I haven’t blogged much over the past couple of years because I’ve been working on this project. I’m very excited to announce that this book will be released in June or July of 2016. More details about where to purchase it will be announced when the book is released.
I used this illustration at 3 summer camps this year. Each time the reaction was the same. The point is to encourage students to embrace the change in their lives, rather than hiding it, when they get home.
Feel free to use it if it’s helpful for your students.
Several years ago my life group started a tradition of calling students who missed group during the beginning of group.
A hate call:
– Is a way to let students know they matter and are missed
– Is an encouragement masked as yelling into the phone at them or on their voicemail
– Always ends with an encouraging word
My students look forward to these when they’re gone. We don’t always do them. They’re disappointed if they’re gone and don’t get one.
A couple of times we have left “Hate Videos” on the Facebook walls of absent students. We almost always do them as a phone call, but it’s the same thing as you see in the video.
Here’s what happens when a girl’s group did a hate call:
This week one of my students made this funny video we could use for hate calls. Not sure how we’ll make use of it, but it’s pretty funny for sure:
I’m not great at celebrating each of the birthdays in my life group. Each year, to help make up for that, I throw a birthday party for my boys. This year, I planned a little mayhem on the side.
As volunteer youth workers, it’s important for us to have memory makers that will stay with the kids after they graduate. When they think back to high school days, I want them to connect the good times with life group and when they were challenged to grow closer to God. I’m very intentional about mixing in fun with teaching them how to live out God’s design for their lives.
Here’s an illustration I used during small group time at our Winter retreat this weekend.
1. I grew my facial hair out into a nasty out-of-control mess for a couple of months leading up to the retreat for this to work.
2. I opened this illustration by warning my cabin guys that this would be a goofy illustration, but to go along with me as I gave it.
The illustration kept my promise of being goofy, but they will remember it, and hopefully the principle behind it. Since these guys are also in the Bible study I teach each week, I’ll be able to refer back to their commitment at camp and ask how “shaving off the beard” is going.
Memorable can equal impactful.
Good luck with this if you choose to use it. Please tell me how it goes.
Yesterday I met somebody who is a new believer and has started serving at our church. He told me a story that, at first, angered me, then challenged me about my role as a volunteer.
He plays in one of the bands at a satellite campus for one of our ministries during the week (purposefully vague here). He stepped off the stage during a rehearsal to listen to the sound coming through the speakers. As soon as he did this, a booming voice came through the speakers from the sound board, “Remember we’re just volunteers back here at the sound board. Don’t get on our case about the sound.”
The musician hadn’t even said anything. He just stepped off the stage to listen. The band leader advised this new believer to go apologize to the guy at the sound board. Apparently, two years earlier, when the band leader stepped off the stage to listen, he didn’t apologize and the sound guy turned it into a much bigger ordeal than it needed to be.
Because of the caustic nature of the sound guy, he’s not getting better at running sound and the quality of the music the attendees hear is suffering for it, even though the band is great. It’s crazy to think about how a person would be so defensive and unwilling to even be open to suggestions. Even more absurd is the idea that he would be able to get away with that for two years or more. We’re going to have horrible sound in our ministry because nobody can upset the sound guy. That kind of thing dumbfounds me.
I woke up this morning thinking about this story and how it relates to my own volunteer work as a youth leader. Here are some questions I’m pondering. I thought I’d share them with you because all youth workers would do well to think through them:
– Am I approachable and willing to be instructed?
– Am I secure enough to be not be destroyed if somebody offers a suggestion about what I do?
– Have I become a better leader over time or am I happy with the way I’ve always been as a leader?
– What have I done to improve?
– Do I talk about youth ministry with other youth leaders and parents? Do I share what I’ve learned and learn from them in return?
I want to be an asset to my youth ministry team, not the guy people have to treat gently lest I blow up at them for making a suggestion.
I don’t know the volunteer running that sound board, but he will be getting some training soon because I am connected with people who handle sound and lighting for the church. As a good leader, I wouldn’t let that go unaddressed now that I know out about it. It’s very important that our kingdoms fall and we’re open to suggestions which make our church more effective. By sharing this with the ones who need to know, our sound will be better for that ministry and a volunteer will become a more approachable, well-trained servant… like I want to be.
Are you willing to address issues or will you avoid them until they resolve themselves while the ministry suffers for it? They won’t likely resolve themselves. We need to discretely, strategically, and with a right heart, deal with issues in our church… and work hard not to be the guy (or gal) people are afraid to approach when we need help.
Here’s a fun dessert I did with my Life Group students last week. It’s super easy and they can each do their own pretty quickly.
1. Buy as many canisters of cinnamon rolls as you will need
2. Have them put the cinnamon rolls uncooked into a waffle maker. You’ll want to spray cooking spray before putting them in even if you have a non-stick waffle maker
3. When the ready light appears, they’re ready
4. Have them put them in a bowl and top with icing, ice cream and whipped cream. Other great toppings include nuts, chocolate chips and cherries. If they’re making their own, they can decide what they want.
5. Take pictures and post them on Facebook or Instagram. It’ll be a great commercial for your ministry.
I’ve used this a couple of times with pretty good results. “You’re not in trouble, but…” is the perfect medium I’ve found between the lands of Knuckleheadville and You’reawesomeistan. When student isn’t really being “bad”, you just need him to take a break from driving everybody crazy, we too often resort to discipline when what we really want is a break.
Next time Chris, or Suzy or some other kid in my youth ministry is on my last nerve, but not really being “bad”, I’ll say, “You’re not in trouble, but I need you to…”
– Quit shooting Nathan with the water gun
– Stay off the roof
– Put the chainsaw away
– Quit driving the church van when the pastor’s looking… you’re only 12
In addition to this, something I learned from working with Doug Fields over the years is to partner with another leader to take turns managing the extra grace required kid every youth ministry has.
The real reason I do youth ministry is for the stuff I inherit when my boys forget to take their stuff home. 🙂
First off: Never say the word ATTITUDE to students if you want to them to hear anything you would say following the word attitude. That word is more like a weapon than a tool.
A student is coming to help me with a project today. He texted me a few minutes ago to say his mom was on his case about getting his chores done, but he’d be here soon.
What he needs is an attitude adjustment at home. I can’t tell him that without triggering a negative internal reaction on his part. So, instead, I wrote that I was proud of him for helping around the house and that it would do wonders for his home life if he does it with the right heart.
Basically, I told him to check his attitude in a way that would have him actually check his attitude instead of check out of our conversation.
Bonus thought: The more strategic we are with our words in youth ministry, the less counseling we’ll have to do because students will feel the effect of the encouragement to go the right direction.