Archive for the 'youth ministry' Category

6 years?!?

so i’ve been doing a bit of maintenance on my blog–namely categorizing all the uncategorized posts imported from my old blog site. and in doing so, i discovered something.

i’ve been blogging–albeit sporadically–for 6 years. and with just over 200 posts, i average about 3 posts a month. truthfully though, i blog in spurts. i go for a season blogging consistently and then it goes dormant for awhile. i was recently told that i should re-title my blog “the blog of good intentions”. i prefer to think of myself as being a ‘consistently inconsistent’ blogger.

as i mark this moment, let me leave you with a promise to remain consistently inconsistent… and with links back to a few of my favorite early posts. tonite here are my top 5 fave youth ministry posts. hope you enjoy them.

are we missing the point?

but what are we teaching our boys?

thoughts from a volunteer small group leader

a youthworker’s camp survival kit

object lesson: beanboozled


few of my favorite YM things: Ikea edition

when most of us as youth leaders think of ikea, we typically think of inexpensive durable furniture for the youth room or even for our homes.  living in san diego, i was spoiled by an ikea right there. now here in nashville, the closest one is 3.5 hours away in atlanta. i realized i’m teetering on the line between affecianado and addict when, on a recent visit to san diego, i took an empty suitcase to load up at ikea. as much as i miss easy access to ikea as i set up a new home, i know i’ll miss it even more when i start volunteering with a youth group again.

here are a few reasons why:

ikea fyllen laundry basket

1. fyllen laundry basket, $7.99

this collapsible basket is highly versatile. use it as:

  • a goal for games
  • temporary storage
  • donation basket (food drive, clothing drive)
  • camp lost & found
  • tote for soggy clothes/supplies

2. picture frames: starting at .99

clips glass frames

there is a huge variety of picture frames for great prices. my favorites are these ‘clips’ in the picture. plain glass with a backing that clips the photo in place. with sharpies you can totally personalize these frames making them perfect for leader gifts or small group crafts.

plus they have a wide variety of collage frames and cool photo display supplies to use in the youth room.


3. fixa tool kit, $7.99

fixa tool kit

all the basic tools for a price you don’t have to worry if one gets misplaced or damaged. for instance, the hammer falls out of a canoe and disappears in the river. (yes, that happened on a youth trip once. and i still have no clue why that jh boy had a hammer in the canoe.)



4.  koppla 6 outlet power strip: $5.99

koppla power strip

oh, and there are 2 strips in the pack for $5.99!  i also find it’s often handy to keep one of these in my suitcase it can be hard to find enough convenient plugs in a hotel to charge all my gadgets. and on camps and retreats, as a girls leader, i’m pretty sure having these in my camp survival kit has prevented outlet overload on more than one occasion.



5. (saving the best for last) frakta ikea signature tote: .59

frakta ikea signature tote

this 19 gallon tote bag is made of polypropylene and is seriously durable. it’s perfect to pack all those odd-shaped or bulky retreat supplies like dodgeballs or 48 roll packs of toilet paper.  really great for missions trip supplies as they’ll hold tools and other heavy items plus they’re waterproof and can be washed down with soap and water.

you can also get creative with these for games–put a jr higher in one and let them go sliding down a hill, use them for relays, etc.


a slightly sad note…i realized as i was putting links into this post none of these items are available online. here’s a link to their store finder so you can find out how far you are from one…and if it’s very far, you can also get a list of all their store locations so you can take along an empty suitcase next time you’ll be near one.

a favorite youth min top 10

once upon a time, i used to work on a middle school youth ministry event called ‘youth invasion’. the premise was a group of churches joined together with their middle school ministries and ‘invaded’ some low income neighborhoods and fixed up the exteriors of homes for residents who were unable to do so themselves. a big part of the week involved middle school kids and hundreds of gallons of paint.

and because it was a youth ministry event, there was the requisite event t-shirt. tonite, as i was sorting thru old t-shirts for a t-shirt quilt, i found the one from ’99. and it has one of my favorite top 10 lists ever for a youth ministry event:

10. don’t eat the paint

9.  paint freckles leave you with a really groovy tan

8.  clean sponsors are happy sponsors

7.  throwing buckets full ‘o’ paint at the house will not speed things up

6.  even michaelangelo used a drop cloth

5.  keep the karate kid jokes to a minimum (“paint da fence”)

4.  don’t use the time to practice auto paint and body on the church vans

3.  paint no dogs

2.  paint the correct house

1.  don’t eat the paint


youth ministry needs more…

back in january i posted this piece on youth ministry. it was meant to be part 1 of 4, but i never finished posting the series. it was ending up feeling more critical than i wanted or meant to be. while i agree with what i wrote, after more thinking, i want to reframe it. i want to look at the 4 issues from a more positive perspective. i’ll do this in 5 posts–this introductory post plus one on each of the 4 topics.

youth ministry needs more:

  • parent involvement: we need parents to be more involved in our ministries and oftentimes, in their kids’ lives. to make that happen, we need to reach out to them first.
  • celebration: we’re meant to be people of joy and in our fast-paced stressful lives we often forget to notice and find joy in the midst of our journeys.
  • realistic expectations of our students: having unrealistic expectations can leave us asking either too much or oftentimes too little of our students. it’s important to help our kids develop an accurate vision of how God sees them and then to help them live into it.
  • workers: quite simply, we need more adults involved in students’ lives. we need ‘big church’ to be more integrated with youth ministry so let’s get creative in making those connections.

so now you know where i’m headed for the next few posts. if you have ideas or feedback, be sure to post a comment. i’d love to start a dialogue around any or all of these.

Small Group Snapshot

Last night I met with my small group of 8th grade girls. It was the first time back together after a couple weeks off for spring break. Our group has been together for nearly 2 years and there’s a high level of trust. Among the things the girls shared about were feeling alienated by friends, being bullied, feeling like God doesn’t care, the death of a loved one, and the topic of suicide. Granted, this wasn’t a typical week, but topics like loneliness and bullying weren’t new.

Two things struck me last night as the girls talked. First, students today are dealing with much bigger issues much younger. And issues that have been around for ages, like bullying, have taken on a broader scope and a far crueler edge. (This may become a post of its own.) Second, how important it is that there be enough adults who are willing to step in and be involved in the lives of our kids. As youth workers, we need to find creative ways to continually encourage the our churches to be involved in the lives of the teens. And not just when there is crisis, but also when there is reason to celebrate. More on that later…

object lesson idea: beanboozled!

tonite for my 8th grade girls small group, our bible study was about the words that come out of our mouths. it started with one of the girls wanting to know why cussing was bad, but it was a great opportunity to talk about more than just word choice, but also about the heart and attitudes behind the words. we looked at james 3, phillipians 4:8, and matthew 12:35.

i’ve seen a number of lessons on james 3 where you use a cow tongue, usually available at the butcher counter in the grocery store, for the illustration. i checked a couple stores close to me and was told it is a ‘special order’ item. i kept mulling over what else i could do for an illustration. i started thinking about taste–maybe contrasting sweet and sour. and then in a flash of inspiration about an hour before our group met, i remembered that jelly belly had started making gross jelly bean flavors like booger & barf. i headed out to find icky jelly belly’s to mix with good ones and the lovely people at jelly belly had already created the exact mix i needed: beanboozled!

this little treat has 20 flavors of jelly belly’s in 10 colors. there’s a yummy and a yucky flavor in each color. for example, the brown one is either chocolate pudding or canned dog food. i had each of the girls choose 2 of the same color and we did a little taste test. What was fantastic (and completely unexpected) was that the yuck flavors stayed in your mouth longer and overpowered the yummy ones. It made the perfect tie-in to how oftentimes the hurtful words we hear stay with us longer and drown out the positive ones.

let me know if you use this idea or come up with other ways to use beanboozled as an object lesson.

the crisis in youth ministry: part 1

for awhile now some of the best thinkers in youth ministry have been saying youth ministry is in crisis. what we in youth ministry have been doing is not working as is evidenced by the number of kids who graduate from high school and youth group, leaving their faith behind as they move on to college and careers.

i’ve been pondering all of this for a while wondering what i can do as a volunteer and a small group leader. how can i make a difference for the girls i see every week? i’ve come up with 5 things that i’ll share in this space over the next few days. it’ll be a 4 part series as two of the items link together. and i’m going to write from my perspective as a volunteer small group leader. i do think that each of these items translate up to a youth group as a whole.

to lead off, we must as youth workers do better at supporting, encouraging, and engaging parents. we need to make an effort to meet & get to know the parents of the kids in our small groups.

as a volunteer, it is easy to skip engaging parents and leave that up to the paid staff person. but over the years i’ve learned that getting to know the parents and family situations of the girls in my group makes a difference in understanding the girls and their needs. i also realize that ideally parents are meant to be the primary disciplers of their kids. and if we get to know the parents, we can encourage and support them in that role. i’m fortunate to serve at church that believes part of youth ministry involves engaging and equipping parents. each year our youth ministry hosts a training seminar for parents, something i think all youth ministries should be doing.

here are a few ideas to connect with and serve parents:

  • greet parents when they drop off and/or pick up their child for small group.
  • email or send home a letter introducing yourself (and your co-leaders) to the parents of kids in your group.
  • gather parent emails and email them the schedule for your group.
  • create a blog or newsletter with info for parents (great resource is the center for parent/youth understanding)
  • host a small group family night (yes your students will roll their eyes, but they’ll get over it)
  • host a parent seminar (homeword ministries and center for parent/youth understanding both offer package deals to make it easy to host a parenting event)

reaching out to parents is key to helping students build a lifelong faith. as youth workers, we only have students for a few hours a week. anything we can do to help parents can only benefit the kids we serve.

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