Video of the day

Beastie Boys + The Muppets. It’s a mashup for the ages … 

Taylor’s gone “pop” … but you knew that already

Everybody’s talking today about Taylor Swift‘s announcement about her new “pop” album. We’ve got a great re:Tuned discussion starter for her first single “Shake It Off” you so you can jump into the conversation with your students.

We’ve been working hard to build up our “Mainstream Artists” database, so you have the resources you need to talk to your students about the music they hear every day. Make sure you check it out.

 

Video of the day

Check out this Finnish band called Steve’n'Seagulls playing AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”.

Video of the day

It’s the first teaser trailer for the 2015 release of Star Wards VII. ‘Nuf said.

Tripping With Your Seniors

080414_trippingwithseniors_bts_590x200From YLO87 | Mark Pittman, interlinc

Editor’s Note: This month, as we all get in the back-to-school groove, we’re featuring articles from previous Youth Leaders Only Resource Books — articles that hit on some of the fundamentals of student ministry. We picked these articles because we know that “Back to School” is also an important time for your youth ministry as you incorporate new volunteers, new students, new systems, and new ideas. From all of us at interlinc … Welcome Back to “Normal”!

You know how a “good idea” can get shoved to the bottom of the priority list in a busy youth ministry schedule? I had an idea for a senior trip, but it took a back seat to a confirmation class that I was informed I would “have to do” for four important seniors. Towards the end of the class someone suggested that we take a trip to celebrate, which seemed like a good wrap-up event to me. So we went. After the weekend was over, I drove home stoked about the good conversations we had.

Right then and there I knew that the senior trip would become a yearly ministry event.

My students were insanely busy, so I scheduled our senior trips to occur about seven weeks before graduation. This made sure that we had an open weekend and wouldn’t infringe on finals or the many grad activities. Doing the trip so early meant I was able to set the table for graduation—the words and memories from our senior trip would be the frame for them as they threw the cap and looked toward life on their own.

A good senior trip can be a perfect time to push “pause” and clarify the things in their life that contributed to their spiritual growth. I wanted them to finish the trip with a clear plan to get plugged-in to a church and keep growing after graduation. So the purpose of the trip was both celebration and reflection.

We had a lot of fun decorating the vehicles that we used—shoe polish on the windows, streamers inside—we made the trip feel like a party. We even created mix CDs of songs from all four years of their high school and played Name That Tune while we drove. Since we spent most of Friday traveling we didn’t have much time or energy to do a big meeting. I always started with playing a fun grad-focused board game. The game is like “Candyland” or “Chutes and Ladders,” but the players encounter various college situations (“Eat Roommate’s Food, Go Back 3 Spaces”).  After the game I had them start on their “written plan” for continuing to grow in their faith after graduation. The paper had these questions: “What are the three biggest questions / concerns you have as you graduate? What way do you think you’ll change the most after graduation? What about who you are do you think won’t change at all? What kind of pressure do you think you’ll feel the most at college / on your own?”

On Saturday, we played. I took lots of pictures, had a ton of fun, and made sure that I had some good solid time with each senior.  By the end of the day I knew what everyone was doing for the summer, where they were going in the fall, what their major was going to be, and when they were leaving. We also reminisced—I could easily get them going on the “remember when…” stories.

Saturday evening or Sunday morning I had a graph that the students filled out. On the horizontal axis was their age (1–18) and on the vertical access was “Close to God” and “Far from God.” The graph helped them see that spiritual growth is not a 45-degree line, but that there are ups and downs. I had the seniors write down two “victories”— times that God showed up in their lives big time. I think it’s very powerful for seniors to see their spiritual progress graphs and be able to look at them again later.

I had the students unpack Proverbs 3:5 & 6.  I also loaded them up with a bunch of verses about-online.com how we must bring God into our decision making process. I then had them talk through Matthew 21:28–31 and write the answers to: What decisions have you made that helped you live out your faith? What decisions might you need to make before you’re faced with a situation?

Finally, I had the seniors write what aspects of church helped them grow, what parts of discipleship helped them grow, what life-values helped them grow, and what service projects helped them grow.  They ended up with a list of what to search for and reconnect with in a new church or college ministry. I then had them fold up the paper and stick it in the front cover of their Bible.

I tried to have coffee with each senior individually sometime between the trip and graduation. Walking a senior through his or her spiritual growth over the last four years and highlighting gifts or traits that you love about him or her can have a huge impact.  In August I called all the parents and got the new addresses and e-mails for the grads. Then I sent encouraging e-mails monthly and asked my former seniors about the church / ministry where they were plugged-in. I also scheduled coffee or lunch with those grads when they came back home for Christmas break.

Want to pass this article along to your adult leaders or volunteers? Download the PDF here. 


 

Every edition of Youth Leaders Only includes great articles like this one. Learn more about YLO Membership.

One On One

080414_oneonone_bts_590x200From YLO92 | By Todd Pearage, The Gathering Dayton, Ohio

Editor’s Note: This month, as we all get in the back-to-school groove, we’re featuring articles from previous Youth Leaders Only Resource Books — articles that hit on some of the fundamentals of student ministry. We picked these articles because we know that “Back to School” is also an important time for your youth ministry as you incorporate new volunteers, new students, new systems, and new ideas. From all of us at interlinc … Welcome Back to “Normal”!

As a fifteen-year veteran of student ministry, I’ll admit that I love the big events. I love planning them with my team and working out the details. I love the excitement of seeing a ton of students having a blast – in church. I love the crazy games, the loud music, and the free t-shirts. Throw in a Christian band and I’m in heaven.

However, in recent years there’s been a movement to shift away from the big events, and “programming” has become a dirty word. Youth pastors have been told to abandon the program and “just hang out with kids.” When you talk with youth workers, it does not take long before the conversation turns to the “program vs. relationship” debate.

Before we go and split the church over this philosophy of ministry (don’t laugh, it’s been split over far less important issues), let’s agree that both sides of this conversation have valid points. We have all seen the benefits of the big event, and I believe there will always be a place for them. But, I am convinced that impact happens person-to-person. So here are a few things I do to make an impact.

  1. Get Out of the Office I have two offices at my church – I have the “official office” which is really just a cubicle right outside my Senior Pastor’s office, and I also have a “secret office” which is in our student ministry area. Truthfully, I love my “secret office.” I can listen to Thousand Foot Krutch as loud as I want, search YouTube for the latest viral video, and even catch the latest episode of Duck Dynasty, all while getting my work done. But as cool as my secret office is and as funny as it may be to watch Uncle Si’s crazy shenanigans, the truth is – before long, I want out. I want to be at the school helping out with the Bible Club, or eating lunch with students, or just hanging out. I want to live life with them. And I can’t do that when I’m in my office all the time.
  2. Unplug If you’ve been in student ministry for more than fifteen minutes, someone has “encouraged” you to unplug. We all know that students are on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook – well, some homeschoolers are still on Facebook. (Just kidding, I love both homeschoolers and Facebook!) But, we need real human interaction and so do our students. We need to sit down knee-to-knee and eye-to-eye with them. Buy them a coffee, milkshake, or smoothie and put the phone away. You’ll be surprised how much better you’ll get to know them!
  3. Know the Calendar Here in the north we have “snow days.” I love snow days because they provide me with an excellent opportunity to grab some students and do something fun. But if I know the calendar, I can be even more intentional when students have a day off from school. Let’s be honest – we know they already forgot what you spoke about last Wednesday. So use those off days to create memories that will last a lifetime.
  4. Plan Better Sometimes I’m not as prepared as I should be. (That’s probably not a big surprise, since I just admitted to watching Duck Dynasty in my office!) I can’t tell you how many Sunday mornings roll around and I’m adding that last-minute video to the media presentation or making copies of permission slips instead of engaging students as they walk into the room. Instead of having the time to ask them how their week was – and REALLY listen, I’m running around doing tasks that should have been done during the week.

I know I need to do a better job organizing my week. I know I need to use my office time to plan and prepare. I know that when I am better prepared, real ministry can happen. And when real ministry happens, impact happens.

Back in November my family and I went back to Pennsylvania for a friend’s wedding. On our way home to Ohio we stopped and visited our “home church.” I was the youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Milton, PA for five years and we are still very close with the people there. After church we went out for lunch with some of the “students” who are now adults. We laughed for over two hours retelling stories and reliving memories.

Want to pass this article along to your adult leaders or volunteers? Download the PDF here. 


Every edition of Youth Leaders Only includes great articles like this one. Learn more about YLO Membership.

Made You Laugh

Just in case you’re headed to the lake this weekend and need some new ideas …

By The Time I’m Done With You …

080414_bythetime_bts_590x200

Featured in YLO85 | By Doug Ranck, Free Methodist Church, Santa Barbara, CA

Editor’s Note: This month, as we all get in the school groove, we’re featuring articles from previous Youth Leaders Only Resource Books — articles that hit on some of the fundamentals of student ministry. We picked these articles because we know that “Back to School” is also an important time for your youth ministry as you incorporate new volunteers, new students, new systems and new ideas. We’ll include a PDF download of each article in case you want to pass these along to your adult leaders. From all of us at interlinc … Welcome Back to “Normal”!

Do you remember the last time you lost something important and desperately wanted to find it? I recall those moments all too well. In the midst of my searches, I even had moments where I could imagine the lost object sitting in the place where I believed I left it. I can also feel the disappointment I experienced when it was not to be found. Our imagination can play tricks onus, but it can also be a very helpful tool.

In 1960 Maxwell Maltz wrote a book entitled Psycho-Cybernetics. Many motivational and self-help speakers based their principles on Maltz’s idea of “a positive outcome through visualization of that positive outcome.” (Psycho-Cybernetics Author; Plastic Surgeon Tries to Heal Inner Scars, Los Angeles Times, November 2, 1973).

When I was in college, I took a class called “Theory and Technique of Team Sports Skills.” In one of the lectures, we talked about how to coach an athlete on shooting proper basketball free throws. The professor talked about the usefulness of pscyho-cybernetics and imagining what one would do to complete the perfect free throw. Have you ever imagined what it would look like for a high school senior in your ministry to be fully-discipled and perfectly ready to enter the next stage of his or her life? What would you want that student to know? How would you want him or her to act? While we know that no one on this earth is perfect, we need to “aim high” in our vision for loving and equipping the youth that we shepherd.

Accomplishing this is all but impossible if we are not willing to do the work of creating a profile describing the character of such a person. There is no one perfect description fitting all youth, so youth leaders can enjoy the freedom of creating a tailor-made vision for their youth. Where do we start?

  1. Begin with prayer. Ask God for insight and wisdom.
  2. Include the primary principles Jesus taught us to live.
  3. Take the best character traits of godly men and women throughout the Bible.
  4. Develop a list of everything you believe should be in the profile. No initial list is too long.
  5. Allow key parents, youth leaders, and students to review the list adding their own suggestions and input.
  6. Edit, combine, and pare the list to a manageable, measurable number of qualities (somewhere between seven and twelve).
  7. Publish the profile and put it to use. Let it influence your teaching, guide your curriculum choices and be at the center of your ministry strategy.

About fifteen years, ago I took the time to develop a “Profile of a Discipled Student.” I was mentored through the process by patient volunteer leaders, older youth pastors, and students who sincerely wanted to grow. Over the years I have used this document in many different forms, given it different titles, and emphasized various parts. Below is the profile we have created in our ministry. I hope it will serve as an example for your reflection, prayer, and planning. Feel free to use it in any form – you don’t even have to change the words! When a student graduates from our ministry, he or she will exhibit these qualities:

  1. Love for God (Mark 12:30) –Regularly participates in corporate and individual worship of God; disciplined in quiet times; internalizes the truth of sin, salvation, the sacraments, and God in three persons.
  2. Faithful to God and others(Romans 12:1-2, 10) – Practices spiritual disciplines; keeps appointments; fulfills commitments to others and projects through setting priorities; practices the holy life and integrity in living.
  3. Student of the Word(2 Timothy2:15) – Spends consistent time in the Word; changed behavior as a result of internalized truth; uses God’s truth in everyday decisions; grows in the skills/disciplines of memorization of verses/significant passages or can identify the location of important stories/teachings.
  4. Pray-er(1 Thessalonians 5:17)– Committed to regular times of prayer; initiates or suggests prayer in the midst of life circumstances.
  5. Critical Decision-Maker(1 Kings3:1-15, esp. v.9) – Demonstrates ability to decide right and wrong on an individual basis through the power of the Holy Spirit and the instruments of Scripture, tradition, experience, and reason.
  6. Life-Long Learner(2 Timothy3:14) – Lives a life of obedience and servanthood; asks thoughtful questions; seeks growth opportunities beyond “growth level” events and youth group experience; responds and acts on instruction.
  7. Life-Leader(1 Thessalonians 2:8) – Knows how and is willing to be a witness; understands the spiritual battle and the need to be a positive influence through Godly example in word and deed.
  8. Commitment to the Community of Faith (Hebrews 10:19-25, esp. v.25) – Values the fellowship of Christ’s body and the variety of gifts to be used for “the common good” of the Church.

Download this article as a PDF.


Every edition of Youth Leaders Only includes great articles like this one. Learn more about YLO Membership.

Made You Laugh

It’s County Fair time … and this reporter just scored the best interview of the year!

Made You Laugh

HT The Daily Beast:

You’ve never seen a cattle call like this one. Derek Klingenberg is a farmer who occasionally posts YouTube song parodies. In today’s video, he becomes the latest to cover Lorde’s ubiquitous anthem of the working class, ‘Royals.’ Instead of spoofing it, Farmer Derek plays it on trombone in an open field.