Just in time for your spring break service trips, The Sticky Faith Service Guide offers practical and field-tested exercises on how to translate short-term work into long-term change. Whether it’s a half-day local service project or a two-week trip overseas this summer, this resource will benefit both your students and the communities you serve.
When I heard about FYI’s research among high school students revealing the three BIG things they are hoping for in their youth ministries, I thought, wow, the things they want and the things we can provide are really within our reach.
Students responded by saying they wanted more:
- Meaningful relationships
- Opportunities to serve others
- Mission trips
I wondered what it would take to make the latter two happen more often? Honestly, we’re pretty good about making meaningful relationships a priority. But the other two can feel more like seasonal experiences rather than part of the DNA of our weekly ministries.
Serving others in compassion is something God has called all of us to care about, but it can be a difficult thing to make a priority when ALL OF THE 5,008,983 other youth ministry tasks need our attention.
I had to look at what we hoped for, and begin to make choices out of that hope, instead of making choices out of the fear of missing out on something else. If serving is important (God says it is, high school students say it is), then we may need to make some adjustments to reflect its importance.
For me it started with two questions:
“How do we use our resources (time, leaders, ministry dollars, and focus) to influence our ministry program and relationships to deliver the things teens long for most?”
And the equally important question: “How do I do all of that sooner?”
The answer is to the second question is MIDDLE SCHOOL MINISTRY. The answer to the first question is LEADERS.
Why we need to help middle schoolers serve
If we want something to exist in high school ministry, then we need to begin to build the culture and framework in middle school ministry. Starting sooner supports a rhythm we want to see exist later.
Developmentally, we’re working with students who are asking big questions. Who am I? Do I belong? Do I have anything significant to contribute? Even though much of their time during middle school is spent looking inward, giving them opportunities to look outward also affirm their identity, belonging, and feelings of significance. If you want a kid to feel significant, give them something significant to do.
Looking out also widens perspective. A teenager may feel alone, confused, or in need of help. Seeing the needs of someone else can serve as a source of comfort. When they can see that everyone has needs, they realize that being needy doesn’t make a person less valuable.
But how do we go about doing it? How do we build relationships that collectively value serving the poor, oppressed, the sick, or anyone in need? Especially when middle schoolers are in a developmental phase that needs so much personal affirmation and support. How do we get a kid who’s saying “I NEED YOU” to also say “I’LL HELP OTHERS”?
In the early days, I leaned on curriculum and creative programming a lot. I thought passion + good resources + a mission trip = students motivated to serve.
While all of these are catalytic, good, and needed, I think there’s something else that needs to be in place. Without it, it could take away any opportunity to provide what students look for most in a youth ministry.
That something is actually a somebody, many bodies, humans who volunteer in our youth ministries.
There’s a correlation between what they want and who is around them.
They want to serve.
They want to explore.
They want to discover.
But they want to do it in the context of affirming relationships.
Before the plan, we have to build the team, even if it’s small, like one parent leading one kid, and even if it’s a big team, like one dozen leaders leading one hundred students.
Building a team of adults to lead middle schoolers in service
Teamwork makes the dream work.
Which leads us to ask, What does a leader look like? What kind of person helps us launch kids into significant opportunities to serve (and walks them through those experiences)?
You can begin by looking for big-hearted, justice-minded, service-oriented volunteers who are willing to walk with middle schoolers as they are taking their first service steps, as they are learning how to look out, as they are experiencing new emotions. These are also the people who will celebrate the smallest discoveries and see the unique contribution that every kid has in an environment. Middle schoolers often feel like there is no one to sort things out with, no one to bounce thoughts off of, and nobody to notice what is happening in their world. Give them more of those kinds of adults in their lives.
I’ll never forget the time I took a group of middle school students to a nonprofit to do some outdoor maintenance work. The job was to break the concrete from the bottoms of uprooted fence posts.
The smallest middle school guy on the team wanted to swing the sledgehammer. Our leadership team wasn’t so sure he could pick up the equipment. Swinging it may be complicated. But his energy trumped his physical strength and he started killing that post. Concrete was flying everywhere, and his eye goggles fogged with dust and particles. On his final upswing he yelled out,
“I FEEL SO ALIVE!”
It was awesome.
Not only was seeing him find joy in serving awesome, but it was also awesome to have a conversation later about why it made him feel like he was truly living, and how that is different from other days.
In meaningful conversations like this, we find the places where we can take students deeper in their journey toward serving others and sharing God’s love and justice in the world. That’s when I realized that it’s not so much about what we do in this life as it is about who we get to do life with. Middle schoolers need a person, someone who can process things with them, someone who can walk with them, grow with them, be there for the highs and the lows.
Six characteristics to develop in yourself and other middle school leaders
There’s a classic list found in Wayne Rice’s Junior High Ministry used to describe the best middle school volunteers. I love this list. It has been a guide for me since my first day in youth ministry. If you take this list and align it with the priority to create meaningful experiences to serve, you’ll find something really cool happens.
Middle schoolers will feel liked, loved, affirmed, and motivated to do incredible things out of hearts being formed in a culture of love and possibility.
If you want to build a solid serving ministry in your middle school group, you’re going to want to build a solid group of volunteers who are committed to doing that together with you. Here are 6 things I adapted from Wayne’s list to help you be the type of leader that leads students to justice, to serving, and to having missional hearts.
- A desire to understand middle schoolers. If you can understand a middle school kid, you can create better experiences for them to serve others. You will better know what will make sense to them developmentally or what will frustrate them. You’ll be more creative and able to think with their shoes on, think with their backpacks on, and think with their need for affirmation and exploration in mind.
- A heart that likes middle schoolers. Middle school students can tell if you like them and they’ll be more likely to say “yes” when someone who likes them asks them to serve. How many of us wanted to do work for a grumpy teacher who had a passion for teaching but was missing the ability to like their students? The kids who feel most connected in small groups, or with an adult leader, are the first ones to jump to their feet when we ask for help putting away chairs or volunteering for a project.
- A patient spirit. Things take time. Regardless which age group you are working with. But you can be sure that with middle school students you will not finish most of the projects you begin. You will not usually raise all of the money you hope to raise. You will not have more kids show up for serving than you do for the sugar. If you let frustration defeat you, you’ll give up before the good conversations can happen. You’ll give in and miss a chance to go deeper. Persistence guarantees results. Your commitment to working with squirrelly middle school kids will help them grow into people who believe that no matter how chaotic or slow serving or seeking justice is, it matters, and is worth the time it takes.
- An awesome listener. Never miss an opportunity to talk to kids while serving. Start at church, or in your home. What are you thinking about? What valuable things are you learning while you’re serving? What special gifts do the people you’re serving give back to you? How do you feel when you do something without needing anything in return? Sometimes middle schoolers get frustrated when they serve because they see a mirror image of their own life (my family is broken too, we don’t have much money either) or they feel such empathy for something so different than their life (they see the contrast and wonder why). Let them ask questions and be good about encouraging them to form answers.
- A positive perspective. There was a time when our youth group showed up to serve and we weren’t quite early enough to get a spot serving the food, passing out waters, or greeting. There were simply way too many volunteers and we had missed the chance to be on the frontlines. Instead we walked around the neighborhood and talked. We prayed a little, but mostly talked and tried to keep everyone’s spirits high. We didn’t get to do the thing they had been hoping to do, share a meal with friends who needed one. But we had a chance to learn about a neighborhood, learn about each other, and at the end of our walk someone thanked us for being well-behaved kids in the street. It was a little thing, but I was so proud. They had set an example. That was their act of worship, their opportunity to serve, on that day. When nothing seems to get done. When everyone spends five minutes each working and the rest of the time is spent goofing off. Think about how many chances you get in a year to spend time showing you care and be positive. Kids have enough negativity in their lives. Try to overwhelm them with the good you see, camp out in that, and let the times you do have be the tools you need to share what it’s like to serve as a lifestyle.
- A flexible posture. What if you’re too busy to serve? How will you convince kids with homework that weighs more than they do that they can make time? If we want to lead students to serving, we need to take a look at our own lives and ask ourselves how flexible we are being. What can go from your life in order to make room for the priority of loving others? Make time in your family or youth ministry calendar for serving others. If you do it as a team, family, or as a leader, your ministry will reflect the priority. It’s one thing to say you want something in your ministry, another thing to go after it.
Pablo Picasso did some nice things in his lifetime. Some would even say he was inspired; okay, maybe a lot inspired. He was rejected a lot, but persisted until his art made an impact. He was known to say, “inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
I believe the same is true for us as we try to balance the youth ministries (in our homes or in our churches) to reflect God’s care for the poor and for those in need. We can’t ignore it if we believe there is a pathway to doing it. So we need to show up. We need to build a team of people who like middle schoolers so much that they are willing to sweat with them and stay with them, no matter what happens. And that team begins with us, and with who we are becoming as leaders who love our students and lead them well.
Literally being willing to sweat together, ask questions together, understand each other, and making time together will change the landscape of your middle school ministry. Maybe even the landscape of your own life.
- Ask a question. Is serving others a priority in my life? Checking your heart and making serving a priority will give you credibility when you ask others to join you. You’ll be able to empathize with others as you reflect during the times when you don’t feel like serving. You’ll be able to share both the joys and lessons learned. But most of all you’ll be able to set an example for the kids and adults in your ministry.
- Help your team listen by providing great questions. Sometimes finding out how your students would like to serve is as easy as asking a question. “What kinds of things would you like to do to help others? Is there something that really blesses you that you’d like to give back to?” If you use small group material, add an additional question about how the lesson can help everyone look outward. Get small groups serving together. Make it a point to connect with leaders and get feedback.
- Make a list of 100 things you like about middle schoolers. Start an email with your team and keep replying until you have 100 things. You’ll be amazed at what your team comes up with! It’ll also serve as a double win for your team on those days when it’s easy to be negative. If you have someone with a design mind on your team, capture the list in a PDF and make art for your walls, include it on your ministry website or social media page. (100 things we like about middle school people”) Keep the positive vibes in front of you!
Brooklyn is the Global Justice Advocate for Nazarene Youth International. She builds bridges with churches, youth ministries, and universities around issues of global poverty and injustice. Her priority is to inspire and resource youth to break cycles of poverty through faith in action. An ordained pastor, Brooklyn has served in full time youth ministry for the last 15 years, authored numerous books, contributes and communicates for Orange Leaders, and speaks at camps and conferences. She, her husband Coy, and daughters Kirra and Mya live in Lakeland, FL where they like being outside together.
Here are 3 apps that parents can use to shut down their kid’s phones.
But should they be used and if they are going to be used how should they be used. Here’s what they are and a few thoughts on when and how to use them.
One parent writes: “With TeenSafe, I can press a simple button on my phone’s screen and I can pause my child’s access to their phone for as long as I want. No matter where my kids are, the phone won’t work. It will only make calls to me. Or the cops. I can schedule times for the phone to be out of service—during school, or dinner, or homework or when they should be sleeping. Or, when they’re being annoying. Or won’t unpack the dishwasher.”
What do you think? Do You agree?
Ignore No More: Home-made app shuts down children’s phones if parents’ calls go ignored
According to Tech Trends, “to make the app work, parents would have to install the app on their smartphone and the phones of their children. When the child acts out and doesn’t pick up the phone, a parent can exert control by locking the device. This is a basically a two-step process, a parent would only need to type in their child’s name and then enter a secret password that’s at least four digits long. Once a parent does that, the phone would be automatically locked, preventing their child from going on the Internet or playing games. The only way to unlock the phone would be to call the parent.
Parental Control and Screen Time Management
Here’s what the developers say about the app: “OurPact is a breakthrough parental control app that enables parental involvement in children’s device habits through Internet and application blocking. Our parental control solution allows parents to manage their child’s screen time at any time, and from anywhere. Enforcing bedtime, dinnertime, study time and family time throughout the day has never been easier. By pairing your family’s iPads, iPhones, and iPods to OurPact, you have the power to manage your entire family’s screen time & device use from one powerful application.
We enable parents to:
- – Block children’s Internet
- – Block children’s apps
- – Schedule Internet and app use according to your child’s daily routine
- – Establish screen-free bedtime, dinnertime, study time and family time
- – Create custom, recurring schedules for any activity or time frame
- – Block Internet and apps at-a-touch
- – Manage device access on Wi-Fi and all cellular connections (3G, 4G LTE, etc.)
- – Allow Website and App access, whenever you feel your child needs additional time
- – Block distracting 3rd Party Apps: Block Facebook, Block SnapChat, Block Instagram, Block Twitter, etc.
Using Blocking Apps
Most teens assure parents that they would never abuse their phone privileges. Of course, that is before they get the device. Within hours of getting the phone they are loading on apps that parents may or may not approve of. Without any agreement with the parents or code of conduct usage can spiral out of control. (You’ve heard that the average screen time for a teen is 9.3 hours, right?)
One expert suggests that you get this permission from your son or daughter before the blocking app is loaded on to the device. “Definitely not behind a child’s back,” says Yalda T. Uhls, author of Media Moms and Digital Dads .“When you first give a child a phone, if you are transparent and get buy-in from the kid, I think it’s a good idea to look at their messages and shut down phone at night.”
My wife and I always made our kids agree to being able to look at the phone any time that we wanted. Our daughters knew also that if their grades slipped or they abused the phone use agreement they would have to surrender their phone for a time.
It is unfortunate if a teen doesn’t shut the phone down when they are supposed to. If the parent pays for the service they should have every right to take it back or shut it off if rules are not being respected. Blocking Apps are a strong indicator that many parents are frustrated and need help reign in screen time and smart phone abuse. If this is what it takes some parents should load this on when they give their son or daughter a phone
I’m sitting in Tim Hortons (one of the perks of living in Canada) and there’s a sign staring at me. It reads, “How did we do?” What an important question but one that most youth and young adult ministries never ask.
No wonder, because most churches don’t ask it either! But what an important question! If you’re not getting honest feedback from your people you are walking blind. Here are vital areas you should be getting regular feedback on. (and a quick survey that you can use!)I was surprised to see also that when I logged on to Tim Horton’s wifi, I was directed to a page that began with the same big question and an online survey “HOW DID WE DO?”
I took quick look at a dozen youth web pages and the church they are a part of and no one seems to care “how they did.” Maybe they don’t really want to know? Does your ministry provide multiple avenues for honest feed back? Or do you just deal with compliments and complaints as they come in ? It’s better to seek feedback!
Areas to consider.
Whether you work with youth, young adults, or older adults you should get regular feed back. The most obvious kind of feedback is visitor details. Visitor cards or sign in from youth provides an an excellent opportunity for follow up. A phone call asking about their first impressions can be incredibly valuable to determine how visitors feel about what you provide.
Event Comment Cards
Most restaurants want to know how you liked the service, the food, the pricing, and other aspects of the dining experience. Youth or church events should include quick simple surveys with the most important evaluations questions. Like
- Did you enjoy the event
- Did you like the food
- Did you meet new people
- Would you like more information about future events
Program/ Service Feedback
For a youth program or a worship service there are some common areas to evaluate –this would be for all participants not just the new ones.
- Were you greeted with a warm welcome
- Did other people greet you beside designated greeters
- Do you feel accepted by the group?
- Did you feel the worship was heartfelt and genuine?
- Did you feel that the group participated and enjoyed the worship?
- Did you enjoy the worship?
- Were the announcements interesting?
- Did the announcements disrupt the service?
- Did the announcements apply to you?
- I felt the teaching was relevant to my life
- The teaching was interesting and engaging
- It seemed people around me were listening and following along
- I felt the teaching did not go too long
- I feel good enough about this experience to invite friends
- I look forward to coming back each week
- I feel that this group/ church is meeting my personal / spiritual needs
- I have a group of friends here that I look forward to seeing each week
Seldom will people comment but leaving a place for people to explain their choices or to provide feed back about other areas that you didn’t ask about can be very useful.
Ways to Survey
Taking time at the end of a retreat, service or an event to do a quick survey could be very useful
Having comment cards “How are we doing?” at the info desk and other areas all of the time is helpful.
Survey Monkey is an application that collects this kind of data. It could be sent out to every email address that the youth group or church has. The nice thing about this source is that the feedback is completely anonymous.
Website A button on your website to a quick online survey -the same questions as listed above can be on the website and if done right people can fill out the survey on their phones.
Kiosk Some churches use ipads or kiosks to collect information. On the way out of Starbucks I saw one that wanted answers to just 4 questions.
Focus Group. We do a lot of these at my college. The downside is that they are not anonymous. If a neutral person, not a pastor sits a group down and gets feedback the input would be valuable.
Get Feed Back
A mirror gives us instant feedback on our appearance. Properly conducted surveys and polls can also give us needed feedback. When we see what we are doing right we can do it even better. When we see what we are doing wrong we can fix it. It will take discipline to gather the data and courage to act upon it!
Ron Powell is the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has been involved in youth ministry for 30 years. He continues to volunteer, write, teach, and speak to parents, leaders and teens. If you would like to contact him you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you ever feel the tension of what you do as a youth worker?
I feel tension when I consider the spiritual growth of my students. It’s the tension between the sense of urgency and the knowledge that discipleship is a long, slow, meandering process. I want them to know it ALL right. this. instant. But I know that’s not how faith works. We watch them take two steps forward, one step back and because we love our students we get frustrated. But I know better. I feel tension because while I want them to be living a deep faith now, I know that God is working in them daily, and that He won’t be done with them until they join Him in eternity.
I feel tension when I realistically consider the impact I have on my students. I know the importance of meaningful, non-parent adults in the lives of teenagers. Studies show that these relationships anchor teenagers to their faith. I am that adult to a group of teenagers. So are you. But I also know that I don’t have near the influence that I want. I see them for an hour or so a week if I am lucky. (Text messages are great, but they only supplement the real relationship that happens when I’m hanging out with students.) I feel such tension here. I want to have a greater impact, but my impact is limited in a sense.
I feel tension at times when I load up my family for the third or fourth time in a week to go to church. I love my church. I love our church family. I love the ministry my wife and I do with the teenagers and adults there. But I feel tension. There are some Sunday’s where I would love to not have the responsibilities that I have. Even though I know that what we are doing is what God has called us to do. There is tension.
I feel tension when I lead students to know Christ more deeply through His word. I feel the tension of knowing that many of the things I teach I still struggle with myself. I feel the tension of wanting to make God known so clearly but knowing that I am so human and I that I mess it up as often as not.
It is a beautiful, frustrating, wonderful, awful feeling.
You know why? Because the tension we feel is brought about by actually giving ourselves to the mission of God. It’s the tension of people who aren’t on the sidelines. It’s the tension of people giving it their all, falling flat on their faces, and getting up to try it one more time.
As much as it can be a struggle at times, I’ll take it.
Where do you experience tension in your ministry life?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
THE POWER OF ICEBREAKER QUESTIONS
A common scenario: A number of people are called to a function room for a meeting, since arrival no one’s made eye contact, there’s awkwardness and the silence is deafening. The meeting leader needs an effective way to get the disparate group to work comfortably and cohesively.
Icebreaker questions are a great way to do this, they can be challenging, silly, memory based or related to the reason that the meeting is being held, but what they are designed to do above all is to relax the participants, remove pre-existing tensions and encourage them to interact and positively contribute to the meeting without inhibitions.
If an attendee is terrified of looking inferior to the group then the best way for them to find calmness is to participate in a fun icebreaker in which everyone has to drop their guard, look less strained and serious and become familiar to their companions. Participants are forced to introduce themselves and interact whatever their inclination. The inspiring result is that they won’t feel the need to be the quiet nervous one in the corner any more so they’ll get more from the meeting and any activities. They’ll have had an early and quick getting-to-know-you conversation with everyone in the room.
Icebreaker questions offer flexibility and are adaptable for use with children and adolescents, for personal gatherings and for professional based scenarios and if a meeting is a religious or social organization orientated one then this can also form the basis of the icebreaker questions.
HERE IS A LONG LIST OF ICEBREAKER QUESTION IDEAS:
- Which three words describe you best?
- Which is your best feature?
- Which common saying or phrase describes you?
- What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this week?
- Who was your role model when you were a child?
- Who was your favorite teacher and why?
- What was your favorite subject at school?
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
- Why are you here today?
- What would be your perfect job?
- What is your greatest achievement?
- Have you ever won a trophy or medal?
- What is the longest word you know?
- Who is the most inspirational person to you?
- What is the best praise or advice you’ve received?
- Which would you prefer — three wishes over five years or one wish right now?
- If you could have one wish come true what would it be?
- Did you ever keep a New Year’s resolution?
- What was your favorite birthday or Christmas present?
- What was the worst present you’ve received?
- What was your favorite childhood toy?
- Where would you like to be in five years time?
- Which skill would you love to learn?
- Which language would you like to learn?
- If money was not a concern what would you do every day if you didn’t work?
- What’s your hidden talent?
- What was the funniest moment in your life?
- What was the most embarrassing moment in your life?
- Have you seen a ghost or an alien?
- Would you like to see into the future? Why?
- Would you like to be invisible for a day? Why?
- If you could rule the world for a day state something that you’d ban.
- If you had magical powers name something that you’d change.
- Would you rather be clever or beautiful?
- Would you rather be really hairy or bald?
- Would you like to be taller or thinner?
- What irritates you the most?
- Have you gone out with mismatched socks or shoes on?
- Where would you love to go on holiday?
- Why would you like to go to a tropical island or the Arctic more?
- Where would you most like to live?
- Which planet in the solar system would you visit?
- Which animal would you choose to be?
- If you were a flower which one would you be?
- If you were a tree which one would you be?
- Have you baked a cake, who for and was it a success?
- What flavor ice cream would you be?
- Which chocolate bar is most like you?
- What is your favorite food?
- What is your favorite drink?
- Would you rather be an apple or an orange?
- What fruit or vegetable would you be?
- Would you rather be a hot or a cold drink?
- Which task or chore is your favorite?
- Which task or chore is least favorite?
- Which office machine is your favorite?
- What type of car would you be?
- Did you ever lock your car keys in the car?
- Have you locked yourself out of the house?
- Would you rather lock yourself out of your house or your car?
- Have you gone in to a room and forgotten why?
- If you could have true love or £1 million which would you choose?
- What is your favorite TV show and why?
- What is your favorite song?
- What is your favorite book?
- What is your favorite film?
- What is the best chat up line you’ve heard or had said to you?
- Who would you like to be for a day?
- Who would you choose to be marooned on a desert island with?
- Who would play you in a film?
- Which famous person would you like to meet?
- Which famous person would you never want to meet?
- If you could invite five famous or noted people (past or present) to dinner who would you choose?
- Which time period would you visit in history?
- Would you prefer to visit Earth in 2100 or travel back to 1900?
- Which person from history would you most like to meet?
Memory games are hugely effective too, for example “I went on holiday and I took…” or “I went shopping and I bought…” Each person adds an item going around the room and the attendees try to remember everything which invariably causes laughter, improves concentration and initiates connections.
Another format for icebreaking is to tell one fact and one lie about yourself and see if the others can guess which one is true. The icebreaking question possibilities are endless and very illuminating. Need more icebreaker ideas?
By Kevin Kent
We all believe in the camps and events that we are doing, and know there is no better environment for building community and bringing energy into our ministry year. With any luck, and a bit of strategic thinking and purposeful programming afterwards, we can ride the wave of momentum for some time. But only if people show up.
I can’t tell you how many times I have envisioned and developed the most exciting and potentially world-changing event (at least that’s how I felt) just to be left in a panic about why no one was registering. I didn’t know if everyone was just waiting until the last minute to register or waiting until I decided to call everyone on my roster and remind them it’s time to sign up. Many times I would spend several hours on the phone convincing every last person that they needed to register before I lost my shirt for not hitting minimums.
Not that the phone calls were a bad thing, in fact there was a ton of great ministry within those desperate hours of calls before our most important event. But I was always left frustrated, wondering why people weren’t signing up. After all, the same event last year was a huge success! Don’t they remember that? That’s when I decided to change my thinking, instead of hoping that everyone would show up to a camp that would be the springboard of momentum for months to come. I needed to build the momentum before the event even started.
I began to realize that students don’t get excited about the doing the same thing. They won’t pull from the memory of last year’s experience because students live in the moment. They don’t always ask their friends if they are going before they sign up, and what if they do and their friend can’t go? Or what if a well-intending parent decides that everyone in their student’s circle needs to know that their kid isn’t going, so they don’t waste their one cabin request on a no-show (this has happened to me more than I’d like to admit). And lastly, students are skeptical (at least the ones at my church). Even if every event they have come to so far was off-the-chart fun, they always leave room for the thought that this one might be different.
A few years back we decided to something that changed everything for us. We take time out of our normal weekly program to focus on building momentum for our camps and events. A few times a year we have these nights that we call (insert your event or camp name here) Rally. We show highlights from the last year, play games that connect to the event, pick songs that relate to the theme, give a message or interview people, do creative spins on announcements about what’s upcoming. It’s like one big commercial. Sometimes we invite the guest speaker or band for camp to play a preview (one year our high school group had the guest speaker talk to parents and families at our main church service). We also launch our registration with the lowest price available for only 48 hours (we usually have 50-60% of our registrations come in at that Rally price). The entire night is designed around communicating the most important things to build momentum for our students. We know we have to be completely clear on these three things:
1) It’s going to be a ton of fun!
We know that students don’t care nearly as much as we do that their lives will be changed or that they will feel a deeper sense of belonging after camp. They show up for fun. They only tell their friends about it if it will be fun. And they only have a good time if it’s fun.
2) Everyone will be there!
We know we can’t deliver completely on this promise (it’s mostly out of our hands) but we can be sure that we create the illusion that “everyone” will be there. So we speak in generalities, and talk about the total number of students we are expecting. And we never ask for students to raise their hand or cheer if they plan to go, which just gives the students in the room incomplete data to form a conclusion about who will be there.
3) There are a lot of new things this year!
This is huge! The most important thing for momentum is new vision. Every year we try to bring in big change. We ask how we can get better, and what we are not doing yet? If we run out of ideas, we get really creative on this and try to find new twists on things that we’ve always done so that it feels new. Students like to know what to expect but they want it to be new, fresh, and exciting. We tell them everything; we don’t wait for a big reveal or keep some things secret. We want to build anticipation.
Although the Rally is primarily for the students, it works to get leaders on board as well. But we think that there’s something more important to communicate to leaders. We usually do this over an email just before or after the rally, and then in a meeting or personal conversations later we revisit these points. The leaders need to know that God’s going to do something big and they can’t miss it. Every leader wants to know that their investment matters and, most of all, they want to be part of something bigger than themselves. As best we can, we communicate the anticipation that God is going to show up in a big way. I think God likes to deliver on this hope, and it keeps us on our toes and helps us give Him credit. And, every leader needs to know that this is the best investment of their time with students. We tell them stats, remember past wins, dream of potential moments, and give them vision of the near future when the event is over.
Over these past few years-since we have been doing the Rallies-I have never needed to pick up the phone and beg people to show up. In fact our numbers continue to grow and our spots fill up sooner every year. And finally, the Rally helps us to have a developed plan well in advance rather than waiting until the last minute for everything. And it holds us accountable to follow through on everything we promised- that our next camp or event will be the best thing we have done yet.
|Kevin is the Middle School Pastor at Lakeside Church in Folsom, CA. He has two beautiful and spirited daughters and the most amazing wife, who has served alongside him in ministry for 13 years. Kevin has a passion for doing big, innovative, and creative things in ministry. He loves to invest in his team and partner with other pastors to see lives changed with the love of Christ. Kevin is a foodie and slightly obsessed with tea. He also loves to cook, date his wife, make his daughters feel like princesses, and take his motorcycle to the racetrack. Find out more about Kevin’s ministry by visiting MSMLakeside.com.|
Here’s my outline for a parents meeting that I am doing on Friday night. I thought you may want to run a similar session for parents in your area. Use some or all of this. Make sure that you provide plenty of time for parents to interact with each other and to ask questions. Here’s the the outline and a power point you can download.
Social Media or Anti-Social Media
Here’s a power point presentation if you are interested:
By the end of our time together you will
- Be more aware of how teens are using phones, apps, other devices
- Recognize the problems associated with social media
- Respond with reasonable ground rules and expectations
Social Media & Networking
How are teens using those devices
Student use of apps
Instagram was destroying my life Essena O’neil
-hundreds of retakes
-living for likes
-shut down account started new account to help others
More than half of the 92 percent of teenagers ages 13 to 17 who go online daily use Instagram. While young people of every generation have struggled with how to project their identities onto the greater world, teenagers of 2016 arguably have it worse. Given the pervasiveness of social media, the feedback mechanism never shuts down.
Girls have quietly repurposed the photo-sharing app into a barometer for popularity, friendship status and self-worth.” Writes, Rachel Simmonds
- Showing Interest
- Social Comparisons
- Identity Construction
- Opportunities for Bullying
- Opportunity for obsession over likes
- FOMO –fear of missing out
A third (33%) of all teens use Twitter. Older teens are more likely to use the service than younger, with use rising steadily as teens age, from just 13% of 13-year-olds using the service to 28% of 14-year-olds and 43% of 17-year-olds.
The oldest girls ages 15 to 17 are the most likely to use Twitter with nearly half of them (49%) using it.
The oldest girls ages 15 to 17 are the most likely to use Twitter with nearly half of them (49%) using it.
This is how teens relate to each other around celebrities, funny videos, hashtags, and interests
It can be a social media asking “This is me. What do you think of me?”
You tube endless entertainment
Why anonymous sites are dangerous
Mya Bianchi, a 15-year-old who attends Ionia High School in central Michigan
Phone number posted
- What are some of the ways that you set boundaries?
- What are some Best Practices?
- What are some of your take-aways from what you have seen so far?
What Parents Can Do
Motivation and Opportunity
- Some students are not motivated
- Some students have no opportunity
- What happens when they are motivated and have opportunity?
- Model the Behaviour you want to develop.
- Increase Face to Face Time
- How can busy families increase family time ?
- Create use agreement/ covenant
- Consider a blocking app
- Limit screen time
- No screens in bedrooms overnight
- No phones at dinner time
- No phones in the car
- Parents have all passwords
- Parents have all permissions for apps
The Teen World Today
- Social media is everywhere and many teens are constantly connected
- There are dangers for healthy development
- Set guidelines pair Privilege with Responsibility
- Set and Enforce Reasonable Expectations
If you would like to contact me you can email me at ron.powell@vanguardcollege .com
You are also invited to follow my blog YouthMinistryUnleashed.com
Whether you’ve been in ministry two years or twenty years, we all have a tendency towards forgetfulness. It’s difficult to look back over last year or even the last month and point to specific stories of impact and transformation in the lives of our students. We know that the Lord is at work, but when ministry takes its toll, we regularly find ourselves on the verge of burnout.
I mentor three senior girls in our church’s youth ministry, and one of my girls gave me a parting gift before I left to lead mission trips in Pawleys Island this summer. She’d painted two colorful mason jars labeled “Joy Jar” and “Frustration Jar” and written this sweet note:
“As you minister to students this summer, you will surely have times of immense joy and times of great frustration. I wanted to give you a way to record those moments and be able to look back on how God is using you and how he has answered your prayers.”
My student can’t possibly know the impact of her gift to me both in terms of encouragement and exhortation. Her note expressed her care for me, and her gift allowed me to enter into the discipline of remembrance. Taking up her challenge, I sat down every other weekend with my two jars, a pen, and a pile of notecards, and I began to write. At first, it was much easier to pen my frustrations; my mind was still racing through the weeks struggles and moments of conflict. To combat this bent towards the negative, I started writing three joy cards for every one frustration card, and once I got started, the moments of joy came more readily.
I wrote down the moments where I saw students “get it” and the times when a student took a bold risk or made an important commitment or action step in their life moving forward. I even wrote down the little things that made me laugh or smile. Regardless of the kind of week I was having, these jars prompted me to seek the Lord and rejoice.
It occurred to me that this could be a useful tool for youth workers and volunteers. The time commitment is minimal, and it yields meaningful stories, encouragement, and perspective. When my friends and family ask about my summer, I can quickly articulate a story from one of my joy cards. When I’m feeling upset over not seeing growth in my students, I can be encouraged in the ways that God has used me in the past. When I find myself dwelling on circumstances that are frustrating me, I’m reminded of how God hears my prayers and is still working all things for his good.
I’d like to pass along my student’s challenge to you. Set aside a regular time in your schedule this year to record your joys and frustrations. Don’t be afraid to treat it as a discipline, and trust that the Lord will multiply your reasons for joy. You’ll find that counting joys is one of your best weapons in fighting burnout.
This game was submitted to the collective by Dan Istvanik
Players will have to “head bang” with a balloon tied to their forehead to see how many times they can hit themselves in the head with the balloon.
- 2 “Punch Balloons” (balloon with rubber band)
- 2 Bandanas
- A sound system
- Your favorite “metal”, “hardcore” music (*Demon Hunter…)
How to Play:
Ask two volunteers to come up the front. Sting the rubber band of the balloon through their bandanas and tie them tightly around their head. (*old school Bret Michaels!). On “Go!” the music starts and players start head-banging as fast as they can to get as many “hits” in one minute. Winner is the player that has the most hits.
Swinging the balloon around the head does not count. They have to be able to create a “balloon punch” style motion