. If there is any problem, you can also use your cell phone to track down any student rather quickly.

And in the rare case (because I know this never happens) some of your students are late getting to the meeting point at the end of the day, just call them and "remind" them they need to run!

4. wear bright colored, matching shirts
This is a great way to recognize someone from your group at a distance. It is not enough to wear matching white shirts with your logo on front - a large majority of people at the park that day will probably have on white shirts. Choose a color that most people do not have (think lime green or neon pink) and make a fun shirt for the summer. Have the students wear it to your events.

5. leave no one out
If you have a student who does not like to ride roller coasters, do not leave them out of the fun. Make sure they still have a group to hang out with, and this does not include them waiting for their friends to ride all of the rides. Have an adult spend the day with them if no one else wants to "miss the coasters." Make sure no one misses out on the fun, even if it is not the same fun as the rest of the group.

6. eat together
Since you will not see most of the students throughout the day, take time to each a meal together. This can be a "check-in" time (#2 above) or just a time to enjoy some company. Ask what rides are good, which ones are being worked on, which lines are short or long, and which rides are not worth your time. I do not recommend making the students stay for a certain amount of time, just let them eat and return to the park (with their group, of course).

What do you do when your group goes to the amusement park? What is your favorite amusement park?

Monday, June 22, 2009

When the extra mile is no longer extra

Recently I wrote about the need to go the extra mile in youth ministry. Youth ministries need to do things that are above and beyond what people expect. We need to have great "customer service."

But what do you do when your "extra mile" becomes common? There will come a point when people begin to expect something above and beyond. And if they do not get that, then they become upset and frustrated. Think about your experiences with businesses going the extra mile. The first few times it happened, you were thrilled. You told all of your friends about the great service you received, recommending that they visit the business. Then one time you experience great service without the extra mile addition. You leave thinking the service was good, but not up to the service you have come to expect.

It is like the usual increase in gas prices. Once they go up, they rarely go down. People begin to expect a certain level of service and if that level decreases then they are not happy.

How can a youth ministry keep the "extra mile" from becoming common?

Part of the answer comes in understanding that you cannot keep something from becoming common. The longer you do something, the more it becomes part of who you are, and the more it is expected. If you want to keep something from becoming common within your ministry, only do it once. For example, if you add a new program to honor your graduating seniors, that program is special (over the top). But after the second year, people expect it the next year and if you do not do it they are mad. This new senior recognition program is tradition and you can't change it without making someone mad.

The other option, which I think a lot of ministries do, is to continually try to "one up" their last program. Each year, you add something new, make something bigger and add more "flash" to your already existing programs. The fear is that if you do not continue to improve (which means make it more appealing and fun) then the students will not come back. I believe this mentality will eventually damage your ministry, because you will not be able to keep up with yourself. The students will only go to church to get something out of it and will become disengaged when they stop being impressed.

So, what else can your youth ministry do? Here are a few thoughts...

1. Modify events each year.
Each year you hold your annual freshmen bbq, do something different. Do not always having relay races or play ultimate frisbee. One year you could do a game show theme and the next make it a old school/vintage flashback party. Plan the same event each year, but make the specifics of the event different.

2. Rotate events.
This works well with fun events during the summer. One year take the group to a theme park, but the next go to laser tag. It will also work with your mission trip or week-long conference. Rotate between mission locations (ie. hours away to within your city). Take the students to a different week-long conference each year (or rotate between a few you trust). This will keep the events from becoming "common" and becoming easier for the students to become familiar with the surroundings.

3. Evaluate each year.
It is important to evaluate your events every year. What is effective one year, may not be needed the next or will be replaced with another event. If you just keep moving last year's calendar onto this year's calendar without evaluating, you will begin to forget what it means to listen for God's leading. You might need to adjust an entire part of your ministry because the person with the passion has graduated or moved. Your students might need to be given more leadership or "spiritual meat" and your ministry is not ready for that. When you evaluate on a regular basis, you do not allow yourself to coast.

4. Do not be concerned with impressing the students.
Finally, it is not the job of the youth ministry to impress the students. When your goal is to "one-up" yourself, you are only trying to impress people (the students, parents, church leadership, other ministers) and that stems from pride. STOP trying to be the "cool youth ministry" and start listening to God's voice leading you. The students will benefit more from having a ministry that stretches them and challenges them to grow than one that is fun to attend.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Learned from Twitter: week ending June 20, 2009

An interesting week for Twitter. Here are a few of the things I learned this week..

1. crowderband (DavidCrowder*Band) let us all know that the new album is close to being done.
"Church Music is getting mastered in new york today!

2. RickSkip (Rick Lawrence) shared some thoughts from Kurt Johnston about job descriptions. How could this change your leadership team?
"Riveted by Kurt Johnston's insight at our GROUP Leadership Summit—use “job boxes” instead of job descriptions. Leaders need room to develop."

MarkMatlock (Mark Matlock) wanted people to know about a great opportunity for life planning. Check it out.
"For those asking about Life Planning. Dan Webster has a grant that allows reduced pricing, but it is limited. http://tinyurl.com/nr9xov

4. justinross (Justin Ross) shared an article about why Twitter rescheduled its already scheduled maintenance.
"Twitter reschedules planned maintenance to allow Iran protests to continue. http://bit.ly/gfF6K"

AdamLehman (Adam Lehman) shared one of the joys of youth ministry. "Hanging" out with teens, suffering for the sake of ministry. :)
"Some students were bored and now I'm sitting in the church office with 2 xbox360s, 2 TVs, and 5 dudes playing halo."

gavoweb (Gavin Richardson) shared a link to an article about what it might look like if Tiger Woods happened to twitter from the US Open. Pretty funny.
"if Tiger Woods twittered the #usopen http://twurl.nl/g7qrir (hilarious, except they go oldest to newest top to bottom, not quite right)"

What did you learn from Twitter this week?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Photo Friday: Blue Glow Sticks

We all need a little light in our life. Thought you might like this picture of two blue glow sticks.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #126: The Dark Knight

answer #125 - Jaws, 1975 (What movie is considered the first summer blockbuster?)

question #126 - What number is "The Dark Knight" on the all-time domestic gross list?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Is It Worth the Effort?

Recently, I posted an article on the YouthMinBlog during the week of "Ways to connect with students after they graduate." What follows is that article, entitled "Is It Worth the Effort?" I'd love to hear your thoughts on this...

They have been involved with your youth ministry for four years or more, but now they are leaving. Every year at this time it happens, and every year it becomes more difficult. These are not just high school students you barely know. These are students you have poured your life into. You have stayed up late talking about life, both serious and silly. You have indulged your taste buds by eating unhealthy food together. You have cried for them and with them. You have spent hours talking to God specifically about them. You have even taught a specific lesson or two geared directly at them. And now, they are on the verge of being young adults.

This transition for teenagers is never the same. Some students will never leave. Some students will go off to college and essentially never return. You might worry more about a few students after they go off to college than you did while they were in high school. For a few other students, your only thought is anticipation to see just how far they excel. But regardless of what you think the future will hold for these students, you want to stay connected to them.

I want to spend the rest of this article talking about some reasons to stay connected and discussing a few methods of connection.

Reasons to stay connected:
1. Positive influence
As a youth worker, we all know students who do not have any other positive influence in their life besides us. Their family life is rough and they struggle to make good friends. These students might need your influence more than any other. You have the chance to continue being a positive part of their life. They need regular reminders of God’s love for them, which you can offer.

2. Continue discipleship
Discipleship does not end when a student walks across a stage and receives a diploma. Your role as mentor might take on a different form, but it should not disappear. This student is about to enter a brand new world and their beliefs and core values will be put to the test. They need you (as their mentor) to be there helping them struggle, grow, and become more like Christ.

3. Stay informed
Another reason to stay connected to students after graduation is simply to stay informed about their life. You have just spent at least four years hearing about their relationships, grades, teachers, friends, family, hobbies and thoughts on culture. When they go away to college, this all stops. In order to hear about their decisions, future plans, or just about anything else you will need to stay connected to them at some level.

Methods of connecting:
1. Letters, notes
College students love to get mail, so write a letter and send it to them. You will not be able to write letters to every student (unless you do not want to get anything else done). But for a few students, this might be the more effective method of staying connected.

2. Email
Email is a great tool for connecting with college students. They check their email several times during the day and are usually quick to respond. And you can do a “copy and paste” to send the same email to several students within a few minutes. I recommend sending each email to an individual and not a bulk group of students. These messages do not have to be long, in fact just asking a few direct questions can help you stay connected.

3. IM
Some students use instant messaging to stay in touch. While you are in the office, turn on your IM and talk to students a few times throughout the day.

4. Facebook
Set aside a few minutes each week to write a message or write on someone’s wall. Unless the conversation involves information that does not need to be shared outside of your conversation, I recommend using the wall to talk. Writing on a person’s wall allows you to not only connect with that person, but also to be seen by anyone visiting their profile.

5. Phone calls
Calling a college student can be a lot like calling a high school student, which means this method does not have to take long either. This method is a little more personal and allows you to receive instant feedback or provide instantaneous encouragement.

6. Lunches
Take the students to lunch when they are in town. Ask them questions. Share moments from your life. Encourage them to remain faithful.

7. Talking
What I mean by “talking” is to simply talk with the student when you see them. When a student is home from college and at church on Sunday, make sure to step over and spend a few minutes talking. See how things are going, discuss the changes college brings, and make sure you mention how nice it is to see them.

Schedule regular times to “check in.” Add it to your schedule or you’ll probably notice that it does not happen, because we all know only a small percentage of students will ever initiate contact with us. Once you are able to connect with students post-high school, you will notice the relationship changes and matures - it might even deepen. Your time and energy will pay off as you watch your students become young adults.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A little Father's Day history

In case you need some information for this week's newsletter or just want some fun facts to use this week. Here are three little bits of history about how Father's Day came to be what it is today.

In 1916, US President Woodrow Wilson approved the idea of observing an annual Father's Day.

In1924, President Calvin Coolidge made Father's Day a national event.

In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father's Day.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Book Review: Jungle Jack's The Wackiest, Wildest, and Weirdest Animals in the World

I love animals and I love learning new information about them. Jungle Jack's Wackiest, Wildest, Weirdest Animals in the World as a bunch of both. Packed with 30 different animals, this book is sure to introduce you to one you do not know about or know very little about.

The book is separated into three sections: wacky, wild, and weird. Each animal has multiple pictures, the reason they are in this category and some random facts about it. And throughout the book, there are tidbits of information or funny stories from Jack Hanna's interaction with the particular animal.

As a teacher/youth minister this is a great resource to use when talking about creation or uniqueness. It is also great as a coffee table book for your room. I left it out in one of the classrooms and students would just pick it up and start looking at it. They wanted to read about the wacky, wild and weird animals. In fact, each person who reads the book will walk away with a favorite animal.

The book also comes with a DVD of a bloopers episode from Jack Hanna's Into the Wild television show. It was a typical blooper episode, thus I will probably only watch it once. (Which is okay, because it is a pain to get the DVD out of the sleeve in the book) My boys were not too thrilled with the episode, either.

If you are looking for some great animal information and some even better animal photography - then this is the book for you.

At $20, I feel its a little on the expensive side. If you can find a copy cheaper, definitely pick it up.

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

Learned from Twitter: week ending June 13, 2009

With VBS this week, I did not get to see as much Twitter goodness as some weeks. But there were still some great stuff that came across my twitterstream. Here are a few of the things I learned this week.

1. kentshaffer (Kent Shaffer) sent a link to a blog post about a family photo getting used to promote a foreign product. Could this happen to you and me?

"Your social network picture may end up advertising some foreign brand - http://bit.ly/KAiGi"

2. pattigibbons (Patti Gibbons) had a not-so-pleasant experience at a choir concert. As youth workers, haven't we all been to at least one concert/program like this?
"The lady behind me is singing along w the choir. Bonus - her kid is kicking my seat!"

ypadam (Adam Reed) shared his excitement about Vacation Bible School. Its always a joy to see the kids excited afterward - its like a mini version of summer camp.
"VBS celebration service was great and so was the ice cream! the kiddos are worn out and heading to bed"

What did you learn from Twitter this week?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Photo Friday: Playground Slide

A shot looking up a playground slide.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Customer Service: The Extra Mile

Small town life has its advantages!

Recently I had to get the oil changed in both of our vehicles. This would normally take two separate visits to the mechanic and require a good portion of the day - if not the entire day. I do not like spending my day waiting at the mechanic or driving back and forth.

But I have to say, this particular occasion was one of the best interactions with a mechanic ever.

I called the same mechanic we've been using for all of our mechanic needs; oil changes, tune-ups, repairs. We really like him and he has always treated us well. I called late in the morning, hoping to take one of the cars around lunch and then get the other one done before he closed. When he called back I was outside starting to work on cutting the grass. (and here is where the customer service goes beyond good...)

My wife comes outside and says the mechanic is going to drive over to the house and pick up one car. Then change the oil and drive it back to pick up the other car. Then he'll change its oil and drive it back and take his truck back to the shop. That is above and beyond customer service, right there.

I cut the grass and never had to take a car to the mechanic, yet both of them got the oil changes they needed. Again, he came through with good prices, quality work and great customer service. This is why we keep going back to him whenever we need some work done on our cars. He went the extra mile (literally, because its less than a mile from our house to the shop) to get our business and take care of us as customers.

When was the last time you (or your youth ministry) went the extra mile to serve the students/parents/other ministries in the church? What would it take for you to go the extra mile? What kind of impact would it make?

June Trivia: Summer movie blockbusters

During the month of June, all of the trivia questions will be about summer movie blockbusters. Random facts about some of the biggest summer movies of all time. The first question is already up - do you know the answer?

As always, I hope you can use this information to help you in your ministry. Use it during classes, lunch, ball games, newsletters or whatever.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #125: First Summer Movie Blockbuster

answer #124 - Neck ties, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, are the number one gift for Father’s Day. (What is the most popular gift to give on Father's Day?)

question #125 - What movie is considered the first summer blockbuster?

Monday, June 08, 2009

VBS: Unspoken thoughts

Summer is VBS season for churches. If you are a youth minister or children's minister, you understand this yearly tradition all too well. In honor of this long-time ministry tradition, I thought I'd share some unspoken thoughts going through the ministers or directors mind. This is what they are really thinking. :)

Pre-VBS - full of excitement. "I can't wait for VBS to get here, this year is going to be better than last year."

Week before VBS - still excited. "I can't wait for VBS to get here, I'm getting tired of planning and waiting."

VBS day 1 - full of excitement. "I'm so excited VBS is finally starting."

VBS day 2 - excited. "I am happy the kids really seem to be enjoying everthing."

VBS day 3 - happy. "We're halfway through, I don't want this week to end."

VBS day 4 - getting tired. "I can't believe more kids show up each night."

VBS day 5 - running on empty. "Just have to make it through one more day."

VBS closing program - very tired. "I am so glad this is the last thing to do."

Post-VBS - completely exhausted. "I will never do that again."

a few months later and here is how the conversation goes....
Minister, "Do you want to direct VBS again next year?"
Director, "Sure, I'd love to."

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Learned from Twitter: week ending June 6, 2009

Like most weeks, there was a lot to learn from Twitter this week. Here is just a sample of the goodness I took away...

1. uthministerman (Jasper Rains) reminded us of the importance of rest.

"And God said, "Let there be Sunday Naps," and there were Sunday Naps and they were good."
2. MarkMatlock (Mark Matlock) thinks if you use personal illustrations in your messages, make sure they are true - all the time. Don't use someone else's or make one up just to prove a point. A reminder to any of us who communicate. Be authentic.
"a pastor saying "true story" after an illustration implies some are not true. It's like a magician saying "i have an ordinary deck of cards""
crowderband (Davide Crowder*Band) is going to be on tour, pick up your tickets.
"be the first to get your fall crowder tour tickets, available NOW @ http://www.sixstepstickets...."
YMTV (Dennis Poulette) offers this link to a few tips for youth workers. If you are in youth ministry or know someone who is, you need to take a look at this list.
"Reading 45 tips for youth workers - http://bit.ly/94O7N"
DougFields (Doug Fields) offers a link to a video he thinks you all need to watch.
"Somehow this video seems fake, but I know the editor & it's real--real AMAZING. Guys will love it: http://tinyurl.com/nqf89r"
rainnwilson (Rainn Wilson) linked to an interesting discussion on SoulPancake about explaining God in less than 10 words.
"What God IS or ISN'T in 10 Words or less. http://tinyurl.com/qdyqph"
And then he followed it up with this retweet:
"Nice! RT @giannajessen Faithful, Savior of a girl who limps, comic, mysterious, Lord."
7. 3DGomers (Third Day Gomers) let us know about a photo contest over on the forums. Follow the link to find out more info - some really cool prizes for the winners (if you are a Third Day fan, which you should be, btw)
"Photography Contest - Win art prints by @JasonMitchener! Grand prize: Third Day Retro Pack! All can enter! More here: http://www.Gomers.net"

What did you learn from Twitter this week?

Friday, June 05, 2009

Photo Friday: 2

In case you need a number "2"

Thursday, June 04, 2009

to quote someone else: group like Jesus' (Mark Yaconelli)

"If you have a group of twelve kids who don't understand your illustrations and one of them wants to kill you, you have a youth group just like Jesus."

A Mark Yaconelli quote, taken from Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark DeVries.

How many times have you looked at your group of students and thought, "even Jesus couldn't get through to these kids?"

Often we forget that the disciples did not understand Jesus' messages, and He was the best teacher ever. Next time you get frustrated at the group of students you work with, be reminded that Jesus' group was just as frustrating. And look how they changed the world!!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

RefTagger: a great Bible tool for your blog

Recently I ran across RefTagger when I was searching some information on www.carm.org. As soon as I saw it in action, I knew it was a feature I wanted to add to my blog.

What is RefTagger, you ask? Here is what the website says:

RefTagger is an amazing, free new web tool that instantly makes all the Bible references on your site come alive! Bare references turn into hyperlinks to the full text of the passage at Bible.Logos.com, making it easy for your readers to access the text of Scripture with just a click. Even better, RefTagger brings the text right to your readers by generating a tooltip window that pops up instantly when they hover over the reference. You can also have RefTagger add an icon that is hyperlinked to the passage in Libronix—ideal if many of your readers use Logos. So if your website says, “One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Romans 8:28,” RefTagger will instantly turn it into this: “One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Romans 8:28.”

RefTagger takes citing Bible references to a whole new level. All you need to do is copy the customizable code that we provide for you below and paste it into your website’s template file(s), and it will instantly be applied to your entire site—all past and future content! It doesn’t matter how big or small your site is. RefTagger does it all instantly—saving you hours of time linking verses manually! Because RefTagger uses JavaScript, it doesn’t actually change the code on the content of your site’s pages. If you decide to remove RefTagger from your site, it’s as simple as deleting the code from your template file(s).

If you ever reference Bible passages on your blog (and you probably should every once and awhile) this little plug-in is a great addition to your blog. It will be a welcome improvement for your visitors who will not always have each passage memorized.

Trivia Wednesday #124: Most popular Father's Day gift

answer #123 - The first local Father's Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in Spokane, Washington. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, of Spokane, Washington, started the tradition of Father's Day in the honor of her dad, William Smart, a widowed Civil War veteran. (When was the first Father's Day celebrated?)

question #124 -
What is the most popular gift to give on Father's Day?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Book Review: Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark DeVries

Sustainable Youth Ministry is more than just another book on youth ministry, it is a set of blueprints that will help any youth ministry last longer and grow stronger. DeVries has combined his years of youth ministry experience with his years of youth ministry consulting to offer insight and wisdom about the state of many youth ministries.

Part of the problem facing youth ministry today is the fact that there are youth ministers who do not put much thought into their ministry. They have little to no idea of what direction the youth ministry is going or if it is lining up with the rest of the congregation. These ministries are simply not sustainable. By following a few simple pieces of advice offered in this book, these same ministries could easily become sustainable. In fact, every youth ministry across the country can be sustainable, and sustainable is not dependent on a particular youth minister, either.

One important lesson from the book comes from chapter nine. DeVries talks about the necessity of balcony time within a youth ministry. A youth minister needs to take time to step back and overlook the ministry. Balcony time is the time you use to make sure the important things get done. Beyond balcony time, some of the other topics discussed include: building structure, search teams, emotionally healthy youth workers, church politics, and obstacles.

If you plan on being in youth ministry for a long time. If you desire to see your youth ministry continue to be strong well after you leave. Or if you care at all about youth ministry. You need to read, discuss and wrestle with this book. It is simply the best book I have read so far this year!

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