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No doubt we live in a busy world. Right? We hear it all the time and are consumed with information!

Lately,  I’ve been thinking of how much of that busyness is caused by several ministry organizations. I do understand that half is my fault since I subsribed to the endless e-mails I receive. But here are the subject lines of those  e-mails:

  • Spend more time on changing lives
  • Resources, training, and connections for youth workers
  • Student Leadership: Don’t do this, do this.
  • This Curriculum is none like any other
  • Start conversations with the next generation
  • How fast can I make changes
  • Ready to use lessons for thanksgiving
  • SYM: Mailbox is full (video podcast)

Do I want to impact lives? yes! Am I interested in resources? yes! Am I interested in student leadership? Yes. Get the idea?

There is a danger when it comes to ministry, specifically student  ministry. We hear so many good ideas or some new resource, that all that combined information becomes noise which is too loud for us to come up with what the Lord really wants US do in OUR ministry.  There is a loss of creativity when you rely on others for the sole purpose of ideas.

In dissecting resources and my ministry, I feel like the Lord really wants me to look deeper. The outcome may be a good idea for others as well.

  1. Come up with a Weekly Time Sheet. I’ve come up with a tool to help me stay focus and on target for when needs to be accomplished. If I open every e-mail showing some great  new tool, I would literatly get nothing done. Choose a couple of hours per week and try to stick to it.
  2. Choose one go to place for your resources. Not to say from time to time you venture out, but choose one orgainztion you know and trust. My caution, however, would be to watch for those organizations that will fill you with busyness. For example; Simply Youth Ministry is a great resources. However, they now “produce” a cirruluum, they’re also part of Group so they promote missions trips, podcasts, and more. I’ve had to make the decision to stop subsribing to them in order to clear my  head.
  3. Use your leaders! I recently met with a new leader who is interested in helping out with our student ministry. We were coming up with some awesome and creative ways to lead the students in our community.

 

What are your thoughts? How do you handle the unlimited amount of resources knocking on your door?

 

Texting is the way students communicate. Talking on the phone is needed but it’s hard to get information out of them through a phone call.  If you want answers, text them! There are several companies offering text services that you can implement in your student ministry.  I’m not a tech savvy guy but will try to rank them according to me.  If you’re not using a service, sign up today and you’ll be glad you did.

Starting at #1 is txtsignal:  I’ve used txtsignal for the last year and found it to be the best for the budget.  You can send up to 60 messages to your groups for only $20.00. ($10.00 for up to 30 groups). Unlimited single messages as well. The only down fall is you can have up to 3 users, but I think there are ways around it.

#2 is Symtools communication: Very similar to Textsignal.  The only reason this is #2 is because I’ve found txtsignal first. The only thin I wished they both had was facebook integration. The pricing is the same as txtsignal.

#3 Duffled: Another great tool but found them to be a bit pricey. They base the price on the amount of texts you send. . For 250 texts messages it’s $35.00, 750 text messages it’s $90.00.

#4 Yaptap: I’ve wanted to use Yaptap, but the simplicity of the first two out weigh the complexity of yaptap.  For 100 members it’s $20.00. They do allow Facebook and Twitter integration with unlimited groups. So that’s nice. But couldn’t wrap my head around it.

TIP# Place the logo of the service you are using and link it the sign up page. This way you can draw people to the web page to sign up for the service.

All these services allow the members to text stop at anytime.

 

For more insight, also check out Josh Griffin’s site. He posted about this in early August.

What company do you use? Do you use text? if, so, in what ways?

I mentioned in my last post that this week has been a thought provoking week. You can read my last blog to find out why.

Weeks like this I love because it forces me to think on a specific issue.

I watched the movie Divided, and if the purpose of the movie was to get me thinking that youth ministry has failed, it didn’t work. It did however, get me thinking of ways to close the gap of high school graduate to college goer.

There is no doubt there are students who are leaving the church when they go to college. Allow me to be an avocate for youth ministry for a bit. We need to be cautious when it comes to the point of blame on a specific venue of the church. I don’t agree the way to solve this issue is by taking away “youth groups”.   Let’s examine first and foremost the culture we live in.  There are issues facing teenagers today that, let’s be honest, aren’t dealt with from “regular church”.  A 45 year old man is not struggling in the same way way of the 16 year old girl (if he is, then he’s got issues). A ministry surrounded by  people dealing in the same issues growing together is healthy.

I have trouble with people saying that the word youth group is not in the bible.  Let’s not forget the culture differences of bible times and the present. In addition, my personal thought is Jesus preached to the children. I believe he did set times to talk to the younger ones.  Do you agree?

It’s interesting to me that the deeper I look into this,  the students who stopped going to church moved out and went to college. Is this true? The students staying home are still attending church and active, in  most cases.  (If you have students leaving your student ministry who are not leaving to go to college, I think it’s time to examine really why that’s happening) Many of these students are leaving their church, friends, family, their roots. They meet new friends and start establishing possibly a new way of living.  The more I think of it the more I yearn to see thriving college/university campus ministries.

I would love for college campus ministries to partner with local churches. Is this happening?

Student ministry also  needs to be partnering with parents.  But we need to remember that for many youth groups, these youth come from unchurched broken homes.  Many of these parents aren’t believers and without believing in Christ most parents have a different value system that could very well be contrary to the church. I agree that parents could do a better job of raising their teens in the ways of the Lord, and we do need need to partner with them to help guide and encourage them.  But at the same time, it’s a cop out when we say it’s not the student ministries job to raise teens.  And to some extent that could be true, but when a student comes from some of these homes, youth pastors are becoming the Godly “parent” in that life.  What a great way to pray with the student for the parents to come to church, to accept Christ and follow Him. It’s at that time we partner with the parent to encourage and equip. (There was a time a student accepted Christ and his mom was not a believer. We fasted and prayed together for almost two months. I’ll never forget the look on “Jacobs” face when his mother walked in when the serviced started. I might have cried with joy as did he.)

These are only a few of my thoughts, what are yours?

 

Sitting at my desk I get twitter updates constantly (Keep in mind I turn it off when I study).  Most of these updates are from others in student ministry.  Either someone is pushing their blogs, books, or resource (Not always bad).  But  it’s easy to get distracted with the newest resource and movement that comes across in the form of social media. When I first began in youth ministry in the 90′s,  social media didn’t exist.  The only way you heard of the newest resource was either word of mouth or a conference.  You would gather material and if you wanted more information they would give you something to take back or send it to you via mail.  The time between seeing something at a conference and having it in your hand gave you time to think, pray, and see if it really lines up with your ministry.

Today is different.  We’re bombarded with new stuff.  For the last few weeks I’ve been thinking how important it is to stay true to your philosophy and mission of the ministry.  Every Thursday morning I set aside two hours to plan, dream, and investigate.  Throughout the week if I hear about a resource I could possibly use I write it down for my Thursday morning time slot.

Ministry can get so complex as we try to implement different things.  Let’s keep in mind that simple is more. Here are some simple rules for simplify your ministry:

  1. Don’t get overwhelmed at every new thing that comes your way
  2. Take what lines up with your ministry and ignore the rest.
  3. Don’t worry about “big ministry, concentrate on relational ministry.

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