New Site: MinistryDownloads.com

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I’m stoked to be able to announce that I have launched a brand-new resource site, MinistryDownloads.com!   I’ve always wanted to create a hub where I could share resources that I’ve created and curated for ministry and ministry leaders, and just a couple of days ago it became a reality!

The site debuts on #BlackFriday – just mere hours away – with an Epic Resource Bundle of resources (over $500 worth of resources actually!) available for ONLY $49!!!

The FIRST 10 people to purchase the bundle when it releases will receive an additional bonus (we’re giving away gift cards, additional downloads, and other prizes too!). Sign-up here, to be notified when the bundle releases… as it will be released at a super secret, undisclosed time on Friday, November 25, 2016!  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Voting Isn’t All That Matters Tomorrow

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On this final night before the Election (thank God!), I am so sad at
what shape our country is in after this election. I think the candidates
we have chosen reflect where we are at as a nation. It’s rather
pathetic. In fact, tonight on CBS News, Bob Schieffer said “It’s like
our country is under a curse, based on the candidates we have.”

Honestly, I hate the way elections go for us. We’ve been enduring this
cycle now for 2 years…and when you think about it, we are picking
a president at this point based on who smears their opponent better.

People have bought into this negative speak. I’ve tried to be careful
of what I’ve said, when I’ve said it, but I’ll admit it’s been difficult.
Some people have been down right cruel and I’ve had several people
say nasty things to me (personally). Which is quite ironic, considering
most of these same people are quick to call out Trump (for example)
on the nasty things that he has said. Hypocritical much?

So today I’ve thought about our election process. Weird, I know.

What would it have been like if we had nominees who shared their
policies a year out (2 years is too long, right?) and then spent the year
on a “Do Good” campaign … and after that year we compare what each
candidate did with their time & resources for one year (coupled with
their policies) and cast our vote then? Think of all the $$$ the candidates
raise & pour into negative ads alone? These dollars would be spent doing
good! Wow. What that year could do for our country would be AMAZING.

We really need to rethink our democracy.

With this said, VOTE. Get out tomorrow and VOTE.

I’m not voting for a candidate. I’m voting strictly on policy. Both
candidates are flawed (some people are still in denial about that),
so either way this election goes, as I see it, we still need to depend
on God’s guidance for our president-elect and the direction of our
country.

Voting tomorrow isn’t all that matters though.

As one of my friends put it today: “It matters more how I treat people
tomorrow than it does how I vote. It matters whether I love the unlovely,
respect those who disagree with me, help the helpless, honor my wife
and my kids, and act toward the person who cuts me off in traffic. That’s
how the world is changed. One loving act at a time.”

And tomorrow, regardless of how the election goes… let’s just agree to
move forward and be better (especially better to each other!) We need
each other and we need God.

May God have mercy on us. May he guide our country. May he keep
people from acting fool after tomorrow’s decision is made. And may
God bless America again.

4 Tips for Empowering Students to Serve

Every youth pastor has felt the pressure to have a high energy youth ministry program in their church, but if you really want the next generation to be actively involved you have to get them serving.

I appeared today on the Nick Blevins Family Ministry Podcast, and discussed my advocacy for empowering students to serve in ministry. You can listen to the entire interview [here] or on iTunes [here].

On the show I discussed a number of things, but I mention some keys to empowering teens to serving.  I’ll share 4 of these with you here, but you’ll have to listen to the podcast for the rest.

4 TIPS FOR EMPOWERING STUDENTS TO SERVE:

  1. Identify clear roles and needs and then provide clear paths for students to serve.
  2. Connect with other ministries and advocate for students serving.
  3. Consider setting up time parameters and seasons for serving positions.
  4. Partner with organizations to help students serve in the community.

I explain each of these in greater detail in my conversation with Nick Blevins. Listen to this episode, then comment here or Tweet me (@terracecrawford) with your feedback!

#DeepDishGiveaway at #SYMC16

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I’m stoked about the Simply Youth Ministry Conference coming up in just a couple of weeks!  So much so that I decided to create a fun giveaway for people that are planning to attend. If you’re planning to join us in Chicago, enter my #DeepDishGiveaway for a chance to have FREE Deep Dish Pizza with me and several of the #SYMC presenters. It’s going to be fun!  And hey, we’re talking about Chicago’s Deep Dish!  This is no joke!

Get registered for the conference now, if you haven’t already!  And use my EXCLUSIVE discount code ((TERRACE)) which will save you $36 when you register.  And then ENTER the giveaway to join me for some deep dish!

Get your FREE #LifeBooks!

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Check this out.  Our friends at TheLifeBook.com want to give you FREE Life Books for your ministry! This is an amazing resource that you can use for outreach in your ministry — particularly with See You at the Pole, coming up at the end of September!

  • What is The Life Book? The Life Book contains the Gospel of John (ESV) and includes interactive student comments and scripture helps for issues students face. Over 1.3 Million students have handed out nearly 20 Million Life Books since 2010.
  • How Many LifeBooks can you request? Yes. Feel free to request up to 2,000 FREE Life Books and have your students hand them out all throughout the school year. This is a great way to foster an evangelistic mindset in students. (Our experience recommends you request 25 Life Books per student in your youth group to hand out.)
  • Is it really free? Absolutely. No strings attached. They are completely funded by The Gideons International, an organization who has been responsible for dispersing over 90 Million Bibles in its existence!
  • When is the deadline to order? You can get them at any time; however, if you want LifeBooks in time for See You at the Pole activities, you’ll need to request them by tomorrow, Friday, September 9th at TheLifeBook.com.
  • More info?  Visit www.TheLifeBook.com to find out more information or to request as many Life Books as you’d like.

 

ReVamp Your #YouthMin Outreach!

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Just 5 years ago I signed on to help Water Mission International raise awareness about the need for clean water globally. It was incredible to work with this organization to raise support and also help meet the needs of those who suffer daily due to lack of clean water.

Water Mission, a Christian nonprofit that builds safe water solutions in developing countries and disaster areas, now invites your Youth Group to participate in an exciting new learning experience this Fall – Project Disaster!

Think about this … If a natural disaster struck your hometown what would your students need to do in order to survive? Water Mission wants you to take a look at your Fall or Spring calendar and consider an event or series of events to help your students get a taste of what it’s like to survive should disasters strike and what refugees worldwide experience every day.   You can choose among 9 different activities, depending on length of your event (day, evening, or even overnight events) — much like a 30-hour famine experience — where students experience firsthand what a refugee or survivor might go through to meet their daily needs like food, water and shelter. And Water Mission wants to help you with the planning too!

Check this out ... You can get a FREE PLANNING KIT from Water Mission (includes T-Shirt, Wristbands, & Materials!), and you’ll also be entered to WIN A FREE International Trip to see the impact of safe water firsthand! Go [here] and sign up now!  Amazing!

5 Ways to Reach Students with #PokemonGO

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Whether you care personally about the latest phenomenon in the #PokemonGO app or not, this is a pretty big deal.  Churches are beginning to see random passersby show up on their doorsteps because of this app!   The popular video game app mixes augmented reality with a form of geocaching and has literally swept the nation.  In fact, nearly 35 million people are using the app now… surpassing popular platforms like Twitter.

In our latest podcast, This Week in Youth Ministry, I interviewed Nils Smith, VP of Social Media and Innovation for the Dunham Company (TX) about how to leverage this game to reach students for Christ. [Click here] to launch and listen in iTunes now.

During the show I shared 8 ways churches can capitalize on PokemonGO. I referenced an article [here], which includes all 8, but I’ll share a few here with you.

5 Ways Churches Can Reach Students with PokemonGO:

1. Check Your Church on the Game – The first thing you want to do is download PokemonGo to your smartphone. Begin to familiarize yourself with the app and check to see if your church is a “Pokestop” or “gym!”  If you are in a larger city you might have more foot traffic, but knowing if your church is a stop or gym will give you a better idea of how to engage people who come by your church!

2. Create a Welcome Area for Players – Churches who are intentional about reaching people will take this opportunity to interact with the public.  Check out what Kyle’s church did.  Kyle shared [this] with our Facebook group. It’s a welcome area for players where they offer free snacks and prizes too – brilliant.

3. Post About it on Social Media – There’s already a buzz about #PokemonGo online, so why not join the conversation? If your church is doing something unique (or really anything at all!) share it on your social media.  This will create more interests in your ministry.

4. Bring Pokemon to Your Church – You can actually lure people to your church or ministry by creating a “Lure Module” that will draw in Pokemon to Pokestops for 30+ minutes! Check out this article in Forbes that I just read about how to lure more people your way!

5. Let Your Students Shine! –  One thing Nils & I talked about on the podcast is this is a great opportunity to let your students lead. Your students will know more about this app\game than you.  Why not host a night soon where you allow a couple of students to teach everyone how to play and equip them to reach their friends!  Giving your teens a chance to share will create a buzz in itself and create interests in your ministry.

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Win FREE REGISTRATION to #SYMC16

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Friends, I’m STOKED to be able to announce to you that I am giving away a FREE REGISTRATION to the Simply Youth Ministry Conference that will be held in Chicago, October 7-9, 2016!!!  ((Enter Here!!!))

This conference line-up is amazing… and includes Doug Fields, Gungor, The Skit Guys, Rick Lawrence, Makota Fujumora, Shane & Shane and many more!  Full list [here].

This FREE REGISTRATION (valued at $379.00!) gets you into the conference at no-charge and you’ll get to experience an amazing atmosphere of fun & growth among hundreds and hundreds of youth ministry workers in Chicago!

Hurry!  Enter NOW to win this!  And once you enter, share your unique link. It gets you additional entries so you better your chances come the drawing, Friday, August 5th!
Go [here] to enter now to win this amazing prize!

7 Prayers You Can Pray for Your Mission Team

This summer your students and adults may be embarking on a mission trip (whether short term or long term) and it’s important to cover this experience in prayer.  Today I thought it would be helpful to share a number of things you can specifically pray for as you prepare:

7 Prayers You Can Pray for Your Mission Team:

1. Pray for the spiritual preparation of your team. Mission trips are not for the spiritually weak—they require recognition of the spiritual war we are facing. Pray that your teams will be spiritually prepared for the work and war they are sure to face. See Paul’s prayer for spiritual boldness in Ephesians 6:19.

2. Pray for the financial support of the mission team. When Jesus sent out his witnesses, he told them to trust the provision offered in the villages for their wages and sustenance (Matthew 10:9-10; Luke 10:4-8). Pray that God would meet the financial obligations of each team member and mission trip.

3. Pray for the health and safety of the mission team. Traveling to your mission destination can drastically affect the health and strength of mission team participants. Getting sick is just a normal part of travel (particularly if you are going international). However there is precedent for praying for the health and safety of mission teams in in travel. Pray that your teams will experience safe travel and health protection while on the mission trip.

4. Pray that the mission team will not let the platform take the place of the mission. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus commissioned us to make disciples. That’s our mission. Sometimes need-based ministries (like construction projects, etc.) are the “platforms” that give opportunity for mission trips… and these projects can quickly become the measurement for success. Pray for your team— that the focus would be disciple-making, even while working through projects and platforms.

5. Pray for the flexibility of the mission team. Sometimes our mission plans require revision and flexibility. Acts 16:6-10 records Paul’s prevention by the Holy Spirit of going into Asia and the Macedonian call. Mission teams must learn to trust God’s plan, not their own, and be spiritually discerning. Pray that your teams will be flexible in their planning and discern what God wants to accomplish on the mission trip.

6.  Pray for the spiritual wisdom and loving service of the mission team. One of Paul’s prayers for the Ephesian church was that they would grow in spiritual wisdom and depth of love (Ephesians 3:14-20). Mission team members need an abundance of wisdom and love, and God desires to provide it. Pray that your team members will be abundantly wise and discerning as well as filled with love for those whom they will serve and share with.

7. Pray for the spiritual development, strength and growth of the churches and organizations that your teams will work with. Paul encouraged, commended, challenged and prayed for the churches, elders and leaders of the Ephesian church before he finally parted ways with them (Acts 20:17-38). Mission teams are only a part of God’s ongoing work in the world. Churches, organizations, pastors and believers across the globe will continue God’s work far longer than a mission team serves on a mission trip. Pray for the partner churches, pastors and organizations to have strength, growth and success in fulfilling God’s disciple-making mission in their own context.

Two Cents Tuesday: Camp

“Two Cents Tuesdays” is a blog series where you get to help other church leaders who are struggling where they are. I take one question (one scenario) each week from my mail bag (…er email inbox) and share it with you (protecting the innocent of course by keeping it anonymous). I want your TWO CENTS. 

((This week I have a theme running on the blog around camp\missions trips, so this is one of the most recent questions I have received in my inbox pertaining to camp)):  

How would you handle a student who brought drugs to camp?

 

Here’s my two cents:  First of all, this is a very (real) unfortunate situation.  Handling something like this, with care, is important.  Typically I have something mentioned on our camp form(s) about drugs\narcotics being prohibited from camp, so a student bringing along drugs would be in direct violation of breaking the rules. Aside from that, this is probably a direct violation to the rules of the camp too.

Initially I would have a meeting with key leader(s) and discuss how to approach this.  There would be an inevitable confrontation needed with the teen, and if the student has drugs on them, then leadership should determine if the student should be sent home or not.  If the camp is made aware of the situation (you have to determine if they should), they may demand the student be sent home.  Here’s the thing … you must deal with it.  Other students in your group will be made aware of it, and how you handle will set a precedent. Bottom line: The teen ultimately needs to be disciplined for breaking the rules.

I know it’s hard to send students home from a camp experience, but be encouraged by this … your tough love and grace-filled response to the student in this scenario could teach them immeasurably more than they’d ever learn at camp.

What are YOUR two cents?  Leave a comment on how you’d handle this situation.