Free Youth Group Message/Discussion!!!

IMG_4647Every now and again I would have a “one-off” message between longer talk series in youth group. It’s good to have a change of pace from time-to-time. I do remember a few times when THAT one-off Sunday or Wednesday was suddenly upon me (and I had to quickly come up with a talk). Well, maybe that is you today (or this week). Well, may this post bless ya! Here’s a quick lesson I put together for you!

Lesson Title: Preview a Life (Free Lesson For Youth Group/Small Group)

  • Opening Discussion Question: If you had to choose one of the following super-human  powers what would it be and why?
    • The ability to see what others are seeing
    • The ability to hear what someone else is hearing
    • The ability to know what someone else is thinking
  • Introduce: Let students know they are about to watch a video in which several characters will be shown, the goal is to find a character that you would most like to speak to if you had the opportunity.
  • Watch: http://youtu.be/Wl2_knlv_xw
  • Ask: Who would you speak to and why do you sense you were drawn to them?
  • Share: A story of when you were moved emotionally to meet a need (could be a story of obedience where you met the need or a time you failed to act)
  • Read: Take some time to read the story of Philip and the Ethiopian in Acts 8:26-40
  • Ask: What stands out to you about Philip?
    • (Possible Answers You May Hear)
    • In spite of great ministry taking place in Samaria, when asked to go, he obeys
    • He engaged the conversation
    • He had been listening to the Ethiopian so he knew he was reading
  • Ask: What stands out to you about the Ethiopian?
    • (Possible Answers You May Hear)
    • He was returning from a journey
    • He was humble enough to ask for help
    • He asked questions
  • Ask: If we could see a bubble next to the Ethiopian what would it say?
    • (Possible Answers You May Hear)
    • Don’t know the way to salvation
    • Rich, but not at peace
    • Wants to know the One true God!
  • Ask: If we could go back to watch the video right now, what would be some of the engaging things we could do to enter into spiritual conversations with the person you chose in the video?
  • Discuss: What are some of the “thought bubbles” we may see at our schools on our teams or even here in our own group?
  • Review: In the passage it says “Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.” He began sharing based on what the Ethiopian was experiencing right then. This is a key to evangelistic opportunities. We must:
    • Stop, look and listen (take the time to observe the other person/circumstances)
    • Start with where the person is (know their story and ask questions)
    • Share the story and your experience (share the good news about Jesus).
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How HGTV & Student Ministry Are Basically The Same…

Just to get a laugh I posted this status update on Facebook recently:

screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-7-42-42-amI forget the name, but I saw this show on HGTV where the couple remodeling the house discovered issues that were going to cause the remodel to cost significantly more… after the dramatic commercial break they decided to go for it. The house turned out great. Anyone know the name of that show? #hgtv

If you have EVER watched a show on HGTV then you understood the humor— it seems EVERY show on HGTV has this similar storyline.

However, I’m still a faithful viewer of these HGTV programs, because I love to see development. I enjoy seeing obstacles overcome. I love transformation.

img_0196I’m getting so excited about a new venture with Youth Specialties, something that is all about  development and transformation. The 101 Collaborative is a seven-month coaching initiative for those new to youth ministry, in a new role or those looking for a refresher in foundational youth ministry skills and strategies. It launches this spring.

I believe there are three foundational reasons a newer youth pastor should be a part of this Coaching Collaborative.

  1. You’ll Become More Self-Aware

The program is designed for you to better know yourself (your gifts, motivations, skills and strengths) and know how to better communicate these assets to others. I believe knowledge of self leads to improved boundaries and ultimately helps you understand your part in the body much more (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12).

2.    You’ll Develop New Skills and Strategies For Your Context

screen-shot-2017-02-14-at-1-58-37-pm

So excited that Summer Sipes and Dr. David Fraze will be joining me as the Coaches for the 101 Collaborative

College and seminaries are excellent, but the actual “doing” of ministry differs from the philosophy you’ve created, adopted or inherited. I’m excited to help our 101 participants take theory into practice and have coaches and peers walk through this together as you contextualize ministry to your own local setting. The “line-up” for 101 includes everything foundational for sustainable long-term ministry success.

3.   You’ll Learn From and Become a Collaborative Community

Youth ministry is relational and the 101 Collaborative will create relational environments where you’ll likely gain life-long friendships and expand your networking abilities. The program itself starts and ends with on-site retreats and then includes monthly online video chat sessions, one-on-one coaching appointments and peer groups.

It’s hard to believe it, but April 24-25 and our opening retreat is just a couple months away. The kicker to me is that we are including the National Youth Workers Convention (NYWC Memphis in November) as part of the tuition (arrive one day early for culminating retreat).

Though we only see 43 minutes on TV, the actual transformation of a house on an HGTV program takes several months. I cannot wait to see how a several month process will promote transformation in life and ministry through the 101 Collaborative

Getting Unstuck In Small Group

Maybe you’re a small group leader who is struggling in your leadership? Maybe it’s the unique blend of personalities? Perhaps you weren’t given much training? Sometimes you just need a bit of a spark to ignite the group.

IMG_3849Here are three ideas I have used that can help get the proverbial ball rolling with a small group.

Opening Questions

Each week after some hang time we transition into the “study” time by doing an “opening question.” Most of the time these questions are random and fun. The point is to get every student to feel comfortable talking in front of the rest of the group. Though silly, it really does accomplish the goal. Here you can establish the principle that whomever is speaking should be respected and heard.

Sample questions (just ask one per week):

If you could permanently close a fast food chain, which one would you abolish and why?

If you could be in a sitcom or cartoon (as yourself), which one would you be in and why?

Occasional Intentional Experiences

Instead of a regular “bible study” or “cell group” night— take a 745195_30615584field trip. Shared experiences outside of the norm create a sense of anticipation. Whether it is a service project or a meal out  use it to teach a principle, learn a spiritual application or to simply get the students to think differently.

Sample experience: Take your students to Target give them a list of the others in your group and a total imaginary budget of $X (figure about $30 per person, but tell them a total, rather than a per person) and tell them they have 30 minutes to write down what they’d buy for each person in the group and why.  Meet at the food court or Starbucks area of the store after the fake shopping and have each student share what they would have bought for each person and why. You’ll likely have some times of laughter, and be blessed by some heart-warming thoughtfulness.

Show and Tell

IMG_3763Everybody remembers the anticipation of Show and Tell day in Preschool and Kindergarten! On occasion (maybe once a year) you can use this in small group. Have students bring an item which is significant to his/her spiritual life. I have seen students bring something from camps, elementary Bible club or a picture from a mission trip. Even if a student forgets, you can always grab a Bible and the student can share a favorite verse and the story behind why it’s important to him/her.

What are some other Small Group ideas you can share to help a group try something new?

What The 12th Man Taught Me About The Church

A football team has bonded an entire region in a way that I wish the church would unite under the name of Jesus.

960x595After the Seahawks victory over the Niners, I saw from a friend on Facebook “I have hugged more than 20 strangers since the game ended!” A tweet I read said, “Never felt so close to so many people I have never met.” 

This city is crazy-united in the name of the Seahawks.

How I wish the church, I’ll make it even more personal, oh, how I wish my church would be even more united in the name of Jesus.

  • I took my family to Disneyland in October and while waiting to ride Pirates I saw a Seahawks fan (wearing a Seattle shirt) “Go Hawks” I said, quickly to get nod and a “Go Hawks” in return! We were united in Hawkdom.
  • While in Phoenix during the Seahawks bye week, I entered a Starbucks wearing my Seahawks Blue- “Hey, I’m from Seattle,” shouted the Barista, continuing, “your coffee’s on me!” 12th Man unite!
  • The shirt I wore in DIA

    The shirt I wore in DIA

    Last week I had the privilege of speaking at a camp in Colorado (yes, I survived), I chose to proudly wear a Seahawks shirt through the airport, “you’re bold!” “Go Hawks!” “Love your shirt, go Seattle” and “12th Man!” were some of the comments I received in the hostile hallways of DIA. But there was great encouragement knowing I had some friends… I was not alone! United in our Hawks-Love!

With Hawks fans it doesn’t matter if Russell or Marshawn is your favorite player- why be divided over personal preference? We understand it is the team that wins (and all the team members are needed). As part of the 12th man, we understand Sherman’s adrenaline-driven antics and we are quick to forgive knowing that his life is not defined by the one triumph or one mistake.

  • At the Seahawks game that my wife and I were fortunate enough to go to this year, we fist-bumped strangers without asking them if they were bigger fans of the offense or the defense. We exchanged low and high fives with our neighbors before we knew that some of them may actually be upset with some of Coach Pete’s decisions. These small things didn’t matter, we were united in the 12!

I have a lot to learn from the unity of the 12th man. I want to go to church and experience an even greater unity in the name of Jesus. The guy in the row in front of me may wish for louder music, but that shouldn’t change anything about how I interact with him. The family down the aisle may believe differently about the signed gifts, but I can still encourage them in Christ no matter their view. The gal who sits alone and never makes eye-contact, can still be asked if she’d like a cup of coffee. The people in the front row who quietly sigh when they see that it is me getting up to preach are still my potential new best friends, because in Christ, we are united.

Unfortunately saints still sin, and we too often let that define EVERYTHING.

Preferences and methodologies have sometimes become our hill to die on instead of letting the theology of the one who died on a hill become our EVERYTHING!

I am a proud Seahawks fan. But I have friends who are proud Broncos (congrats Denver, for making it to the Super Bowl). Even something that has united Seattle so strongly will not stand in the way of the larger bond I have with my brothers and sisters cheering for another NFL team. Because ultimately, we’re united in the Kingdom!

Go Hawks!

Grace,

Brian

Presentation or Conversation?

Auditory? Visual? Kinesthetic? How would you describe your learning style?

IMG_2195In a few weeks I’ll get to once again participate in a youth leader event that is different than any others. Open Seattle takes place on Saturday, October 26 at Seattle Pacific University.

One of the things I really like about the premise of Open is that it is geared to reach any and all of the three learning styles. Rather than being “spoken at” for 45 minutes to an hour, the speaker/facilitator of each session will engage his or her own material, but create an atmosphere that engages thought and conversation. Each 40 minute session closes with 10 minutes of interaction between any/all who are in that room. They’ll engage the visual, auditory learners will hear great stuff and perhaps some practical “lab activities” will take place for those hands-on (kinesthetic) learners!

At Open the leadership assumes that the speakers are not the only people with something to say! I love this.

There are about a dozen different options spread out over two different learning tracks (you can switch between the two as well), a long lunch break to engage deeper in conversation and the afternoon ends with something new called “Lightning Rounds” where any/all who attend  are given the opportunity to do their own “mini” session in 5 minutes or less!

I have the privilege of partnering with Adam McLane of the Youth Cartel and serve as “Local Host” for this event.

Snap from 2012 Open Seattle

Snap from 2012 Open Seattle

This is such a great opportunity to have your entire team trained. Seriously, one Saturday could supply your entire year of monthly trainings for your youth staff. Have a different leader assigned to take notes at a session of choosing and then divide them up over the course of the year and have them facilitate a staff discussion about these important teen-ministry issues!

Here is the website and registration page! Totally worth the $25 investment! In short, open is more of a conversation than a series of presentations! I hope you’ll join the conversation!

Grace,
Brian

You Think It Is A Promotion; You’re Wrong.

Unfortunately it’s a story I have seen repeated all too often.

Youth pastor- you think taking on more opportunities will lead to greater role and possibly a promotion. More likely it will lead to weaker ministry, extreme fatigue, complaints and possibly burn-out.

Here’s the pattern… The gifted energetic Youth Pastor arrives at his or her church and helps establish some great (needed) changes in the student ministry.

  • He knows the golden rule says, “don’t change anything for several months.” But we all know that this is impossible; but the good ones only make minor changes otherwise their uphill battle gets too steep.
  • She knows that establishing relationships with students, staff, parents and the congregation (all at the same time) is needed to build an effective base for long-term ministry. It’s difficult, but she is able to establish a good balance.
  • Though tempted to satisfy the older (louder) students, he makes the right call and asks a volunteer already known by those students to really build into the upperclassmen while he builds a base with the younger students.

He (or she) was hired to be the Youth Pastor. Her (or his) job description calls for her to shepherd the teens in middle school and high school. And thus far, he/she has done a GREAT job!

BUT THEN IT HAPPENS!

The youth pastor begins to graduate students to a non-existent ministry of the church (college/young adult). Or, the youth director is extremely gifted in music and the elders have seen how students and adult leaders have responded in worship. Or, quite possibly, the student ministry pastor has shown his gift of teaching during fill-in times for the main service and is now being asked to preach quite-often.

It’s fantastic to be wanted.

  • You’re tired of graduated students needing to go over to “that church” to be in the college group- so you volunteer to start the Young Adults Ministry.
  • strum-tastic-823478-mYou love playing the guitar and there are a number of gifted students in your group that you can get upfront with you- so you accept the invitation to take on main-service worship once (or twice… or three times) a month!
  • You LOVE God’s Word, and quite honestly, you may want to be a lead pastor someday- so taking on a sermon every fifth or sixth week would help you.
  • You discovered in a counseling meeting with a student that the problem was not the teen, rather the disconnect between the parents. So you begin meeting with them to help them. You’ve seen progress- so you commit to once a week (but then word gets out and more requests come as well).

THAT JUST HAPPENED!

Each of these areas are great investments and it is NOT WRONG for you to take any (or even all) of them on as long as EACH of the following takes place:

1. If married, your spouse is onboard with the changes (and you’ve both prayed about it).

2. All of the church leadership is made aware of the new roles you’re playing so that there is not confusion or accusation of overstepping bounds.

3.Your job description is updated to reflect these new expectations.

4. Your compensation is changed or  it is recognized that it will be reviewed at such-and-such time in the near future. -OR- someone is hired in youth ministry to replace the hours you’ll be giving up (because after all, they did hire you to work with the youth).

5. Parents, adult leaders and students are invited into the communication and celebration regarding these changes (otherwise the only thing they see is that you’re paying more attention to other ministries, and neglecting student ministry).

If all of these (and probably a few others) don’t happen, it is best for you to keep your focus on what you were hired to do!

Grace,
Brian

Five Things You May Have Forgotten

1328012_agenda_4When asked “what do you do?” most youth pastors can identify some major areas of his or her week (church meetings, youth group and message prep). Obviously there are other small areas that require more thought. However, many are forgetting some very basic but BIG areas. My hope is that this post will serve as a simple reminder.

Some things you may have forgotten to put on your schedule (in no particular order)…

Did you forget to encourage (and inform) your team members?

An early-week (short) email to your team (lay leaders) goes a long way. Share the wins from the weekend, the schedule for the next program event and give praise for the role your leaders play!

Did you forget to “read your Bible and pray?”

1415262_bibleThis may seem like a “duh” category, unfortunately I have to list it. I am discovering an increasing number of youth leaders who are only spending time in the Word to prep a message and MANY admit to not really spending any time in the Word itself, most just glance at the verses provided by curriculum. In addition, few of us are scheduling time to just listen to God and respond in prayer.

Did you forget to program as if someone new could be coming?

Take a minute to think about your Sunday School, youth group and small group settings from the perspective of the new kid. Would a new person know where to go upon arrival? Would he/she be greeted? Are people even trained in how to greet? Would you even be able to capture the new persons information so that proper follow-up can be done? Believe it or not, these things take time.

Did you forget to set the example in the areas of application that matter to you the most?

If I were to sum up my youth pastor-passion it would be to have students fall deeply in love with Christ, showing/sharing that love with the lost and propelling their Christian friends. But, I can only lead students/staff as far as I am able to go myself. Part of my weekly rhythm needs to include time prioritizing my own (peer, my age range) time with the unchurched and personal time with Jesus.

Did you forget to give others permission to develop and exercise their gifts?

Calling it as I see it: too many youth pastors spend too much time doing their own thing (agenda/direction for the ministry) rather than taking the time to equip and empower others to do the better thing. Even though it takes time, schedule times to collaborate (with students, staff and parents) and make space for others to use and develop those gifts!

Do these five things and you’ll see immediate results and long-term fruit!

What else would you say are areas we may be forgetting to schedule?

Grace,

Brian