Youth Specialties Blog

Living Missionally for Evangelism

By YS on June 30 2009 | 0 Comments

evangelism-remixed-missionally It is quite fashionable these days to live missionally. Doing evangelism, on the other hand, does not get you invited to parties.  I am sympathetic but nervous about this inclination on the part of Christians. For far too many years the church in America has focused on getting the words said right and delivered widely.  We have wrongly assumed that evangelism simply requires better coaching in our presentation of the gospel.  Lots of good folks spent lots of hard-earned money and precious time getting these presentations into a transferable form, a package that was easily understood and easily passed on.  No one actually said that words were more important than a loving lifestyle, but our training values sure weighed heavily in that direction. In recent years we've been listening a little more to those we want to reach.  It's not been without pain we've realized that an unintended consequence of guarding the gospel through witness rehearsal may be Christians who come off as glib and insincere to many non-Christians.  This has led to a proper corrective, I think.  Our lives must be beyond reproach if our words are going to have impact.  Living missionally is about putting the horse before the cart, where it must be. What, then, about using words to point people to Jesus?  Still critical, in my estimation.  In fact, research cited in our new book specifically identifies the importance of a well-timed, well-framed invitation as students reach out to their friends for Christ.  And there is evidence that student explanations about how their friends can begin their own relationships with Jesus still work--they are especially important to those teens who don't have a church background. Preach the gospel at all times.  Use words if necessary.  And by the way, words may be necessary more often than we think. evangelism_buttonAbout our guest blogger: Dave Rahn is the co-author of Evangelism Remixed. Dave Rahn is the vice president and chief ministry officer for Youth for Christ/USA and continues to direct the MA in youth ministry leadership (http://www.youthministryleadership.com) for Huntington University. A youth ministry researcher, author, and leadership strategist, Dave now guides a team whose focus is to coach, train, resource, and serve Youth for Christ men and women from all over the country who lead nearly 2,100 community-based relational outreach ministries among teenagers. He and his wife, Susie, are empty nesting and cheering on the youth ministry careers of both recently graduated children, Jason and Alison.

By YS on June 30 2009 | 0 Comments


Global Youth Ministry

By Brooklyn Lindsey on June 24 2009 | 13 Comments

I'm sitting here in a denominational youth meeting with delegates from around the world, realizing that youth ministry is so much bigger than us. It transcends so many things, reaching into teenagers hearts, in so many languages and cultures. When I'm doing youth ministry at my local church, it's easy to forget how big our world is and how important it is to talk about the things that unite us. What are some of the common denominators in youth ministries throughout our world? As I look at the youth groups in Mumbai, Brazil, and in the Dominican Republic, I see that there are some things that don't seem to vary much, even though our cultures do. There are passionate and courageous leaders, some paid, some not. There are adults walking together with teenagers joining in their stories and encouraging them to grow in their walks with God. There is zeal. Teenagers and youth leaders are excited and passionate people. There is a love for Christ. For Christian youth groups, no matter, their make-up, we are seeing a passion for Christ, a movement of teenagers and leaders who are looking for a reason to die to self.  It's awesome to watch, it's awesome to be a part of. What themes do you see in global youth ministry? How can we open our groups up to begin thinking of themselves as a body bigger than the local church? These are the questions ruminating within and now I'm curious about how I could use technology (skype, iChat, etc.) to unite my local group with a global group. Anyone doing this already?

By Brooklyn Lindsey on June 24 2009 | 13 Comments


Blogging from Los Angeles

By YS on June 23 2009 | 2 Comments

Print Thursday starts DCLA in Los Angeles. Most of our staff is already on site at the LA Convention Center while the rest of us will head up in the next 24 hours. We will be tweeting, YouTube-ing, Facebook-ing, Flickr-ing, and of course blogging from DCLA. If you or your ministry is going to be posting for LA this weekend let us know by leaving a comment.

By YS on June 23 2009 | 2 Comments


Fundraising That Doesn’t Feel Like Fundraising

By Shawn Michael Shoup on June 22 2009 | 3 Comments

I remember one of my professors at Bible college telling us that "fundraising is the necessary evil" that we would all eventually have to endure in student ministry. After all, it's no fun constantly asking the same people over and over again for money -- even if it is for a "good cause".  You start to feel like a used car salesman... and what's up with the people who walk the other way when they see you coming?!  (grin) Well, if you are one of the many youth workers that has to do fundraising to supplement your budget or raise money for student trips, this post is for you. Somehow my wife and I stumbled across some really great ideas for a couple of annual fundraising events that are actually fun and raise substantial amounts of coinage for our students. Yup, people actually look forward to attending these events! Here's one that we just finished up last week; probably nothing ground-breaking, but worth sharing, I think... We call it the ELEVATION TALENT SHOW -- Elevate is the name of our student ministry. elevation-talent-show-09
Lots of people enjoy variety shows, especially if you add some humorous elements to the program! We start the whole event process by auditioning fifteen to twenty acts for the show.  You generally wouldn't want more than that for a two hour program. Everything from comedy, to music, to sketch, to poetry, creative art -- you name it -- the more variety the better.  Make sure you have enough time in advance for people to prepare their acts before the auditions open up.  We usually start talking about auditions a couple months out. Piece the program together and tell everyone to come out for the big night and vote for their favorite acts with cash or check. It works great because it pulls in lots of family and friends that wouldn't normally step foot inside of a church, but they are willing to come and support their buddy, grandchild, cousin, etc. We make the show more interesting by selling concessions (popcorn, candy bars, soda) and splitting up the acts with "commercials" (funny videos or a humorous video-story / sketch theme that runs through the night).  We also dim the house lights and keep just the stage lights on to give the sanctuary more of a movie-house feel. As a bonus, this event gives a platform to a lot of very talented people in the church that we wouldn't have necessarily discovered otherwise. Such a fun night! If you are wondering about the voting process, we usually just set up a table with voting receptacles (can be cups, Chinese take-out boxes, piggy banks, etc.) that correspond with each act listed in the event's program. We have an intermission and a time at the end of the night where people can get up and have the chance to "vote" for their favorite acts. After everyone is done voting, we show a few more fun video clips or provide some other entertainment while the money is being tallied and then announce the top three winners of the evening (the ones with the highest amount of cash). The top three go home with prizes and the profits go into our student ministry budget.  Win-win-win! Here's some video highlights from this year's event...
I'll share our other annual fundraising event closer to it's corresponding holiday: Valentine's Day. Do any of you guys have great fundraiser events or ideas?  We'd love to hear from you!

By Shawn Michael Shoup on June 22 2009 | 3 Comments


Change is hard… for everyone

By Sara Eden Williams on June 22 2009 | 3 Comments

My group of high school girls has been together for a while.  We haven't had any 8th graders move up into the group in the past two years. This year we have 2 young ladies who will be joining us next month from the middle school group. In an effort to make them feel welcome, the girls and I sat down last night and wrote them letters telling them how much we are looking forward to having them in the group. I'm going to put them all together in an envelope (for each girl) and send them in the mail. I'm hoping it will ease their minds about transitioning into the group. But here's the interesting thing: As I listened to the girls compose their letters and talk to each other about what to write, the same theme kept coming up. Things like "I hope we don't freak you out" and "You'll think we're crazy at first" ... turns out the high school girls are insecure about the upcoming changes as well. For some reason I didn't see that coming. It's inspired me to write letters to THEM telling them how excited I am to watch them become role models and mentors for the younger girls and how blessed the younger ones are to have such impressive young women to look up to. I'm always on the look out for new ideas!  What are things that you do to ease the stress of transition for students?

By Sara Eden Williams on June 22 2009 | 3 Comments


Evangelism is a Value

By YS on June 19 2009 | 3 Comments

evangelism-remixed-launch Our new book just released today, June 19. It's the same day that Apple's upgrade to the iPhone is released.  There will certainly be lines outside the store for one of these releases.  But here's what I know about evangelism.  iPhone will NOT be able to develop "an app for that." How we see evangelism has everything to do with how we help students understand it and embrace it as part of their journey with Jesus.  Some have seen evangelism as a bundle of conversational skills.  This skill set can be taught, demonstrated, practiced and coached.  To the degree that this is true we should expect that those trained well in this "how to" approach will likely be effective in reaching their friends for Christ.  I don't think the evidence is there to support the notion that skill-improvement training is the answer for the masses of Christians to engage in evangelism. I think evangelism is a value, better caught than taught.  When students really care about sharing Jesus with others they find a way to do so.  Skill coaching helps those who are already motivated to do better at what they WANT to do.  It doesn't convince the unpersuaded that actually talking to people about Jesus is important. The tough news for youth workers is that values almost always get passed on naturally. There's not much hope that our students will become actively engaged in evangelism if their adult leaders aren't modeling its importance. You know, the new iPhones have video capabilities; a little footage of us in action could work to help show the way.  Maybe I spoke too soon about that app thing… evangelism_remixedAbout our guest blogger: Dave Rahn is the co-author of Evangelism Remixed. Dave Rahn is the vice president and chief ministry officer for Youth for Christ/USA and continues to direct the MA in youth ministry leadership (http://www.youthministryleadership.com) for Huntington University. A youth ministry researcher, author, and leadership strategist, Dave now guides a team whose focus is to coach, train, resource, and serve Youth for Christ men and women from all over the country who lead nearly 2,100 community-based relational outreach ministries among teenagers. He and his wife, Susie, are empty nesting and cheering on the youth ministry careers of both recently graduated children, Jason and Alison.

By YS on June 19 2009 | 3 Comments


6 Tips for Infusing Video Content Into Your Ministry

By YS on June 19 2009 | 1 Comments

video-in-ministry With the availability of TV’s, video projectors, computers and more, it's becoming easier and easier to use media in youth ministry - whether it's in a living room with three teens or in a gym with hundreds! Being a video nerd, I love infusing my talks, lessons and small group meetings with video content when appropriate! Here are my personal rules for video lessons and clips:
  1. Always, always, always preview the video! This protects you from showing something that could get you in hot water. Don't just assume that it's appropriate because it came from a church resource company - there have been a few of those that could have landed me in the hot seat with parents! Just the other day I was previewing one and found myself wondering how in the world they thought that could be appropriate for church!
  2. Is it strong enough to keep teens' attention? My attitude is, if I can watch it three times and still find it interesting then a room full of teens might stay engaged with it! It also gives me a ton of familiarity with the content to both prepare and lead the discussion afterwards!
  3. How long is it? I prefer video curriculum and illustrations to be under 15 minutes - in fact, my ideal length is about ten minutes. Kids seem to start getting fidgety if it's much longer, and the bulk of the learning is going to happen in the discussion time - so make sure you have time left for it! A long video can nuke any potential for follow up.
  4. Discussion is critical! If the video doesn't come with a discussion guide, than put one together ahead of time. Don't plan on winging it, or coming up with stuff while you're watching it with the kids – they’ll be able to tell you didn’t prepare and the discussion will suffer for it. If you’re going to spend time and money on a video resource, put the work in to make it worth it.
  5. Don't overuse! I don't think I've ever used video curriculum or series back to back - I wouldn't want to come to church and watch TV week after week, so I don't expect my teens to either. Consequently, if we do a five week video curriculum in our small groups, I typically plan on doing at least the next five weeks without videos.
  6. Have an Emergency Kit. I always like to have a few DVD's hiding in my office for that week that I am just bombarded with problems, emergencies, or whatever. I'm familiar with them, know the content and am ready to roll with them at the drop of a hat. Right now my emergency kit includes the two most recent Nooma, 36 Parables: Blue and the Skit Guys' You Teach volume 4.
In addition to the great video curriculum put out by Youth Specialties, there are also some great for finding video clip ideas; my favorites are the Videos that Teach book series by Doug Fields and Eddie James, The Blockbuster Movie Illustrations book series by Bryan Belknap, and websites like WorshipHousemedia.com, Bluefishtv.com, YouthMinistry.com, and Wingclips.com. About our guest blogger: Matthew McNutt is the Youth Pastor at Brandywine Valley Baptist Church and a former contestant on NBC's Biggest Loser where he lost 176 lbs. You can learn more about Matthew at his website.

By YS on June 19 2009 | 1 Comments


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