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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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.

#SelfieForTheSwag

Today is #NationalSelfieDay.  Not really sure why we have a “national” day for this… but hey, we’re game for fun here!   If you’ve been listening to the Podcast the last couple of weeks, we’ve been encouraging our listeners to upload a selfie of where they listen to the Podcast!  And we thought we’d make it interesting and award FREE SWAG at random to folks who upload those selfies!   Take a moment, today, upload your selfie … and we may be sending you some FREE SWAG soon!

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Summer Events on a ShoeString!

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 2.19.32 PMToday on the Podcast I interviewed my friend, Lars Rood, author of Youth Ministry on a ShoeString about how you can do lots of great summer events on the smallest of budgets! You can listen [here] on iTunes or catch it here on the podcast site. For my blog readers I thought I’d share a few of the ideas shared on the podcast here, and add a few others as well:

Meet Me at the Movies:  Teens love movies.  Actually, we ALL love movies!  It would be super easy to promote to your students that you’ll be meeting at a certain movie, at a certain theatre, at a certain time… virtually any planning and a great event!  OR you can set-up a projector and screen in the church parking lot or at someone’s house and host an outdoor movie event.  Both work great! (*Note* Listen to the podcast episode for this one as I share a marketing idea you can couple with it!)

Park Day:  Nothing says cheap and easy quite like a park day.  Just literally promote to your students that you’ll be hanging out at the park (be specific) on a certain date at a certain time and show up!  Tell everyone to bring frisbees, a football (etc), and snacks for some fun!

Fast Food Fridays:  Several consecutive summers in a row I hosted a “Fast Food Friday” for my students.  I literally just sent out a mass text (and posted online) that we would be meeting up at Chick-Fil-a (provided the location information) at a certain time. Easy peasy!

Bigger or Better:  I love this scavenger-hunt-type game.  You split students into teams and send them out with a small item (just like a paper clip or a pencil) and ask them to stop by homes in friendly neighborhoods (church members or not — at your own discretion) and ask if the homeowner\friend has something they can give them that is bigger or better than the current item in their possession.  It’s so much fun to see what teams return with at the end of the night.  Of course, the biggest or best prize wins! So much fun!

Mall Madness:  Students love the local mall.  You can set aside a time to meet at the mall and just disperse into teams to shop and enjoy the mall!  You can also set aside a specific time to meet up in the food court to eat together (fun!)… and if you want to make it even more interesting you can add a scavenger hunt of some sort while you’re on-site.

What cheap\easy ideas are you planning for this summer or have you beta-tested? Share in the comments.

3 Benefits of Teens Telling Their Story

At the beginning of 2011 I felt like God was telling me to step away from the microphone and allow my students to pick it up. It was a very odd message, I thought, but essentially God was telling me to allow teenagers to speak to their peers.

Soon after I met with my team of student leaders and told them I wanted to create a series called “STORY” and allow students to tell their stories each week.  The leaders LOVED it.

We ran the series for longer than 6 weeks (our longest running series of all time actually). And God used it.

Here are a 3 quick benefits of allowing teens to tell their story (as I see it):
  • Teens can communicate to their peers – The second teens grab the mic they have an instant audience. Their peers listen to what they have to say.
  • Teens invite their friends – You could get Justin Bieber to show up to your meeting and there wouldn’t be as much excitement as you have when teens get to share. They invite their friends to hear their story. I recall a young lady was scheduled to share her story (during our series) and she told me before our meeting “I invited the whole city!!!”  Simply awesome.
  • God uses their story – Students invite their friends, they have a chance to share their faith, their struggles, and their hopes and dreams too. God will use it.

Last Day to Save on #OC16

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Today, St. Patrick’s Day, is the final early registration deadline for The Orange Conference!

This is your last opportunity to save some green on OC16! (See what I did there?) And speaking of savings, here are a couple of other options to help you maximize your coin:

  • Did you miss this post Orange did in December on getting to OC16 on a budget?
  • Also, check out the travel partners Orange has put together to get you some great discounts on airfare, car rentals and hotels. (Disclaimer: Hotels typically go fast!)

I sure hope you’ll join me in Atlanta for The Orange Conference! For more information on the event or to register, please visit TheOrangeConference.com.

Oh, and if you want your senior, lead or campus pastor to attend ReThink Leadership, this is also their last chance to save a few bucks. They also have until midnight tonight, March 17th, to save $20 off registration!  Don’t miss this.

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The Top 30 Youth Ministry Blogs!

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SO honored to learn yesterday that this blog made the Top 30 Youth Ministry Blogs of 2015 by YouthMinistry.com   It’s been incredible to develop my blog and build community here over the years. So, to YOU, my faithful reader-subscriber-follower-friend, I say THANKS. Thank you for reading, engaging in conversation, and for sharing my content with others all these years!  And if you’re checking out this site for the first time … welcome!  Please subscribe [here] and I’ll promise to put great content in your reader each week.

If you’d like more information on how the blogs found their rank position or want to see the official announcement, simply click [here] –via YouthMinistry.com. 

Rank
  Name of                Blogger
Domain Authority
Total incoming Links
Social Media Shares
1 Lifeway Students with Ben Trueblood 37 4674    438
2 Church Leaders 33 1265 15300
3 Youth Specialties 43   624   227
4 Walt Mueller, CPYU  38   541 1306
5 The Source for YM 51   335     71
6 Fuller Youth Institute 50   254   989
7 YouthMinistry.com 51   166 2614
8 Mark Oestreicher 43   204 3820
9 YouthPastor.com 47   220       0
10 Adam McLane 42   235   679
11 Terrace Crawford 39     54 3814
12 Jonathan McKee 42     80  160
13 Orange Leaders 35   136  760
14 Mike King 42     42    38
15 Greg Stier 29     11 7489
16 Rethinking YM 37     77     27
17 Ian McDonald 39     54     19
18 Download YM 38     37   326
19 Project YM 37     25   983
20 Youth Cartel 30   102       0
21 Average Youth Ministry 35     41   257
22 LeaderTreks 31     56       0
23 Network CRCNA 22   132     93
24 Stevan Sheets 32    32     52
25 Tim Schmoyer 25    99       0
26 Youth Ministry 360 24    69 1044
27 Jeremy Zach 24     3 3814
28 Doug Fields 19 108      0
29 NNYM 15 143      0
30 Brooklyn Lindsey 28     9   105

Please subscribe [here] and I’ll promise to put great content in your reader!

Pastors. Teens. Porn.

David Kinnaman and Josh McDowell just shared some startling stats from an in-depth research study (via Barna Group) on porn.

More than 3,000 people –including teens, youth pastors and pastors, were surveyed and the results are eye-opening.

Here’s some of the highlights of their findings (the official release of the full study comes out in April 2016, The Porn Phenomenon).

  • Most pastors (57%) and youth pastors (64%) admit they have struggled with porn, either currently or in the past.
  • 21% of youth pastors and 14% of pastors admit they currently struggle with using porn.
  • About 12% of youth pastors and 5% of pastors say they are addicted to porn.
  • 87% of pastors who use porn feel a great sense of guilt and shame about it.
  • 55% of pastors who use porn say they live in constant fear of being discovered.
  • The research also states that the majority of leaders who wrestle with porn admit that it has “significantly affected their ministry in a negative manner.”

There is a BIG difference of opinion between ministry leaders and congregants (average church-goer) when it comes to the consequences for pastors who struggle with porn.

  • Only 8% of pastors think that a pastor should resign his/her position if he or she is struggling with porn. Most pastors think he/she should deal with the struggle through counseling or accountability.
  • In contrast to this, 41% of adult Christians think that pastors should be FIRED or asked to resign if they are found to be using porn. Younger Christians; however, are more likely to take a grace-filled approach.
  • In addition, most pastors believe the problem of porn is a MUCH bigger issue than it was in the past: 93% of pastors and 94% of youth pastors agree that porn is a bigger problem in the church today than it used to be a decade ago.

The Morality of Porn:

One of the more interesting findings might be the how the opinions of Porn have changed since a decade ago.

  • When respondents were allowed to “opt-out” of questions of a personal nature, more than 90% continued through the survey questions, indicating data reliability.
  • Most Americans may believe that porn is “bad for society” but those attitudes are quickly shifting toward neutrality or “good for society,” especially among younger generations.
  • Teens and young adults have more “accepting” and “encouraging” conversations about porn.
  • When they talk about porn with friends, 89% of teens, and 95% of young adults say they do so in a neutral, accepting, or encouraging way. That is, only one in 20 young adults and one in 10 teens say their friends think viewing pornography is a bad thing.
  • Teens and young adults view “not recycling” as more immoral than viewing porn.

Porn in the Digital Age:

  • Pornography has nearly gone completely digital. Example: 71% of adults, 85% of teens and young adults who have viewed pornography did so using online videos
  • Not only is porn more accessible in the digital context, but unsolicited porn has increased substantially as well.
  • Nearly half of young adults say they come across porn at least once a week—even when they aren’t seeking it out.
  • Nearly three-quarters of young adults (71%) and half of teens (50%) come across what they consider to be porn at least once a month, whether they are seeking it or not.

I just released a Podcast on this very subject and share reaction to this survey with Special Guest, Carl Thomas (XXX Church). [Click here] to listen to EP 50: Pastors. Teens. Porn. or [Click here] to launch in iTunes.

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(*Research via Barna Group. Full report to be released in April 2016).

[Video] Andy Stanley Calls Out The Church About Politics

I’ll be honest … I’ve gotten very sucked into politics in this particular election far more than any other. It’s hard not to get sucked in, actually. I’ve worked hard since the beginning of this year to keep my political commentary to a minimum. I want to focus my attention as much on Jesus as possible… and interject my thoughts periodically as needed. I don’t know about you but people have become unhinged in this election… Christians touting their candidate while slandering others. It’s bad. Really bad.

Andy Stanley, Pastor of North Point Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, apparently shares some of the same sentiment. In his latest Sermon Series “Tough as Nails”, Stanley calls out Christians who are fixing their faith on a political system and NOT on Jesus Christ.

“All of you who are 45 and older, look up here,” Stanley says, “Many of you have grown weary and lost heart and the reason is–you have fixed your eyes on a political system… and you are growing weary and you need to knock it off and I’ll tell you why… because you are scaring the children!”

Stanley continued, “You need to model for the next generation that God is in control, God can be trusted.” He also said it’s good to get involved in politics, culture and society, but never fix your eyes there, instead, “Fix your eyes on Jesus.”



What are your thoughts about how Christians have handled themselves in this Election?

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