Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Game #164: Pumpkin Face (upfront challenge)


- 2 Rolls of Orange Crepe Paper
- 2-4 Sheets of Black Dot Labels

Set Up:

- 2 Chairs Up Front 


Simple Explanation: One player will quickly wrap another other player's face completely in orange crepe paper and then using black stickers decorate them as fall "jack o lantern"! 

Game Play:
- Have 2 teams of 2 come to the front
- Explain the simple explanation and rules
- Have 1 player on each team have a seat in 1 of the chairs.
- Give the standing play 1-2 sheets of black dot labels
- On "Go!" standing player as quickly as possible wraps the seated player's head and then decorates their head.

- Allow 1-2 minutes for the game.
- Have a leader or the audience vote on best "pumpkin head"
*  HINT/RULE: leave the mouth area of the seated player open so they can breath! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

News U Can Use: "Understanding Middle Schoolers: 4 Tips"

Understanding those on the verge of or in the trenches of middle school can be like finishing a complex puzzle only to realize there is a single missing piece — just when you think you have them all figured out, they pivot and leave you just as confused as you started. They sometimes feel like a walking contradiction: they want your love, but would prefer you did not show it in public; what makes them laugh one day, brings them to tears the next; going to school used to be the best part of their day, now they dread it. Whatever the contradiction is in your household, it is important to remember that the journey that these soon to be adults are traveling is a difficult yet AWESOME one. They are in a constant state of learning and discovery and as parents and guardians, we GET to be along for the ride!

Combine students’ physical and emotional changes with new school environments and increasing independence, and unique challenges for parents and children develop. Adolescence is a time of development, discovery and transition for kids. It is a key time for us to better understand how we increase motivation, build persistence, support the transition into a more independent experience, and prepare for future success.

As a middle school educator, my mantra was patience and understanding. I had sticky notes around my classroom reminding me that it was my job to support AND also to push these young adults to challenge themselves in new ways—even when they made me want to pull out my hair. This is a time when they need support and guidance, but they also need the freedom to have experiences on their own terms. When it comes to education, middle school is an extremely important time.

When we find ways to personalize the learning experience for students we support their transition into more independence and help activate learning. Here is what I learned about middle schoolers... CONTINUE READING 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Top 10: Christ-Centered Youth Ministry or Student-Center Youth Ministry

Like many homes where adults choose to make the children the center of the attention and decision making, there are also many youth ministries and churches that are doing the same thing.  

Like homes that are consumed with making sure children are not bored or unhappy, we as youth ministries may also be unknowingly doing the same thing by focusing strongly on making sure the students are happy, comfortable and entertained.

While we as youth pastors and leaders bemoan parents that are "helicopter parents" or focusing their attention on keep their children busy in sports and every activity imaginable, we may be following suit doing many of the same things.  Much like marriages and parent relationship that are being weakened by putting an unhealthy focus on children instead of each other,  our youth ministries as part of the body and bride of Christ may also be weakening our relationship by becoming more kid-centered and less Christ-centered?

Here are 10 quick thoughts about the difference between Christ-Centered Ministry and Student-Centered Ministry...

10. Faith Focused vs. Fun Focused?

9.  Educate Us vs. Entertain Us? 

8. Opportunities for Students to Serve vs. Opportunities for Students to be Served? 

7.  Christ Honoring vs. Honoring Students? 

6.  God's Presence vs. Who is Coming?

5.  Spirit-Led Decisions vs. Student-Led Decisions? 

4.  Compassion-driven vs. Complaint-driven? 

3.  Adults Desperately Seeking to Love Christ More vs. Adults Desperately Seeking to be Loved by Students More 

2.  Seeking Holiness vs. Seeking Hipness! 

1.  Studying Uncomfortable Truths of God's Word vs. Discussing Non-Threatening Comfortable Topics? 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

"Un-blurring The Line" (Relationships with Students)

The evening news, newspapers, and internet seems like a running weekly ticker update on the latest teacher, coach and yes,"youth pastors" crossing the line into inappropriate relationships with a student.

Whatever you are called in your ministry context: pastor, director, leader, worker... we need to be careful when it comes to our relationships with students.

We, of course, want to have "relational" ministry.  Books and seminars have been teaching us relational ministry for years, and we should be doing ministry that builds Godly, appropriate connections and relationships in our ministry.   It is after all one of the most powerful things we can do in the lives of our students, is to introduce them to a relationship with God and others.

The lines however become blurred quickly when relational ministry becomes relationship ministry, that becomes just relationships. Even if it is not moving into inappropriate, abusive situations, we must work hard to un-blur the lines...

Friendly Not Friends.
While working on my masters in education a few years ago, one of our professors said something that has stuck with me, even more so in a church setting- "You can be friendly with students without being friends..". The fact is simple, while we want to have a good relationship with students and build a community of faith, we as adults are not their friends, even though they sometimes see us that way.   Your students have friends--their age, they don't need a 20+ year old being their best friend. Often we drift into how some parents are trying to parent, as their child's friend not their parent.  Do not fall into the same trap, because it will quickly become a slippery relationship slope for you as well.

Invested Not Intimate. 
As we invest our time, efforts and ourselves into serving students we naturally connect with them, and they with us.  Students coming from homes and relationships, where they are not being invested in, we naturally become people they connect with.   Even students that come from good homes, are drawn to people who take the time to listen, care, and pray with them.   Especially as we have deep discussions on spiritual things, closely connected to the emotion, the line can seem blurry as we feel closer to students and they to us.   What looks like investment and humbly serving students can easily drift into false feelings of intimacy.   Be care to invest in students minds, hearts, and lives while keeping a clear line drawn back from the entrance into intimate connection.

Caring Godly Love Not Human Attraction 
We use an unfortunate phrase in youth ministry settings  "loving on students".  If you take half a second to think about how that sounds to someone outside a church-setting, you will see how creepy that really sounds.   We do want to show students love.  We do want show them an example of God-center "love" (agape).   As brothers and sisters in Christ, in the settling of church we want to teach them about how live in the loving family of God (philia).   The problem comes is when we cross the line of loving our students into "loving our students" (eros)

Why is the news packed with stories of inappropriate relationships between a formerly caring adult and a students?  Part of the issue, is that while we are working to build a "relational" ministry, many time we are also trying to build an "attractional" ministry.  We are trying to attract students to our events, activities, teaching and in the mean time also attracting them to us.  Our personality, style, and that we truly care about them.   We must be very clear and set our stance firm, our ministry needs to be about caring and loving students in away that will attract them to Christ-- not to us, otherwise not only will we blur the line, we will quickly erase it!  Ministry built on attracting students to a person and not Christ are just waiting for disaster!

Professional Not Personal
Paid... unpaid...underpaid...Whatever you are, we are a professional.  Even if this is not your profession, as a person in authority and leadership we are seen as the person in charge.   The ministry we are working in needs to have clear expectations, rules, and policies in place for you and your helpers.   While we own the ministry and take it personally when things go wrong or people complain.  When it comes to how we are to act with students, it needs to be more professional and far less personal!  Our professional relationship with a student must never cross the line into a personal relationship.   This may seem cold or business-like but there is a way to minister to students that does not enter into our personal spaces, emotions, and relationships.

My prayer for you is that God would guard your heart, mind, and life as you work to guard the heart mind, and lives of students.  We have all seen and heard of way too many people falling because they blurred, lost and then crossed the line with a student or someone else in their ministry. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Game #95: "Civil War Dodgeball"

Yet another twist on the old youth ministry classic dodgeball.  Just in case you are sick and tired of the same old week in and week out of playing dodgeball. "

A favorite around our 5th-8th grade ministries. 

• Dodgeballs
• Cones or a way to define a center line

Quick explanation: A game of dodgeball where players may not be eliminated immediately but rather lose the use of the area of their body that is hit.

Before the Game:
• Define the playing area and the center line
• Set out dodgeballs at the center line

• Divide up in 2 equal teams
• Give the “Quick explanation”, rules and an example.
• Say something like this as an example, “If you get hit in the arm, you lose that arm for the remainder of the game…if you get hit in the leg you lose that leg and have to hop on the remaining leg for the remainder of the game…”
• On “Go!” everyone starts playing.
• You may yell “Healed!” throughout the game restoring everyone back to full health.

• Use your usual “house rules” for dodgeball.
• If a player gets hit from the shoulder to their hand, they lose the use of that arm and it must be held behind their back.
• If a player gets hit from the shoulder to their hand in the other arm they lose the use of both arms and can now only “dodge”. They may NOT kick the ball
• If a player gets hit in leg from the hip to their feet, they lose the use of that leg and must hop on one leg
• If a player gets hit in the other leg from the hip to their feet, they lose the use of both legs and must play on their knees.
• If a player gets hit in the head, chest or back, they are dead and out of the game.


The winning team is the one with the last remaining player still “standing”