Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christian Book Reviews

I review for Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers

Youth Ministry Lite

Here I am late again, straggling behind due to the Christmas rush. I greatly apologize. Here we go........I want to start with the illustration, "Sin is like a black hole, it sucks you in." Make sure that you are open with your teens about sin and have them list out common sins that people their age struggle with, as well as the consequences that come from deciding to sin. Another very important aspect to stress to them is that the devil trips us up on little things and that's why we must study the bible to know what God expects of us and how to prepare themselves so they do not fall into a life marked by sin. This is one of those topics that makes for a great discussion. You need to get them talking as you guide the conversation.
Next I want to to discuss Christmas and how we honor God on this day. Christmas has become so commercialized and the focus is not on the birth of Christ as it should be. Read the story of Jesus' birth and give the kids ideas of how they can make sure to set aside time on Christmas day to honor Christ. One would be to serve along side their family at a shelter or maybe to simply go to their bedroom, alone and spend 15 minutes praying and reading the bible.
I am cutting it short on this one but promise to get back on schedule. I pray that you and your family have a blessed and wonderful Christmas this year.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite

Welcome Back guys. I have more work than I can make time for and my blog has suffered, I apologize. This weeks edition is going to be short because I have attached the first edition of my newsletter for you guys to sample. If you are interested in ordering, simply contact me via this blog as a comment or the email on the newsletter.
I do want to share the website planetwisdom.com created by Mark Matlock. The site is geared towards teens, parents, and youth leaders. Teens can send in questions to have answered by Mark himself, read the daily devotion, and their is a store as well. Us adults can read various articles and much more.
I am almost finished reading "Venti Jesus Please" by Greg Stier, founder of Ddare2Share Ministries. It is a conversation held by three teens on faith in Jesus and I have never heard it explained better than what it is in this book. It is a short read and would be a great read for your teens as well as yourself. If you have the budget, purchase a copy for each student, read as a group, and discuss the material. Questions and doubts will come up in the conversation and will be clearly answered. Have a great week!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite

I want to start by apologizing for just now being able to upload my latest post. I had a death in the family and have been traveling. Now I am back on track and here to provide you with more great resources!
Our first resource is the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. From february 26-March 1, 2010, youth leaders will meet together to join hosts Doug Fields and Rick Lawrence to "Fuel Their Calling". The conference will make the attendees more effective leaders and provide encouragement. The get together was created for youth leaders by youth leaders who share the same passion and drive as you. The conference will feature over 100 classes led by respected veteran youth leaders. Training youth leaders is sadly not on the "must do" list of many churches. However, that must change if we are to reach our personal potential and effectively reach the teens in our community. Talk with your fellow leaders then go to your youth pastor and pastor with information on conferences you are interested in, the cost, and what you as a group are willing to do to partially off set the cost. Let them know how important on-going training is for all youth leaders, whether your paid or volunteer, as well as what the benefits of sending you will be.
Our second resource is www.praisepictures.com, a website dedicated to providing film reviews, trailers, and articles. Kyle Prohaska and Kevin Michael started Praise Pictures with the intent of reaching others for Christ through film. The two are currently working on their first feature film Standing Firm, which tells the story of a widower who is working himself to death and whose Christian sons helps lead his father in the right direction. This is a website that should be in your favorites.
Christmas is just around the corner and it is easy for your teens to be focused on gifts they want instead of the birth of Christ and gift of salvation. Spend this month holding a discussions on different aspects of why we (Christians) celebrate Christmas. Allow the teens to voice their opinions and comments so you can know what you need to focus on. Make sure you read the account of Christ's birth on one of the Wednesdays. Be creative and use various tools to reach your group. For instance, you could talk about shopping for Chrsitmas and the way many people act just to get a particular material possesion and then lead into how this is a form of greed and that no material possesion can fulfill the hole each of us have that only God can fill. See you next week and look for me on Word Press from now on!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite

yOuTh MiNiStRy AdDiCtS yOu HaVe Come tO tHe RiGhT pLaCe FoR gReAt IdEaS aNd InSpIrATiOn!!!! Ok I am tired of typing like that..whew. I hope everyones week is going well, I know I have been slammed with work and checking items off my "To Do" list. I am also working on my first Youth Ministry book, which I am very excited about but I can say no more...for it is a secret!
On to our resources...Our first is a way to help bridge the gap between your teens and their parents by hosting a "What is MySpace and Facebook" seminar in which you act only as the guide and allow the teens to develop and lead a discussion on these two social networking sites. The point is to give your teens the opportunity the teach and at the same time teach the parents all they need to know about the sites which practically every teen uses. Make sure you allow time for Q & A.
Our second resource is a website in which to share with your teens, www.therebelution.com by Alex and Brett Harris. Ask your teens to visit the site and read or watch the latest blog entry, then the next time you meet, discuss the topic. It is a great way to turn your teens onto a great Christian website and its a great lesson idea.
As for our talk sparker this week, I want to talk about bridging the gap between the different generations in our churches. I have been reading the latest issue of Leadership Journal ministry magazine and that's where the idea comes from. What are you doing to bridge the gap? Are you making an effort to help the teens form relationships with older, more mature Christians? When teens do not have relationships throughout the church with a variety of generations, once they graduate high school they are more likely to leave the church.
So talk with your fellow leaders and Pastor about getting the teens involved in the running of the church. Some great examples of how to do this is have teens and adults serve together for a community service project. You will be amazed at how the Lord will work on both sides! Also, have teens serve as ushers, greeters, music, assisting with younger children, and so forth. That's all for now. Tell all of your fellow youth leaders about my column and if your interested in subscribing to my monthly Youth Ministry newsletter, which features this column and so much more get that info off of this site or leave a comment on this column. See ya!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite

Welcome back youth ministry addicts! Our first resource this week is a film that received high marks at the San Antonio Independent Film Festival, The Widow's Might. The film was written and directed by a home schooled young man and tells a heartwarming tale about pulling together to help those in need. It is a film that every youth group should watch and it can be used as a precursor to a community service activity.
For our second resource we have a lesson idea which centers around criticism, which is hard for most to take and is rarely given with love in the heart. Have your teens think about the previous two days and ask them to list anything they criticized. You may need to give them a couple of examples to get them going, such as what mom cooked for dinner or the clothes a kid in my class wore. From here discuss the positive role criticism can play as well as the negative role and how it affects the person receiving it. Ask your teens to think about Chris Criticism, the guy who is always criticizing something or someone. Ask them: Do you think anyone will want to be around him? What consequences are there to your criticisms?
Teach your students about appropriate times and ways to offer criticism. At the end of the lesson challenge them to participate in a criticism fast until you meet again. Encourage them to keep notes of when they slip up, what they said, and why they shouldn't have said it or how they could have said it differently. At your next meeting ask them how it went, did they struggle to not be so critical, and give them some ways to become a less critical person.
For our talk sparker I want us to briefly discuss growing relationships with our students. It is vital for us to forge a relationship with every student in our ministry. It doesn't take a whole lot to do this. Some of the key ways to do this, as I have found, are keeping in touch with them via email/facebook/myspace, always greet every student by name and add a personal touch such as, "How is soccer practice going?" Make sure you are calling on and treating everyone equally and be willing to hang around after class to talk with them. They are yearning for love and we need to insure they are receiving that love at youth group!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite #14

Welcome back guys! Our first resource is found at www.daveramsey.com under the section "Kids, Teens, and Money". Teens today do not understand about money management and you have the perfect opportunity to teach them! The curriculum is titled "Generation Change" and for $169.00 you can get 1 Leader's Kit and 8 Student Kits which come with t-shirts (Single student kits are $19.95). Dave Ramsey is the best teacher of how to gain financial peace for adults and students alike. With teens believing you can live off of a plastic card there is much need for financial guidance. For the most part they are totally clueless. Teaching them now before they are on their own could potentially save them from making life altering mistakes. Make sure you hold a discussion and allow the teens to ask questions and make comments so you can know where they stand and what you need to address.
Our second resource is one to share with your teens and possibly have a fundraiser to purchase the t-shirts ($18.99) which I believe are a great resource themselves. At www.askmemystory.org, teens can join a community of their peers and be equipped and encouraged to share their faith. The t-shirts proudly proclaim the websites name which will have your teens friends asking them about their story.
For our talk sparker this week I would like to think about how your ministry is making an impact for Christ with the teen gay community. First of all, have you taught a lesson on homosexuality, how to witness to homosexual teens, and so forth? Is your youth ministry a safe haven where no off color comments about being gay are made? Would an openly gay teen feel welcomed and loved? I want to leave you thinking about that and how you could improve this aspect of your ministry. We will finish talking on this subject in next week's column. Have a blessed week and remember, every teen deserves hope!
If you are interested in receiving my monthly Youth Ministry newsletter, The Ministry Minute, please email theministryminute@yahoo.com and I will send you a free first issue so you can decide if your interested. It has a variety of columns, including this column, as well as stats on teens, humor, and much more.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Interested In Having Me Speak?

I have quite an amazing testimony of my journey to Christ. I accepted Christ at the age of 27 and prior my life was full of drinking, pain pill addiction, immoral relationships, and just an overall sinful lifestyle. I was at the end of my rope, had relapsed with my addiction and was just coming out of a deep depression which was so bad that I just wanted to die. I had no job and was living with my mom and her abusive husband. We had just kicked him out and were filing charges due to his actions. He had not allowed my mom to work so we sat in an unfamiliar town, the closest family 5-6 hours away, and had no idea how we were going to survive. It wasn't until we called a local church seeking groceries that I saw the love of Christ. The Pastor brought us 2 sacks of food and extended an invitation to attend services the next evening.

We attended faithfully for several months and on the last evening of revival, I heard Christ tell me that this was my last chance, I either chose Him that night at that moment or He was done with me. Over the past three years God has completely transformed my life. I have found purpose and success, the latter took awhile as we struggled to get on our feet. But for the first time in my life I was truly happy. My circumstances no longer determined my future. My mother and I actually accepted Christ at the same time, not something many Christians can say! God has lead me to work with teens and I seek to share my testimony, along with the wisdom God has given me, with them.
While my calling is Youth Ministry, I enjoy speaking to all age groups.
Please contact me and lets talk to determine whether I am the speaker you are looking for. Have a blessed day!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite #13

Welcome Back Youth Ministry Addicts! Our first resource is a great website that should be on every Youth Leaders list, www.youthspecialties.com. This website has numerous free resources such as articles, podcasts, newsletters, tips, and even resources taken from a variety of well known films. The site also offers books for your students and leaders, as well as curriculum's from different publishers. If you are interested in finding an event to take your group to, this is the place to go.
Our next resource is the must read book, "The Traveler's Gift: Seven Decisions That Determine Personal Success" by Andy Andrews. This book brings to light seven personal decisions everyone can implement into our lives to reach our potential.
The main character, David Ponder, is facing very tough times, just as many Americans are today. David travels through time meeting some of the most amazing people who have ever lived. Each one sharing a principle that is necessary for a successful life. I will not tell you anymore because the suspense is part of what makes this book great.
Andy has even written a youth edition, which follows the same basic storyline, just different characters and events. This is a must read for your entire team as well as a great idea to have your youth group read and discuss together. Set aside seven weeks, each week discussing the next decision. Be creative and come up with lessons that will help teens relate the decisions to their daily lives. Visit Andy's website, www.andyandrews.com, to order this and other books. I highly recommend purchasing the journal to accompany the adult version as it will help you to study each of the decisions and implement them into your life.
For our talk sparker I want to discuss Attention with Intention. It's a bit of a tongue twister but think about what both words mean for a minute. Have you ever had a student or two who were class clowns and couldn't seem to get serious when you were teaching? Or maybe you have a student that just doesn't understand how important it is for them to pay attention to what you are teaching. Maybe you haven't had a teen like this thus far, if that's the case then you will have one soon! It's just something we as Youth Leaders will deal with from time to time. So what I pose today is this lesson idea, Attention with Intention.
Your group meets for one main reason.....God. We do not meet to play games or chat with friends. While all that is absolutely fine, as we want to create a fun and loving environment, when it comes time to teach the lesson, your teens full attention should be on you and what you are saying. Not only should they be hanging on your every word, but they should have every intention of using what they are learning in their daily life. Make sure that you get the teens involved in the discussion.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite #12

This week we have great resources for you so let's get right to it! Our 1st resource is an illustration which you can build a lesson around.
"Preparing our hearts to worship is like a Pro-football player coming to the field prepared to play in the Championship game." Discuss the quote itself, asking the teens what they think it is saying and ask them to reflect on how they currently prepare to attend services. Then go over all the things a football player might do to preparation, as well as what Christians should do.
If you don't typically have a worship portion to your youth services, start today by making it a part. You can buy a cd with popular Christian hits from today that the teens would enjoy. Print out the lyrics off the web and learn them together.
Our 2nd resource is the website, www.homeward.com , which was created by Jim Burns to build Godly families. You can print numerous articles on just about any topic you can think of and listen to podcasts of the Homeward radio program.
For our discussion, I want us to think about how we are getting our teens involved in living out their faith daily. We need to go beyond simply telling them how God wants us to act and give them the opportunities to impact their local community.
One example is to find a great book on a teen who is making a difference in the world, such as "Do Hard Things" by Alex and Brett Harris. Read it as a group, discuss it, then get out and help the community. Be creative and remember to show them how to use the tools you are giving them each week in class. Email youthministrylite@yahoo.com with comments or leave them here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite #11

Sorry I am a little late with the latest post but here it is. I hope you enjoy the column and are finding the resources helpful in running a more effective ministry. The 1st resource is a great website to go to for your personal growth as well as to retrieve lessons for your class. Focus On The Family is Dr. James Dobson's radio program and website. Dr. Dobson is an expert on family life, raising kids, etc. On this website you will find a variety of articles which will help you to better understand your teens, as well as effectively reaching them. Visit his site at http://www.focusonthefamily.com/ .
Our second resource is a lesson idea based around the statement, "God isn't interested in your ability, but rather in your availability." Use this lesson to help your teens understand that God only asks them to come to Him with an open and willing heart. Explain to them that no one who God has used, in the bible and otherwise, has had the "experience and qualifications" to accomplish the tasks given to them by God. They have only been successfully because He instilled in them the abilities to achieve the tasks He gave them. God does that so when people see the events they will know it was by God's hand they were accomplished. Today we all lead very busy lives and need to make sure we are putting God 1st at all times and are seeking His will for our lives everyday. Let your teens know that at times this will mean us sacrificing doing things we want to do in order to follow God. The earlier we teach this to our teens the better. Help them make themselves available to God and ask them regularly what God has asked them to do ove rthe past week or two.
Thirdly, I want to discuss curriculum. The book series is written by Mark Matlock and is entitled "Wisdom On.........". The topics range from dating to family to school. This is a series to purchase a book for each student and have them read a chapter each week and then discuss as a group. I highly recommend it and if it requires you having a weekly or biweekly meeting at your home, I recommend doing so. Go through the entire series and make your meeting a discussion. Have refreshments and snacks for the teens and create a relaxed atmosphere. If you have shy kids, provide paper and pens for them to write down questions or comments anonymously and then pull them out of a basket. Thats it for this week and I promise to be on time with the next column. Have a great week.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite #10

Today we celebrate our 10th Youth Ministry Lite column!! To some 10 isn't a big number, but when it comes to my column it's huge! Writing this column is such a blessing to me and and I hope that it has been a blessing to you as well. On to column 10!
Resource #1 today is a great way to help partner with the parents of your teens. You can even make it a group effort and make your youth leaders responsible for a section each, and use it to bring the team together. So what is this amazing resource? A parent newsletter. The newsletter could contain sections such as: Youth Pastors Column, Upcoming events, Topics to be covered and a brief overview along with a question or two for the parents to ask their teens. Also include articles on teens and their daily walk with Christ.
Our second resource are pocket gospels. A pocket gospel is a "tract on steroids", so to speak. They contain the basics of the faith (Jesus is Gods only Son, Died for our sins, Resurrection, He is the only way to be saved)the entire gospel of John and how to accept Christ. They have even partnered with dare2share (a previous resource) to design one just for teens. These are great to have out on a table for any visitors and to give to your teens to hand out to their unsaved friends.
Our talk sparker section is going to be a short one this week but its important. Youth Ministry can only be successful if you integrate the parents into the mix. You need to have regular meetings with them and host events where the parents and teens mix. A great "event" to have is a parent/teen conference so to speak. You need to be the catalyst that helps the two better understand the other. Be the mediator and coach them through how to communicate with one another. A big topic to bring up is compromising, coming to a middle ground. Also, try to get your teens to understand that they are on loan to their parents from God and their parents are responsible for raising them properly and that as teens they aren't always going to like what their parents want from them. I will stop here as I could go on and on. Have a great and blessed week and until next time...........

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite #9

Here we are with out next Youth Ministry Lite, your source for the best ideas, tips, and resources for Youth Ministry. Our first resource can be found at your nearest Lifeway Christian store and is titled, The Invitation. It is a cd which contains music by a variety of artists, scripture, and narration by Rick Warren, which takes the listener through an invitation to accept Christ. This is great to hand out to first time visitors, regulars whom you arent sure of their salvation, and for the teens to hand out themselves. They are only a buck a pop, a deal you can't pass by!
Our second resource is a tool which I have learned to use often, a poll/survey. You can create a survey on your lesson topic and let the teens fill it out and hand it in prior to class or you can create one to simply get to know the teens on a more personal level. The possiblities are endless and from my experience, the teens love to take a survey and they like hearing what their peers answered.
For our talk-sparker I want to discuss a very tricky topic. It's tricky because it requires the youth leader to take a stand. The topic is "creating a safe-haven" youth group. Now when I say safe-haven, I mean having a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to bullying and picking. Every teen should be able to walk into your youth group and know that they will not be berated, bullied, or picked on. I am a stickler for this in my youth group and my teens know that so long as I am their youth leader, I am will not tolerate it. So how do you go about creating this environment? Here are a few tips to help you make your youth group a "safe-haven":

1. It starts by letting the teens know that you mean business.

2. Hold your teens accountable. Talk one on one with any offenders, build them up and let them know they are better than that. If you have repeat offenders, find out why they bully and come up with a plan to prevent it from happening again.

3. When you see it happen (since we arent living in a perfect world), handle it immediately! You've got to keep your eyes and ears open at all times.

4. Make sure there is always a teen to youth leader ratio of 5:1. If this isnt possible right off the bat, begin recruiting! Pray and begin asking. Enlist the help of adults whose sole purpose is to be your "Eagle Eyes", you can even come up with a clever name for them. Meet with them as a group and train them in how you want them to handle any bullying situations and what constitues bullying. Always talk with them about any incidents they handle.

Have a great week and I'll see you soon!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite #8

Happy Fourth Weekend! I have some resources that I am very excited to share with you! Our first highlight is the 4-session dvd pack Teens vs Parents by Mark Matlock. This is a great tool to use either on your Wednesday night meetings or to do over the summer as a week-long class for the community. You can promote it to the community by having you and your teens go out one evening and do a neighborhood blitz, handing out flyers and explaining what the activity is. You can also make up posters to hang within your youth area at church to promote your teens to invite their friends and neighbors. It is a great tool to teach teens how to have a better relationship with their parents and provides you the opportunity to teach them how they should view and treat their parents. This is a big issue as many of today's youth do not respect their parents or adults for that manner. On the fifth evening you could invite the parents to come in and discuss with them what you have taught the teens and what you hope comes from the lessons. You could even talk with the parents about both parties making that night when they begin with a clean slate. Possibly having the teens serve their parents/guardians refreshments.
Next up we have a great book and journal combo for you to read. Now it doesn't specifically deal with youth ministry but rather with you. Many times we forget about keeping ourselves spiritually healthy and this is a great book to renew yourself with. The title is The Travelers Gift and it is written by Andy Andrews. Make sure to pick up the journal that goes along with the book as I highly recommend it! I am currently reading both and it has had a huge impact in my life and how I view success and whats important to me. You will be telling your friends about it, I guarantee.
For our talk sparker this week I want to discuss teens, their prayer life, and what stance you need to take on the issue. Of course you know that you need to talk about prayer and so forth but what about really making prayer an important part of your weekly meetings. It is one thing to allow your teens to say your closing prayer and another to have them regularly participate in a prayer meeting. If we want to teach our youth how important prayer really is then we have to give them hands on experience. Every 1-2 months give the youth 10-15 minutes to spend in prayer. Prior to providing them this time, share with them how the prayer meeting will work and what the purpose is. You could ask them for specific prayer requests before you begin the prayer meeting or even the week prior and then type up a prayer sheet and handout to them. This will give them some direction. It will take them time to learn how to pray for 10-15 minutes and you have to be right alongside them. Make sure you ask each week for updates on the prayer requests that have been made. You could even have a praise party after your prayer meeting every couple of months. Make sure that you explain to the teens that God often times answers our prayers differently than what we want or expect. However, He sees the whole picture of our life and truly knows what is best for each of us.

By His Grace and For them,
Ashley E.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite #7

Welcome to this weeks Youth Ministry Lite. We have some great resources and ideas so lets get right to it! Our first highlight is the book, Choose Your Top 3...500 Dynamic Discussion Starters to Get Your Teenagers Talking by Brian Schulenburg. This is a must have for anyone involved with Youth Ministry and is a resource you can use as often as you like. You can start off each meeting with one, use it for discussion nites where you choose a couple funny ones and a couple serious ones, and the so on.
Our second highlight is something I came up with and have been using for numerous months with my teens, weekly announcements. At first thought you think, "How boring. Why do this?". The announcements I handout each Wednesday nite consist of a scripture, News (youth group and the world- (funny or very important), a topic to discuss with their parents, prayers/praises, stats, and more. The key is to make them fun and interesting for your teens. They don't take much time to put together and have been a blessing for us.
Our talk-sparker this week is about keeping a positive attitude as a leader, which can be hard to do at times. I was reading Phil. 1:12-30, which tells about Paul when he is in prison. Regardless of where Paul was and what he was going through, he stayed focused on his mission and kept a good attitude when doing it. As a leader, we can either surrender to our circumstances or we can surrender to a cause so great, our circumstances won't matter. So the next time your down because the teens act like they don't care or you're struggling to get through to that one student who just doesn't get it, remember what your purpose is and that a good attitude goes a long ways.

For the Students and Because of Him,
Ashley E.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite #6

Hello Once Again! What a week it has been. Last weekend our church hosted "The Great Youth Event" and had Jason McLeod, who starred in Facing The Giants and Fireproof, as our guest speaker. It was amazing! I realized my next column needed to be written and her I am a bit late. A couple of weekends ago I watched one of the best films I have ever seen, Defiance. Now, while it isn't a "Christian" film per say, I feel safe in recommending it. The film only had a couple of curse words in it, but you can screen the film, know when they are said, and mute or run over them. I only recommend it for high school students and older. The film tells the true story of the Bielski brothers who hid in the forests in order to hide from the Nazis. By the time the brothers were able to safely come out of the forest, they were accompanied by over 1200 fellow Jews. These brothers managed to pull of the biggest Jews saving Jews venture of the WWII. Their story is extremely powerful and relays the message to never give up. This is a great film for movie night. Make sure you let the parents know what you will be showing and how you plan on combating the few curse words. Also explain to them why you are showing this film in particular.
Our second highlight today is the game "Bible Ball". All you need to play is a small-medium sized ball and a group of teens. Have your students sit in a circle and explain how the game works: You (youth leader) will throw the ball to one of the students, upon catching the ball the student must name one thing from the category you have chosen. Let's say the category is men of the bible, the teens must name someone like Moses or Adam. Once they have said their answer they then pass the ball to whoever they want. You will have to make the rules of no hard throws and must give everyone a chance. Have several categories prechosen and when a student cant come up with an answer...they are out. The last 1-2 left are the winners. This is a great game to get the teens loosened up, as well as reinforcing basic bible knowledge.
For this weeks talk sparker, I want to talk about making mistakes and what to do. What I want to say is summed up by this little saying: Good People - Weak Moments. How true this is. As Youth Leaders, we talk a lot about what things the teens should stay away from and how they should act, but have you ever taken the time to talk with them about what they should do WHEN (not if) they mess up. None of us are expected to be perfect, we are human and as humans we are going to slip up at times. You need to make sure that your teens are aware of this often overlooked fact and then walk them through handling the aftermath of their mistake. This little illustration may help them better understand: The only difference between a sinner and a saint, is a saint picks himself back up when he falls down. He doesn't wallow in his mistakes. Give the teens solid real life guidance in what to do. They will appreciate it more than you will know.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite #5

Welcome back for more great ideas and insights into the world of youth ministry. This weeks first highlight is one of my all-time favorite websites to get lesson ideas, video lessons, and handouts: Dare 2 Share Ministries (www.dare2share.org) in an ace in the hole and Youth Pastor or Youth Leader should be without it in our "little black book" for youth ministry resources. Greg Stier, the founder, does a great job at providing top notch materials for for youth leaders, teens, and parents on his website, all for free! They even do conferences across America, teaching teens how to effectively share their faith with their friends.
Our second highlight is one of the best youth ministry magazines I have come across and you can always count on refreshing ideas, thought provoking articles, and helpful insights when you pick up an issue of Campus Life's Ignite Your Faith. This magazine if written for teens and young adults but is a tool all youth leaders should have within reach. Try a free trial issue and you will be hooked!
Our talk sparker for this week is about actively connecting with the teens in your youth group. How often do you make it a point to make and grow a more personal connection with your teens? Actively connecting with teens requires that we move beyond simply "showing up" on Sunday's and Wednesday's. It requires us to say hello to each of our students, to shake hands, to call on them to read scripture, or close in prayer, as well as to set aside time outside of church. This could mean sending out email or chatting via Facebook through the week or having a teen grill out where getting to know your teens more personally is the purpose. If we want to see their world, gain their trust, and earn their respect, we must draw them out and pursue them. We need to be better listeners, ask more probing questions, and share more of our life experiences. We must show them we deeply care by knowing them by name, knowing their strengths and weaknesses, and when their birthday is. We must form a relationship with each and every one of them and nurture that relationship if we are to having a lasting impact on their lives. All the time respecting proper boundaries and never putting ourselves in potentially compromising situations. If we forget the basic necessity of teens to be heard and be known, we won't be the role model and mentor we are striving to be.

Quote to live by: "You may think you are leading, but if no one is following, all you're doing is taking a walk." Mark Batterson paraphrasing a quote from a beloved leadership guru

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite #4

This weeks highlights go together like pb & j! Our first highlight is the film Faith Like Potatoes, which is based on the true story of Angus Buchan, who's faith was grown just like potatoes. Sounds goofy but it tells of how we should never give up or box God in by our circumstances. Our 2nd highlight is Movie Night itself. It is an affordable and fun event that any youth ministry can put on. The key is simply to make it a fun experience. Show a film that will get the teens to thinking (they want content). Don't forget to decorate the space. You want the teens to get the feeling that they are at the theater. You can make posters up to look like the movie posters on the side of the theater to advertise your event. Once the teens are there, pop several bags of popcorn and pour up some sodas. If your church has a projector and you have access to a laptop, tack up a sheet and show the film that way (it is sssooooo much better).
For our talk sparker this week I want us to think about insuring that we are helping our teens discover, develop, and deploy their spiritual gifts. The teenage years should be the launching pad finding their groove (or atleast starting the process) when it comes to serving God using the spiritual gifts He gave them. Pick up books like "Generation Change" by Zach Hunter or "Do Hard Things" by Alex and Brett Harris, read them and develop a master list of possible student led ministries, give to the group, and discuss it with them. Since so many teens are shy or just won't know where and how to begin serving, come up with some immediate positions for them to sign up for and begin a rotation. You can include things such as cleaning up the youth area each week, aiding the teacher, and so forth. This is a continuous process, not one lesson and they are good to go. We must stay on top of it and encourage them to delve deeper into the ministry. You get an extra this week because it goes along with keeping up with what each of your students are gifted at. Keep a file on each child and keep quick notes on their strengths, weaknesses, characteristics, problems, contact info, etc. This is an invaluable tool that you will greatly appreciate. Have a great week!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite #3

Youth Ministry Lite
By. Ashley Engleford

Our highlighted website this week is http://www.leestrobel.com/. At this website you can investigate your faith, Christianity, Jesus, etc. through excellent video clips featuring Lee discussing the topic and the evidence. This website is a must visit for you and your teens. Send them to Strobels website with their questions and they will walk away with answers.

Parents Nite Out is our highlighted event this week and it is great for the youth and parents alike. The event gives your teens the opportunity to serve others in the church and at the same time provides the parents of little ones safe, reliable babysitting and a couple hours free time to go out on a date with their spouse, make a grocery run, or maybe some simple peace and quiet. This costs nothing unless you buy snacks and drinks (which I suggest). To advertise the event, come up with an invitation you can have the teens hand deliver after worship services 2-3 weeks prior to the event (is a great opportunity for an artistic teen to put their talent to use).

For our talk sparker this week I want to talk about inspiring our teens. Inspiration is what we youth leaders should be passing out by the handfuls. If we are constantly giving them a list of do’s and don’t do’s, they will quickly grow tired of attending and we will have lost them. Inspiration is what will take apathetic, complacent teens and turn them into driven and passionate teens. Today’s times require that we be nifty and clever, while keeping the gospel pure at all costs. Teens don’t want a place that’s all fun all the time. They are searching for somewhere that walks the walk and gives the clear message of Jesus Christ all the time. So don’t be fooled into becoming an entertainment venue. Take the time to do the research and to try a variety of curriculums until you find the best fit for your students. Ask yourself “Am I giving them real life examples of teens like Alex & Brett Harris who are changing what it means to be a Christian Teen?” It is even possible to take your group to camps/conferences that have teen speakers, which is always inspiring to fellow teens. Society has set such low standards for our teens and battling those low standards is just that….a battle. There are going to be victories and loses but when your teens graduate and move on from your youth group, they will know how to fight and to not give up and to praise God no matter what..

Youth Ministry Lite #2

Youth Ministry Lite
By. Ashley Engleford

Welcome back youth ministry addicts! I hope all is well in your little corner of the ministry. In my youth group, we youth leaders are finishing up the preparation for our 1st ever Parent/Teen Grill Out. We are praying for great weather and a great turnout. This month I am highlighting The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel.. Lee has a law degree from Yale University and used to write for The Chicago Tribune as their Legal Editor. He considered himself an atheist but God had other plans. His wife, Leslie, inspired him to investigate Jesus Christ and the resurrection because of the amazing transformations he saw taking place in her after accepting Christ as her personal Savior in 1979. In this must read book for believers and unbelievers alike, Lee leaves no stone unturned. He interviewed many of the leading experts of the bible, asking tough questions many of us have asked ourselves. Lee studied the bible throughout his journey and in the end makes the only logical decision he saw, accepting Christ as his personal Savior. Despite his Law degree from Yale, Lee writes in a very blatant manner so you don’t get “lost in the evidence”. Lee has even come out with a student edition to his books for teens.

Also highlighted this week is the website, www.igniteyourfaith.org. This is a great website to pass on to your students. You will find articles on a variety of subjects, true life stories from teens, a humor section, and much more. The site is geared towards teens and college age students.

Answer me this……….Have you ever had a student make false accusation
against you? Maybe you have a teen that is simply rebelling against your authority and they don’t want to hear any advice you give them. How did you handle the situation? How would you handle the situation? Everyone involved in Youth Ministry needs to prepare themselves for such an occasion because it will happen to all of us, possibly multiple times the longer you are in the ministry. Here are my suggestions for just such an occasion. (If accusations are more than you being mean, calling them names, etc. you need to immediately go to your Pastor.)
1. A. Attempt to resolve the situation with the teen, searching for a reason for their behavior. B. If A fails, visit their home and talk with the teen and their parent(s).
2. If 1 fails, talk with another youth leader and both of you sit down with the teen and attempt 1A.
3. If 1 & 2 fail, talk with your Pastor, letting him know what has happened and both of you have a sit down with the student to gain resolution
4. If 1-3 fail I suggest you give them the choice of coming clean and talking the issue over with you or not being aloud to attend youth group until the issue is resolved.
Teens are at a very tender stage in their lives. They need to find their niche, to know they are loved unconditionally, and need at least one godly role model. Some teens will have divorced parents, others come from a single parent home, or maybe the whole family attends church. The point is that you must truly get to know each student and form a personal relationship with them showing them you care. Don’t get discouraged and try not to take it personally. Continue to offer unconditional love and forgiveness before they ask for it (if they ask for it). Stay strong and know you aren’t alone in this fight! HH

Youth Ministry Lite #1

Youth Ministry Lite
By. Ashley Engleford


Welcome to the very 1st column of Youth Ministry Lite! I am honored to have the opportunity to share with you each week illustrations, lesson ideas, games, and personal experiences. To start here is a bit of my story: My life prior to accepting Christ was full of immoral relationships, drugs, and alcohol. My greatest accomplishment during those years of living my way was graduating from The University of Alabama ( Huntsville ) with my Bachelors in Biology and Chemistry. Since accepting Christ, my life has still been a struggle at times. I have learned that my circumstances will constantly change but my faith in Christ remains solid. The Lord has blessed me so much and done incredible transformations since the night I heard Him call my name at a revival.
My connection with the teens began the night I gave my testimony. I was a “newbie” (~ 2-3 months old). We had a packed room that night and my story captivated them, bringing some to tears (myself included). I was a sinner and I had traveled all the roads that led to destruction, the same roads they are tempted to walk down every day. I gained trust, respect, and credibility that night with them. The time I have spent with them since then has allowed me to form personal relationships which have allowed me a front row seat into their lives. I have to work to maintain that seat though. If I don’t continue to work to get to know them, if I don’t show them that I love them unconditionally, if I don’t show up for them, if they don’t see me living the life that I am teaching them to live, I lose that seat. They aren’t going to just let us in. The key is to go through the list of things I just provided consistently. No kid is a hopeless case.

Youth Ministry is a full-time job, even as a volunteer. I spend countless hours emailing the teens, giving them a ride, surfing the internet looking for illustrations, lesson ideas, games, preparing the lesson, and so on. I have a full-time job in my career field to pay the bills and put food on the table but I also am a full-time volunteer Youth Leader. My life’s purpose is Youth Ministry. It can be discouraging at times because maybe your teens aren’t stepping up like you want them too or maybe you don’t think some of them are really listening to the lesson. Know this; we can have a profound affect on their lives even under those circumstances.

I just began reading “Generation Change” by Zach Hunter. Zach is a teen who is following Gods’ Word by taking a stand against modern day slavery and challenging his peers to make some change of their own. I recommend this book to every teen and any youth leaders who want to challenge their students to be change. I want to highlight the website www.simplyyouthministry.com this week. At this site you can download free sermons, lesson notes, listen to a podcast on youth ministry, or buy resources. It has been a very helpful site for me. Well that’s it for this weeks’ column. I look forward to our next encounter and remember you have a partner in this fight.