Youth Specialties Blog

Fundraiser Fail?

By Brooklyn Lindsey on May 04 2009 | 2 Comments

This weekend we tried our first "For Sale By Owner Car Lot" to raise money for our summer mission trip. The idea was for people to pay us $25 for a space in our high traffic lot for a safe, secure, and fun place to sell their car over the weekend. We had a grill going, bake sale, and even a lender there to give loans to buyers. It was a great idea. The students showed up early and we had a pretty successful day, $888 dollars that we didn't have before. However, our previous fundraiser (golf tournament) raised $24,000. It was hard to resist feeling like this fundraiser was a fail. But here's where we scored. I got to know Cody today. I discovered that Abbey is not so good at food service. I found out that Crystal really could use our prayers.  Paul is awesome at bringing life to the party. Marissa has a gift with children. Youth pastor lesson: just because a fundraiser doesn't yield the big bucks doesn't mean it wasn't worth doing. Because I would spend this time and effort again, even without the $888. Anyone else have a "fail" that was totally worth it?

By Brooklyn Lindsey on May 04 2009 | 2 Comments


The gospel according to students

By Sara Eden Williams on May 01 2009 | 8 Comments

Is anyone else feeling completely CRAZED right now?!   Seems like there is always so much going on this time of year. Soooo, let's have some fun. I hope I'm not the only one who's students say hilarious things when trying to share biblical knowledge. I'll share my favorite and then you guys can comment and share yours. We did communion at our youth service recently and when talking about the Last Supper we asked students "who was it that betrayed Jesus?"  A very confident middle schooler replied "Judas the Scariot!" ok, your turn :)

By Sara Eden Williams on May 01 2009 | 8 Comments


YS Mystery Box!

By YS on May 01 2009 | 8 Comments

In about a month Youth Specialties is relocating a few miles to the east in El Cajon, California. As part of the move we have to purge a lot of books. And when I say a lot of books, I literally mean tons of miscellaneous Youth Specialties resources! Typically, a company would just fill a dumpster with this and send it to a landfill. But we looked at this mountain of books and DVDs and recognized that we could give them to people who would use them AND we could help benefit a Christian organization in San Diego that is doing amazing things mentoring inner-city students to become first generation college students. (If you went to NYWC 2008, you may remember when we highlighted their Seriously Ridiculous story.) With that, the idea of The Mystery Box was born. How it Works
  1. Make a donation of $20 (or more) to Reality Changers. [Learn about Reality Changers here. Make your donation here.] <-- WIN FOR REALITY CHANGERS!
  2. Youth Specialties will mail you a box of at least 4 resources. (May include books, curriculum, DVD, or other YS resource.) <-- WIN FOR YOUTH SPECIALTIES!
  3. Your donation helps a student participate in a mentorship program that prepares them to be a first generation college student. <-- WIN FOR A STUDENT!
  4. You get at least 4 Youth Specialties resources. <-- WIN FOR YOU!
Our goal is to ship at least 100 mystery boxes and raise $2000 $3000 or for Reality Changers by May 15th, 2009. Please help us reach this goal and make a difference! You guys are amazing! We reached our goal in just 5 days. You keep donating and we'll keep shipping mystery boxes! Youth Specialties isn't making a dime on this. 100% of the proceeds of the after-shipping costs of the sale go directly to Reality Changers. Which is why we're shipping everything as cheap as we can! (More money for Reality Changers) Also, we're only guaranteeing you will get 4 Youth Specialties resources. We can't guarantee which ones, sadly we can't fulfill special requests. How Can You Help?
  1. Make a donation and get a Mystery Box!
  2. Blog about this, share this on Facebook, make a video about it and post it to YouTube, email other youth workers this blog post... help us spread the word!

By YS on May 01 2009 | 8 Comments


Rite of Passage Relevance

By Shawn Michael Shoup on April 29 2009 | 3 Comments

juniorhighgirlI can remember having to put together a whole rite of passage project for students "coming of age" when I was in the School of Youth Ministry at Christ for the Nations Institute in Texas.  It was my last year as a student at CFNI and this was the big project for a class called "Adolescent Development".  We studied adolescent development (big surprise), how junior highers process things differently on a mental level, social groupings, and different ways that the church can celebrate their transformation from "tween-ager" to teenager.  It all seemed so simple and easy to me then.  I even got an "A+" on the big project. Fast forward ten years... I've been in full time youth ministry since graduating and now have two teenage daughters of my own.  I feel like I am more perplexed about how to walk through this thing called adolescence than I was ten years ago -- especially as a parent!  Woo-boy!  It's easier to disseminate head knowledge to someone's kid and share with them "how it is/should be" and how "scientifically, it's been said..."  It's an entirely different thing to go through the process and experience adolescence with your own kids. I've thought to myself several times... "oh, so this is what Mom and Dad felt like when I was [doing that crazy stuff when I was in junior high]." The emotional extremes and craziness that I've always known to exist -- because I lived it out myself (and laugh about it now) -- is being played out every day in front of me.  It's just weird watching it from the other side, as a pastor and a parent.  It's such an important time in the formation of spiritual and moral disciplines.  What can we do to help our young ones step into this next phase of life?
  • I've seen full blown bar mitzvah-type ceremonies with parents and loved ones offering their prayers and words of advice.
  • I've seen programs where leaders walk students through physical, mental, and spiritual challenges.
  • I've seen camping trips with the guys and sleep-overs with the girls along with cake and candles.
I'm not sure what works best, but I am certain that any chance to celebrate students' growth and relationship with Jesus is worth it.  And I definitely believe this is a tradition that we should encourage parents and youth workers alike to carry on. Check out this short clip taken from my family's recent celebration of my daughter, Cynthia, turning 13.  It was during a time that we had several adults saying prayers of blessing / protection over her and giving our "words of wisdom".  Autumn, Cynthia's older sister by one year, had been downstairs watching the little ones and we had just brought her up to pray over her sister. This was her prayer... I won't soon forget this moment.  It's my prayer that Cynthia won't either.

By Shawn Michael Shoup on April 29 2009 | 3 Comments


2.93 Steps Back

By YS on April 27 2009 | 6 Comments

3stepsforwardThe other day we posted a new video about our newly-released short-term missions curriculum Deep Justice Journeys. In the video, Kara makes the statement that when we return from many short-term mission (STM) trips, it’s like taking 3 steps forward and 2.93 steps back. 2.93 steps. Indeed, far short of the transformation we hope for when we invest so much time, energy, funding, and expectation into a week or two away “getting our hands dirty for Jesus.” But let’s be honest: have you ever felt that way before? I sure have. I remember the time we included a particular student on a team who had shown incredible promise that this would be transformative in his life. Apparently we were wrong. It was quite a trip, but within a few months that kid was stealing cold medicine from the local pharmacy and selling pills at youth group. That was one of his tamer moves over the next couple of years. Research by folks like Kurt Ver Beek and Bob Priest have been stirring up conversations for the past few years on whether STM is really leading to long-term transformation, both among those who go and those who host them in their homes and communities. As we, along with research partners Terry Linhart and Dave Livermore, summarized some of that research when we were developing this project:
  • The explosive growth in the number of STM trips among both kids and adults has not been accompanied by similar explosive growth in the number of career missionaries.
  • It’s not clear whether or not participation in STM trips causes participants to give more money to alleviate poverty once life returns to “normal.”
  • Participating in a STM trip does not seem to reduce participants’ tendencies toward materialism.
So what now? While we certainly hope our Deep Justice Journeys model will impact STM in youth ministry, our much bigger Kingdom dream is that the conversations and changed practices that emerge from many, many more voices will help reduce the number of steps we take back. Maybe a few years from now, we’ll all be able to say that our trips lead to three steps forward, then three more after that, and three more after that… What about you? How have you seen growth in the practices you’ve incorporated around missions and service in your ministry? We’d love to get some conversations stirring!
brad-griffinBrad Griffin is the Associate Director of the Fuller Youth Institute, where he gets to develop research-based training for youth workers. A native Kentuckian, Brad now lives in Pasadena with his wife Missy and their three children. After 13 years in youth ministry, he now volunteers in student and worship ministries at NewSong Church.

By YS on April 27 2009 | 6 Comments


Veteran Volunteer Advice

By Brooklyn Lindsey on April 27 2009 | 2 Comments

Every week our adult leaders come together to love, encourage, and get to know the students in our ministry. With less than two hours together on Wednesday nights, we try to do the impossible, connect with teenagers who are more excited about hanging with their friends than hanging with us (no matter how cool we are). My husband, Coy, who has volunteered in my ministry for nearly a decade,  is perceptive and often sees things with a different eye.  On the way home one night,  He casually mentions that, "The teens need to get to know the adults better." Of course they do!  My question has often been, "how"? The next week I needed someone to speak to the middle school crowd so I asked him.  He told me he wanted to interview some adult leaders instead of writing a message. As I thought more about it, I realized that it's probably something I should have considered much sooner. With a few moments for our students to get an honest, funny, serious, and somewhat up close encounter with our leaders we'll multiply our chances of teens feeling like they can connect with them. He started with three adults. I wrote up a few random and funny questions for each leader to break the ice but Coy gradually moved to asking questions about their  struggles and about the thing or circumstance that led to them trusting in God. It comes as no surprise, that the message (interview) was one of our biggest wins!  Our volunteers felt valued.  Our students connected on multiple levels with different adults in our ministry Coy's volunteer's wisdom brought our large group into more intimate and healthy relationships with some of our adult leaders. We've grown a lot in this area over the past year and I'm I'm excited to see how these testimonies will open up doors for deeper relationships.

By Brooklyn Lindsey on April 27 2009 | 2 Comments


The Princess Bike

By Shawn Michael Shoup on April 25 2009 | 1 Comments

My four-year-old daughter, Kella, got a new/used bike from her Grandma Pearl the last time she was here. This week was the first time the weather was warm enough to get out and actually drive around with it. This was Kella's first time riding a bicycle and with this being the first time, there were a lot of Daddy-bending-over and balancing the bike moments - bending way over, as this is a small, small bike and I am a somewhat tall man. OUCH! The end result? Daddy decided pretty quickly that a trip to the bike store down the road was in order. We needed to get training wheels on this bike and let Kella go free with this thing! She was very excited. We got in the van, packed up the bike, and went down to the Two Wheeler Dealer. When the guy at the counter asked what kind of bike it was, before I had the chance to respond, Kella said quite matter-of-factly, "It's a princess bike." The bike technician wrote down "princess bike" and told us he'd give us a call when it was done. It was the next evening that I got the call from the store telling me that my "er.... princess bike" was done and that we could come and pick it up. The store was closed that evening, so Kella would have to wait another day. The anticipation was growing more and more for Kella. She kept asking me about when we'd get to go on the first ride (about every ten minutes). I knew if I didn't grab the video camera to catch this moment I'd be kicking myself later. Bear with me as I tear up and watch my littlest one grow up before my eyes... As Kella's father, it brings me so much joy to see her growing up and transforming into the young lady that she will one day become. I can see all of the life, giftings, and great potential in her and it brings me to tears - I love her so much and am so proud of her. I used this story as an illustration at our student rally service this past Wednesday night. We were on the last night of a message series we titled "The Calling" on the life-story of Abraham. The series was ending with a discussion of how we have been created by a God who has blessed us with different gifts and abilities to be used to make an imprint in our world. My thoughts went to Kella, who didn't even know what the experience of riding a bicycle would be like, but she was so excited to try! She wanted so much to "exercise the gift" that she knew was in her four-year-old legs. And, let me tell you, when she started to get the hang of it, it wasn't long before she was flying! It's a prayer for my life that I would be as excited about the purposes and plans that God has placed in my life. That I would be bold and brave enough to just "go do it" when Father God places opportunities in my life. And, maybe, just maybe in the process He even tears up when He begins to see me fly... I might crash a few times - Kella did on her first run, too. But that's okay because Daddy-God is there to hug me, wipe off my tears, and cheer me on over and over again. So, what's that gift or calling that's been churning inside of you? It's time to take it for a test-drive. [music by: Ken Verheecke, permission granted]

By Shawn Michael Shoup on April 25 2009 | 1 Comments


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