Youth Ministry

The Lead Small Culture Book Club

I am really excited to start this new year off by joining many other kidmin and youth min. leaders (last time I checked it was over 900), as we read through Creating A Lead Small Culture together through an online book club. I have already read through this book once fully and the second time was a brief synopsis for another leader in a smaller church looking to implement Orange philosophy and the 252 Basics curriculum into their program. The book is full of great tips on how to connect your leaders with the kids they serve on a deeper level and how they can partner with parents so that together they can create more opportunities for spiritual development and deeper understandings on how God is at work in their lives everyday.

Every kid needs to be known by someone and to belong somewhere.

Most leaders agree. That’s one reason for a shift in the way many churches are discipling their kids and teenagers. Think of it this way: connecting kids and teens to a consistent leader who believes in God and believes in them is something the church can do that nothing else in culture does.

Here is how my next eight weeks are looking.

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As I started Session One today I have already had a couple questions jump out at me and cause me to strongly reflect how Life Groups (We use Life Groups instead of Small Groups in the hopes that these groups will continue to grow together and do life together), function in our kidmin department.

The very first question is a tough one for many leaders because they simply want kids and parents to attend everything possible that happens within the church walls.

If kids only show up at church one time a week and experience one environment or participate in one activity, where would you tell them to go?

Wowzers, yep they said what every leader dreads to ask, or even think about. The thought that a family or a child might only pick one of the many great things that your ministry does. I have been wrestling with this question for months now:

How do we plan our ministries better to help families leverage their time together so that they spend more time as a family?

Think about it:

Kids ministry is one day, or night,
Youth Ministry is on one or two other nights.
Men’s ministry happens,
Women’s Ministry is another,
and church is on Sundays,

oh yeah don’t forget about after school activities and extra curricular activities.

Add all those days up and well you have one very exhausted and overwhelmed family.

Your greatest asset to building faith in the next generation is not your Bible study, worship band, facilities, or budget. The most valuable resources you have to help people see God are the people in your church who know God. (pg. 33)

How do you react to that statement? With relief? Hesitation? Excitement? Explain Why?

What are your biggest obstacles when trying to connect every kid with a consistent adult leader?

What are some of your ideas so far for overcoming those obstacles?

Those are the main questions that I am going to be wrestling with this week. I want nothing more for my kids in our kidmin than for them to experience God through the caring adults that are in their lives. That is how they will understand who God is, how we works in their lives, and how He loves them unconditionally. By learning about God in a relational context I hope that our kids learn about a relational God that wants to have a consistent two-way relationship with them.

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The Truth About Kids And Social Media – Speaker’s Spotlight Blog

 

The benefits that Amy Jo Martin points out in her must-read book, Renegades Write The Rules may surprise you – it’s an important read for anyone trying to understand social media.

As most of us already know, there are clear downsides with kids using social media and this topic has been covered for years. Cyberbullying, privacy , and identity theft are only a few negatives that should be considered. Just as we teach our children how to ride a bike, we need to teach them how to navigate social media and make the right moves that will help them. The physical world is similar to the virtual world in many cases. It’s about being aware. We can prevent many debacles if we’re educated.

Question: What are the benefits of kids using social media?

via Speakers’ Spotlight – The Truth About Kids And Social Media.

When Parents Are The Ones Too Distracted By Devices : All Tech Considered : NPR

This is a great article. I have been wrestling through this issue with a few ministry friends lately.

How are you as a parent balancing your screen time with real time?

“One of the many things that absolutely knocked my socks off,” she says, “was the consistency with which children — whether they were 4 or 8 or 18 or 24 — talked about feeling exhausted and frustrated and sad or mad trying to get their parents’ attention, competing with computer screens or iPhone screens or any kind of technology, much like in therapy you hear kids talk about sibling rivalry.”

via When Parents Are The Ones Too Distracted By Devices : All Tech Considered : NPR.

Low-tech parents: Why Steve Jobs wouldn’t let his children touch an iPad and other digital gadgets | Financial Post

Even parents who work for tech companies are asking the question: How much is too much time in front of a screen?

Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired and now chief executive of 3D Robotics, a drone-maker, has instituted time limits and parental controls on every device in his home.

“My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules,” he said of his five children, 6-17. “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”

The dangers he is referring to include exposure to harmful content like pornography, bullying from other kids, and perhaps worse of all, becoming addicted to their devices, just like their parents.

Some of the questions that I had after reading this.

What limits do you set for your kids in the home?

Do you have limits that you place on yourself?

via Low-tech parents: Why Steve Jobs wouldn’t let his children touch an iPad and other digital gadgets | Financial Post.

The Orange Conference 2014: Highlights on Vimeo

I finally came across the highlight video from the Orange Conference I attended in the spring time. Have a look at the video below for only a small sampling of why this might have been the best conference I have attended in years.

The Orange Conference 2014: Highlights on Vimeo on Vimeo

via The Orange Conference 2014: Highlights on Vimeo.

Books on my shelf

10629658_10152205019986370_6670124045181772431_nThe books that I have recently finished, or I am currently reading. Also on this list would be “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek which I blogged about here.

 

What books are you reading right now?

 

Everyone wins when a leader gets better. – Bill Hybels

 

#GLS14 Session 1 Notes – Bill Hybels : “Hard-Fought Leadership Lessons”

“Pretty much everything that matters in this world, rises and falls on leadership.”

With those words Bill Hybels opened up the Global Leadership Summit this year and immediately I was hooked. I love listening to Bill as a teacher because you know he speaks from authority, passion and experience. Add into that a great deal of vulnerability and rawness to the stories he shares and you have a great recipe for an opening session. The summit would be built on the idea that humility will be the key to learning between business and church leaders over the next couple of days.

Bill’s prayer – “Speak to us and we will listen and obey.”

Question: Is all leadership intensely spiritual? (True or False)

  • Leadership falls in feelings and spirit. (How it makes you feel and how it moves you to action)
  • All decisions and objectives are hinged on how it makes you feel.

Question: Leaders are visionaries by definition? (True or False)

  • Adrenaline comes with progress made towards a vision or objective.
  • However, vision can soon consume us and change the mood and feelings of the team we are leading.
  • This can cause struggles in how the team feels towards you and the vision as a whole.
  • High visionaries have a hard time understanding the feelings of their team.

Often leaders with the highest level of vision and passion have the lowest level of awareness and passion for the spirit of the team they’re leading.

*Questions that I had personally is how do visionaries handle issues of their heart? Where is the split between personal feelings and the feelings that are sole intended towards their vision? How easy is it for them to differentiate the two?

Do we ask our workers to work more while we care  less?

THE KEY IS THAT GOD CARES ABOUT PEOPLE NOT THE VISION

  • Don’t make people pay because of your fire for a vision. People come first!

 

5 Key Commitments To Make

  1. Use an outside firm to question the engagement level of your staff
  2. The entire executive team has to own the “turn-around.
    1. The culture of the organization will only be as healthy as your Sr. Leader desires it to be.
  3. Get real serious about training everyone on staff who manage people.
    1. People join organizations, they leave managers.
  4. Raise the level of candor in the twice-a-year performance reviews.
    1. Three words to use in reviewing staff
      Stop (doing some negative desired behavior)
      Start (doing something different)
      Continue (praise)
    2. Every staff member wants to know how they are doing and if what they do matters
  5. A ruthless commitment to resolving relational conflict regardless of how scary it feels.
    1. In the average Christian organization 54% are engaged in their work and excited about their work. 30% in the corporate world.

“Great leadership is by definition relentlessly developmental.”

Five key ways to develop a new leader.

  1. Put them in high-challenge roles
  2. Assign them to a short-term task force
  3. Give real-time feedback
  4. Provide them with coaches mentors
  5. Offer them classroom courses and seminars

Short Term Task Force to see how well emerging leaders can handle themselves in real work environments.

  1. Success and failure both need to be an option
  2. They need to be given full charge
  3. Wide variety of people on the team and that they have the opportunity to work with.
  4. Real pressure of a looming deadline.
  5. The end of the project needs to be reviewed by a Sr. Leader of the staff

Resourcefulness is a key trait for any leader.

  • Figure it out… And don’t call me. (this would become the inside joke of the summit)
  • How do we put new leaders into situations where they don’t know what to do?
  • When was the last time that you gave an emerging leader an opportunity with a short term task force?

John 10 – Two types of shepherds

11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

  1. A) Hirelings – They don’t care about the flock. Look out for themselves first
  2. B) Owner – They care about the longevity of the team and vision of the organizations.

 

We need to start mastering the art of discerning these two types of team players as leaders.

This will allow us the opportunity to start training up LEGACY LEADERS

  • Legacy leaders want to give their one and only life to a cause bigger than themselves.
  • Legacy leaders work for the grander vision.
  • Legacy leaders are the only ones wiling to pay the price to fix a broken culture.

These leaders will be the ones that care about the grander vision?

*What do we want theses legacy leaders to work towards? What vision are we pointing them towards and saying “Figure it out”

The danger with the hirelings is that they would have learned to put their own goals and objectives first from someone,

  • Is it you?
  • We have raised up a generation of leaders who are “me centric.”

No leader will ever drift into being a legacy leader. They need to be trained and raised up by mentors so that they can truly see the grander vision instead of a vision that they interpret as being grand.

 

Question: Have you given any thought to your legacy plan? Are you training any legacy leaders to take over your visions?

 

James 1:12 – Legacy and endurance

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

The grander the vision the bigger the price tag.

  • Have you built an endurance plan into your vision?
  • How are you going top keep your heart and soul solid as you peruse the grander vision?
  • How are you going to preserve the hearts and souls of your team in the pursuit of the vision?
  • Have you thought about…
    • Burn-Out
    • Family time and care
    • Spiritual – Do you still have time for Sabbath and scripture.

Do we make time to not be a leader and seek out being a follower of Christ?

Do we make time for solitude breaks? What is your solitude plan?

 

Do you feel “Exhausted, discouraged and at the door of hopelessness?”

As a leader we need to be humble enough to call for help.

Psalm 34:18

18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.

Ministry progression: Thoughts from the spring.

The following are my speaking notes from a one-day conference we hold at The Peoples Church called Reaching High. This past year we broke up the main session and split it into three and covered the life of a child that would go through a ministry from birth to college. The goal was to equip and encourage the Life Group leaders by teaching them that what they do matters in the life of our kids and families. We tracked the child from children’s ministry and into a jr. High ministry and finally into youth ministry. We as presenters focused on three main questions:

  1. Children’s Ministry – What do I believe?
  2. Jr. High Ministry – Who do I believe I am?
  3. Youth Ministry –    Why do I believe what I believe? and How do I show it?

Each child asks these questions in their respected ministries, but the interesting thing about kids in ministry is that each child is at a different place in their spiritual understanding. You could have a new believer in youth ministry that is asking the basic question “What do I believe to be true?” We placed that question as the defining question in children’s ministry because we would like our grade 6 students that leave our ministry to know what the Bible says is true and to understand God’s plan of restoration. However any new believer will start by asking the same question, “What do I believe?” We decided that if we looked at the progression of ministries as a straight line it would mean that without knowing it we saw spiritual growth as having an end point. A line eventually has to end.

Ministry Graph 1

As you can see children’s ministry has a child for about 11-12 years followed by two years of jr. high and another 4-5 years of high school and then they are done. A linear perspective also speaks to the fact that the leaders in each of these areas is finished when the child passes into the next ministry. This leadership is what causes students to fall through the cracks.

We proposed a different type of ministry model. A more circular look at a child’s life from beginning to end. This is where I will let me notes take over. Enjoy!

Ministry Graph 2

Let’s start with how many church’s view birth to college ministries. One linear line and you are lucky if the children’s pastor and the youth pastor even agree with 80% of what they do. What is even more dangerous is that if we view spiritual progression as one straight line from birth to college we are doing our students a huge injustice.

 

So let’s talk about how we want to move forward.

 

I don’t think that all of the circles are ever entirely separated. They all lead in and out of each other. However, our focus changes. For example when a child is heading out of children’s ministry and heading into Jr. High the question shifts to what does the gospel teach us about Jesus to what does the gospel tell me about my role in God’s plan.

 

The key question for Jr. High will be that of identity.

 

How do I identify my life within God’s ultimate plan of restoration. We need to give these kids the opportunity to experience a God that is huge while they feel super small.

 

Part of the Jr. High dilemma is that these students need to be told what God sees in them. What God sees in them becomes visible when we take the time to use affirming words that showcase God given talent within them.

 

As students begin to navigate out of the What do I believe phase we need to capture their attention through a compelling story of a God that is present in their lives. If a student enters Jr. High looking at who they are without knowing who God is our world is way to loud for them to make clear and correct decisions.

 

In Jr. High social media has produced a mentality that they have to create moments in their lives to generate likes on their social media sites. There is a pressure to perform and out do peers in those moments. (We will talk more about that in my session)

 

When we have done our job in Jr. High and showed the students how to experience a God that is alive in their life through engaging stories we can start to move them towards the next question – How do I use these gifts to live out the gospel message in my life outside these walls. I am not saying that students don’t ask this question earlier, I am  simply saying that as they round out their Jr. High years they will enter into this. Faith becomes their responsibility.

The end goal of this model was that the child would work their way through our ministries asking the questions that are relevant to their exact needs. Our goal as leaders would be to allow these students the opportunity to ask these questions and we would help guide them to the sweet spot where all our ministries intersect. That would be the home. Our goal is that the students begin to act out their faith at home, in their school and into their adult years.

Ministry Graph 3

Book Review – Parenting Beyond Your Capacity by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof

Parenting Beyond Your Capacity

by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof

Oftentimes, parenting can be a struggle full of love. Rather than being another “how-to be a better parent” book, Parenting Beyond Your Capacity focuses on how parents can fortify their parenting capacity by engaging their family in God’s story to the world. Parenting Beyond Your Capacity also has a wealth of helpful insights for those who are hoping to be parents one day, those who are preparing to soon be parents, for grand-parents, those who work with parents, have friends that are parents, or for those that are influencers in children’s lives.

The core of the book is divided into five key family values.

1)      Widen the circle

2)      Imagine the end

3)      Fight for the heart

4)      Create a rhythm

5)      Make it personal

Biblically based from Deuteronomy 6, the values and verses work hand-in-hand. Moses discusses in Deuteronomy 6 that God intended for family and faith-community alike that it takes a village mentality to raise spiritually-healthy children. Through this partnership of family and community mentors, God’s bigger story begins to unfold:

“Your children one day will seek affirmation and approval from adults other than you. Either you can become intentional about enlisting other trusted adults to influence your kids, or you can depend only on your limited capacity. You can leave them alone to discover random influences who will shape their character and faith, or you can help them protectively pursue strategic relationships for their lives.”

If our kids engage Christ with genuine and excited hearts, there is an even better chance that the family relationship can be used to witness to other friends and family – to a world that yearns to be restored. Honorable mention: There is no guilt trip regarding your parenting skills. The authors’ hope is to share the concept that the goal of parenting is not to impress others with your amazing parenting skills, but it is to instill within your children the love and nature of God.

The Story Teen Edition Curriculum Review

The Story Teen Edition DVD Curriculum

First off, the creativity in the story clips is very refreshing. The clips are concise, eye-catching, and easy for teens, or pre-teens in my case to refer back to. I have used a few of these story clips so far with different groups of students and have found that starting with The Story video clips and then following up with some questions that ask students to explain what they saw has been very helpful for them. The clips allow the students to see a broader context of multiple chapters,or even books of the Bible in a short period of time which allows them to see God’s larger story playing out.

Michael Novelli has seen that when teens experience a story, as opposed to it being told or shown to them, they absorb and remember it more thoroughly. This DVD offers youth workers a new way to engage teens in the grand narrative of the Bible.

One of the downfalls for me was that some of the clips cover a large portion of scripture, so it makes using these clips outside of the curriculum very difficult. For example, if you were teaching a 3 week series on Nehemiah, or Revelation there is only one clip that covers these works. Also, the miracles and parables of Jesus are also covered in one section. This is only a minor flaw for me because it goes outside of the intended use of the curriculum, but for a small, or none existent budget for some youth groups the re-usable ability of the clips could be very important.

However, what you do get in this curriculum is very impressive.

The DVD Contains:
31 video sessions (including additional Recap and Rewind videos)
Reproducible Teacher’s Guides for 31 weeks including Reading Scripts
Reproducible Student handouts
Subtitles (please use subtitle option and not the CC option on your tv or DVD player)

The handouts are great and they ask the students to interact with the story with all their senses. This is fantastic for all the learning types that can be found within any group of students. They can draw, listen and engage in simple question formats and I have found that the artistic outlets with this curriculum, especially in a camp setting make this a must for any Jr. High group.

The students are asked to engage the story that they have just heard and to timeline the events, but they get to choose the character whose point of view they would like to focus on. I have had students draw out the major points of Nehemiah’s story from Nehemiah’s criticizers point of view. I love the creativity that this curriculum draws out and it is written in a way that allows this to flow naturally.

As a leader you get a scrip of the story that is a paraphrase of the passages that are covered. We have used these to act out stories as well as to read in a large group setting. I have found that reading has not brought out the creativity and if you are teaching from the front of the room knowing the story so that you can tell it without the script allows for greater use of the students imagination.

Script from Session 15 – God’s Messengers

You also receive a student handout and this is where there is a clear intention to include all learning types. Students are asked on these handouts to engage the story in three ways.

1) See the story.

See the story – Session 15

2) Hear the story.

Hear the story – Session 15

3) Join the story.

Join the story – Session 15

The last written piece that is at your disposal as a leader is the Teacher Guide. The guide is full of scriptural references, context and  personal preparation suggestions. It then breaks down how to break down 75 minutes in order to get the most out of the curriculum. It timelines each step of the night as a guideline for you that allows you to place more emphasis on the key areas that you would like to focus on within your group. You can emphasize prayer time, teaching time, engagement, or small groups as this is meant to be a tool not a rule to go by.

Part 1 –  Rewind

  • Intro and prayer, video of the previous week and brief response
  • 5 Min

Part 2 – See the story

  • Explanation and handout, session video, create symbols, share symbols with group
  • 10 min.

Part 3 – Hear the story

  • Story reader scripture reading, student response to scripture, break into small groups.
  • 25 min

Part 4 – Join the story (small groups)

  • Discuss story, create personal responses, share the response, closing prayer.
  • 35 min.

There is an even more detailed breakdown for a typical session in the Teacher Guide that is really helpful. I have found that this helps volunteers manage their small group time and to keep the focus on the scripture. I do think that if small groups are a focus in your ministry there needs to be time built into the schedule that allows for time for personal sharing of the weeks activities for the students.

I would recommend that any youth group that wants to teach on the metanarrative, or even any group that is looking for an affordable curriculum. You can find the DVD curriculum for around 50 dollars in most locations and can be found on The Story website. One perk is that you can teach this curriculum without any of the other Story products as the scriptures are given to you. I would give this curriculum a 8/10.