Youth Specialties Blog

Holy Hangover?

By Shawn Michael Shoup on May 05 2009 | 16 Comments

headacheguyywho Anybody ever feel like this after a long weekend or event?  I know I have. Is it too easy for us to overcommit ourselves?  Yes. Do we find ourselves burnt out on ministry because we say "yes" too often?  Definitely. How many of you have seen youth worker peers dropping like flies (leaving the ministry) beside you?  Mmmm-hmmm. How can we prevent ourselves from having the "holy hangover"?

By Shawn Michael Shoup on May 05 2009 | 16 Comments


What can parachurch teach the church?

By YS on May 05 2009 | 4 Comments

In this week's podcast there is a piece from Youth for Christ's Dave Rahn. He had just done a tip about leading small groups and we were wrapping up. Then I asked him, "Dave, you've been doing parachurch youth ministry for a long time... what are some things that those of us who work in churches should be learning from the parachurch world?" I asked that question because I realized something very tragic in hanging out with Dr. Rahn... I've worked in churches for nearly a decade and never taken the time to learn from people who served in my community with parachurch youth ministry organizations. I think, deep down, I probably even resented their prescence a little. I saw them as competition when students from my ministry would head over to a Campus Life meeting. Worse yet, I never once considered that their methods could help my ministry more effectively reach/teach students. So I asked that question of Dr. Rahn, a little bit out of curiousity, and a little bit with a spirit of confession. So... those of you who work in parachurch ministry, what can church youth workers learn from you? Conversely, church youth workers, what are some things that parachurch youth workers can learn for you?

By YS on May 05 2009 | 4 Comments


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


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