Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Game #86: "Block-tionary" (Upfront Game/Team Building/Icebreaker)

Pictionary Meets Jenga Meets Charades Meets Your Youth Group!? 

It is a quick silly upfront group game, that also can make a great icebreaker or team builder.   

Here is the simple idea behind 

- Children's Wooden Building Blocks (or Jenga Blocks)
- A Tall Table
- Index Cards

Set up:
- Have a table set up, up front with a pile of blocks
- On your index cards write out a set of clues (10-20).  Simple items that can be built or formed out of blocks and a couple more advanced, difficult items.  (* see example below)

Game Play:
- Divide group into 2 equal teams
- Each team will have a 60 second turn guessing the clue
- Choose which team will start and have one volunteer from that team come to the front
- Show the volunteer the clue.
- Give them 60 second to build or form that item using the blocks provided.
- Team will have to guess what they are building or forming.
- After 60 seconds, if they do not guess the clue the opposing team has the chance to "steal" with one guess!

- Up front player can not say anything or make any noise, they are allowed to "act out" something to go along with their creation, similar to charades rules. They must build something though.
- Creations do not have to be "stand alone" creations. The up front play can hold their creation together if needed
- Letters and numbers are not allowed.  Player can not spell out the clue.
- Teams can yell out answers and guesses.

Additional Ideas/Options: 
- An alterative to wooden blocks could be Legos or other similar building toys
- For a larger group or setting, consider setting up a close circuit camera that also shows on overhead screen.

Clue Examples:
- Animals: Dog, Cat, Horse, Fish, Bird...
- Object: Car, Boat, Plane...
- Fruit/Food: Apple, Banana, Ice Cream...
- Technology: Phone, TV, Computer,...

- Advanced Level: The Youth Pastor's Face?  The Leaning Tower of Pisa?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

News U Can Use: "Middle School Friendships Are Doomed"

" Are you still friends with that bestie you made way back in middle school? If so, kudos to you both — you're an amazing anomaly. According to a new Psychological Sciencestudy on adolescence reported by New York Magazine, only one percent of the friendships formed in seventh grade will make it through high school. (Way to go, Kimmy Gibbler and DJ Tanner. You continue to inspire us all.)

To complete the study, researchers at Florida Atlantic and Radboud universities followed 410 teens, checking in with each of them once a year, every year, from seventh through twelfth grade. And while the results may not be too surprising to anyone who has walked the sometimes horrible halls of middle school, seeing the unwritten social realities of adolescence translated into clear statistics is fascinating...."

Monday, January 25, 2016

Top 10: OTHER Relationships You Need to Try to Make? (*Classic)

We all talk about relational ministry and who we need to have strong relationships with. We often discuss the need for better relationships with parents and fellow pastors. We all know there are certain people we need or have to have relationships with, but I would like to suggest 10 "OTHER" relationships you may not usually consider, that you should.....

10. The Church Custodian/Head of Maintance

9. The Sr. Pastor's Secretary

8. The Children's Pastor/Director/Person in Charge

7. The Head of the Board (Deacon, Elder,...)

6. The Principal
(at the school where the biggest number of your students attend)

5. The Assistant Principal (the one that usually takes care of the discipline issues)

4. The Owner of the Nearest Locally Owned Pizza Place (seriously!) 

3. The Head of the Trustees or Build and Grounds

2. The Sr. Pastor's Wife

1. The OLDEST active member in your congregation

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Ran-Dumb Youth Ministry Meme #85

Free Media #94 : "Movie Tools" (Motion Backgrounds)

A source for 280+ completely free animated 2D and 3D background animations, lower thirds and more:  Here you can find all the tools for making better online-videos. Just create an user account to download all of their free video content you want!

CLICK HERE (to get started) 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Life Savers for BOTH Your Youth Ministry and Your Marriage!

Heading into my 22nd year of doing youth ministry with a majority of that time being married, there are some things that I have learned that have kept me married and kept me in ministry. Whether it is your relationship with your spouse or ministry to your Jr. Highers, there are a few things that are ironically “life savers” for both. Here are just a couple things that have helped me and hopefully can help you…


Make a plan and stick to it. What you say you will do…DO! Plan and organize your life and dates, way ahead of time. Sit down and think out what is going to be happening and what you want to happen in the next 6 to 12 months, and then create a calendar. Go out and buy a big, stinking old-school calendar with a lot of room to write everything down on, and then hang it where you and everyone can see it. Especially make sure you have all the “special days” you are supposed to remember on it, because you know if you miss one of those, you are done for! Your name is “mud” and it will take you years to live down the fact that you forgot!


Don’t check out other people’s… be faithful and committed! Be satisfied with the one you have and stop going around looking to see how good and pretty everyone else’s looks. There is nothing worse than get caught looking around. “Godliness with contentment is great gain…” (I Tim. 6:6), needs to be lived out in how you focus and think.

The other side of commitment is longevity. Stick it out for better or worse knowing you cannot and will not take the easy out. It has become way too easy to head on out and trade on up, when things are not going the way YOU think they should. It is not only about you.


Talk to, talk with…stop talking at. You are paid to be a communicator, but sometimes you are the worst at communicating. Take the time to relax, chill out, and just talk. Find the times to talk without an agenda in mind or a point you need to make. Even more make an effort to let the communication flow the other way and just listen. It isn’t really communicating, if the only person who is talking is you all the time.

When you do need to inform make sure you are clear, concise and to the point. Communicate regularly and often and in your communication inform by creating interest and including others.


More than love and even like…actually care. We love and sometimes even like, but do we really show care? In the day in and day out life of hearing people’s problems, issues, and hurts, you need to remember to actually compassionately care in a personal way. We can easily become cynical and a bit hard-hearted without even knowing it. The big hurt of the day is being poured out and you slip into the counselor “nod and quote a verse mode”. Little secret, that is not much of a secret, everyone sees through that really quickly, especially the people that know you!


Enjoy life and laugh….learn to laugh at yourself. Life is fun, so have fun and make fun. Not everything needs to be an intense spiritual serious moment. If you don’t laugh and look for the humor in things, you will go nuts. It is the natural release valve of life, if you don’t learn to laugh, you will end up crying, frustrated and bit angry… no needs for any more of that around, there is enough of that already!

Blessings on your marriage and on your ministry. May you find ways to save both and continue to do what God has called you to in both, sacred and special parts of your life!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

News U Can Use: "Facebook Testing Snapchat Style Messaging"

" Facebook is testing disappearing messages, à la Snapchat, in its Messenger app in France, the company confirmed on Thursday.

The new feature, first spotted by BuzzFeed, lets users choose to have their messages disappear after one hour. Users can turn it on and off by tapping on an hourglass-shaped icon at the top right corner of the screen. The feature only affects the conversation the user is currently in.

“We’re excited to announce the latest in an engaging line of optional product features geared towards making Messenger the best way to communicate with the people that matter most,” the company said in a statement to Fortune via email. “Starting today, we’re conducting a small test in France of a feature that allows people to send messages that disappear an hour after they’re sent. Disappearing messages gives people another fun option to choose from when they communicate on Messenger....”  

Monday, January 18, 2016

Top 10: Ways You Might Be Losing Respect Around Your Church (classic)

10. Your Toms. The elders think you are wearing bedroom slippers to do the announcements in adult worship.

9. Your Car. Your students think it is cool but the your Sr. Pastor is really not sure what it means that "You got caught riding dirty again"

8.  Your Watch. You don't own one, you are always late to everything!

7. Your Spouse. Like your watch you don't have one...get one.  Everyone knows married people are more respectable?

6. Your Gauges. They work great for going hands free with your phone or carrying your Mountain Dew cans, but stop carrying you pack of cigarettes in them!

5. Your Ink.  I am not talk about the write up in the church newsletter. I am talking about the neck tat of Jesus and your knuckle tats of John 3:16. 

4. Your Office. Seriously...1-800-Hire-Maid. There is a 6th grader that got lost in the piles last summer and hasn't been seen since.

3. Your Ringtone.  "I Am Sexy and I Know" playing in your pocket, while you give your annual parent meeting, might have lost you a couple points.

2. Your Skinny Jeans. You are in your 30's.  When you finally get a spouse, all of "THAT" should stay between the two of you inside marriage.   

1. Your Parents.  Not the parents in your youth group, your actual parents.  You need move out of their basement and stop having your mom come to youth group with you!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Ran-Dumb Youth Ministry Meme #84

Free Resource #72: "2015 Infographics on Teen Drug Use"

" The 2015 Monitoring the Future survey (MTF) shows decreasing use of a number of substances, including cigarettes, alcohol, prescription opioid pain relievers, and synthetic cannabinoids (“synthetic marijuana”). Other drug use remains stable, including marijuana, with continued high rates of daily use reported among 12th graders, and ongoing declines in perception of its harms. The MTF survey measures drug use and attitudes among eighth, 10th, and 12th graders, and is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health. The survey has been conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor since 1975. For the first time, daily marijuana use exceeds daily tobacco cigarette use among 12th graders. Daily marijuana use for this group remained relatively stable at 6 percent, compared to 5.5 percent reporting daily cigarette smoking (down from 6.7 percent in 2014).” - National Institute on Drug Use

CLICK HERE (to see the info-graphics from "Center of Youth and Parent Understanding") 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Hint/Help #22: "Making Every Week Special!"

Tired of the weekly question from your parents and students- "Is there anything special happening this week?". 

Now you can answer honestly..."EVERY WEEK IS SPECIAL!!" by actually making every week special, unique and fun.

It is really not that hard or expensive.  Here is our current weekly schedule of "Thursday Night Specials"! 

  • 1st Week: Birthday Night: Instead of sending out a card or a comment on social media, throw a 5 minute party for everyone who has a birthday that month.  The cost of a small prize or some cupcakes, along with maybe even a silly birthday video greeting like these:! My students love it! 
  • 2nd Week: Ran-Dumb Fun: Do something completely random and dumb for the night.  Silly top 10 list, stupid video of the month, gross upfront challenge, etc... This year our "Ran-Dumb" fun nights are fun dress ups: Ugly Sweater, Silly Socks, Pajamas, ... 
  • 3rd Week: Crazy Dodgeball: My 5th-8th grade are obsessed with "scrabble" dodgeball or  plain old dodgeball.  I am actually tired of it and also having to play it every week, so we decided to make once a month dodgeball night and also make it crazy versions of dodgeball.
    • Click Here: for some example
    • Click Here: for some of my Easter version of dodgeball that you can easily adapt for other times of the year
  • 4th Week: Food Night: You might serve food every week, but on this night make it a special or bigger item.  Don't feel like you have to do a whole meal, unless you want to and can afford it. 
    • Some Idea: Hot Dog/S'more Roast, Nacho Bar, Hot Cocoa, Cereal Bar, Cookie Buffet, Ice Cream, and so on
    • If you want to really make it Fun and Crazy consider what we did at my last church and have "TOP THAT Nights" 
  • 5th Week (if you have one): Invite a Parent/Adult Night: Have students invite a parent or a special adult in their life, to come check out youth group with them for the night.  We make these special parent nights with a special lesson and even a special game.  Of course, what else, my parents and students love "Parent Vs. Kid Dodgeball", it was a huge hit earlier this year! 
          These night are great to include other adults from the church, to experience youth group and 
          see for themselves what is really going on! 

There is many different ways to make every youth group night special, these are just mine.   Just a small quick help/hint that is making a huge impact in my ministry currently! 

Youth Ministry Invention #35: "Slackers: Slackline" (teambuilding/game)

"Turn your yard into an adventure park! Most people agree that slackline kits are one of the most exciting new items that you can put in your backyard for hours and hours of enjoyment. Slacklines help improve core strength, and balance all while walking just a few feet off the ground. Follow the directions and your slackline will be set up in 10 minutes.
Ages 5+, 800lbs. – 363KG Max Weight Limit."
- From the "SLACKERS" website
Here is great invention/product that might be great for your church property or to take along on your next retreat or trip.  
The slack lines come in a variety of lengths, styles and even a glow-in-the-dark version.  You can find them on their website for a reasonable cost or even find them on Amazon! 
If you are looking for even more of a challenge the extra long version of these are offered under their "Voodoo" Line, including 100 foot long "fearless" version. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

News U Can Use: "What Tween TV Teaches Kids?"

"...The current crop of shiny, metallic tween sitcoms—the tweencoms. Your Henry Dangers, your K.C. Undercovers. College rock bands no longer flop and whirl on the front lawn. Mom no longer has a plate in her head that can pick up radio stations. That blurry hipness, that dream logic, has been suppressed, erased, vacuumed out by the corporate nozzle. Across the two biggest children’s networks, Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel, the gags and obsessions are all the same, the characters and their glossy environments more or less interchangeable. Mechanized laughter reigns.

What happened? Whence this uniformity? Weren’t the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon once opposing brands—the former a squeaky-clean twinkle factory, the latter more splattery and indie-spirited—battling for the eyeballs of America’s children? Yes, they were. And Disney won, at least according to the veterans interviewed in Slimed!, Mathew Klickstein’s recent oral history of Nickelodeon. Having ruled the ’90s with programming rooted in what a former network vice president, Mike Klinghoffer, calls the “Us vs. Them” theory (“The kids against the grown-ups. It’s like the Revolutionary War.”), the Nickelodeonites lost their way or their nerve or both. “They got seduced by the success of Disney’s shows with older tweens and teens living fantasy lives,” laments Alan Goodman, who helped author Nickelodeon’s great 1980s relaunch. “Wizards, a rock star in disguise, twins who live in a palace. But you can’t beat Disney doing ‘dreams come true...." 


Monday, January 11, 2016

JH Uth Guy Thought of the Week

Top 10: Reason Why I DON'T Do MS/JH Lock-Ins Anymore!?

Hello, my name is Dan and I am a recovering youth pastor.  I am recovering from a strange youth ministry addiction that has continued to sweep the nation and plague my friends and colleagues.  

It has been more ten years since my last...middle school/jr. high LOCK IN!


10. Liability: Tired kids playing, roller skating, bowling or honestly just walking across the room trying to chew gum at the same time is an accident waiting to happen.

9. Drama: Girls get catty and boys get cranky about 2am and it is ON! Nights fall apart quickly with a quick word or a quick swing!

8. Coupling: As the night drags on, the slight, usual restraint of fighting the desires of youthful lust while at church gives way to an evening of quietly sneaking off to a cozy spot of discussing each other's love language?

7. Boredom: We complain about not being glorified baby-sitters or entertainers.  Lock-ins are pretty much 10-12 hours of trying to keep everyone entertained and baby-sitting.  Inevitably, no matter how creative and amazing you are, you will hear- "I am bored!"

6. Tiredness/Recovery: For you as an adult and for your students.  It will take everyone a day or 2 or  even a week to recover from the "lock-in hangover".  Is it really worth it?   Is it fair to your own personal family?

5. Clean Up/Building Maintenance:  Nothing is more awesome than to be hanging around your building for another hour, after being up all night, cleaning up all the messes.  To top it off of course is the always the exciting conversation with your maintenance people,  board or boss explaining how exactly the sink got ripped off the wall (*true story)....or how during the game of "cops and robbers" the projector magically fell off the ceiling to hit that girl in the head (*true story)

4. Tradition: I stopped doing lock-ins because of "It is what we have always done" or "It is what the last guy did".  Sometimes things just need to take a break or die a quick death.  With tradition comes the need to outlive, live up to, or just plain live on in the past. Let's start trying new things?

3. Leadership: It is hard to get enough adults to adequately chaperone lock-ins.  Often it like "pulling teeth" to get anyone to volunteer or be guilted into coming.  Is it honestly the best use of your volunteers limited and valuable time.

2. The Pick Up: What is harder than getting adults to show up at 7pm and stay around until 7am the next morning?  Getting parents to show up at 7am the next morning to pick up their child! Nothing is better than not sleeping,  having another hour of clean up left and then waiting for parents who decide to sleep in, over-slept or are just getting in from a free overnight date night compliments of you!  (*See: "Top 10 REAL Reasons for Being Late for Pick Up?" ) 

1. Spiritual:  Some may argue with me, but I never found any great spiritual benefits from lock-ins.  None of the kids really want to listen to a sermon at 2am.  Worship earlier in the evening may be great, but after midnight it ended up pushing more emotions then deep intimacy with God.
     I just ended up having a hard time giving so much time, energy, resources, volunteers, and planning to something that really did not hold much spiritual value after it was all said in done.

You may disagree and that is fine.  These are just 10 of my own reasons why I don't do lock-ins anymore and have not done one is 10+ years.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Free Media #94: "Ask a Tween" (videos)

    A collection of videos by "The Atlantic" magazine where the magazine "Ask a Tween" and interesting question.
    Great for discussion starter, lesson illustration, or even a leader/parent training event. 

Here are some of the topics...

- Could You Live Without Your Phone?
- What Social Media Do You Use?
- What is Dating Like?
- What Advice Would You Give Adults?
- What is Your Favorite Emoji?
- What Do Want to Do When You Grow Up?
- What Does it Mean to Be Popular?
- What is Your Favorite Slang Word? 

CLICK HERE (to find out the answers) 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Goodie Two Shoes or Godly Two Feet? (who do we want our kids to be)

Margery Meanwell was a poor orphan girl that lived on the streets. She was a sweet kind girl always doing good for others, even though she was poor and had nothing. She was recognized throughout the town as the girl with only one shoe. As the story goes, one day a rich, gentlemen seeing her and the good she was doing while only have one shoe purchased her a brand new pair of shoes. She was so overjoyed and grateful she could not stop from telling everyone she met of her “two shoes” she now had. She continued to help others and doing good around the town, from then on and forever known as “Goodie Two Shoes”…

I don’t know if you have ever heard that story or really knew the supposed origins of that phrase. It is a phrase that I know I personally hated growing up in a Christian home. Both inside and outside the Christian circle trying to live right, faithfully attending church, and reading my Bible was not seen as Godliness but as “Goodness”. If I chose not to smoke, drink or swear it was all chalked up to being a “goodie two shoes”, not trying to be a Godly person. I struggled with that in my teen years, as I am sure many of your students do. Even in a world of tolerance and acceptance, living different and being “good” is still seen as somehow a negative.

As a youth pastor and as a parent, this is something I started thinking about a few years ago. Right around the time I started hearing the phrase “Moral Therapeutic Deism”. If you have read anything about youth ministry in the last 10 years, you have probably heard that phrase. If you don’t know, it based on a study by researcher Christian Smith and his team studying American teenagers and religion. In layman’s terms one of things they discovered was that religion, Christianity, church and even youth ministry had become more about morals- “being and doing good” than truly being and living Godliness according to the Bible.

Over the last 10 years or so, we have taken a longer harder look at where we were heading in youth ministry and church with this next generation. The phrase and research has been quoted and written about quite a bit. It has been a part of many trainings, seminars and conferences. The issue is ours in youth ministry, but it not ours alone. The stronghold of “goodie two shoes” kids still remaining is the home, that is why strong parent ministries and family ministries are needed.

It is a difficult undertaking. It is much easier for parents to raise good kids than Godly kids. It is much more comfortable to have a “goodie two shoes” around the house. When I ask parents to be honest--they want good kids. They want their kids to just be good, act good, and do good. The hard work of discipleship is when we partner with parents, challenging students to “Go and Be My Disciples”. Even in good Christian homes there are so many “spiritual orphans”. Students who have been taught to do good in order to get a good reward in the end and be known as a “Goodie Two Shoes”. While what we all need to be doing is raising up a generation of “Godly Two Feet” who want to be followers of Christ walking in His way. Students who are know for being Godly not just good.

It is time to ask ourselves and the parents we work with is what is our end goal– 
Goodie Two Shoes or GODLY TWO FEET!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

News/Youth Ministry Invention: "Yondr: no-phone zones"

Technologies advancements have led to some pretty slick smartphones, which many use to capture photos and videos of cherished memories. Or, cats. In recent years, however, there’s been growing backlash towards those who bring their phones into intimate venues, such as a concert hall or comedy club. Some artists, like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Savages, have even banned phones all together.

Graham Dugoni is capitalizing on this anti-cell phone sentiment with his new company, Yondr. You may have heard of the name recently, as the company’s technology provided a “no-phone zone” for Dave Chappelle’s recent residency in Chicago. In this Q&A, Dugoni discusses how his company disables cell phone usage during performances, why this trend is becoming more popular, and what he have planned in 2016.... READ THE REST AT "CONSEQUENCES OF SOUND"

* Check out  the "Yondr" site directly! 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Top 10: New Year Resolutions for Youth Pastors

10.  Less Swearing During Lessons.  

9.  Give Up Street Racing Church Vans for Money. 

8.  Drink More Caffeine and "Caffeine-Like" Alternatives. 

7.  Stay Awake Through ALL Staff Meeting, This Year!

6.  Do Not Prank the Sr. Pastor (*or his wife) 

5.  Remember to Wear Pants to the Office! 

4.  Stop Referring to Female Staff as "The Squad"!

3.  Do Not End Any Lessons this Year with a "Mic Drop". 

2.  Take Less Selfies During Adult Service This Year. 

1.  Finally Be Able to Fit Into a Pair of Skinny Jeans!?