Thought Provoking Suicide Prevention Video

While catching up on my emails this week, I read one from a youth ministry blog I follow. One of the posts was about this video from the Mayo Clinic. While suicide is not a topic people enjoy discussing, I thought this video addressed the topic very well.

This is a good resource for parents and those who work with students. The video’s message is pretty clear: if you think your student is in trouble, say something. It talks about things to say and things not to say. There are some good insights to use and remember if you encounter a student struggling.

Celebrating Small Groups

Small Group wierd no wordsSmall Groups have been a key part of our ministry for the past number of years. We think one of the best things our students can do is to meet consistently with a group of students and adult leaders to connect, study scripture, pray together, serve together and support each other. I am continually grateful for the small group leaders we have who meet regularly with our students to build trust, encourage and model what it means to follow Jesus.

One thing that I have become convinced of is the need to celebrate the “wins” that happen in student ministry. When you have students for 7 years (6th – 12th grade), it is important to celebrate when good things take place. Much of the fruit of student ministry doesn’t show up sometimes til years later and discouragement can easily set in.

This weekend I saw where our small groups are developing fruit. There are a few wins we celebrate.

We celebrate when we see growth. I talked with one of our junior high small group leaders and he shared how he has seen growth in his group. They are starting to ask more questions and they have volunteered to lead the group. For the next few weeks, each of the guys in the group will prepare and lead a devotion for the group. It’s a great chance for them to get into the Word to read it, understand it and prepare to share it with a group of peers.

We celebrate when we see service. In just the past 10 days, I’ve seen where our groups are serving together. Several members of two of our high school girls groups showed up on a Saturday to serve at our concession stand that will benefit our 1MISSION project. Most of them couldn’t say for the whole event, but they came and served alongside their small group leaders.

One of our high school guys group is serving in our Upward program. Almost every member of that group is either helping with the technical side of the games (running lights, clock, etc.) or serving as referees for the games.

I know that our students are growing and serving in other ways that we don’t always see, but it is encouraging to see specific examples of how our students are growing and serving.

We continue to look for ways to make our small groups better, to equip our leaders more and add additional leaders. While we do that, I think it is worth to time to stop and celebrate the wins.

Nomophobia – do you have it?

I learned a new phrase this weekend – nomophobia.  It stands for no-mobile-phobia – the fear of going without your phone.

Just tonight before our small groups started, one of our guys got out his phone, accidentally dropped it and cracked his screen. He was upset because he just had his phone fixed a few weeks ago.  I’ve seen phones that have multiple cracks throughout the screen (kind of looks like a bunch of spider webs).  Rather than get the phone fixed, people continue to use them because they don’t want to be without it.

Last week one of our junior high girls was stressing out a little bit – her iPhone was on 4% battery.  She was afraid she wouldn’t make it home before it died.

I have to admit I have had a touch of nomophobia.  My son dropped my phone at the doctor’s office and cracked the case enough where the SIM card wouldn’t read. So, I couldn’t send texts or receive phone calls for a while.  I have to admit I was a little concerned.  I mean, what important call or text might I miss out on that afternoon?  Scary stuff!

That’s what the infograph shows below, based on a study done in the UK. Check to see if someone you know (or maybe even you) suffer from nomophobia.  Interesting stats.

This infograph was posted on the Youth Ministry Media website.

 

surviving-without-smartphone-infographic

IMPACT to Partner with 1Mission

1mission IMPACTIMPACT Student Ministry is kicking off 2015 with a partnership with an organization called 1MISSION. We learned about 1MISSION through our involvement with Christ In Youth at their junior high BELIEVE Convention and Summer MOVE Conference.

1MISSION is an organization that gives people living in poverty the opportunity to earn a house by serving in their community. The leaders of 1MISSION are Christ followers and their overall vision and mission are driven by a commitment to modeling Jesus’ passion for serving the poor. By partnering with 1MISSION, we have committed to raise $4000 by the end of April to build a home for a family in Mexico. Later this month we will find out the specific family we will be serving.

While 1MISSION works within the communities to help families, our role will be to support them by raising the funds needed. We are encouraging our students, small groups and church family to come up with ways to raise the necessary funds.

One way we will accomplish this is through our Upward Concessions. For a number of years, our church family has organized an Upward basketball program for the kids and families in our church and community.  About three years ago our student ministry began hosting a concession stand during the games. This year’s concessions will support 1MISSION.

We are asking two things of our students and families – to donate items to the concession stand and to volunteer to serve

We are also encouraging our students to come up with creative ways to reach our $4000 goal. Here are a few ideas:

  • Donate Your Birthday. One thing 1MISSION encourages students to do is donate their birthdays. Rather than ask for gifts for a birthday, students can ask friends and family to donate to 1MISSION.
  • Share Our Campaign Site with Others. 1MISSION will provide us with an online campaign page that students can share over social media. When the site goes live in February, people can donate directly toward our $4000 goal. Here’s a sneak peek at our Campaign Page.
  • Be Creative. Perhaps a small group will offer child care to families and donate the money to 1MISSION. Maybe a student will create a hand-made product where the proceeds will benefit 1MISSION. We know our students are creative and want to encourage them to come up with ideas they can run with either with their small group, a few friends, with family or just on their own.

I’m looking forward to see how God will move within our students and church family to provide a home for a family we may never meet face to face.  $4000 seems like a pretty big number to reach in four months, but I’m anticipating some exciting things taking place in the coming days.

Here is a brief video that gives an overview of 1MISSION and the work they are doing.  Please feel free to join us as we embark on this adventure.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/37929298″>More Than A House</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/1mission”>1MISSION</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Cell Phone Usage Infographic

I think these infographics are a cool way to share information. I saw this one today on Youth Ministry Media and it shows how cell phones are being used today. The numbers are pretty astounding when you read them. For example:

  • Two Hundred Trillion Text Messages are received in America Every Single Day  – every day!
  • 3339 – Average Number of Texts Sent Each Month by an American Teen – that’s a lot!
  • 83% of Teens Use Cell Phones to Take Pictures – images more powerful than words?

The article underscores that cell phones are a part of our culture (especially for teens) and raises the question how we use texting (and other social media outlets) to communicate.

Check it out::

How-We-Use-Our-Phones-525x2842

Enamored By Numbers

internet-statisticsI think for most (if not all) people involved in ministry, it is easy to get caught up in numbers. If one has a program or event and attendance is good, it leaves the planners with a sense of satisfaction. The opposite can be true if numbers are low – leaders can walk away deflated. We can become enamored by the numbers.

I remember something I read years ago (in the book Purpose Driven Youth Ministry I think): It’s easy to compare what you don’t know about someone else with what you do know about yourself. If I see what I consider success in another program and compare it to mine, it could leave me feeling unsuccessful.

I’m not sure how to get away from the numbers game. It is A way to determine success and fruit, but not THE way to determine it. There definitely is value in tracking the number of people involved in programs, groups, events, etc. I guess the challenge for the leader is not to live and die by the numbers.

I’m not the first to discuss the tension that exists and I really don’t have great, clear-cut advice for people in leadership positions. There are people smarter and more experienced than me that could speak to it. Just in the past few weeks I’ve been caught up in that tension and kind of chuckle at myself when I get either too high or too low based on the turnout for a particular program or event. I’m still working through it and manage it better some days versus others. Guess we are a work in progress.

IMPACT Snap Shot 2014-15

Last Sunday (Sept 7th) we had an information meeting for our parents and students to share about what’s happening in IMPACT Student Ministry this school year. We gave a quick overview and had a few printed handouts with information. One of the main things we wanted to provide families was a snap shot of the events & activities planned for the school year. With the many activities our students are involved in, we are hoping this will help as families juggles schedules.

Here is the Snap Shot. (If you are involved in IMPACT Student Ministry, feel free to share this!)

IMPACT 2014-2015

Summer Conference Memories

CIYI just got home from a week of Christ In Youth Summer Conference. The event is called MOVE and it is a great environment for students to learn, engage in worship, participate in discussions and be challenged to be involved in God’s kingdom once the event is concluded.

Our group had a good week and came away with some specific steps for individuals to take now that we’ve come home. CIY consistently presents a great week of conference.

It had been a few years since we attended MOVE and I was looking forward to our group experiencing it. What I wasn’t prepared for was the flood of memories that came back my first day at Conference. I had the opportunity to attend Conference while I was in high school and have taken groups of students multiple times.

As the week began I thought back to the conferences I experienced. Memories came of the places I had been: Adrian College, Hope College, Anderson University, Milligan College, Southern Illinois State.

I recalled Encounter times sitting on the grass and reflecting on the theme for the day and what God’s Word had to say.

Past groups and individuals came to mind. I thought of decisions that were made and conversations that were held. During the week I received a text from a former student who knew we were at conference. It brought to mind the relationships that were built at Conference and how they continue to this day.

Summer Conference has remained a strong program throughout the past few decades, yet has grown and changed. While certain elements stay the same, variations to the program have occurred which have added to its growth.

I’m grateful for the ministry of CIY, the impact it has had in my life and the countless students who have benefited from the programs offered.

Middle School Ministry Made Simple

MSMMSWhen I started reading Middle School Ministry Made Simple by Kurt Johnston, I loved what he wrote about in the first chapter. He encouraged adults working with junior high/middle school students to remember their junior high years. That was a fun little trip in the way back machine.

I finished reading the book last week and thought it was an excellent overview of junior high/middle school ministry. In fact, I bought several copies for my junior high leaders at a great price (shhhh…don’t tell them – they haven’t been given the books yet).

A couple of things stood out to me from the book. The first was in the chapter on Planning Your Programs. He talked about the different types of students you have in your ministry. While I had heard these (and similar descriptions) before, it was a good reminder to me of the different students that make up a group. He identified these groups: Care Less, Curious, Caught, Committed and Contagious. I found it is easy to focus on just a couple of the groups and not consider all of the types of students when you program and plan.

In a different chapter Kurt wrote specifically to the leader of the junior high ministry and he defined several different roles the leader should take. Several stood out to me including Sell the Vision, Equip the Troops, Take the Heat, Pass the Praise and Beat the Drum. He elaborates on each role (you’ll need to get the book to see what he says), but it served as a good way to evaluate yourself if you serve as the point leader.

If you are involved in junior high/middle school ministry, this is a good resource for you and for your team.

Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World

YM in a Post Christian WorldI (finally) finished reading Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World. It was one of those books that stirred my thinking, but I kept experiencing interruptions in my reading.

I referred to this book in previous posts that have talked about the issues the church faces when it comes to our post-christian culture. In this video, you can hear the author, Brock Morgan, talk briefly about the basis for the book.

In the opening chapters, Brock Morgan shares both his experiences and statistics that point to the fact we are living in a post-Christian world. He referenced a Barna study in the first chapter that speaks to the change that has been occurring in our culture: “The younger the generation, the increasingly post-Christian it is compared with its predecessors. Nealy half of Mosaics (48%) qualify as post-Christian compared with two-fifths of Busters (40%). One-third Boomers (35%) and one-quarter (28%) are post-Christian. These patterns are consistent with other studies that show the increasing percentage of “Nones” [i.e., adults who claim no religious affiliation among younger generations.”

Basically our culture is moving away from the church being the authoritative voice in our culture. With each generation, a larger percentage claim to have no religious affiliation. One speaker I heard describes it this way: the church used to be the majority and speak with authority. Now, we are in the minority and don’t have the same authority.

Morgan offers a unique perspective in his book as he shares about his experiences ministering in New England. When he first arrived at the church he serves, he was described as very “Jesus-y,” which he later learned wasn’t a compliment. Some of his stories would shock those of us who live and serve in the Bible Belt.

While pointing out that we live in a post-Christian culture, Morgan also talks about how to effectively minister to students in this context. He offers some defining characteristics of students who are post-Christian and shares some practical things he has done to connect with students and help them connect with God.

While ministering in New England is a lot different that being in the mid-West, there were several observations Morgan made with which I could relate. This book offers some good ideas on how to serve in our ever-changing culture.

I love what Morgan wrote about our approach in chapter 6: “Our goal should not be helping 15-year-olds become godly. Our goal should be that one day when these 15-year-olds are 30-year-olds, their faith will influence who they marry, what careers they choose, what habits they form, and how they raise their children.”

Whatever generation we serve, our goal should be to help foster a relationship with Jesus that impacts all facets of our lives. Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World offers some insights to those who are serving students today.