Thursday, November 29, 2012

Free Resource #34: "Guide to Ministry Process Design"

 " The most successful churches are the ones who build a ministry process for their people to follow. Their website is an asset that helps broaden their reach, deepen engagement in community members, and disciple their communities–all online. This ebook is filled with examples of churches who create ministry movement with their website."- from the MonkDev website


Monk Development Logo

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holiday Game: Rudolph's Revenge (group game)

Huge hit with our small groups and leaders. I recently shared this in a Facebook forum and had a bunch of people interested in using it, so I figured I would re-post it again this holiday season.

 Great crazy bonding activity or small groups challenge, around the holiday.  We also did something similar a couple years before called "Frosty's Revenge" that also was a huge hit.  

If you are interested in the file, I have saved it in a few different formats, below is a quick download of it in WORD.  Sorry if the formatting above is a little off, but you get the idea.  Feel free to use or misuse it however you like!  Enjoy! 

CLICK HERE (to download it in WORD)

Holiday Project/Event: "Can-Struction" Night

Looking for a holiday service project, group/team competitio , and fun event idea all rolled into one!!?  Try having a CAN-STRUCTION NIGHT!

 " Canstruction is an international charity competition where architects, engineers, contractors and students they mentor, compete to design and build giant structures made entirely from full cans of food. At the close of the competition all of the food is donated to local food banks where the competitions are held"
- From the "Can-Struction" official website
Obviously, your youth group, especially your MS/JH student are not going to be able to compete against architects, engineers and contractors, but they can compete against each other.  Here is a great fun idea, that I am doing with my group this holiday season.

We are having a "Can-stuction" night right before we take a break for the holiday season.  We are spending 4-5 weeks doing a canned food drive, each small group competing to see how much they can stock up and collect.  On the final night we are going to have a build off.  Each group using only the cans that they have collected or got donated to "can-struct" a sculpture.  They are not allowed to use glue or duct tape, they must use just non-permanent tape, wire, string and so forth so that in the end the cans can be donated and used for our church's food pantry.

To find out more and get more of an idea check out the official website: CLICK HERE.  

Here are a few samples from the "pros"...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lesson Series: "Loud & Clear" (communication)


A free four-week lesson series about communication. Includes series outline (PDF) and editable HD Graphics (Photoshop, JPGs).
Originally posted here, and also as one of my lessons and in my lesson section above, it has now been recently redesigned by Elle Campbell of Stuff You Can Use, with new HD editable graphics as part of my newly formed partnership with the site.  Check back here and on their website for more FREE and affordable resources.
CLICK HERE (to get this series, still absolutely free!!)

News U Can Use: "Teens Buy With Their Eyes"

"You Buy With Your Eyes: How to Attract Teen Eyes -- And Dollars -- In-Store"
by: Maruchi Santana
Ah, the fickle teenager. This choosy consumer has been known to send sales soaring for one brand or retailer this year only to abandon ship for fresher choices the next. But while their allegiances may be fleeting, teens don’t hesitate to buy when they fall for a product. So how do you woo erratic teens? Try making this your new mantra: Seeing is buying. 

We all know that teens live a rich digital life—texting and Facebooking—but when it’s time to buy, these young consumers prefer to venture out into the real world. According to Harris Interactive, 82% of teens prefer to shop in-store rather than online. Plus, teens make 26% more trips to the mall than other shoppers, totaling approximately 47 times per year, says data from Teenage Research Unlimited.

Once they’re in-store, teens shop with their eyes. They’re making purchasing decisions based on a wide range of visual cues—from signage and displays to packaging and product colors. Here are a few tactics we discovered through peer-to-peer teen research to help you win sales in-store: 

Turn your store displays into a runway. To borrow a phrase from “Project Runway”’s Tim Gunn, show teen clothing shoppers how to “make it work.” Mix and match styles on mannequins and create displays that give teens fashion-forward ideas for wearing your products. “Clothes really catch my eye when I see them on a model,” says Faith, 15. “Seeing someone else wear it helps me picture myself wearing it, which is much more powerful than just seeing it on shelf.” 

Think in-store signage featuring models showing off exactly how that sweater or necklace looks—even seeing clothes on retail associates can help make the sale. “If it looks good on someone else, it gives you the confidence that it’ll look good on you as well,” says Carla, also 15. 

Drive impulse buys with on-trend package designs. First impressions count. Packaging that features trendy colors, patterns or designs can reflect the personal style of teens and give them a reason to pick up your product. “I’ve bought makeup because of the cute packaging,” says Tiffany, 19. “I get extremely attracted to busy and cute-looking stuff with pastel colors, which matches the person I am.” 
Kimberly-Clark plays off this teen impulse brilliantly with U by Kotex and U by Kotex Tween. The packaging breaks category norms with black boxes, high contrast colors and vibrant patterns. “I love U by Kotex because of their colors!” noted one of our respondents. “It already sucks that I have my period so opening up a box to a bunch of neon fun-colored pads brightens my day—makes me more positive.” 

Keep teen shoppers entertained. Teens grew up on the constant visual information available online, so retail needs to deliver a fun, interactive experience, too. Look for ways to surprise and delight with product selection and the overall environment. “Urban Outfitters is a fun store to just walk around because they’ve got cool stuff: books, toys and other things,” says Danny, 19. 

Mini boutiques or “eye candy” can also keep teens engaged and coming back for more. “I love Forever 21, especially for their different-themed sections of clothing like the “Little Black Dress” section and the “Pep Rally” section,” notes Carly, 15. Even food retailers can delight teens with the right atmosphere. “I’m all about Trader Joe’s,” says Sofia, 19. “I love all the workers there, very friendly, and they all have different Hawaiian shirts! Their signage is incredible, 2-D lettering coming off the walls and quirky sayings. Free samples!”

Static advertising and simple retail displays simply won’t cut it for this audience. The competition for teens’ attention is strong and requires a high-octane marketing strategy that matches their fun-loving, visual style.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Top 10: Youth Ministry Idioms!

10. All Play and No Work, Makes You Out of a Job?

9. His Lessons Are Worse Than His Bite? 

8. Getting Up on the Wrong Side of the Camp?  

7. Stuck Between a Rock and the Deacon Board?

6. It Just Icing on the Youth Leader's Face?

5. You Hit the Jr. Higher on the Head?

4. Let Sleeping Youth Pastor's Wives Lie!

3. It Takes Two To Sneak Out!

2. No use crying of spilled red bull.

1. What's the Matter Senior Pastor Got Your Tongue?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Review: "Unapologetic"- Rihanna (track by track)

With some of my students picking up this album and with the recent awards shows and entertianment news pumping Rihanna's life drama and relationship stuff, here is a bit of perspective on her newest album. I personally found the album musically intriguing, but definitely not worthy for a MS/JH students to being filling up their mind and heart with, but because the well produced dance-able beats your students may be checking out this album.  

The only maybe real lesson worthy track is #11- "Love Without Tragedy/Mary Mary", with the singer praying and asking Jesus and Mary for some help and understanding?  Over-all just be aware and keep your ear open for your students talking about this new album!  

Rihanna, 'Unapologetic': Track-By-Track Review
by Andrew Hampp 

On paper, releasing her seventh album in seven years would suggest a quantity-over-quality work ethic that's bound to wear thin. But on "Unapologetic," Rihanna proves once again that she can set -- and often raise -- the bar for modern pop music.

Amping up on urban, dubstep-leaning R&B and scaling back on the often awkward sex jams that populated the second half of 2011's "Talk That Talk," "Unapologetic" is Rihanna's most confident, emotionally resonant work since 2009's "Rated R." There's hard-hitting club songs ("Phresh Out The Runway," "Pour It Up," the Ginuwine-sampling "Jump"), feel-good dance jams (David Guetta-produced "Right Now," Chris Brown duet "Nobody's Business") and a surprising abundance of heartfelt ballads (lead single "Diamonds," "Stay" featuring Mikky Ekko, the confessional suite "Love Without Tragedy/Mother Mary" and bonus track "Half Of Me"), all of which showcase Rihanna's voice in ways the listener hasn't heard before. Like previous Rihanna projects, "Unapologetic" is destined to crank out at least five singles over the next 12 months (or until it's time for the next album, anyway).
1. Phresh Out The Runway - "How could you be so hood but you're so f.... pop? How could you be so fun and sound like you're selling rocks?" Rihanna quotes one of her doubting peers in this swaggering, gritty club banger produced by The-Dream and David Guetta. "Unapologetic" is all about shaking up expectations, so opening with a straight-up hip-hop track produced by the biggest name in EDM quickly sets the tone.
2. Diamonds

 As written by dance-pop torch singer du jour Sia Furler, "Diamonds" finds Rihanna doing one of her throatiest, most impassioned vocals to date (and one that seems to be channeling Sia herself) on this inspirational pop ballad. And as a strategic shift from recent singles like "Talk That Talk" and "Cockiness," "Diamonds" further positions Rihanna in new stylistic categories, lest she settle on one format for too long.
3. Numb (Featuring Eminem)
- The last time Rihanna teamed with Eminem, it was on the massive, emotional "Love The Way You Lie." This time around, the duo only has the club on its mind on this slow-grinding, Middle Eastern-flavored party track, which opens with Rihanna shrugging, "Ecstasy in the air / I don't care / Can't tell me nothin.'"
4. Pour It Up - It's not just the dudes who can flex their money and love of strippers. Rihanna turns her often-racy Twitter feed into an irresistible, Mike WiLL-produced banger for the ladies, chanting "Pour it up / pour it up / watch it all fall out" over a hypnotic beat and handclaps.Take note, 2 Chainz, Juicy J and the like - Rihanna's coming after your territory.
5. Loveeeee Song (Feat. Future) - Future's Auto-Tune-soaked plea for "love and affection" gets a definitive response from Rihanna on this percolating duet.

6. Jump - Sure, "Gangnam Style" is the horse-dance craze of 2012, but Ginuwine's "Pony" has been having quite the cultural renaissance this year, thanks to its key role in the summer blockbuster "Magic Mike" and now this dubstep-ified update from Rihanna. "Jump" is an answer song of sorts to Ginuwine's 90s classic, adding new verses on top of the existing chorus, which now erupts in a wall-shaking Skrillex-worthy breakdown. "You think I give a damn / but you know who I am / I don't go around chasing no dude," Rihanna reassures her conquest.
7. Right Now (Feat. David Guetta)
- Perhaps the only song that adheres to the expected formula carved out by "Loud" and "Talk That Talk," "Right Now" is a straightforward, four-on-the-floor feel-good anthem for the clubs. Thematically identical and musically similar to Ne-Yo and Calvin Harris' "Let's Go," "Right Now" is exactly what you'd expect from the latest Rihanna-Guetta team-up, and nothing more.
8. What Now - An unexpectedly vulnerable ballad from Rihanna that finds her acknowledging "this lump in my throat" before letting loose on an epic chorus that hits harder than anything she's done in years. An emotional highlight on an album filled with moments of resonance in its second half.
9. Stay (Feat. Mikky Ekko) - As premiered on last week's "Saturday Night Live," "Stay" is Rihanna at her most intimate - a piano-backed duet with Brooklyn singer-performance artist Mikky Ekko with a 70s AM-radio melody that recalls Elton John or Billy Joel. If this is Rihanna indulging her adult-contemporary side, she couldn't have picked a stronger ballad to demonstrate it.
10. Nobody's Business (Feat. Chris Brown) - If "Nobody's Business" featured anyone but Chris Brown, it would still be celebrated as a wonderfully catchy throwback to early-90s club music. But because it's a duet in which the tumultuous lovers proclaim "you'll always be the one I want to come home to" and "you'll always be my baby" for the world to hear, it makes the beyond-complicated circumstances of their history impossible to ignore. Judge for yourself -- just try to resist the song's many Michael Jackson-worthy charms.
 11. Love Without Tragedy / Mother Mary - Coming right after "Nobody's Business," it's hard to think that the first half of this seven-minute two-parter is channeling anyone but Chris Brown when Rihanna sings, "You took the best years of my life / I took the best years of your life / Felt love struck me with a knife / I pray that love don't strike twice." But just before things get any more somber, the song takes a confessional shift when the "Mother Mary" part kicks in, with Rihanna softly singing, "Mother Mary / I swear I'm gonna change / Mr. Jesus, I'd love to be a queen / But I'm from the left side of an island / Never thought this many people would even know my name." A deeply personal song sold by Rihanna's uplifting vocal.
12. Get It Over With - Taking the tempo down a notch, this dreamy track from James Fauntleroy and Brian Kennedy, who co-wrote half of 2009's "Rated R," is a chilled-out, reflective song that finds Rihanna "wondering why you keep thundering / won't you just f....' rain / and get it over with."
13. No Love Allowed - Much in the same way that 2010's "Man Down" saw Rihanna paying tribute to her Barbados heritage with a reggae torch song, "No Love Allowed" takes a similar approach over a bubbly, dubbed-out groove from producer No I.D. "Broken heart was the case / go'on and put him away /  He's the only one one one / I let get the best of me," she cries to the love police.
14. Lost In Paradise - Ending things on a somber-but-hopeful note, this bouncy StarGate track finds Rihanna clouded by past heartbreak when she sings, "It may be wrong but it feels right / All my fears are gone tonight / I'm so lost in paradise." What could otherwise be a forgettable midtempo ballad is saved by frequent tempo drops and interjections of "Bass slap!"

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Game #22: Traffic Jam (big group)

Classic quick easy game that can also be a huge amount of wild and crazy fun, to start off your night or finish off your night.

- 8 cones (or a way to define 4 areas)

Divide your group into 4 equal groups and assign them a corner.  Have everyone stand behind the cones/ line.  The goal is for everyone to go diagonally across to the opposite area from them, currently where another team is, as fast as they possible can.  The last one across the "line" in each group is out.

They however will not just be running straight across, before each round you will be announcing the way they must travel in order to get across.  Here are a few example: running backwards, skipping, "basketball defender slide", etc...  On "go" or a the whistle blow everyone goes and it of course becomes an absolute traffic jam and pretty crazy.

My JH/MS students absolutely love it and think it is complete ran-dumb fun and are always coming up with ideas and suggestions for how to "travel".  It is a great quick, low set up game that can be played pretty much anywhere indoors or outdoors.  If you are smaller group define your playing area into a smaller space or play with just 2 teams.

A Few More Suggestions for "Traveling":
- bunny hop
- crab walk
- piggy back
- crawl
- arm in arm
- horse back (crawling with some on your back?)
- superman
- scissor run
- hop on one leg
- running with only one eye open (*be careful this one has not gone well in the past)

Have fun be creative, be safe and have a video camera running!! Here is an old video we made a couple years ago:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Visual Illustration #4 "How's Your Walk?"

Quick Lesson Illustration On Your Christian Walk and Following Jesus. 

Scripture Suggestions:
- Micah 6:8
- John 12:35
- Gal. 5:16
- Eph. 5:1-3
- Col. 3:7
- I John 1:5-7

- Dress Shoes: Your Christian Walk only comes out on Sunday, when you want to show off how spiritual you are.  You are Christian Life is about being shiny and pretty. It is about the once or twice a week church and youth group time.

- Flip Flops: Your Christian Walk is cheap, easy and flimsy.  You just "flip flop" around to whatever seems the easiest to believe and whatever one else it doing, saying, and believing.

- Work Boots: Your Christian Walk is about the work of the Christian life and serving.  You think if you are tough enough and work hard enough that God will accept you. You send your time trying to find the next project to show God and everyone else how good you are.

- Chuck Taylor: Your Christian Walk is about what is fashionable and cool.   You just want everyone to think are cool and trendy.  You love the concerts, the events, and rallies.  You are into being a Christian when it is cool, fashionable and relaxed.

- Casual Shoes: Your Christian Walk is more casual. You are not a flip flop Christian or a work boot Christian..You could be a work boot or a dress shoe.  You show up to church, events and other stuff here and there, when there is nothing else to do.  You talk about Christ and act like a christian sometimes, but not all of the time. 

 - Sneakers/Athletic Shoes:  Your Christian Walk is an every day thing.  You know you need to work out and spend the time to keep your walk in shape.  You are an all around, all the time Christian.  You are comfortable, but able to work, and ready to do what needs to be done.  You are there on Sundays, youth group nights, and also the fun stuff too but are also willing to live it out the rest of the week as well.

News U Can Use: "Teens Disconnected from Nature"

88% of Teens Agree That Their Generation Is Disconnected From Nature releases its Teens and Nature student trend report. Over 4,442 teens and college students visited the national survey and writing prompt page about nature this summer. The below press release shares the results on teens' attitudes towards nature from the full report available at

Between jobs, Facebook, online gaming, school, or in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, bad weather, many teens forgo opportunities to breathe in an autumn breeze or otherwise connect with the planet around them by doing something in nature.

In fact, 88% of teens feel that their generation is disconnected from nature reports, an online blogging community for teens and college students.

The site asked over 4,442 high school and college students to answer the question, “How has nature inspired you?” via a 500 word essay as part of its national writing contest, along with a 15-question national survey that polled the students about their attitudes towards nature.

The idea for this teen blogging contest prompt and survey came from Richard Louv's book, Last Child in the Woods. According to Mr. Louv, today's children (and adults) are deprived of a basic necessity we have as humans - to connect with the outdoors. Louv labels this phenomenon - "nature-deficit disorder."

Statistics and key insights from the teen survey concluded that teens are concerned about their connection to nature, but there's often a dichotomy between how they feel and what their actions are. For instance...
--73.3% of teens went outside more as an Elementary student than now, as a High School student
--69.4% of teens would rather listen to their favorite songs on an iPod (or other music device) than the sounds of nature
--88.8% of teens feel that their generation is disconnected with nature
--68.5% of teens are either “indifferent,” “don't care,” or “care but don't take an active role” in being concerned about the effects of man on nature
--73.3% of teens have not heard of the term, "Anthropocene" (how man is effecting the planet's biodiversity and nature) before the Stage of Life writing contest
--30.1% of teens spend less than three (3) hours per week outdoors during the school year (whether that's for work, sports, or a hobby)

At a more anecdotal level, after taking the survey, students submitted essays to the writing contest. From the qualifying teen essay submissions, several themes and trends emerged about how students feel about nature:

1) Technology: Almost all teens agreed that their peers (and probably themselves) spend too much time on the computer or on their phones. Nature is a much more interesting place; teens should log off, if just for an hour, and go spend it outside.
2) Memories: Teens wrote about fond memories, both past and recent, about time spent in nature: family vacations (some forced, some fun), sports activities, and even just relaxing with the trees.
3) Life-Changing: Quite a few teens wrote about how their experiences with nature changed their lives in some way. From something as simple as caring more about the environment, to deeper issues about spirituality and friendship, nature is close to these teens’ hearts.
4) Environmental Issues: These teens agreed that all people need to treat nature with respect. After all, we love our mother; why not mother earth?
5) Peaceful and Simple: These were the words most used to describe nature. Nature does not boast and is always willing to listen; it is not complicated and always around. So what are you waiting for? Shut off your computer and enjoy the peace and simplicity of nature!

# # # is a privately held company founded in 2009 as a free educational resource with a digital literacy mission to encourage life-long readers and writers through its interactive blogging community for all generations, from teens to Baby Boomers.
You can reach by calling Founder and CEO, Eric Thiegs, at (717) 244-0006 or via email at contact(at)stageoflife(dot)com.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Top 10: "Other" Jobs That a Youth Pastor Does?

10. Psychologist/Psychiatrist (able to fix any mental disorder for any student in 15 minute or less...guaranteed! )

9. Custodian
(responsible to clean anything, everything and all carpet stains around the building no matter if the youth group made it or not)

8. Bus Mechanic
(can fix any bus with a roll of duct tape, chicken wire, and a quick prayer)

7. Technology Expert
( residential PC genius/Apple genius because you look young so you must know how to work these new fangled machines)

6. Carpenter
(given a truck load of wood can build a stage, a house, or a small African village)

5. Coach
(is a pro athlete of EVERY sport ever invented..)

4. Cook/Chef (like Jesus can create enough food to feed any crowd of any size simply by looking to heaven)

3. Stand Up Comedian (must be the funniest person in the room at all times, able to make any situation into a comedic life illustration)

2. Rock Star
(able to play any instrument and be able to lead a worship concert with a kazoo or harpsichord or even a music saw...) 

1. Entertainer?
(expected to keep my kids entertained, amused, and never bored...EVER!!)

Monday Morning Video Inspiration: "How to Kill a Church Program"

Friday, November 16, 2012

Free Resource #32: "What is the Mission of the Church?" (audiobook)

"Addressing mission, evangelism and social justice, two pastors draw readers to the Bible's teaching on some contentious matters. Readers in all spheres of ministry will grow in their understanding of the mission of the church and gain a renewed sense of urgency for Jesus' call to preach the Word and make disciples."

CLICK HERE (to download it for free!)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Youth Ministry Invention #3: "Glow in the Dark Duct Tape"


Like anything else with the "DUCK TAPE" name, this is no exception with a million uses.  One of my Jr. High girl sent me a link and picture with the hope that I would come up with a whole night for "Glow in the Dark Duck Tape"!!  I haven't yet, but it is coming soon!  Could you help me out?? What would be your uses for it in your ministry?? I would love to hear.  If I get a good list, I will post up the a Top 10 listing your name beside your idea!?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Game #21: Sink the Battleship (Big Group)


- 6 socks
- A couple large bags of dry beans
- 2 inflated intertubes or 2 hoola hoops
- Game cones
- Large playing area 

Simple explanation is that it is reverse "capture the flag" using 3 "flags" per team.  The teams will have to take 3 "flags" to the enemies side versus capturing the flag.

- Take your 6 socks fill them with dry bean and tie them off at the end to create "torpedo" shaped bean bags.  Give 3 to each team and have each team stand behind the end line to start.
- Divide your space into 2 equal sides, placing a "battleship" (intertube/hoola hoop) in the center right in front of the end lines. Use cones or some other way to define your out of bounds area and also your center dividing line In the corner of each team area create a "jail" using cones or something else to define your jail area. (*See Illustration Below For Sample Playing Area).  Your play area can be inside or outside.  A large outdoor field of course it the best way to play.

Sample of Rules and Play:
In order to win the game a team has to have 3 torpedoes IN the battleship in order "sink the battleship".  Torpedoes can be ran directly to the battleship and dropped in, passed back and forth between players to be dropped in or they can even thrown in from a distance.  Once the torpedo has hit the ground it is dead.  The torpedo must stay in the battleship in order to be a "hit", if it bounces or rolls out it is a "miss".

Players who are 2 hand tagged are out and if they are tagged with a torpedo, the torpedo is simply thrown back across to the opposing teams side.    If a player is 2 hand tagged, he is walked to jail by the person who tagged them.  People in jail can only get out if they are tagged by a rescuer and only one player at a time can be rescued The rescuer and the freed person once the tag is made can walk back together safely.  At various times the referee (youth leader-you) can if they like yell "Jail Break" and allow everyone out of jail, in order keep the game moving.

Players crossing the middle line and entering the opposing teams area are allowed to be tagged.  No tackling, pushing, or punching is allowed.  A tag is defined as a 2 hand touch.

Note: You can create whatever rules best fits your group size, playing area, and group.  Be as creative as you like with it and make it your own! It has been a huge hit with my groups over the years.  I have been playing it with groups for at least 15 years and just reintroduced it to my group on our recent fall retreat. Hope your group likes it and it can help you in your ministry. As always if you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me or a leave a message below!

Sample Playing Area:

Retreat/Lesson Series: "The Journey"


-CLICK HERE (Outline in PDF)
-CLICK HERE ( fill-in-the-blank lesson handouts PDF)


Here are the t-shirt & sweatshirt designs that I created for our fall retreat to go along with the theme. 

New U Can Use: "Teens Volunteer Because of Friends"

For Teens Who Volunteer, Social Change Is A Bonus

by Bob Filbin,
Ask a teen why she volunteers, and she’ll tell you things like “to make a difference in people’s lives” or “to work on an issue I care about deeply.” Ask that same teen about their volunteering habits (e.g., when, where, and with whom they volunteer), and a very different picture emerges. It turns out teens’ primary motivation for volunteering isn’t about creating social change. In fact, it’s the same motivation that drives most of a teen’s behavior: their friends are doing it.
Think of volunteering as a microcosm of a teen’s social world. Teens want to 1) hang out with friends, 2) connect through mobile technology (the average teen now exchanges over 5,000 texts per month), and 3) avoid commitment. Like a high school party, for volunteer events, teens often decide to go last minute, avoid showing up early, and almost never stay till the end. Being first or last isn’t cool. Volunteering, like everything else, is about blending in, making friends, and having a good time.
How much do friends matter? A whopping 75.9% of those whose friends volunteer on a regular basis also volunteer. Only 41.7% of those whose friends do not volunteer regularly, volunteer. 
It may not feel surprising that social networks impact the volunteering behavior of young people (for teens, peer pressure is as pervasive as air); yet this insight is new to researchers. Before now, for teens, the volunteering habits of friends was ranked as the fifth-most important factor influencing volunteering rates, or lower. Whoops.
So how do you use these insights to engage teens in volunteering opportunities? Here are three simple ways.

1. Make your activities social. Forget volunteering projects young people can do from your office or even the teen’s home. It’s not fun to do data entry or install a compact fluorescent light bulb by yourself. Instead, try something like an environmental clean-up. Ask young people to clean up a park, and to sign up with friends, and suddenly volunteer work turns into hanging out, with social change as a bonus.

2. Forget emails and newsletters. Text. If you Google “email is for,” you’ll find the first auto-complete option shown is “old people.” Teens live in a minute-to-minute world. If you want to keep in touch with them, you’ll have to live in their phone. Texts sent to teens have a 97% open rate. (Good luck getting that with email.) And with texting, you’ll be able to tell teens last-minute changes in plans for your volunteer event. Even if there aren’t any, improvise. (“We’re meeting by that big tree!”) Young people like to stay on their toes.

3. Make your activities like a party. Just in terms of event planning. Your volunteer events should be one-time commitments (i.e., little or no training required, and skip multi-day commitments), fluid (i.e., flexible start and end-times), and close to home (but not at home). Teens have crazy, over-packed lives. But if you keep your event flexible and accessible, teens will find ways to come, or as they would say, “make an appearance.” And hey, can they help it if they have multiple parties to attend?
Human behavior is not always driven by altruistic motivations – not even volunteering. Teens are mobile, flexible, and most importantly, social. They expect the same from their volunteer activities. If you want to engage teens in volunteering, tell them they’ll change the world. But more importantly, tell them their friends will save them a seat.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Top 10: Youth Ministry Hashtags?

10. #chubbybunnydeath

9. #teenbabysitting

8.  #stressedbutblessed

7. #RedBullAddiction

6. #myREALjob

5. #paycheck2paycheck

4. #boredmeeting

3. #JHdramaMama

2.  #calledORcrazy

1. #nosteppingstone
Add on your own, below!  Would love to hear what you think would make good ones that we should all start using?? 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: "More Middle School Talksheets: Epic OT Stories"

The king of the “talksheets”, David Lynn is back and better than ever with his newest addition to his talksheet series of books with More Middle School Talksheets: Epic Old Testament Stories. It is the companion to his book released this spring, Middle School Talksheets: Epic Old Testament Stories.  As usual it provides 52 grab-and-go reproducible student handouts with teaching helps and lesson plans on the back of each.   It picks up where the first book left off midway through the book of Judges with the story of Barak and Deborah and closes out in II Kings with the story of King Josiah.  Each talksheet is well done and thought provoking.  Each sheet cuts to core of the story with discussion questions, age appropriate case studies and life application challenges.

Do not dismiss this book as a quick addition to the talksheet series.  Lynn comes back around with a fresh resource what is much needed for Middle school and Jr. High ministry.  If you are looking for a resource to help you go through the Old Testament with your students, look no further.  The combined resources of the two books give any youth worker two solid years of study.  If you are looking to complete the three year of your middle school ministry consider Lynn’s other book, Jr. High/Middle School Talksheets: Psalms & Proverbs: Updated , to round out your teaching schedule. 

* Review Written for Youth Worker Journal 

BUY IT (Also available for your Kindle!)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Game #20: "Time Bombs" (Big Game)

Five Ticking Time Bombs Are Hidden and Time is Running Out. Which Team Will Find Them Before It Is To Late to Save Your Next Retreat....Camp....Lock-in....or Bar Maritza?!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Teaching Video #7 "I Am A Princess" (w/lesson suggestions)

Great clip use as part of a lesson or talk for the MS/JH girls of your group. 

Suggest Lessons:
"Adopted Daughter of the King" (daughter-ship)
- Rom. 8:15-23
- II Cor. 6:17-18

"Royal Priesthood of All Believers
- I Peter 2:9

News U Can Use: "Instagram: The New Facebook for Tweens"

Where there's a will, there's a social network: Instagram is the new Facebook for tweens and teens

You may have decided that your tween or teen isn't ready for Facebook.  The world of social networking may be a bit more than they can handle right now. But have you allowed Instagram, the free photo sharing app that can be cute or artistic?  Instagram and photos are different, right?
Actually, maybe not.

It seems that Instagram is the new Facebook.

Instagram users have the ability to comment on photos and post status updates. With those capabilities, Instagram is really not all the different from Facebook, and many kids are using it in the same way they would Facebook or another social network. Instagram requires that users be 13 years old to have an account, the same age requirement for a Facebook account.

Instagram is the top photography site among teens ages 12 to 17, with 1 million teens visiting the site during July. (For adults, the top photo site was Flickr.) There are more than 80 million Instagram users.  Facebook purchased Instagram last month, and said that Instragram isn't going anywhere.

Like any social network, there are risks.  Those run the gamut, from hurt feelings when seeing images of a party to which they weren't invited to pornography. (Yes, there are sexually explicit imagespictures on Instagram, as well as other disturbing images, including those related to drug use.)  There is the risk of your child oversharing information and the possibility that it could be a forum for cyberbullying. It is also an opportunistic for fraud, with users claiming to be modeling agencies contacting young Instragram users, but they turn out not to be from the agency they claimed.

Yoursphere, a website dedicating to family social networking and internet safety information, has a good overview of Instagramfor parents.

A fellow ChicagoNow blogger, the Dean of Parents, shares the experience she has had with her tween using Instagram on her smartphone and the family rules they have implemented here, including my favorite that Instagram can only be used on weekends and that the parents can block users.  The weekend rule seems like an approach that does not ban it, but does limit usage in an appropriate way. Most importantly, in my opinion, is that parents have access to children's accounts on any website that is even remotely like social networking. I like the advice of "be where your kids are" online. If your child is on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, you need to be there, too, with your own account.

My tween has not asked for a Facebook or Instagram account, and she doesn't have a phone yet, so I'm just waiting for the day. I've read many parents that say that you can't ban social networking all together, as the tweens and teens will find a way around it.  Do you agree?

I may not ban it, but I'm certainly not going to offer her accounts, especially because I have no interest in violating age requirements implemented by the companies. I'm planning to hold out until she's 13. But I'm not naive. (And I know that I've made other such comments regarding other parenting decisions and then realized how very, very wrong I was.) I recognize that the time is just around the corner when she wants these accounts, and I'll know that Instagram isn't just about her interest in photography. Guess I'd better go get an Instagram account now. Not only do I want to be where she is, I know that I'm going to need a head start to make sure I've got it figured out.

Monday, November 5, 2012

November Featured Website: The NEW "Stuff You Can Use"

NEW AND IMPROVED! Kenny and Elle Campbell are back with a re-boot of their site 
 It features all the fun freebies that you have grown to love, but now with an addition of AFFORDABLE resources for purchase.  Everything is under $10, including games, curriculum, media and more!!? No subscription and long term commitment are involved.   And because they know where real youth ministry happens their resources are middle school/jr. high focuses.
So don't wait, go there today to find your next game and lesson series that is going to wow your students, impress your parents, and finally get you that much deserved raise.  (shh...we won't tell anybody where it came from!)
* PS---I personally would HIGHLY recommend checking out the "curriculum" section. It seems like the guy they have writing that stuff is just downright awesome?? ;-)

November Featured Blog: "TWEEN US"

"Tween Us" is part of the CHICAGO NOW Blog and Website. It is a great little online resource spot for things Tween and to give a bit of a parent's perspective.  It is written by a Midwestern mom who is raising a tween daughter.

From the Website:
"Said daughter loves to throw me curve balls just when I think I have this parenting thing figured out.  Good thing I have her amazing Bonus Dad for back up.  This blog is to share the stories that come from being embedded with a Tween and the research that I'm doing to better understand her and her world.
Tweens fascinate me, and I'm on a mission to learn more about them and their impact on society.  I'll share what I learn through from being in the trenches and from helpful sources.  This is a complicated age group, full of challenges and fun."

CLICK HERE to check it out for yourself! 

Top 10: REAL Youth Pastor's Wife Interview Questions?


Really? You Want to Interview My Wife Too??  REAL Interview Questions for Your Wife, with "HONEST" Answers?? (maybe...)

10. Do You Support Your Husband?  (nope, not at all?) 

9. What Is Your Husbands Biggest Weakness?  (his quads?)

8. Do You Like What Your Husband Does For A Live? (nope, I wish he would have been a doctor?)

7. We Know It Is Not A "2 for 1", But How Many Hours A Week Can We EXPECT You Be Working in the Ministry? (Lets see my husband will work 50+ hours a week, I will have my own career, and raise our kids...42?)

6. Were You a Virgin When You Got Married? (shh..don't  tell him but...)

5. How Many People Did You Date, Before You Got Married? (shhh..tell him but....)

4. Have You Ever Been Unfaithful In Your Marriage? (define "unfaithful"?)

3. On a Scale from 1-10, How Would You Describe Your Love Life? (oh we are definitely working an 11, have you seen my man?)

2. Do You Feel You Are A Submissive Wife?  (nope, he submits to me.  He is kind of a wimp?) 

1. Do You Feel Like You Dress Modestly?  (only when I really have to?)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Review: "Rock Solid Faith: Teen Study Bible"

In a market flooded with a variety of teen Bibles and youth devotional books, the The Rock Solid Study Bible: for Teens, at first glace just blends in with the crowd.  Once you begin to go through it and take some time to stop and read the side bars and notes like the “unshaken God” and “rock solid truth”, you begin to see depth in its simplicity.   It does not try to use flashy graphics, cartoons, and the usual overused cliché stuff of other teen Bibles.  

The Rock Solid Study Bible, is pretty much what it title claims- Rock Solid, with its excellent study helps, challenges, and overall solid spiritual basics that the average teen needs.   It is a good resource to have available around the office for new believers or for students growing in their faith.

Review Written for Youth Worker Journal

CLICK HERE to order one for yourself!
Also, here is a quick promo to hear more...

Free Media #29: Teaching Graphics Bundle!

Sermon Graphics Bundle is a free collection of eight series bumpers and graphics created by Dan Stevers includes:

  • Eight Bumpers w/ Graphics
  • Blank Versions For Logo Replacements
  • Series Descriptions and Font Recommendations

CLICK HERE (to get started)