Archive for category: Youth Ministry

FREE Six Year Student Ministry Curriculum

03 Feb
February 3, 2016

disciple-6-curriculum-students

This is pretty incredible to me; Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has created, through their students and staff, a complete six year discipleship curriculum for middle school and high school students that they are making available completely free to churches to download! It looks like a great resource, and definitely a gift to churches! You can learn about it and download it here. Here’s their description of it:

Southwestern Seminary desires to see teenagers who, for the glory of the Father and in the power of the Spirit, spend a lifetime embracing the full supremacy of the Son, responding to His kingly reign in all of life, inviting Christ to live His life through them, and joining Him in making disciples among all peoples.

To that end the seminary has presented a gift to the churches. That gift is a comprehensive, six-year curriculum to be used with those specific teenagers who want to be disciples of Jesus. The studies are grounded in Scripture and include the content areas of:

Apologetics Core Doctrines Servant Leadership
Biblical Interpretation Ethics Spiritual Disciplines
Biblical Relationships Evangelism and Missions Worldview

Teenagers share in the leadership of the sessions. They prepare to disciple believers now and for a lifetime, nearby and to the ends of the earth.

The Disciple6 curriculum is available as free PDF downloads and free smartphone/tablet downloads. Southwestern Seminary believes every teenager and every church deserves the best discipleship resources, regardless of economic situation.

Introducing Brandywine Students

29 Jan
January 29, 2016

Brandywine Students

Summit Student Ministry is NOW Brandywine Students! Yes, we are changing the name and logo, and with Pastor Nate’s current sermon series, it seemed like the perfect time to go live with it all! So, why the change? The short answer is, we want to send the message loud and clear that students are not the future of the church – they are part of the church NOW. Here’s how we live that out:

  • KNOW: We want young people to have a lifelong commitment to God. This happens by knowing God, and being a part of the church body as a whole. Towards that end, one of the best things we think that can happen for a young person is to regularly be in the church worship service, listening to the sermon and worshiping with the whole church.
  • GROW: There are age specific opportunities for young people to grow in the knowledge of God and faith in Him; our Sunday morning student hour and our Wednesday night small groups are a critical part in our church living this out with adolescents. This also includes our retreats and special events
  • GO: We are all called to serve and share our faith! Our student mission trips are the most well known way that we pursue this at BVBC. We also do this through service projects and outreach events.

I’m excited about this change. I love the logo; Nick Taylor, one of our former students designed it – the symbolism behind the compass ties to Know/Grow/Go, it’s a compass for the spiritual discipleship path we have at our church. I like that our language aligns with the rest of the church. I love that the name is intuitive for visitors; they will know what it is without needing it explained. I love that with student ministry called Brandywine Students, and children’s ministry called Brandywine Kids, it paints a picture of ministry alignment and a unified church. I am excited for the ways we are brainstorming and looking to integrate students into the rest of the church body more and more – the more they’re plugged in and feel ownership, the more likely they will be to stay plugged in after they graduate!

Changing Perspectives on Youth Ministry and Parenting

20 Jan
January 20, 2016

calvin hobbes

I will have been in full time youth ministry for fifteen years this coming April. It’s gone by fast. When I arrived at my first church, Heather and I had just married half a year before and were a few months into her pregnancy with our first son. I was young, inexperienced, and in some ways over confident. Fifteen years later, I have two of my own children in the student ministry I lead. My perspective in many areas of ministry has grown and changed over the years.

One area that has always struck me is how my perspective on parents of adolescents has dramatically changed over the years. As a new youth pastor, I was often times frustrated by them. In many ways, I avoided having too much connection with them, and often times found myself questioning or wondering at their decisions regarding the youth ministry, reactions to my leadership, or how they responded to their children.

Then I had my own.

Fifteen years ago I had no idea how unnerving, confusing, overwhelming it is to parent teenagers. I am considered a professional youth worker. In youth ministry circles, I’m a veteran. I have read more books on adolescence than most people, I’ve gone to school for it, I’ve attended conferences, gotten further training, had countless hours of experience, walked with students and their families through just about every adolescent scenario you can imagine, I’ve written articles, spoken at training events, the list goes on. And apparently almost none of that translates to parenting my own teenagers!

Talking to countless teenagers about sex does not make it one bit easier to view my own children as sexual beings and have those conversations with them. Coaching parents on dealing with hormonal children and all of the associated mood swings does not somehow magically translate to me always being understanding with the adolescents I live with.

Last year, I actually punished one of my sons by not allowing them to go to a youth group fun event (that I was leading!). After more than a decade of being frustrated with parents for using youth group as a consequence, I did it.

Last week I had one of those moments where one of my children clearly thought I was clueless. That somehow in their handful of years of experience they had more knowledge and wisdom to bear on the topic than I could possibly have. And it hit me … perhaps the biggest reason I had a bad perception of parents fifteen years ago was that I was more friend to the students in my ministry than I was pastor. Yes, I discipled teens. I taught the scriptures. I led small groups, challenged them to go deeper, and saw tremendous fruit. But in many ways I tried to be cool, to build friendships, to identify with them. When I was a teen I thought my parents were idiots, completely clueless. It was not until my early twenties that I really started to change that opinion! My primary source of information about parents was from teenagers! Of course my opinion began to mirror theirs.

I am the parent I was so irritated with fifteen years ago. I will complain if someone springs an event on me with little notice, just as I used to do to parents. I am the youth pastor and I don’t treat youth group as the most important thing for my kids. Yes, they are involved – and love it – but it is one small piece in a much bigger picture that is their life. I don’t bother keeping up on current trends anymore; it’s too much work, and I’m never going to be ‘cool.’ I’m a forty year old man with kids. Cool went out the window a long time ago. Turns out teens aren’t as impressed with adults who know the latest bands, movies, and books as I thought they were fifteen years ago – but they are desperate for caring adults who will love them and see their potential. And as much as it may bother them in the moment, it is quietly reassuring to young people when the adults in their lives communicate with, and support, their parents. It brings stability. I think recognizing that paves the way to transition from being a friend to a pastor.

Time of Reflection

18 Jan
January 18, 2016

abstract tree

The more I think about it, the more I realize that 2015 was a year of reflecting and calming for me. Which is weird to say. The last several years have seen a lot of transition and challenges, both difficult and rewarding. My church spent the last few years transitioning from a senior pastor who first started there in 1975, I have been a full time student pursuing a Masters of Divinity, my own children have become adolescents – forever changing my perspectives on student ministry, I became an adult child of divorce after my parents separated, as well as other heartbreaks throughout the extended family. For the first time in years we have begun to feel like our son’s battle with localized scleroderma has become manageable. Heather and I celebrated our fifteenth anniversary. I turned 40.

I’m still recovering from that last one.

In some ways it has been a wild few years.┬áIt’s not so much that the last year has seen those things lessening; there is still a lot of transition surrounding me. But my focus has settled and broadened, if that makes sense. There is a different level of peacefulness throughout, which is probably weird to say considering my house is full of LOUD boys. It has been amazing to see God working through the circumstances. My sons continue to grow into young men that I am proud of. Heather and I still are building and collecting memories – fifteen years already?!?

Even the transitions in church have given new perspectives; during the six months between senior pastors, I was pulled away from the student ministry a lot. Thankfully, our church has an amazing team of youth staff and volunteers that really stepped up to enable me to be able to help in other areas of the church. The biggest unexpected fruit for me, however, was that in being pulled back a bit for a season meant that I gained some different perspectives on our student ministry as a whole – I’m excited about some of the behind the scenes conversations I’ve been having with our new senior pastor and youth ministry staff about how we can really take our program to another level, both in developing disciples and seeing the students integrated even more so in our church as a whole.

All that to say, this post is a couple weeks overdue, but I’m excited about 2016. I’m excited to see how things continue to grow in develop personally, in my family, and in the ministry.

 

The Small Town America Tour recap

09 Oct
October 9, 2015

fire2 small

Last weekend we had an amazing concert night with the Small Town America Tour. It was also our first foray into pyrotechnics in the sanctuary …

The concert itself was a blast. Openers Scarlet White and Shonlock were both amazing, with Shonlock really winning over the teens – they’ve been begging me every time they see me to bring him back for another show where he can have more time and really go to town! Seventh Day Slumber is definitely a rock band. They came out hard and it was amazing. I have to admit, the flame throwers were really, really cool. The lead singer also gave a powerful message that saw a number of kids raise their hands to commit, or recommit, their lives to God which was an incredible thing to witness. Fireflight finished out the night strong, belting out songs from their new album as well as older favorites.

I have to admit, our attendance was not where I was hoping. Usually the bulk of the online ticket sales happen in the days before the show … which this time around was when all the weather reports were saying a hurricane was going to blow through Wilmington the same time as our concert was. Instead of fielding calls about the show, I was answering the question over and over as to whether or not we were going to cancel. The storm never actually hit, but it did damage none-the-less! The bands told me that was the challenge they were running into all that weekend. Even so, they rocked the room like it was packed – I’d definitely recommend ANY of the acts to anyone looking to work with great bands and host an awesome concert!

I Make Kids Fly

28 Sep
September 28, 2015

I look forward to the blob all year long. Because I make teens fly.

Anyway, here’s the music video/highlights video from our 2015 Student Ministry Retreat! It was a blast!

The Student Ministry Retreat!

31 Aug
August 31, 2015

fire

The 2015 Student Ministry Retreat is a wrap! What a weekend! We had a great turnout, amazing weather, and an exciting kick off to the new school year. Our theme for the weekend was #Hashtag; essentially, we took popular hashtags from social media and used them as launching points for our three talks and two small group times. Over the weekend we worked our way through the basics of who Jesus is, a call to commit/recommit to Him, and a challenge to be a light for Him throughout the week in school, our neighborhoods, homes, and sports teams.

Of course, there was a LOT of fun involved with the weekend. I made another rules video (you can see it on the student ministry Facebook page), we tried out Human Hungry Hippo, had our annual candle lighting ceremony, played lazer tag in the woods, went water tubing, bounced on a jumping pillow, used the water slide, played with the canoes, and sent kids airborne off the blob. My son Caleb, an incoming sixth grader, tried it for the first time and got some great air – you can see a picture below!

I came into this weekend feeling nervous; the last half year has been kind of wild at our church. Our senior pastor retired after having first came to the church in 1975. Along with the other pastors, I was pulled in a lot of directions during the transition time. Between mission trips, the senior pastor search, mission trips. and more the summer flew by faster than usual. Even so, I came away from the retreat feeling like in spite of all the chaos going into it, our theme saturated the weekend better than we’ve seen in years. It was amazing how many kids came to me Saturday night and told me the ways they were being impacted by the retreat. Our goal is to see this continue in our student small groups – we took big steps to make sure kids were connecting with their small group leaders so that those critical conversations can continue in the weeks to come!

All in all, it was a great weekend! Now to catch up on some sleep …

caleb blob

Victimization in the Name of Protection

22 Aug
August 22, 2015

This video came out a couple weeks ago and has been tearing up the social media sites. Tens of millions of views, it is a bona fide viral hit. People are raving about how it is a must see, it is so good, etc.

I disagree.

It does make a good point, that kids are more likely to make unsafe decisions than we realize. That’s a reality I have been confronted with over and over as a youth worker; parents have no problem believing that adolescents will make unsafe decisions online, with friends, regarding drugs or alcohol, with strangers – the list goes on. What consistently catches parents off guard is that THEIR kids are the ones who will make unsafe decisions. As a nation, we’ve been educating minors about these kinds of dangers for decades, and the reality is that because of greater care we take in protecting children has resulted in those kinds of crime rates going down over the last few decades (while fear has gone up thanks to the introduction of 24 hour news media). Part of me feels like the usefulness of this video is more as a wake-up call for parents, not the kids living in their houses.

But baiting teens to come out and meet someone, only to be screamed at by their parents and posted online for everyone to see? Simulating a kidnapping, having people in masks grabbing and restraining a young girl, then yelling at her about what could have happened if they really had been bad guys? It feels more like an attempt to generate YouTube revenue and score views online than actual concern for the child. And then posting the video for all their friends and peers to see? It’s wrong. It’s a good message, but victimizing young kids to generate YouTube ad revenue is not the way to achieve it.

Group Games Apps

28 Jul
July 28, 2015

groupdo

This summer I told both of my interns to download the following three apps, and they have both been VERY excited with how useful they are! It is challenging to come up with different and interesting games for student ministry week after week, and while there are a ton of resources out there, both in book form and online, these are particularly convenient as they are apps! Each of the apps has a variety of games, from simple to complex. And at a couple bucks each, it’s around a penny or two per game idea. Definitely great youth ministry resources:

Group Games: The first games app I purchased, it includes over 120 games with filters and categories, as well as the ability to highlight favorites for quick access later.

GroupDo: 250 games with filters to help narrow them down by what type of game you want. Includes instructions, illustrations and more!

Awana YM Games: Awana is in the name, but this is app is incredibly useful if you work with teens, regardless of what curriculum you use. It includes 95 games.

Bonus app recommendation:

IceBreaker Questions: Not a games app, but another great resource from the creator of the Group Games app mentioned above. Tons of great questions, with filters for age groups, it’s a fun way to get a group talking!

It’s the little things …

09 Jul
July 9, 2015

IMG_2916

Sometimes it’s the little things that make you feel most appreciated.

This photo is from the VBS party/cookout our team through for the residents in Stockholm and New Sweden during our mission trip to Maine. There were a handful of kids who came with drawings thanking us for the VBS!