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Posts Tagged ‘student ministry’

Make Church Work More Fun – #3 Laugh!

March 27, 2011 1 comment

Does the church take itself to seriously?  Yes.  Do we take our jobs to seriously? Yes.  Don’t get me wrong we are in the Kingdom business and our work is eternally important.  Of course, we are God’s instruments and sometimes I think we play funny notes.  When we do, we should laugh.

This is the third post in the series 5 Things to Make Church Work More Fun .  Laughter is contagious!  It is good for the soul.  It is good for community.  It deepens relationships.  Think about how often when you get together with old friends you think back and share stories about funny events.

Working for the church would be more fun if we would laugh at ourselves and together.  Youth Ministers can bring this gift to the staff by sharing funny things that happened in the youth ministry, something that happened during worship, etc.  Don’t share things to bring others down, share them to help folks be a little less serious and a little more joyful.

Our staff is still talking about the story I shared after Ash Wednesday service about the 2 1/2 year old who wanted a butterfly not a cross.  See if you can convince the boss that sharing these stories together should be a regular part of your life together as a staff.  Its hard to be in a fight when you are laughing about something!

Really stuffy staff, maybe you can break the ice by using a cartoon from Inherit the Mirth.  You can find a new cartoon each week on YMtoday.com.

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Encore – Hysterical Singing Game

March 25, 2011 5 comments

When I was in high school, I played the board game encore.  When I became a youth minister, I adjusted encore to make it one of my groups favorite games and group building activities.  Because youth love music and listen to all kinds, this game has the potential to engage everyone and not to many games can do that.  I quick google search showed that the game still exists and that you can purchase it from Amazon for $12.  I have played it for years and never purchased it until today.  I think it will be worth the $12 investment, but you can try it out with your group using my adjusted rules and see if you like it first.

Supplies:

  • A list of words you would might find in a song.  For an hour long game, you’ll need 10-15 words.
  • Something to keep score on

How2

Divide your group up into teams of 3-10 people.  This game is best played with no more than 4 groups and 40 people.

The group on your left starts the first round.  Each round, you will move clockwise with a new group starting.

The leader will share the “word” that each group must sing.  Then beginning with the first group, each group or individual in that group must sing a phrase from a song containing the “word” and 5 other words.  The first group has 20 seconds to sing/say the phrase. Then moving clockwise groups continue to sing/say songs with the “word”. After the first group, the time limit is reduced to 10 seconds.  A group is eliminated from the round if they cannot think of a song or they sing a song that has already been sung.  The last group standing gets a point.

Here are some “words” that work well.

  • Blue
  • Love
  • Heart
  • Train
  • Plane
  • Tractor

You can also use topics like:

  • Girls Name
  • Transportation that doesn’t have wheels ie. walking, running, hot air balloon, etc.
  • Types of Cars
  • Hymns
  • Food
  • Cartoon Theme Songs

Notes:

If it appears they will go forever on a topic, award points to all groups or whoever still remains and move on to the next topic.  If you are playing, it helps to have a piece of paper and pen so that you can make a list of possible songs and be prepared when your turn comes around and to eliminate songs sung by other groups.  You will have to determine what’s a song.  Expect to get commercial jingles and other short jingles in addition to songs.  You’ll have to make the rule “one way or the other.”

Warnings:

Hopefully, your group will understand to keep it clean; but if your group is like my group then a friendly reminder might be in order!

Don’t Lose Your Life to Youth Ministry

March 15, 2011 4 comments

My Problem

I can remember counting every hour I worked my first two years in youth ministry to justify a raise.  I don’t remember the exact number, but I went to the personnel committee averaging somewhere around 65 hours per week.  How in the world did I average 65 hours?  Well, I counted the 40-50 that I put in working 5 1/2 days a week.  Then, there were the trips, retreats, lock-in’s, 30 Hour Famine’s, etc.  I would count every hour – all 24 – when on a trip or retreat.  I justified it by saying if something happened in the middle of the night I was responsible and had to deal with it.  Makes sense right?

Wrong.  Sleeping (even if only for a few hours because kids are up half the night) does not constitute a work hour.  Although I did have some interesting part-time jobs where I did get paid to sleep (even if I wasn’t supposed to).  But the argument, I was trying to make did have validity not about a raise, but about how much I was working. Unfortunately, I was working at a church at that time that did not recognize either the need for a raise or that i was overworking myself.

But what do you do when you work all week and then go on a 3-day retreat and are expected to be at a Monday morning meeting? I was headed toward mental and physical burnout and being young and single was not a good excuse.

National Problem

The national burnout rate in youth ministry is 3.9 years! Youth Ministers called by God leave the church to sell insurance primarily because working in the church is too hard.  There are a multitude of reasons for this including lack of training and support, pay, and yes long hours.  The church is responsible for a lot of these conditions, but some of them we have control over and must take responsibility for ourselves.

It’s not  Jesus’ fault either, I don’t think he intended for us to “lose our life” the way so many of us take it.  Yes, give everything in our life to Jesus but that does not mean excluding parts of our life – family, friends, etc. – for ministry.  We should give those pieces of our life to Christ as well.  We have more responsibilities in this life than our job.

Avoiding Burnout

Here are 3 not-so-easy steps to avoid burnout. They are not-so-easy because youth ministers are prone to having savior complexes that lead to overworking.  Some friendly advice from someone who still is learning to do these things.  Get over yourself, and get a life!

Manage Your Time or It will Manage you

The Center for Youth Ministry Training supervises lots of young youth workers. One of the components of the program is that each graduate resident receives a veteran youth minister who walks with them during the 3 years of our program.  One of the key ingredients to the coaching program is time management.  If you don’t learn to set boundaries around your time, your time will manage you and you will lose your life to the church.

It is important for you to learn that you can not do it all.  There will always be more to do.  Don’t trick yourself into thinking that you can take a day off or a vacation when you get it all done.  You will be more productive at your job if you are rested and physically and mentally healthy.    Find a time management program that works for you.  CYMT uses the rhythmic week with our students which forces them to find one full day (3-4 hour blocks) during the week that is down time.  The blocks can move around during the week, but they can not go away!

Friends are people who KNOW you!

Another problem that ministers and youth ministers have in common is that we have no friends.  We have a lot of acquaintances.  Parents of youth, volunteers, church members, other staff can all be surface level relationships.  But do you have true friends?  People who know what’s going on in your life.  If you don’t, then you without a doubt feel lonely.  Who are you in a relationship with that loves and accepts you for who your are?  If you are going to make it in ministry and have a life, you are going to need people like this in your life.  If you aren’t managing your time, then you won’t have time to invest in relationships to have friends.  You don’t have enough time in this life to not have friends!

Exercise makes us feel better!

It’s just true.  Your body feels better when you exercise.  Run, walk, chase a ball, throw a frisbee, dance, hike, or climb!  I don’t care but your body does and you will be a better minister for it.  Again, no time to exercise means bad time management.  In this case, your life actually depends on it.

This blog is as much to me as it is to you!  I’m trying cycling as a physical outlet right now.  I’m trying to avoid working at home at night.  I want to be present with my kids and wife.

What have you found that helps you not lose your life?

I’m migrating this blog to ymblogs.com.  I hope you will join me there!

Importance of Balcony Time in Youth Ministry

March 11, 2011 Leave a comment

I used to coach soccer and one of the most valuable teaching tools I would use would be video of our games that was shot from the top of a stadium.  This video was valuable because you could see the whole field.  I would teach our videographers to only pan from one half of the field to the other.  They always wanted to be ESPN cameramen and zoom in.  But what I wanted was video that would show my players, the whole field.  When they are playing in the game they could only see parts of the field, they could not see how all the parts were working together and how to adjust the parts so that we could be more successful.

Mark DeVries taught me the power of this idea in youth ministry.  He likes to call it balcony time.  Balcony time is a chance to pull back from the immediate needs of ministry and to go into the balcony and watch what is going on.  Balcony time can happen literally by taking a week to allow others to carry the responsibility and watching your ministry happen with a critical eye for how things work or do not work together.  Were new students welcomed?  Did we start on time?  Was the band ready?  Was the game prepared?

Balcony time can also happen figuratively as a youth minister finds time and space to reflect on all the parts of the ministry and evaluate the health of each part and how they are working together.

Offensive and Defensive Coordinators on football teams bring balcony time and ministry time together into strategic planning on the fly.  Many coordinators work from the booths high above the stadium so that they can watch how plays are developing and see the whole field.  They communicate with assistants who are on the field relaying the information to the players.  Other coordinators like to be on the sidelines where they can directly communicate with the players, but they have trusted assistants in the booths who relay what they see.

Unfortunately in youth ministry we often plan on-the-fly, but without the insight of what is happening in the balcony.  We get narrow-sighted by what we are experiencing on the field.  We can not see all the parts and how they are affecting each other and make on-the-fly decisions under informed decisions.

I encourage all of us to take time each month (an hour to 1/2 a day is plenty) to get in the balcony and pay attention to how everything is working together, to use that time to strategically think about how we can improve our communication, our response, our ministry so that we offer our best.

Here are some questions that you might use to guide your reflection:

  • Where are we having the most success (as you choose to define it)?
  • What area of the ministry causes me (us) the most anxiety? Why?
  • What are the challenges facing each area of the ministry?
  • Where am I spending too much time?  Not enough?
  • What volunteers are ready for more responsibility?
  • What areas are under resourced – $, time, volunteers?
  • What am I doing that someone else could do?
  • Are we accomplishing our mission?  Does each program help accomplish the mission?
  • How well are we connecting the youth ministry to the church body?
  • How are our transition points – children’s ministry to junior high to senior high to? Others?

Make actionable steps that you can begin to put into place.  Be sure to take it one step at a time!  From time to time be sure to get feedback from your team about balcony issues.  They may see things that you missed.

Growing together question? How has balcony time impacted your ministry?  What advice would you add?

My blog is gradually moving to ymblogs.com. I hope you’ll join me there.

Alternative Gifts Youth Ministry Video

December 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Here is a great video from the youth staff at Brentwood UMC.  It has no church identifiers on it and would be a great conversation starter with youth about alternative gifts vs. wants!  It’s called The Ungifts! Check it out!

 

Were is the Line to See Jesus?

December 14, 2010 1 comment

My mother-in-law sends me lots of stuff.  I love her persistence.  Every once and awhile she sends me a gem.  Of course, I don’t always read them, so they may all be gems.  But I really like this song by Becky Kelley and its message!

Based on a true story of a child asking “where is the line to see Jesus?” while waiting in line to see Santa.  I found myself appropriately challenged by this song and statement this advent season.  Where is the line for the Lord?

As a dad of two little girls, I want not only for my children and youth in my ministry to ask this question; but to have an answer.  I want to create traditions that put “Christ” back in Christmas.  I pray for myself and all of us as we seek to wait expectantly for the Christ child this year not Santa!

We Love Our Youth Workers – Coming to America

December 14, 2010 2 comments

At Youth Specialties, I was introduced to an organization from the UK called We Love Our Youth Workers and had the chance recently to talk with the leaders of this movement about their plans to expand to the USA and Canada. We Lover Our Youth Workers has a simply mission to invite and hold churches accountable to loving their youth minister, youth pastor, or youth director.  They invite churches to sign a covenant and develop an actionable plan that will create a healthy environment for youth ministry.  There are 7 promise that are a part of the charter a church makes:

  1. We will pray and support
  2. We will give space for retreat and reflection
  3. We will provide ongoing training and development
  4. We will give a full day of rest each week
  5. We will share responsibility
  6. We will strive to be an excellent employer
  7. We will celebrate and appreciate

How wonderful would it be to see churches in the US creating fertile soil for youth minister and youth ministry growth!  If you would be interested in helping with the movement or getting your church signed up for the covenant, hold tight.  They are reworking the website from the Queen’s English to our well hmmm… modified English.   You can contact them and ask them to put you on their mailing list and they’ll keep you in the loop.

CYMT and YMtoday are excited about helping We Love Our Youth Workers as they seek to invite Holy conversation among the churches in the USA.  To learn more about what they are doing visit the We Love Our Youth Worker website.