Archive - May, 2012

Top 5 FREE (or cheap) Youth Ministry Summer Events

Summer is just around the corner and many of us are still flying by the seat of pants trying to get to graduation parties while trying to get a good summer calendar together. If you are looking for an event idea this summer that you can make free or cheap to students, Darren Sutton and myself put together our top 5 list:

1) Summer BBQ’s: This is my favorite for our high school ministry! In fact we are doing 4 BBQ’s this summer. Seek out families in your church who have a great back yard, (maybe a swimming pool), buy or borrow yard games and sports equipment, buy burgers, hot dogs, lemonade and chips, and you’re set! Depending on how big their yard is, you can play games like kickball, wiffleball, and maybe even ask if you can do a slip n’ slide?

2) Ice-Cream Themed Anything: Years ago, at a previous church, we would meet at church and walk a couple of miles to the ice-cream place in town. As simple as this sounds, it’s amazing how many great conversations happen on a walk! (Who would have thought)? Or another idea is to create and build your own sundae experience and let students be creative!

3) Water Wars Capture the Flag Style: Get a team of leaders to fill up thousands of water balloons and find a large open space where you can have a capture the flag water wars game. Make sure you have a few ‘judges’ to eliminate students who get hit with a water balloon in enemy territory. It’s up to you how you make the rules, but know that students just love to throw balloons at each other (and you)!

4) Pool / Beach Party: Drive to the beach or ask around if a family at your church has a sweet pool you can use. Here in South East Michigan, we have loads of lakes with beaches, so finding a location is not a problem. Provide snacks and maybe finish off the evening with S’mores? Obviously, you might want to be clear on what appropriate swimwear looks like.

5) Olympic Games Event: Our middle school ministry recently did an event like this. Go online and find as many relay type games, obstacle course activities, and team building initiatives, and buy some cheap medals for your winners. This event will take a lot of preparation time, but your students will love the Olympic theme this summer!

What cheap or free events are you planning this summer? What would you add to this list? 

Phil <><

Making Vacations Count For Youth Workers

It’s so hard to truly get away from youth ministry.  Not because there’s so much to do or because people are in such need.  That’s true – but that’s not why we find it hard to unplug.  We don’t unplug from ministry because it’s a calling – it’s like unplugging from oxygen – do it for a few seconds and it’s survivable…do it for a while and you’re suffocating…..do it too long and you’re dead.

Over the years, my wife and I have developed some tried and true methods for receiving our oxygen even though we’re unplugging for a while.

1) Set a time limit For years, Katie and I would say ‘no youth ministry talk on this vacation’ – but inevitably the conversation would always go back to students, church, people, pastors, planning….you get the idea.  Because ministry is a busy, productive life – we’re always leaving something great or returning to something awesome.  It’s natural that the conversation will gravitate toward those amazing moments (and, sometimes even the not so amazing ones.)  We realized that the ‘no ministry talk’ wasn’t really working for us.  So we set a time limit now.  Since we live in South Texas and it takes four days just to get out of the state – it’s a pretty liberal allotment.  After that time limit expires, then there is no ministry talk.  It works great – we get everything out of our system and we can really focus on our marriage, our kids, our life.

2) Only take one cell phone – and don’t make it yours.  Our society no longer knows how to function without cell service.  But if I take my phone (and leave it on, in case of emergency), everyone and their brother are calling me – and that magic 911 doesn’t pop up to let me know if I should answer it or not.  So a few years ago, we started taking Katie’s phone only.  Not many people have her number – so if it rings, it’s important.  (Kind of like Commissioner Gordon and the bat signal.)  It’s shocking to come home and see 347 messages on my phone….while Katie’s phone never rang once.  And everyone lived happily ever after.

3) Don’t leave the emergency contact with the person you know will call, even if it isn’t an emergency (I was going to say ‘don’t leave it with the secretary’ – but some assistants are better at guarding our time than the pastors are.)  When we leave town, I leave an itinerary with our worship pastor.  I know he’ll only call if it’s dire and I must know about it…plus I know chances are he’ll lose my itinerary before I get back – so I’m pretty safe either way.

4) Schedule debrief days.  We do it for ministry all the time – we rarely do It for family.  We need that respite – relaxation – from the intensity of vacation.  We schedule two to three extra days for each getaway – one on the front end (for packing without panic) and one to two on the back end to relax, unpack, and just enjoy being home.  We make sure the pantry is well stocked so we don’t have to go out – and we park in the garage so no one knows we’re back.

Its torture living with the paparazzi (sometimes ministry feels that way), but my family deserves a little privacy, too! And since the media hounds can find you even on your private, uninhabited island, it’s important to plan ahead for some rejuvenation and get-away time.  (Plus, I would hate to see a photo of me in my bathing suit ending up on the cover of the bulletin).  It IS OK – even encouraged – to completely, 100%, unequivocally unplug and detox from ministry.  When was the last time you did it??

Darren

Youth Ministry Getaway? To Vacation or Not to Vacation?

To Vacation or Not to Vacation…

For months I had turned to my husband and whispered,  “When will you take me away?” The children would stay home while we went.  All I could dream of was sitting on a beach with a whole lot of nothing “to do.”

Now that we were “there,” everything seemed to be going wrong.   Our 11 year old was having a panic attack about us being away for a whole week.  He had called 10 times in the middle of the night.  Why was this the time they had to talk about “the rapture” at church?  There were hundreds of calls from the ministry.   Two kids had gotten into a fist-fight and just as an FYI both sets of parents want to meet with us when we get back.  This was not the “vacation” I had been romanticizing for months.  As my mind raced, my soul kept chanting,  “Hurry up and relax,  soon you go home.” Continue Reading…

Youth Ministry Giveaway: The Challenge By Kurt Johnston

If you haven’t seen the previous posts, we’re giving away some seriously sweet youth ministry resources! Today, since it’s Friday, we thought we would give away brand new youth ministry game resource from Kurt Johnston and Simply Youth Ministry!

Here’s what they say about The Challenge:

Tired of finding yourself the target of all those messy, muddy, mucky games your students thoroughly enjoy? The Challenge allows you to capture the energy of those crowd-pleasing competitions without the nuisance of cleaning up! Hosted by veteran youth pastor Kurt Johnston, these 20 video-based contests…

So how can you win this sweet game resource? Here’s what you need to do: 

1) ”LIKE’ US: on our Facebook 

2) COMMENT: on our Facebook page, and in a few words tell us why you love doing youth ministry, or share what challenges you face in your youth ministry?

3) TO GET ENTERED TWICE: Share our Facebook page or Tweet this post out and include @philbell

On June 1st we’ll announce FOUR lucky winners who will win one of the great giveaways that we’ll be highlighting this week!

Phil <><

 

Youth Ministry Giveaway: ‘The Word’ Small Group Curriculum

If you missed the previous few posts, take some time to check out some sweet giveaways we’ve been highlighting.

Why giveaway free stuff? Well, it’s simple… This blog is written by four veteran ‘in the trenches’ youth workers with a vision to invest in others and help them discover greater effectiveness in ministry. Giving away a bunch of resources is just another way to continue our vision!

Here’s the word on ‘The Word’:

Help teenagers explore the life-giving richness of God’s Word with this DVD-based curriculum from Johnny Scott, Christ In Youth’s junior high program director, and teenage author and speaker Jacqueline Pierre.

So how can you win this great small group curriculum? Well, here’s what you need to do: 

1) ”LIKE’ US: on our Facebook 

2) COMMENT: on our Facebook page, and in a few words tell us why you love doing youth ministry, or share what challenges you face in your youth ministry?

3) TO GET ENTERED TWICE: Share our Facebook page or Tweet this post out and include @philbell

On June 1st we’ll announce FOUR lucky winners who will win one of the great giveaways that we’ll be highlighting this week!

Phil <><

Youth Ministry Giveaway: Three ’99 Thoughts’ Books!

Do you love to win FREE stuff? Do you love to win FREE youth ministry resources? If you are youth worker, of course you do! This week we are highlighting a stack of giveaways and we’ll be announcing the winners on June 1st.

Today, I am super excited to highlight three brand spanking new ’99 Thoughts’ Books from 

The books are:

  • 99 Thoughts on Caring for your Youth Group by Matt Murphy and Brad Widstrom
  • 99 Thoughts on Jesus Centered Living by Rick Lawrence
  • 99 Thoughts about Junior High Ministry by Kurt Johnston

So how can you win these sweet books? Well, here’s what you need to do: 

1) ”LIKE’ US: on our Facebook 

2) COMMENT: on our Facebook page, and in a few words tell us why you love doing youth ministry, or share what challenges you face in your youth ministry?

3) TO GET ENTERED TWICE: Share our Facebook page or Tweet this post out and include @philbell

On June 1st we’ll announce FOUR lucky winners who will win one of the great giveaways that we’ll be highlighting this week!

Phil <><

 

Youth Ministry Giveaway: The WHOLE Everyday Youth Ministry Series Books

Today we kick off a MASSIVE youth ministry resource giveaway! This week we’ll be highlighting a stack of giveaways that you can enter to win!

Why you ask? Well, it’s simple… This blog is written by four veteran ‘in the trenches’ youth workers with a vision to invest in others and help them discover greater effectiveness in ministry. Giving away a bunch of resources is just another way to continue our vision! 

For our first giveaway, you could win the WHOLE series of  from our friends at

The books include: 

  • Two Sides by Darren Sutton
  • Youth Ministry Life by Kurt Johnston & Josh Griffin
  • More Than Dodgeball by Josh Griffin
  • No Teenager Left Behind by Leneita Fix
  • Answers to Teenagers Toughest Questions by Phil Bell
  • Youth Ministry Tips and Ideas is a FREE download from my mate Tim Schmoyer.

So how can you win these sweet books?

1) ”LIKE’ US: on our Facebook

2) COMMENT: on our Facebook page, and in a few words tell us why you love doing youth ministry, or share what challenges you face in youth ministry?

3) TO GET ENTERED TWICE: Share our Facebook page or Tweet this post out and include @PhilBell

On June 1st we’ll announce FOUR lucky winners who will win one of the great giveaways that we’ll be highlighting today and the next three days.

Phil <><

Three Youth Ministry Priorities For Mondays

For many in youth ministry, Monday is their day off.

For others, Friday is their day off.

For some of us, we ask, “what is a day off?”

For me, Monday is a ministry work day and I usually get my day off on Friday. Since Monday is the first day of my ministry work week, I have found it imperative to start the week by focusing on priorities that are time consuming yet a crucial set up to the rest of the week. It should be a given that my soul care should be an everyday priority, but here are three practical priorities I focus on most Mondays.

1) Message Writing: First thing Monday morning I find my usual spot in Starbucks, plug in my headphones, and start message writing until early afternoon. I am usually working a week ahead in my messages and finishing off my current weekly message. (I often speak twice a week, so it can be a hefty message writing morning).

2) Planning: Monday afternoons are spent planning programs, events, and message series. (I usually am working 3-6 months ahead).

3) Email and Task List: Before my day is done I clear as much email as I can, create new task lists (I use google tasks), and try to create a plan for the rest of the week and the tasks I need to get done. It’s important to ‘clear the decks’ before Tuesday gets here…

You’ll notice that there are no meetings with students, leaders, or other staff members. For me, Mondays are my day to hide away and get great messages written, make good plans, and get caught up on email. The rest of week includes a great deal of contact time where I get to invest in students and leaders.

For me, it’s important to have one day per week when I can hide away and get a large chunk of message writing and planning done.

How about you? Do you have a day like this? What is your day off? What do Mondays look like for you?

Phil <><

TOMORROW and the rest of this week: YOUTH MINISTRY RESOURCE GIVEAWAY! Come back and check out what you could win!!!

10 Signs That Insecurity Could Be Eating Away At You And Your Youth Ministry

Insecurity in leadership is one of my greatest concerns as I look ahead to the future of youth ministry. It doesn’t matter how focused we are on seeking the latest and best ways to minister if we are not secure in our leadership. Whether you are a volunteer or a full-time / part-time paid youth worker, your youth ministry will reflect your security, (or insecurity).

Are you secure in God’s calling, strength, and purpose for you? Or, Is your life and ministry swayed by your insecurity?

Here are 10 signs that our ministry (and lives), are swayed by insecurity:

  1. Our days begin with a long list of tasks that focus on keeping others happy, rather than seeking God’s affirmation.
  2. We constantly compare ourselves to other youth workers or the youth ministry down the street.
  3. We say “Yes” to every event and program idea: We are scared that by saying no, we might lose popularity.
  4. We can’t miss a phone call at any time of the day: If we do, it eats us alive to wonder what the call was about.
  5. We would rather be good friends with students, rather than being a solid leader to them.
  6. We regularly lose sleep when students, leaders, and parents disagree or disapprove of us.
  7. We constantly complain to friends about the latest conflict or disagreement in hopes to gain support and affirmation.
  8. We feel defeated and devastated when an event or program doesn’t quite live up to what we and others hoped, (rather than seeing it as an opportunity to grow and learn).
  9. We have a tendency to fish for compliments from others, and are fueled (and ruled), by their affirmations.
  10. We feel distant from God and feel a lack of security and confidence in Him (and His promises…)

If you are like me, there are many things on this list that I relate to. I have times when I feel confident and secure, and then there are times when I feel desperate and insecure in myself and my ministry.

I know this might be completely obvious, but who are we trying to please?

As you go through your day, consider your motivations, your decisions, and your feelings. Are they driven by the intense need to keep others happy, or are you striving to please God and let his leading bring fruit to your life and ministry? I know this might seem so obvious, but it’s one of the greatest issues I see in leadership in churches today.

Are we really living to please God, or living for the approval of others? Are we allowing insecurity to define our lives and ministries?

What would you add to this list? What are some of the indicators that your ministry and life is defined by insecurity?

Phil <><