Saturday, June 30, 2012

Service/Outreach: "Cash Mobbing"

"A 'Cash Mob' is a new trend in which people use social media to plan organized events, providing a way to join together and support local businesses. The concept is simple: with $20 in hand, members of a community come together to shop in a locally-owned establishment to support their favorite local business and support the area economy." 
                                                - from

If you have never heard of it think "flash mob" with money.  You find a local business and show up with a group and shop,spend and encourage them.  I minister about an hour from Cleveland, OH and began to hear about these over the last couple months, and now recently they have begun to start popping up in our own local area.

My thought and idea is what a great opportunity for Christians and our JH/MS students to "put their money where their faith is"!  What an amazing outreach and witness it could be in your area, for your students, their families and even your whole church to "Cash Mob" a local business that is struggling to stay a float!   Easy to organize and easy to make into a Fun Event Night!  No preaching, tracts, or cheesy tricks, just plain simple "actions speaking louder than words, and money speaking louder than both"!!  

CLICK HERE to find out more, get a step by step guide to plan your own cash mob or check the calendar to find out how to join in as a youth group with one that is already happening near you!

Here is a video showing the founder and one of the first Cash Mobs in Cleveland, OH in 2011!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Free Music #8:"Hymns"- Page CXVI

Page CXVI is a project started with the idea of making Hymns accessible and known again. They are some of the richest, most meaningful, and moving pieces of music ever written. The name comes from a reference to page 116 in our copy of "The Magician's Nephew" by C.S. Lewis. It is a poignant passage where Aslan begins to sing Narnia into creation out of a black void.

 It starts, "In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it." ~ C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

DVD Curriculum Review: "Take Your Pick: Holidays"

Holiday times are sometimes the hardest times to teach a lesson or lead a study, especially something fresh and new. Take Your Pick: Holidays is a DVD driven curriculum that offers 6 fresh, new studies for the usual Valentine’s Day, Christmas and Easter, but also includes lessons for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and even Black History Month/Martin Luther King Jr. Day. If you are looking for “youth ministry baby-sitting” of popping in the DVD and let someone else teach, this is not it. The DVD along with 6 short video vignettes also includes a 139 page leader book that offers good solid in-depth lessons. Each lesson includes an assortment of options for teaching the lesson including: games, discussions, written reflections, handouts and even a message outline.

As a whole this is a great resource to have for those special holiday times, but the video clips and lessons could easily be used any time through out the year. I especially like the “Man Up” lesson for black history month, as it is one of those lessons that we might not teach. The video clip for the lesson along with the accompanying material is worth the purchase of this resource. This is excellent for any age youth ministry, but in my opinion it an outstanding resource for my own middle school/Jr. high ministry setting, as it offers variety of options to meet the differing learning styles of my students.

Here is a sample: Lesson/Video #1: "Man Up"


* Review written for Youth Worker Journal

BUY IT (for yourself!)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

News U Can Use: Connecting to Young Multi-Taskers


TV networks try to connect with young, tech-savvy multitaskers

With kids watching less live TV, networks are coming up with new ways to reach young viewers on their smartphones, laptops and tablets

June 16, 2012|By Dawn C. Chmielewski and Meg James, Los Angeles Times

Hollywood has a problem. He's Cole Chanin-Hassman, and he's 10.

Like many other kids his age, the Los Angeles fourth-grader counts among his entertainment tools his Xbox 360 game console, his Android phone and his computer.
The television is almost an afterthought. When Cole comes home from school, he turns on Cartoon Network's "Regular Show," but the characters on the TV screen compete for his attention with the world-building game "Minecraft" and a parade of YouTube videos on his computer.

"Sometimes, I'll kind of lift my head up a little bit and watch," Cole said. "But usually I'm just kind of listening to [the TV] and playing on my computer."

Cole's habits illustrate the enormous challenges that confront television networks fighting to remain viable and profitable in the digital age. They're losing viewers, and they know it.

In response, some cable channels are introducing shorter episodes to reach multi-tasking kids with shorter attention spans. They're bulking up online content to feed the ravenous appetites of younger users. And they're listening to social media conversations about their shows — in some cases even changing plot lines to suit audience tastes.

"The networks ... are all struggling with younger people," said Neil Howe, an authority on generations and president of the consulting firm LifeCourse Associates. "The big danger is whether [networks] will become gradually less relevant" and disappear from younger viewers' screens altogether.

America's 67 million baby boomers once commanded advertisers' attention because of their spending power and sheer number. But the prized demographic is now the millennial generation: the 98 million people ages 7 to 29. These digital natives represent nearly one-third of the U.S. population, and they're proving an elusive target for networks and advertisers to reach.

Viewers of all ages are recording TV shows and fast-forwarding through commercials. But the practice is almost reflexive for millennials: About 41% watch shows recorded earlier on their DVRs, according to a study from Boston Consulting Group and ad agency Barkley.

Millennials still watch television shows, but not always the old-fashioned way: lounging on a couch, remote control in hand, surfing through the channels. Increasingly, they're streaming episodes on their computers, or fetching shows delivered to the TV set via game consoles or other Internet-connected devices, according to a survey by youth research firm Ypulse. This disrupts the decades-old methods advertisers have relied on to reach consumers.

"One of the biggest reasons that online streaming of TV shows in particular has taken off like crazy is that networks are finally embracing the fact that this is where their audience is," said Melanie Shreffler, Ypulse editor in chief.

Younger viewers are avid fans. But networks are having trouble adapting to their fickle viewing habits.
Television networks such as the CW are at the nexus of the forces reshaping the entertainment industry. Launched six years ago, the CW initially approached its audience like any other television network — expecting viewers to tune in at appointed times to watch its shows.

They didn't. Instead they began watching episodes online, through illicit pirate sites. So the CW began offering such shows as "Gossip Girl" and "The Vampire Diaries" on the Internet within hours of an episode's TV airing. A new mobile application allows viewing on iPhones, iPads and Android and Kindle devices.
"This millennial generation is the 'I know what I want, when I want it and

how I want it,'" said Rick Haskins, the CW's executive vice president of marketing and digital programs. "You need to supply them the product, however they want to consume it."

Digital now accounts for 18% of the network's total viewing — a rate that has doubled within a year, Haskins said. The network's research found that 93% of viewers who streamed episodes had not watched them on TV — expanding the audience for its shows. The CW also worked with Nielsen and Google to provide demographic information about mobile audiences to make this audience more attractive to advertisers.

But meeting viewers on their own terms can be fraught with peril.

Nickelodeon saw its ratings drop this season by about 25% compared with last season. The plunge came after the network made more episodes of "SpongeBob SquarePants," "iCarly" and other shows available through Netflix so young children could watch old episodes through their game consoles and other Internet-connected devices.

Top Viacom executives attributed the decline to several factors, including the difficulty of accurately measuring young viewers' behavior on so many screens. Nickelodeon is responding by rolling out 650 new episodes of programming in the upcoming season to woo back viewers.

Although competitors such as YouTube and Netflix can draw audiences away from television networks, these newcomers also can provide millions of viewers for TV shows — as well as provide fresh material for the networks to exploit. Nickelodeon and rival Cartoon Network have built shows around characters who won their fame online.

A regular series based on Lucas Cruikshank's squeaky-voiced, hyperactive character Fred joined the Nickelodeon lineup in January. Cartoon Network added the Annoying Orange to its programming. That show's debut last week delivered

2.6 million viewers, landing it first in the ratings for its time slot among children 2 to 14.
"It's the first time we're taking something that was already a hit online and bringing it to Cartoon Network," said Stuart Snyder, president of Turner Broadcasting System's animation division, which includes Cartoon Network.

Melissa McQuarter-Robinson, 14, is the kind of viewer the networks are struggling to reach. The Georgia high school student rarely watches TV shows as they air, and she considers her BlackBerry, HTC Evo phone and Sony tablet to be her primary screens. But as the ABC drama "Scandal" approached its season finale last month, Robinson became so enthralled that she had to see it live.

"I couldn't miss it," she said. "I was at home with my mom, watching it and commenting on it on Facebook."
Emily-Anne Rigal, an 18-year-old high school senior from Williamsburg, Va., is a voracious media consumer. A devotee of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," "The Real Housewives of New York City" and "Celebrity Apprentice," Rigal scours the Internet for behind-the-scenes insights, video highlights and celebrity tweets, then broadcasts her discoveries on Facebook.

Rigal and Robinson illustrate millennials' desire for a 360-degree connection with their favorite shows, said Jess Weiner, a producer and media strategist who founded Parallax.

"Watching is not enough," Weiner said. "She needs a tri-level experience. She wants to be able to find out more details online about that character, go to Facebook to be able to talk with the other fans."
Media executives are embracing new technology to engage young viewers who are splitting their attention among multiple screens — often at the same time.

Microblogging service Twitter was just taking flight when the producers were adapting the popular "Pretty Little Liars" book series for Disney's ABC Family channel, which targets 14- to 34-year-olds.

"The fans started talking to us while we were shooting the show," said executive producer Marlene King. "Early on, we saw Twitter as a useful tool [to learn] what the book fans were expecting."

King and her staff joined the Twitter chatter. With new insight, the show's writers crafted plot lines to satisfy the desires of the show's most ardent fans. One couple who broke up in the books — Aria and Ezra — were so popular among the loyalists that they stayed together on the TV series.

King also found that viewers of the show, which returned June 5 for a third season, enjoy the communal aspect of watching the show live. When an original episode airs, she watches on TV and tweets along with the audience. The premiere episode of the new season became the most-commented-about cable show on social media in history, according to Bluefin Labs. The show sparked 534,000 tweets.

"This audience ... feels hugely empowered by social media," King said. "They are empowered to participate in the process, and they expect it."

That yearning for community represents hope for networks trying to remain relevant amid the rapid pace of technological change. This desire to come together harks to an earlier time, when the family would gather around the home's lone TV set.

"Millennials are returning to the idea that [TV viewing] is a common social experience," Howe said. "That could actually present a real opportunity for the networks."

Free Resource #16: "Youth Risk Behavior Study"

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors six categories of priority health-risk behaviors among youth and young adults: 
1) behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence;
2) tobacco use;
3) alcohol and other drug use;
4) sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection;
5) unhealthy dietary behaviors
6) physical inactivity.

In addition, YRBSS monitors the prevalence of obesity and asthma. YRBSS includes a national school-based Youth Risk BehaviorSurvey (YRBS) conducted by CDC and state and large urban school district school-based YRBSs conducted by state and local education and health agencies. This report summarizes results from the 2011 national survey, 43 state surveys, and 21 large urban school district

CLICK HERE to read or download the study.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Top 10: JH/MS Youth Ministry Inventions

I don't know who the inventors and the genius were that came up with each of the innovations, but because of them (and the work of the Holy Spirit, of course) young JH/MS student's lives have been forever changed?

10. SPAM...great for games, object lesson, or family dinner (*all you can afford?)

9. WATER BALLOONS... fill them with anything but water, because these are the Bomb! 

8. TOILET PAPER...wrap something, somebody, or someplace?

7. RED BULL... the nectar of God poured out just for you for Lock-ins, Retreats, Committee meetings...

6. else would anybody know what we have been doing?  Hey what is going on the youth ministry?  Glad you ask! Please refer to my t-shirt from last weekend's "Boy's Gone Wild Spiritual Retreat"

5.  MARSHMALLOWS...come on if you look in the original languages "manna" translated "what is this stuff?" and was described as white stuff falling from heaven...HELLO!!  Roast, Fling, Dodge, Shoot, but never say Bunny they are the manna from heaven!?

4.  DODGE BALLS... whatever form they take, it is our own special modern day version of public stoning and tons of fun for the whole group.

3. DUCT TAPE... youth ministry or not, it had to make the list.  Besides how else would we get that tiny little 6th grade girl to stick to the wall for 30 minutes as an object lesson?

2.  DEODORANT...MS/JH Boys, enough said.  (*note: not Axe...the inventor of that should be sprayed down and lit on fire!)

1. MILK SHAKES... how many MS/JH lives have been changed by the phrase "Hey, let's go grab a shake after and talk, I heard about...."

4th of July Lesson: "Real Freedom"

 Real Freedom is a free resource from LeaderTreks to help your students discover what this freedom means for their lives and the importance of sharing it with others 

The 4th of July is a national holiday in the United States, one that celebrates the freedom all American citizens live with on a daily basis. While it is fun to watch the fireworks, sing songs, and grill out, it's also a great time to focus on a different kind of freedom: the real freedom that comes through life in Christ. Help your students discover what this freedom means for their lives and the importance of sharing it with others.

CLICK HERE (to get it!)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Review: "Hot Button: Internet Edition"- O' Dell

In Nicole O’Dell’s other newest book Hot Button: Internet Edition she takes on another hot button issue among teens, pre-teens and their families-the Internet.  Especially for those who have pre-teens or work with middle school/Jr. high students this book is written just for you.   At the beginning of chapter 2 she uses this statistic, “…children ages eight to twelve admit to spending an average of 11.4 hours online a week”, and you know it is true if not even a little low.   For students in the middle school/Jr. high years the internet is king in their lives.  It rules their time, relationships, and identity, that is why this topic not only needs to be addressed, it has to be addressed.  This book is the book that has needed to be written.  There are other fine books out there, but this book with its fair but straight forward approach is a cut above the rest in my opinion.

Similar to Nicole O’Dell’s other book Hot Button: Dating Edition, she starts off acknowledging the foundational problem as sin.   She again leads the reader through the key questions of when and how?  She then immediately dives into the hot button issues that surround the internet in the lives of young people.  She brings up a few of the current social networking sites, the issue of illegal file sharing, and then focuses in on the big ones,  pornography and predators.   The second half of the book, in similar fashion to her previous book, gives very solid practical steps to protecting, praying and communicating over the issues of internet use. It also includes “strategic scenarios” to help facilitate discussion.

As this book is brand new, it is right on where it needs to be addressing the current trends, topics and technology.  The book is well written and thoughtful. This is a great resource to be shared with parents or to be kept for your own use.  The format leads easily to be used in teaching a short series on internet and technology discernment.  The only draw back I can see with this book may be its self life, unfortunately.  With a topic like this and the fast moving world of technology and internet it may soon become outdated.  I however do feel it well worth the price as it is so full of much needed practical help.