Hairy Isn't Scary

Friday, November 21, 2014

NYWC Day 1 Recap

NYWC Day 1 was awesome! It was fast paced but fun. The grand opening of the exhibit area was CRAZY! Here are a few thoughts I had from day 1.

My First Two Years in Youth Ministry Workshop
by Katie Edwards and the "host" Josh Griffin

First thing I learned? Don't take a class with Josh Griffin if he happens to have an idea of who you are. Suffice it to say I am now "The Kevin Patterson". Good times!

Mind you I am far removed from my first two years in youth ministry but it's always good to brush up on the fundamentals. One thought provoking thing that stood out to me, and it is something I've heard before but it is always a good reminder is that "Balance is a myth". You will never be able to balance youth ministry, social life, college, being a husband/wife, and parent. Don't attempt to find a balance because you will always come up frustrated. Instead, in what ever rhythm your in and that time whether it be spouse, parent, or youth minister; be fully involved. When you in your youth ministry role, be 100% involved in being a youth minister. If your with your kids, be 100% a parent. Give your full attention to whatever task you have in front of you.

Another learning is, for the first few minutes you are in your office, go 'screen free'. Do not open your computer, phone, or tablet. Just be in that moment with God. Spend that time in prayer and bible study.

Another great idea that I'm stealing is at the beginning of your youth ministry cycle, for me that is fall (we try to follow the school year); bring out 10 basic ideas that parents can do with their students. One idea they shared was something like Dad's take your sons out golfing (or insert popular activity; our area would be fishing/hunting) and talk about creation, Mom's take your daughter shopping and discuss image and how God sees us as masterpieces.

Big Room 1
Mark Matlock

Awesome teaching by Mark Matlock! 5 Reasons the church NEEDS youth ministry. You can find a lot of that teaching on YS's website here. One thing that really hit home that Mark said was this "Youth ministry reminds the church that teens are not marginalized members of the body, but are co-creators and conspirators in the divine work of the church, restoring life on earth as it is in heaven."

What Mark means by this is that youth are not the "church of tomorrow", they are the church of today. Usually when you hear the phrase church of tomorrow it's from a very well meaning senior adult in the church and their heart is in the right place even if the statement is misguided. If a youth is a baptized member of the church then they have just as much right to be involved in the divine work of the church. They have the right to create, lead, worship, serve, and lead along side any church adult.

While youth are at a very vulnerable place in their lives, they are figuring things out, learning, and questioning; the fact of the matter is age has no place in heaven and it shouldn't on earth. The only age in heaven is 'saved'. Church messages and main programming should include an element that addresses teenagers. Sermons should not just be about work and career, it should include topics such as school and dating; in the main church worship.

Exhibit Hall Grand Opening

Very interesting thing, how small of a world our youth ministry world is. While traversing the exhibit hall I ran into people who I expected to see; Joe Ball and Scott Bidwell and the Staff from Crossings, Ben Trueblood from Lifeway Students, Jeff Thompson and the gang at Group Missions, Griff and Doug Fields and the gang from DYM, the staff from 30 Hour Famine/Childhood lost, the staff at Ricebowls, The staff from Student Life, the great staff over at Fund the Nations, and I got to meet some great people from Liberty University (my wife's alma matter) and Grand Canyon University (where I currently attend). 

But the cool thing, I bumped into Zach a fellow youth minister from the Paducah KY area. Small world! 

Another cool thing, tons of freebies! I will be doing a lot of reviews over some great products and services that I've been talking to down here! So stay tuned for that!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Live from NYWC Atlanta!

Guys and gals we are live from Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention in Atlanta! I will be trying to live blog about the goings on here and give you some great learning points from the various workshops I will be going through so stay posted to my blog for a bunch of rapid fire posts!

Just Keep Swimming!

Location:Baker St NW,Atlanta,United States

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Hairy isn't scary sale

Guys join myself and my friends over at Simply Youth Ministry this month for our yearly "No Shave November" sale! Or as I like to call it our "November" sale. (if you don't get that humor look at my profile picture). Simply has a TON of youth ministry resources on sale and also have a awesome "No Shave November" contest going on over at More Than If you contact Matty McCage tell him "The Great Bearded One" sent you, you'll get a good laugh!

More than Behavior Modification

So today I'm sitting down to write my sermon for the week for youth group. I'm doing a series based on Josh Griffin's "Instalife" series on Download Youth Ministry. I sat down to write my sermon on jealousy and like any good Baptist preacher my outline is the ole "Hook, Book, Look, and Took" method. I reach the 'took' portion and ground to a halt. Why?

I have this notion that youth ministry to more than behavior modification. As youth ministers we are responsible for leading our students to a knowledge of Jesus and God's grace, but it seems like almost every lesson we make involves a 'this week find a way to.." application at the end. While every one of my messages make a 'bee line' to Jesus as Charles Spurgeon would say, it always seems like the 'application' comes across as wanting to change the behavior of the student. So what is the answer?

I believe that a 'behavior modification' type of application does have it's place in youth ministry lessons, otherwise how would sinners know they are sinners if they are not told what sin is, I do believe that every sermon should end in Jesus. Make sure each student knows that despite our best efforts we will still mess up, that our only hope is in Jesus Christ. He is the only one that will not let us down. Until next time! Just Keep Swimming!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: 180 Fundraising

I've been doing youth ministry for awhile now. There is one thing that has been almost inescapable for me. Fundraising. I've worked with many different fundraising companies; Peel2Save, Finish Line Car Wash, World's Finest, and many others. I have never ran into a group who is as dishonest and out to rip off a church organization as I have found in 180 Fundraising and their Spirit Card fundraiser.

A little background. I have typically used Peel2Save for our fundraiser cards, reason being; that the cards you do not sell you can send back in. But I was contacted by 180 and liked the fact that the cards would have our logo and schedule on them. Our youth committee even liked the idea because with Peel2Save it is a one use coupon, with the Spirit Cards they are a reusable coupon. 

So I contacted them about the cards. We agreed on 200 Cards with 100 Free (under a promotion they were running at the time). I was then told I had to sign a contract to hold our spot and then I would be contacted by the financial side at a time I would decide. I picked two weeks later as it would give me enough time to get the financial info they needed. So thinking every thing was on the up and up I signed the contact, with out reading it. My mistake. 

The contract that they submitted to me did not what so ever, match up with the verbal agreement I had with the seller. It was for 300 Cards with 100 Free. So there is a automatic $2000 difference in what I agreed to. I find this out today and try to cancel the fundraiser. I'm then informed that I cannot do that without paying 1/2 of what we would owe them at the end of the fundraiser, some $3000. Of course their reasoning was it was my fault that I did not read the contract. They are correct it was my fault for not reading the contract but it was also their fault for not making the contract out to be for our verbal agreement, and also my misleading me into thinking this was just to hold a spot not the be all end all contract. I was finally able after having a very heated argument with the sales rep to get them to issue a new contract for the original amount, only after I was made to feel like a fool by their customer service department.

If you are a youth minister and you are looking to do the best fundraiser card that you can do, avoid this group at all costs. Use Peel2Save and get your cards through them. They are honest and work hard with church folks to pull off the best fundraiser possible.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Campus Ministry Made Simple

As we are all getting back into the swing of the new year I wanted to take some time to talk about Campus Ministry, or specifically things you can do to minister to your local schools. I know that not everyone who reads this is going to have the same relationships with their local schools as we do in my area but some of the ideas apply no matter how open your school is.

A little background on my setting. I am at a rural church that sits VERY close to the border of 2 counties in Kentucky. I have 8 schools represented in our student ministry. The bulk of the students come from 4 schools though, the one county high school and middle, and the other county high and middle. We have one at a private school, one at the city high school, one at the city middle school, and a good amount of home school students. I divide up my time between three for lunches, one county high, the same counties middle school, and the other county I get to in one day as the middle and high are in the same building so I get to sit through all the lunches.

1: Eat Lunch:
Easy enough right? If your campus is an open campus and allows youth ministers to visit, eating lunch with the students is a great way to help foster relationships with them outside of the four walls of the church building. It is also a great witness to students who don't go to your church, they see you there and know you're active in your students lives. TIP: Go eat lunch on Wednesday's when possible, that way you can remind students about youth group that night. And always eat the school food, no matter how gross it is. I think that has to do with suffering for Christ!

2: Sports Events:
No matter how open your school is, you can always go catch a game. Even if you do not have a student that is a player, I'm willing to be at least one or two of your students will be there as spectators. Sit by them, talk, buy them a Coke, and cheer on their local team! TIP: Buy a t-shirt from every school you have represented and wear it to the game. Students like seeing that you're cheering for the same team they are. I have a closet full of our school's t-shirts.

3: Outreach:
One great way to outreach onto campus is, feed a sports team before a game! This year we have fed both of our county high schools football teams. It was a tremendous time to connect with students who do not know me, and more importantly their coaches. Do not make this into a fishing expedition! You're not there to win people to your church, you there to win souls for Christ. TIP: Ask the coaches and staff how you can pray for them. When they know that there is a person out there that cares as much for them as the students, you'll make a life long ally at that school.

4: Principals matter:
Get to know the principals! A lot of school principles are Christian, it would actually surprise you. They might not be able to show their faith a lot at their schools due to the law, but that does not mean they are not as passionate about caring for students as you are. I am lucky that one county principle attends my church and has daughters in my student ministry, so we have a natural connection. The other principal I need to get to know. I know he is a Christian, he spoke at the back to school bash hosted by a local church about his faith. We are planning an idea for next year, where each of the local high schools get a spirit night, they decorate the youth room how they want it (we are encouraging school colors and decorations), we are encouraging them to go all out. Students from that school will share their testimonies etc. We are also going to try to get their principals to come and share their faith with them. TIP: Share a Coke. Find out if the principal is a diet or regular person, and find a Coke with their name on it. Keep it cold and when you drop by the school, drop off a Coke.

5: Volunteer:
At my last church one of the best outreaches I had? Being ball boy for the soccer team. I went to a game and they did not have a ball boy for one side of the field. I volunteered to help out and it was a tremendous outreach. The parents saw me going up and down the sidelines wearing our youth group t-shirt with our church name on it. I heard a few parents ask around as to who I was, then our students parents proudly said, "That's our youth pastor!" I had parents talk to me after the game, I even made an awesome connection with a student who did not go to church, the students parents asked me to talk to him. Volunteer, even if your not in good enough shape to run down soccer balls. Ask a coach if you can help them by getting their water and handing out drinks to the players. Ask to help keep stats. If you are EMT certified ask to help the trainer. Volunteer to work the concession stand. TIP: There is no wrong way to do this! Just put yourself out there!

Until next time! Just keep swimming!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Easy to implement Parent Ministry Ideas

So I was thinking the other day what are 3 easy principles that ANY youth minister could do to minister better to parents. What are 3 principles that would make any youth minister an all-star in the eyes of his/her ministries parents?

This is one principle that cannot be stressed enough. If you do not communicate well to parents then you are just making your own job harder on yourself. People forget things, chances are you do too. So if you fail to communicate when a dead line is, your not only going to have the ones who would forget no matter how you communicate but you've also added to the pile the ones that would have gotten it in on time. I tell our parents I will do everything I can to reach them at their preferred method of communication. I jokingly say I communicate by website, social media, email, snail mail, phone call, text service, face to face, walkie talkie, morse code, and smoke signals. I want to make sure I put the ball in the parent's court. I want to make sure that if they forgot something, it is not because I didn't communicate it.

Proper planning:
I made a mistake recently, I know shocking right?!? I scheduled a fall retreat at the end of Fall Break. I violated a principle I live by, think of the family first. I did not check the temperature of our group, in my defense it's my first year at my current church. But there were quite a few families that take vacation during that time. I should have known better! Always plan your calendar with the family in mind. Don't schedule an event during the week of Christmas and expect everyone to attend! Your setting yourself up for frustration and the parents up to look like the bad guys when they tell their kids they can not go to that youth event. When you plan with families in mind, parents will see that you care about their family time.

Set a good example:
This one is a odd one, but set a good example. If parents and students see that you value your own family, then they may place more value on their own. I love it when my girls get to sit in on a youth event, now my girls are young so they can be a distraction so I pick and choose carefully. But I'm not above picking my daughter up and spinning her around like a ballerina in front of my students. I have no problem giving my wife an appropriate kiss (read APPROPRIATE) in front of my students. I want them to see how highly I hold my own family. When you communicate to your students parents that you value family then you cannot neglect your own. This can be hard if your a single youth pastor, but I challenge you with this. How much do you talk up your own parents? How much do you make your parents out to be hero's in your life? Now I understand this isn't always the case either. You may have had a bad childhood, but talk about the person you view as your parental figure. Even if the only thing you have is saying "When I turned to Christ. I finally figured out how much a true Father loves his kids." Place a great value on the family dynamic.

Just a few small easy things you can do to set your parents up to win. Until next time! Just Keep Swimming!