Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hello Happy Campers!

I Am Away at an Awesome Week of Summer Camp with My Wild & Crazy 7th & 8th Graders!

Check back soon for more exciting, helpful resources along with some thoughts and reflections from life in pre-teen/middle school/jr. high/....or"whatever you call in it your neck of the woods" ministry!

Hope You Are Having a Great Summer!! 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Game #76: "Silly Sloppy Snorkel Slurpees"

Head on over to your nearest 7-Eleven and hold on to your heads because it is going to be a brain-freezing good time of silly, sloppy fun! 

- 2 Snorkels (*cheap kids ones from Walmart work great)
- 2 Large pitchers
- 2-4 of the largest "Slurpees" or "Slushies" you can buy.  (or simply use Kool-aid, Punch, or another liquid of choice for a game without the brain-freeze)

Set Up:
- Fill 2 pitchers with your Slurpees or liquid of choice
- Place the pitchers on a raise surface of table
- Have 2 snorkels ready, but hidden

Game Play/Explanation:
Quick explanation: players will try to suck as much liquid as they can through a snorkel in 60 seconds.
- Call 2 players up to the front or the playing area
- Explain that this is a "Brain-Freeze" game and they are going to drink as much "Slurpee" as they can in 60 seconds.
- Then pull out the snorkel and submerge them into the pitchers.
- On "Go!" players will slurp and suck as much out of the pitcher as fast as they can!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

News U Can Use: "Dangerous Teen #Hashtag Challenges"

"Last month it was the #CharlieCharlieChallenge. Before that it was the #KylieJennerLipChallenge. And now? The #BellyButtonChallenge.

It seems as though there is a new hashtag-labelled, social media challenge happening each month. 

Teenagers are most likely to participate in and spread these social media challenges in part because of their age, which makes them prone to experiment, and in part because of their deep relationship with social media. Teens are connected and curious - a perfect storm for a hash tagged challenge

Some of them are mostly harmless - as was the case with the #CharlieCharlieChallenge. The #CharlieCharlieChallenge mirrored popular slumber party games (like Ouija boards) and ghost stories from days past, with a social media twist. 

Other hashtagged challenges are a little more insidious, as was the case with last year's #CinnamonChallenge that took off on YouTube, hospitalizing several participants, and the more recent instagram fueled #KylieJennerLipChallenge and #KylieJennerChallenge which at last look have yielded over 200,000 posts, many involving tweens and teens engaging in risky behavior... " 
(READ MORE AT "Huff Post Parents")

Monday, June 22, 2015

Top 10: What If People Acted Like They Act at Church, Other Places?

10.  Calling Your Dentist's Wife at Home and Complaining About How Her Husband Did Your Fillings?

9. Grounding Your Kids from Going to School For 2 Weeks?

8.  Spilling Your Drink in the Middle Of Your Friends Living Room Carpet, and Then Just Walking Away?

7. Allowing Your Kids to Walk Behind the Counter at Mc Donald's and Rummage Around to See If There is Something Better to Eat? 

6. Email Your Boss at Home and Ask Him, When He Needed that Report Due Again?

5. Write an Anonymous Note to Your Child's Teacher, Telling Them How Much Better Last Year's Teacher Was?

4. Walking into Starbucks and Telling Someone to Move, Because That is the Table You Always Sit at?

3.  Whenever Your Spouse Starts Sharing About How Much She Loves You, You Pull Out Your Phone and Start Texting or Just Close Your Eyes and Just Fall Asleep?

2. Having Your Kids Only Show Up to Practices When There is Nothing Else Going On,...Then Get Mad When The Coach Tells You They Can't Go to the End of the Year Tournament?

1. Never Read Your Textbook or Study Outside of Class and  And Then Complain That You Aren't Learn Anything!!? 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

News U Can Use: "Tweens and Household Spending"

"It's not enough that you've worked hard enough to earn a vacation (and can pay for it, too). Your kids expect to have a say in the matter, too. In the Intelligence Group's newest Cassandra Report, which focuses on tweens and marketing, fully one-third of parents report their kids are "extremely influential" on household purchases big and small. Armed with technology and opinions, today's tweens also are well on their way to becoming online shoppers and want products that are customized to them. And, as you'd expect, they'd like them now, please. ...."


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Top 10: Program Vs. Ministry (Current Group Magazine)

JH Uth Guy Thought of The Week

After doing youth ministry for a rather long time now, I realized that out of all the meetings, phone calls, and conversations.  I have never had a time where a parent told me they were worried their kids were not truly Godly.  I hear about when their kid is not being "good".  I hear about the fact that their kids are not "great".  I can not remember a time when I heard about a kid not being "Godly"?  Isn't that what we as Christ Following ("Christian") parent should be seeking?  Kids willing to break the rules of what our society considers good in order to follow God.  Kids willing to choose God over temporary athletic or academic greatness?

Just another passing thought from a youth pastor and also a dad, seeking to do what God has called be to do through both of my life callings?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

"Why Kids Choose Sports Over Youth Group?" (10 Thoughts)

The Applause- For better or worse students choose sports because of the applause.

But are we applauding our students.  Not in prideful or wrong ways, but do kids come to our youth ministry and feel like they are recognized for accomplishments and when they do something good for God?

 The Team- Kids choose sport because they belong to a group of people that has unity, connection, an identity and a common goal.

Does our youth ministry? We should be but do we? Do our kids know it or feel with when they come?

The Coach- An adult wanting them to be there, caring for them, and is willing to push them to their limits and beyond.  Is willing to yell occasionally if needed both in encouragement and in instruction.  Someone that is respected because of their knowledge and skills.

Are you more of a coach or a couch? (click here to find out)

The Future- Kids play sports because there is a dream of a future doing this professionally or at least doing well enough to help them to pay for college.

What is the dream or promise of the future that we offer in youth ministry? Are we working hard to talk about an adulthood living for Christ, or are we just talking about the student years?  Are we working to help student find scholarships to go to ministry schools?  Are we talking about colleges and careers connected to faith?

The Health- Kids choose sports because it something that keeps them physically healthy.  There is a sense of knowing that they are in shape physically, but also mentally & emotionally because of playing sports.

Do students walk away from a year or "season" of youth group feeling spiritually healthy? How about physically healthy?  With "Pizza-Festival 2015" and "Mt. Dew Chug-A-Lug Night" are we missing out on a more health conscious generation?

The Friendships/Relationships- Deep meaningful friendship and relationships are formed through sports.  Through the rough 2-a-day practices, long bus rides, wins and loses, and more kids bond with others through a mutual interest.

The reason why camps, retreats and especially mission trip experiences are so important, because they are longer opportunities and more intense times that build deeper connections.  Are we providing meaningful opportunities to build deeper relationships with other students or just superficial spiritual cliques?

The Parents- Kids choose sports over church, because parents choose sports over church.  Parents choose sports because they have something they can cheer for, be proud of, connect with other parents through, and even find a way to connect with their kids through.

Are our ministries a place where parents are invited, welcomed, and encouraged? Are they involved in bringing a snack?  Are they allowed to come to see their child doing ministry?  Are we communicating with them as much as a coach or sports league communicates with them?  Are we providing a ministry that parents can be proud of their kids being involved in and even "brag" a bit about?

The Win- Everyone likes to be a winner.  Every one likes to win.  Even in a changing world of everyone gets a trophy in the younger grades, late elementary through high school a win and a lose is defined.  Everyone know clearly what is a win and a lose.

Do our youth ministries provide a clear idea what is a "win"?  Does anyone know what our "goal" is? The biggest question I get asked, all the time by others in youth ministry is- "How do you define success?" If we as leaders have a hard time defining a "win" or "success", our kids definitely don't know either?

The Memories- Kids choose sports over youth group because of the memories of the past seasons, teams, coaches, and excitement.

Are we creating memories that make kids want to come back for another "season" with us?

The Commitment-  I hear students say it all the time, "I can't come because I made a commitment to...". I hear parents say things like, "well we are trying to teach our kids if they commit to something, then they need to stick with it".

We get frustrated by those statements and bemoan the lack of commitment to church, but have we ever really taught about or explained "committing your life to Christ" is more than a one time, at the altar moment, but rather a "seek first His kingdom" lifestyle.   Commitment is connected to priorities and what comes in first.   Sports after all is about a commitments to coming in first place.   Is our ministries, churches, and even our own personal philosophy about seeking God first or are we just another organization seeking to come in first as we compete against the "other organization" down the road.

Just some passing thoughts from a youth pastor leading a youth ministry while also balancing being a "sports dad" to two athletes of my own!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Game #75: "Please Hold the Line" (Big Group, Partner)

A Teachable Teamwork and Communication Partner Racing Game, Where A Little Bit of Tension is GOOD!!? 

- 4 Long Pieces of Rope (10-12 feet long each) if you are playing 2 teams, more if you have a bigger group with more teams
- 2 Large Buckets or Tubs
- A wide variety of tennis ball size balls (ball pit balls, whiffleballs...)
- A long play area, inside or outside

Quick explanation: Partners will each be holding the ends of 2 rope in each hand while transporting a ball balanced between the 2 pieces of rope from one end of the playing area to the other.

Before the Game: 
- Fill up one tub or bucket full of balls, make sure you have enough balls to have 1 ball per every 2 people.
- Place a tub/bucket full of balls on the starting end of the playing area.
- Place an empty tub/bucket on the far end of the playing area as your goal.
- Cut 4 or more pieces rope, equal length, 10-12 feet long.  Place them at the starting end of the playing area

Game Play
- Divide the group into 2 teams or more for larger groups.
- Have everyone find a partner
- On "Go" pairs will have to grab the end of each rope and pull it tense between the 2 of them, placing one ball ON the rope.
- Once players have the ball balanced on the rope, they will then work to transport the ball to the other end of the playing area and drop it into the empty tub/bucket.
- Once pairs have successfully taken their ball to the other end they run back and give the rope to the next pair in line on their team
- Winning team is the team that has all of their pairs successfully complete the task.

- No holding  the ball
- Once the ball is on the rope, players can not touch the ball unless it hits the ground.
- If the ball falls, pairs must stop where they are at and place the ball back on the rope and continue on
- Ball can not be squeezed between the ropes, it must be balanced on TOP of the ropes.

- The best balls to use are tennis balls, but feel free to use any kind of ball of any size to really make it challenging.
- Consider playing the game with not being able to talk, for an extra challenge.
- Great game to play on a parent night/event pairing up kids and with their parents! 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Top 10: Worst Reasons for Doing Youth Ministry The Way You Do It?

10.  It is what my own youth group did when I was in youth group?

9.  It is what the church has always done? 

8.  I just don't feel like being creative?

7.  It is the easiest way? 

6.  It is all I know? 

5.  It is what I read in a book or heard at a conference?

4.  It seems to be working for the church down the road?

3.  I am just doing exactly what (*insert famous megachurch name) is doing? 

2.  It is what the youth group kids want and like? (*or...It is what the parents want and like?) 

1.  It is just what I personally want to do and like! 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Teaching Clip #39 : "What is Worship Services Were Like the NBA Game?"

Consider using it while teaching a series about "The Church", like this one... "RESTORED" (taking back the church) 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

News U Can Use: "Parents Are Why Teens Don't Use Birth Control"

" In a recent survey, 68% of teens said they agreed with this statement: The primary reason why they don't use birth control or protection is because they're afraid their parents will find out.
That's nearly seven out of 10 teens who say fears about what their parents might think or say are pushing them not to protect themselves when and if they have sex, according to the research by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. It's a worrisome development even at a time when the U.S. teen pregnancy rate is lower than at any time in the 70 years it has been recorded...." READ MORE AT CNN.COM 

Monday, June 1, 2015

JH Uth Guy Thought of the Week?

Top 10: Things I Have Never Heard A JH/MS Student Say....

Over 20+ years of doing youth ministry I have had parents, adults, and other leaders say many things, make comments, and even have a wide variety of complaints.  Students of course have crazy, funny, and off handed things they are always saying.  

BUT I have never heard a Jr. High/Middle School Students say...

10.  I stopped coming to youth group because I didn't like your theology. 

9.  I got 2 front row tickets to the new Gaither's tour! 

8.  Tonight was way too much fun. 

7.  Please stop sending me personal handwritten encouragement notes. 

6.  My parents realized that my sports career is only going to last another couple years, but a relationship with God is for a lifetime, so they made me quit so I can come to church more. 

5. The music is a bit to contemporary for my taste, can we sing more hymns. 

4.  What is the greek word for...anything, ever. 

3.  The girls cabins feels that the light out time is too late and they will be going to bed earlier to make sure they get enough sleep this weekend. 

2. Wait where did you go to seminary again? 

1.  What Free Pizza Again!?