Hey, Small Church YM Friends:
If you didn’t already know this, Mark DeVries writes an awesome downloadable weekly student curriculum called Spice Rack. Here is a free lesson for you to use this weekend as part of your Thanksgiving teaching. This will be especially helpful since next Sunday is NOT the first Sunday in Advent this year. For more great lessons, go to http://ymarchitects.com and click on the Spice Rack tab. In the meantime, here’s the link to this lesson:
It’s November 3rd. Already! I won’t even mention how close it is till Christmas.
So…you’re wondering: What has November got to do with your 2013 summer trip? How do your November next steps influence the teeter-totter between success and “meh?” I’m so glad you asked. Here’s what I’m thinking:
1-If you haven’t set the dates, picked the place, and gathered/sent in deposits, what are you waiting for? Christmas? The earlier you get your mission tribe on board, the better the buy in. The better the buy in, the better the attendance and support. The better the support, the more kids you’ll take.
2-November is Thankful Month in many churches. NOW is the time to sell mission stock or get sponsorships for your young missionaries when folks are feeling grateful. Sponsor a Thankfulness Breakfast one Sunday to applaud past supporters and invite new ones. Plus, remind people that your youth summer trip is a great end of the year tax write-off.
3-Recruit the best adult volunteers sooner than later. They’re great in many ways and usually that means they’re busy…so they need to know NOW whether you’re going to want their participation on the trip.
So use all that extra time you have from “No Shave November” and use it to get to work.
The holidays are coming and you may be doing some flying so here’s my best advice:
1) Travel neck pillows: don’t by them at the airport. Walmart sells them for like $9. Plus, get the kind that snap together at the two ends. That way you can hang it off your luggage or wheeled back pack.
2) Know the kind of plane you’re flying. CRJs and other regional jets are SMALL so prepare by having what you’ll need in a little bag to put in the seat pocket in front of you. That way u don’t have to worry about getting to your bag…which isn’t easy on those small jets.
3) Always have a snack in ur bag with you. It makes getting stuck on the Tarmac so much easier, especially since it may be awhile till snack service. Happened to me today.
4) If you get the chance to check your luggage for free, DO IT! Who wants to schlep your bags through the multi airports of your flight day? A lot of airlines will ask for people at the gate to check all the way thru especially on the small planes. That’s free.
5) The necessary scarf: For more than fashion, I almost always wear a scarf on flight days. It doubles as a blanket and covers up any travel spills.
6) Important workshop stuff always travels with me and never in my checked bag. I can do my training event or consultation in yesterday’s clothes but can’t without the one of a kind video clip or special Mac cord I’d need.
7) Don’t count on the wifi. I never leave home without downloading the essentials. You never know how good the signal will be at a retreat or conference center.
8) Park in the same area each time at ur home airport. When you come home tired, you won’t have to try and remember which area or level u parked at.
9) I bring my own pillow sham. My own pillow was a pain to pack so the pillow sham lets me stuff two squishy hotel pillows inside it to create the firm pillow I like with a familiar feel on my face.
10) Less clothes, more jewelry! I bring all my jewelry in a roll up thingy. Gives me a sense of variety and customization w/o packing a lot.
Think that’s about it for now. I’m about to land in Indy to send some time with UMC youth peeps. Love my job!!
Dear Parent of a Child in the Youth Group,
In national surveys of youth workers in the US, curious about the biggest stress factor named? It’s not the noisy kids. Or the disruptive kids. Or the kids who terrorize a lock-in or the girls with the high pitch scream. Yep, named #1 in youth worker frustration? Parents.
Not you, of course. You’re great. You always remember your youth worker during Pastor Appreciation month. You’ve never forgotten a Christmas blessing or his/her birthday. You would NEVER call your kid’s youth worker on a Sunday night at the end of a long weekend retreat and wonder why your child is missing their pillowcase or got stung by a bee while on said retreat.
But for those parents who need a few tips in getting their church’s youth leader’s attention, here goes:
1) Remember the youth worker has several parenting styles to fit in. She has to find a middle-of-the road approach to the rules.
2) Weigh the success of the YM based on the group’s interaction, not just your child’s.
3) Go to the youth worker FIRST about a concern. Please don’t try your thoughts out on the other parents waiting in the parking lot.
4) If you have some concerns, email the youth pastor, letting him know what you’d like to talk about (youth pastors HATE the mysterious ‘I need to meet you’ message w/ no agenda). Schedule a friendly face to face chat. Never storm into the youth office.
5) If they’re young, cut them some slack. If they’re older, cut them some slack. If they’re new…you get the idea.
(Youth workers, pass this along.)
You’re about to step into the youth ministry world. You said you’d help out…but now you’re sacred to death.
You should be.
Try these tips and I think you’ll come out alive.
1) Don’t try too hard: They can smell a fake a mile away. Be yourself, only nice.
2) Don’t try too little, either: Students want to know the adults care enough to talk to them. Don’t stand in the back with your arms crossed. Sit among the kids and let them get used to you.
3) Dress right for your age: Don’t try too hard there, either. And please: don’t wear anything too short or skimpy. It’s hard enough with the students much less if an adult reinforces inappropriate clothing choices.
4) Read the Scripture and pray before you come: The students may not be ready to listen to your opinions on life issues. You haven’t earned the right to be heard yet but the Word of God never changes.
5) Make yourself quietly useful: Help clean up, straighten chairs, take out trash, etc. You’ve just saved your youth worker tons of time.
You’ll do fine.
“Or in other words, I’m about to get fired.” Words I heard from someone just today. Here’s what I told them and thought I’d share them with you.
Sounds to me like you’re being called away, too, then.
In my opinion, which I hope you’re asking for since you’re reading this post, lock-ins are a great tool in a small church’s youth ministry tool box. When the budget can’t afford a weekend retreat, this will do. I am still a fan.
Wearing my YM consultant hat for Youth Ministry Architects this weekend, a church asked me if I would put together a lock-in for them as part of their visioning workshop weekend.So I did…and I loved it!
I had a blast with 13 students at FUMC in Richlands, Va. Seriously! Here are 5 pieces I usually do when planning a lock-in:
1) Theme: Giving the night a theme or personality allows room for doing cheesier things. Playing regular spoons is no big deal; playing with candy corn cards and using candy corn instead of spoons gives it an unexpected twist. Especially when people forget and eat the corn.
2) One off-property active event: During the evening, we went to a corn maze. This component fills the waking hours, tires them out, starts the event w/ a cool/fun factor and requires little on your part except for making a reservation and arranging rides.
3) A movie: Have your students get into their pj’s, grab their pillows, and put the DVD on about 1am or 2. More than half will fall asleep.
4) Breakfast by parents: I ask parents to come in and have breakfast ready about 6 am. It’s my sneaky way of getting more parents involved and guarantees that at least those parents will be on time for the 7 am pick up.
5) Midnight worship around the altar: Its just cool. Students get into the glow of God in the out-of-the-norm setting. I ask yet another parent to decorate the altar with the theme in mind. Ferments the message into their minds and hearts.
Just finished up a weekend of hanging out with the youth ministry folks at Emmanuel UMC in Noblesville, IN and their great youth pastor, Nate Harrison. What great kids! What a great youth worker! They looked long and hard for him and I’m thinking they hit a jackpot with that one.
This is a church with a YM that has a lot going for it. But – and there’s always a big but – one dynamic they identified that’s not working so well is that while the youth come faithfully, and obviously love it…they don’t bring their friends very often. One said, “I have in the past but nobody talked to her.” “Well, we woulda but you two sat in the corner the whole time!”
Most of us get it that its necessary to teach youth members how to welcome in the newbie. (One way is to not call them “newbie.”) But it occurred to us that perhaps the “friendship epidemic” education has stopped short of training the actual student who brings a friend. Where should they go? How should they arrive? What should happen? You smellin’ what I’m smearin’?
So here are some bullet points I would go over with my youth about how to bring a friend:
1-Tell your students to call you ahead of time with the heads-up that they’re bringing a friend. You can make sure you’re ready and not running around setting up.
2-Ask the students to pick their friends up instead of meeting them at the location so that the member can show the friend the secret to knowing where to find the youth room. I’ve seen some that were harder to find than what Nicolas Cage went through finding the National Treasure. (Throw up some signs, people!)
3-Teach the students how to introduce their friends around to the others, where to sit, how to jump in on games, not to abandon their friends, etc.
4-Have your students go over the typical evening’s schedule with their friends, so the friends feel like they’ve got the 411. A list of that night’s time frame might be nice to put up near the check-in table. I just use a dry erase board.
5-While I’m on the topic of check-in: If you’re not doing them, START! Have a central door where all students come through with someone greeting and making sure that everyone marks their attendance. Its also a great place to capture contact info and place flyers/brochures for upcoming youth events. How can anyone follow up with the guest if you don’t where to follow up?
OK, there are more and I would love for you to post them. I, on the other hand, have to go meet a friend here in the Minneapolis airport.