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Tag Archives | First 2 Years

4 Things You Should Be Doing With Your Phone

Phone

Much like a teenage girl, I’m attached to my phone. Unlike a teenage girl, I’m familiar with the boundaries I should have with it. But still I use it for EVERYTHING. I’m always on it, not just for personal tasks, but for ministry tasks as well. Now my phone helps me out in countless ways in ministry but here are four apps and features that have really been helping me out recently:

Group Me- This is a group texting app that is really unique. It allows you to text people that have all kinds of phones… even flip phones! I’ve had struggles with other texting apps: iPhone required by all participants, smart phone in general required by all participants, only allows for one way texting, etc… so texting my small group or volunteer team never seemed to work like I wanted it to. What I really like is that the text thread that the app creates displays the name of the sender of each person in the group. So no more group texts saying, “Who’s number starts with 704?”

Over- If you have an advertisement to make and don’t have a graphic design bone in your entire body, than this is for you. In a nutshell, the app allows you to put words on any picture saved on your phone. Students have made this app (or others like it) famous by putting cliché quotes over sunsets and kittens, but you can redeem the app by using it for ministry! I used all the time to make advertisements for our ministry’s Instagram account. While it isn’t a total substitution for a graphics guy, it will help you make ads that look clean and professional.

Find My Friends- This iPhone exclusive app is a GPS tracking app, meaning it allows you to see exactly where someone else is. Now not just anyone can see your location, the app allows for you to pick and choose who has the permission to see where you are. This is the perfect app to use when traveling to camp or any other event that requires caravanning. Since we used a few buses to get to camp this year, Find My Friends made it easy to track where some of them were, allowing us to easily track where everyone was without the endless text updates.

Encouragement Photo Album- This one isn’t an app, just a cool idea. When I first started in ministry, my mentor told me to keep all of the encouraging notes in a box so that, when I get discouraged, I can go through them and remember why I do this. I loved the idea, but had no clue what to do with texts and emails. The solution: screenshot all of the texts and emails and save them into an album solely dedicated to encouragement. Simple. Easy. Free.

What are some apps that make ministry easier for you?

-Colton

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“Humble Things” That Aren’t Humble

humble

Humility can be a huge struggle. It is something I pray for everyday because I know that pride is a killer. In some form or another, most of us have seen the damage that can be caused by a prideful heart. The problem with pride is that it starts in the heart of one person, and through their actions, affects the hearts of many, poisoning their church.

So, yes. Humility is big. But I don’t think that all of us “get” humility. Some of us strive to have the outward appearance of a humble person, but are neglecting to work on having the heart of a humble person.

If you frequent the RELEVANT Magazine site, you would have seen the article, 4 ‘Humble’ Things That Aren’t Humble. In this piece, Jayson D. Bradley (author) brings up some interesting points, calling into question some of the “Christianese” that we sometimes use to disguise our pride.

Here is a glimpse of it:

Virtues are a lot like garments; you can put them on without owning them. It’s tricky because we don’t just fool the people around us by playing dress up—we fool ourselves.

Humility is much easier to manufacture than it is to internalize, and as long as we’re more focused on humility’s appearance, we’ll never experience its transformation.

So What is Humility?

Scripture’s packed with references to humility (something God honors), and most of the time it’s used as an antonym for pride (something God despises).

The classic C. S. Lewis quote from Mere Christianity is a helpful place to start:

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

Humility’s simplicity is what makes it so difficult. It’s simply thinking about, promoting the interests of and celebrating others more than yourself.

Instead of focusing on others, we tend to promote, celebrate and focus on ourselves with a little self-depreciating twist to give the appearance that we really don’t take ourselves that seriously.

Like every other opinion based article, there are some things that I would push back on, but I do think that he brings up some interesting points and has started a really necessary discussion on faux-humility.

Spend some time today thinking about areas that you see pride appear. Pray for a humble heart and seek accountability.

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First 2 Years: 4 Things My Small Group Students Taught Me (pt 2)

Small Group 2

A few weeks ago, I ended my four-year small group journey with 11 of the best young men on the planet. They were the first group I have ever led, so naturally I have been processing so much about the experience. Through that, I have been able to write down and organize all of my thoughts, feelings, and lessons that I have learned along the way. I thought I’d share some of my most impactful ones with you guys. The first being, learning to have fun!

I am not fun. I will be the first to admit it. In fact, it is actually the first thing I tell the students in my cabin at camps. I am a rule follower through and through. So you can imagine my anxiety when I realized that I got the rowdiest group of students in my Life Group. And I know people often think, “oh, my students are the craziest.” But mine actually were. From almost burning down our cabin at winter camp, to being the only kids to get hurt at our weekend retreat, my guys quickly became known as the most rambunctious group of students in our ministry. I went crazy.

There were actually several nights that I went home after small group and was hurt and frustrated by the actions of my guys. I felt so disrespected and completely defeated. I had no idea why they were not engaging in group and how they couldn’t take anything seriously. Here is what I learned, it wasn’t all their fault… it was mine too! My Life Group program was SO BORING. My lessons were too long, I had too many rules, I didn’t pick my battles, and I just had no room for fun or laughter.

Once I started to change that around, I noticed HUGE changes. I would end group early to save time to just play together. We would spend some nights just getting ice cream and playing handball at elementary schools. We just had fun. Through that, we started being able to find compromises. We had a struggle… they wanted to rebel from my strictness and I wanted to force them to take things seriously. Once I loosened up, they tightened up.

My Life Group taught me such a valuable lesson, not just for ministry, but for life. To have fun. To not take everything so seriously. To break the rules every once in a while. To look the other way. To laugh a ton. And to make incredible memories. They truly revealed a big new piece of relational ministry and made me a better pastor through it.

By this time, the majority of schools should be out for the summer, meaning the end of small groups for many of us. As I continue to write these, share your experiences. Share a funny story or even a lesson of your own!

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First 2 Years: 4 Things My Small Group Students Taught Me

Small Group 1

This week, I had my last meeting with the small group I have lead for 4 years. These 11 guys were my very first small group and have become some of my favorite people in the world! God really blessed me with such a great group of guys, so obviously it has been a roller coaster of a week, being so a happy for them and excited to see where they go, while also being so sad to see them leave! They have grown and learned so much, and so have I.

This has been a week of reflecting and processing where I started and where I am now. When I started with them, I had just turned 20 and was still struggling to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Now, I’m 24 and working for a church that I love so much. It has been a crazy journey that all started that first night when I thought I had it all figured out… I quickly learned I had NO idea what I was doing.

Over the years, I’ve made some not-so-shiny mistakes and have had some incredible victories. I have learned so much and still have no idea what I’m doing… but I’m getting there. As I continue to process my four years with them, I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned along the way.

Throughout the week, I’ll be posting several of the things God taught me about small group ministry and I’d love for you to join me. Comment on these posts with some of your favorite small group stories or share a lesson that you have learned about small groups.

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First 2 Years: The Church is for “Bad” Guys Too

Bad Guys

I recently had a really troubling conversation with someone about a former friend of theirs. Their friend made a really big mistake and it cost them severely in their marriage. The way that they were talked about and the way that they were abandoned by so many of their friends broke my heart and I was puzzled why it wasn’t breaking the hearts of their friends. Or their church. It seems as though people only see them as their mistake. People only saw them as a bad guy.

When it comes to man, I’m not sure if there is always such a thing as “good” guys and “bad” guys – it isn’t that black and white. We are all broken people living in relationship with one another. We are bound to make mistakes and damage those relationships in the process. But our action, our sin, does not define us. It isn’t fair to deem a person wholly good or wholly bad.

Our actions sure have consequences, but those consequences should never be abandonment from the Church. The Church isn’t just for the people that have been hurt, it is for people that have hurt others as well. I think that what we all forget is that we are all one sentence, one action away from becoming a “bad” guy ourselves. We are all capable of moral failure. Don’t ever forget that.

Think about yourself, your ministry, and your church. How do you think about others who have sinned? How are you teaching your ministry to love those who are hard to love? Do you, do your students, does your church, fully believe that the Church is for everyone?

Colton [Email||Twitter]

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First 2 Years: The Three Things I Thought I Knew

Thought I Knew

The past six months or so have made up one of the most transforming seasons of my life. The Lord has taken almost everything I thought I knew and turned it upside down. He had me ask myself some really tough questions and put me into situations that were way out of my comfort zone. Of course when you are in the middle of it the season seems crazy, out of control, and totally overwhelming, but as I start to come out of it I am seeing the incredible things that the Lord taught me. The way I see myself, the way I interact with Him, and the way I do ministry is completely different now. There are so many things that He has taught me recently but I thought I’d share my top three with you.

Myself- I thought I knew my strengths, my weaknesses, my spiritual gifts, and how I related to other people. I thought I had myself figured out—but the Lord disagreed. He made me face the parts of myself that I didn’t want to deal with and had me take risks that I thought I’d surely fail. However, in the midst of my journey, the Lord revealed to me gifts I never knew I had. He showed me the depth of my mercy for other people and the passion I didn’t know I had for different parts of ministry. I feel like I have started to come into my own and He continually reveals that to me in the fruit of this new perspective

Faithfulness- It’s in the middle of a hard season that the Lord shows you the clear difference between your will and His will. Naturally, I didn’t want to face any of this, but I knew that I was exactly where He wanted me. As tough as it was, God truly revealed to me the blessings that come along with faithfulness. I have learned so much, have had incredible ministry moments, and have been given opportunities that I never thought I’d receive. Overall, the Lord is good and will surely reward your faithfulness.

Community- I thought I had a good understanding of community. I considered myself a good sharer and wasn’t afraid to ask for help with day-to-day tasks. But what I started to learn was that when it came to the things that mattered, the last thing I relied on was other people. I hated talking about what I was feeling, how I was processing, or even saying that I needed something. The thought of being vulnerable and admitting that I wasn’t in control was the most terrifying thing I could think of. But I’ve learned that He uses people in your life to reveal pieces of Himself and things He wants to teach you. God has placed some of the most incredible friends and mentors in my life that have helped me learn to experience emotions and ask for help. It’s still scary and it’s still uncomfortable, but I now know that it’s not going to kill me.

As youth pastors, we will surely go through dark seasons. We will be tired, confused, and want to give up. But let me assure you that God is good and faithful. He will redeem the messy parts of life and, in time, reveal incredible truths. So take a deep breath and as hard or impossible as it may seem, place your trust in Him.

Have you gone through a similar season? What has the Lord revealed to you?

Colton [Email||Twitter]

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First 2 Years: How to Feel Welcome

Feeling Welcome

I think the problem that we sometimes run into when trying to solve things like creating a welcoming environment is that we miss the target because we aren’t looking at the root of the issue. The actual root of the issue is the social need that isn’t being met. Some of the biggest needs that teenagers (or people in general) have are to be seen, to be known, and to belong. If you can create an environment that helps meet those needs, you’ll have a student that sticks around.

Seen- One of the most important elements of your youth group should be an at-the-door greeting. For a brand new student to be welcomed before they even set foot in the room is huge. Even though the greeting wasn’t incredibly personal, it tells the new student that someone noticed them. Try to include some way of getting their contact information so that someone can follow up with them later in the week. A simple phone call or letter saying how excited we were to meet them means the world!

Known- I would hate for our only interaction with a new student to just be an at-the-door greeting. We push our adult leaders and student leaders to be caring for new students or students that just aren’t connected yet. That means the new student isn’t sitting by themselves all service, that there is someone at this church that knows their name, their school, what they like to do, etc. That connection is essential for creating community within your youth group.

Belong- Keep in mind that new students are from all walks of life. Some are all-in with Jesus and some have yet to meet him. When you are onstage make sure they know, no matter what they are struggling with or what they believe, that they belong in your ministry. Invite them to events, tell them about small groups, and invite them to camp. Let them know you want them there.

What do you do to make your youth group welcoming?

Colton [Email||Twitter]

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What If I Just Don’t Show Up?

I used to think I was the only one that felt like this. I thought I was the only person who two hours before our youth event that my mind raced about what if no one shows up?, what if the night is a flop?, what if my talk sucks?, what if leaders no show? What if…….?

Last winter we held our first ever Winter Camp, and like anything that is new, there was a bit of uncertainty around student buy in as well as doubts around if we were as prepared as we needed to be. I like many of you work much of my week alone without the benefit of other full time staff in my department and in the midst of the quiet of my office I have allowed my mind to wander to places of doubt that are not healthy for myself, our leaders or students. The fact that leadership can be a lonely place is an accepted reality of ministry, but it is vitally important to understand that self doubt is a common experience and one that for many can be debilitating and draining.

On the friday morning of the first day of camp last year for the first time in my ministry career I woke up, checked my phone, and instead of getting out of bed, I covered my head with the pillow and thought:

What if I just don’t show up?

What was I saying? Just not show up? We had worked so hard to create an incredible camp experience, students were excited but somehow I wasn’t.

Now as I Look back now at that day and the year that followed, I have learned a lot about myself, about ministry and from talking to lots of youth workers about this exact thing. Here is what I learned and I hope can be helpful to you:

You are not the only one: That morning I felt like a total failure, I felt that I was the worst youth pastor, my students deserved better, my leaders deserved better, my church deserved better. I go on Twitter and Instagram and see great events and youth workers who are #Pumped about how great the event is going to be and that morning I felt like #crap a total #loser. As I shared with other pastors this year at various gatherings, conferences and events I realized something, I was not the only person who had felt like this, in fact far from it. Self doubt and feeling overwhelmed sometimes is pretty common, but no one ever tweets about that. Instead we let ourselves grow in discouragement from watching other leaders “highlight reel” posts, with no mention of the tension and fear that lies beneath. If you have ever felt worried that you event was going to be a total flop, you are not alone.

It’s not a lack of faith: This is probably the least helpful piece of advice that one could have given me when I was in that place of wanting to give up. It had nothing to do with my faith, it was simply a feeling of being completely overwhelmed with doubt. Doubt of my capability, uncertainty that I had done enough or that what we had worked so hard on would be any good. I wanted to simply pull the pillow over my head and give up. I knew God was going to work no matter what I did that weekend and that inspite of my best efforts or inspite of any oversight that I might have made in planning. I wasn’t lacking in my faith in God, I was lacking trust that I was still the right person to be shepherding my ministry and students. God hadn’t changed, I just felt that I did.

Bring people into your struggle: Having a trusted circle of leaders and mentors is key. Ministry, like life is not meant to be a solo sport. After feeling so discouraged and anxious about camp last year, this year I chose to do things differently. This time I brought others into the fold of where I was at, creating an open dialogue where we can encourage and pray for one another. I can say with confidence that this was the turning point for me as for the first time I didn’t feel alone. My core leaders knew for the first time where I was really at, where I was nervous, where I felt we were unprepared and where I needed an extra hand. Knowing where I was at a year ago, this year our team stepped up, we shared the load of camp in a way that we have never before. The same has been true of every event in the last 10 months which have all be joint efforts among many people. We’ve have shared the load, shared the wins and that has been the best outcome of all of this. I have watched as God humbled me to admit I don’t have it all handled and this has allowed our leaders to lead in new and bigger ways than ever before.

The single biggest outcome of all of this has been the slaying of the idol in my life, that I had to do it all and the success or failure of every element of our ministry was solely on my shoulders. This is the furthest thing from the truth, I am a part of a team, a team that supports me and that I am able to support, and a team that cares about my heart and encourages me. As we have grown in our ability to be honest with one another so to has our connectedness to mission that God has called us to as a ministry and for this I am very thankful.

-Geoff @geoffcstewart 

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First 2 Years: Don’t Follow Your Heart

Heart

I sat down with a student recently who wanted to leave our ministry. She said she didn’t really “feel” anything at HSM anymore and explained that it was because she “wasn’t getting fed.” She went on to say that she had been listening to a lot of Judah Smith sermons that she loved and wanted to find a church with speakers like that. Now I am just as big of a Judah fan as anybody else,  but I wanted to go a little deeper with her. Once we really got talking I told her to tell me what the last Judah Smith message she listened to was about. She had a really hard time articulating an answer for me and it turned out that she didn’t really remember. The thing is, she didn’t remember what the message was about, she just remembered how it made her feel.

I think that story is a representation of a ton of teenagers and young adults all across the country–even the world. You see tons of them going to several different churches for worship nights, speakers, etc. all because they are addicted to this emotional response. Students are terrified of the moment where they might not feel anything, because if they don’t feel anything, God must be distant from them. Students have the temptation to evaluate their relationship with the Lord based on how their heart feels. What they forget is that the Bible says the heart is deceitful and wicked above all things (Jer. 17:9).

This can manifest itself in something called the “camp high,” in which students come back from a winter or summer camp and feel “on fire” for the Lord. They commit to making all of these changes when they get back home and, when the feeling goes away, many fall back into old habits because the new ones are hard to keep when they don’t have that fire in their heart.

We need to focus on teaching students about this. It is so important that you talk with them about their feelings and emotional health. Being in the middle of winter camp season, we have a great opportunity to address this with students. A HUGE piece of volunteer camp training we often miss is teaching how to handle things like “cry night.” When a student starts crying, our volunteers should be asking them about it and unpacking it. Students are rarely challenged to identify the emotions they are feeling, so instead of coming to and understanding of their feelings, they are only left with the memory of it.

Have you noticed this in your youth group, too? What are you doing to tackle the topic?

Colton [Email||Twitter]

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First 2 Years: Christian Clubs

CO Blog

A few years ago we got frustrated with the status of some of our Christian clubs. It seems like they had just turned into a group of high school students that met on Wednesdays to eat pizza and listen to a 10-minute talk. The clubs rarely saw any growth and weren’t really known for anything but being pretty cliquey. So about a year ago, we decided to ramp up our campus outreach efforts and work more directly with the student-led clubs. What this meant was we needed to push them to fulfill more purposes of the Church on their campuses. Here are a few things that have happened:

Worship- About 3 times a semester, a few of the local clubs put together a worship lunch instead of their normal program. They get a few singers, a guitar player or two, and lead their students to encounter the Lord during their break. They do such a great job! One club even puts together a PowerPoint with all of the lyrics!

Serving- We have had clubs looking for the specific needs of their school and the unique ways that they can serve. One of our clubs (named Cookies and Christ) made the entire football team cookies and gave them out to each player in a bag with their name and jersey number on it right before a big game. We had another school serve their ASB team during the busyness of the homecoming season. We also did a sticky note project at a ton of our local schools. It has been fun to see what they come up with!

Evangelism- We want our Christian club leaders to teach their students how to evangelize at their school. I think too often we just say to our students, “go evangelize,” but they don’t really know what to do with that. So empowering our club leaders to empower their clubs allows for some really cool life change. They have put a focus on relational evangelism this year. The results have been huge–one our clubs has even doubled in numbers!

What are the clubs at your local school doing that are breaking the norm?

Colton [Email||Twitter]

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5 Questions to Ask Before Posting to Social Media

social_media_questions

I came across this awesome article that was posted on Relevant. It can be super easy to make a weird choice about what we end up posting on social media and the result can really bite us on the butt! This article covers multiple dangers of posting. Here is my favorite point from the article:

4. Is this a moment to protect?

When my son crawls into my lap, he doesn’t want me to take his picture and shoot it across Facebook. He doesn’t care who else thinks I have a cute kid. He just wants me to hold him and see him. To feel his soft, chunky arms and to focus on the way his eyelashes move when he blinks.

When we interrupt lunch with a friend in order to quote her on Twitter, we invite hundreds of people into a conversation that could have been sacred; and we miss the sweet memories that may have formed had her words remained simply between the two of us.

Not every great moment needs to be shared. In fact, some of the best times are most enjoyed privately. If we suspend the present in an attempt to capture its beauty in 140 characters or less, we sacrifice our experience of the moment itself. We also rob each other of something that has been lost in our digital age—keeping a handful of memories between us and those we are closest to, or even just between us and God.

Especially with Instagram, I don’t think we do a great job at protecting moments. Posting during those special moments in our youth ministry keeps us from being fully present, but sometimes we feel this odd need to–but why? I think we often say, “I want to share what God is doing in our ministry,” but we really need to be examining our hearts with that. We need to make sure we aren’t posting things to say, “Look how great my ministry is,” “Look what I did,” or “Look at how much students love me.”

In the pursuit of protecting moments, we find that we really need to be protecting our hearts. There is probably a follow up blog coming up about this soon.

Colton [Email||Twitter]

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First 2 Years: You Own the Small Group!

YOTSG

Once a year (usually around the new year), I throw a wrench in our small group calendar. Adapted from our You Own the Weekend series, I dedicate a month or so to have my small group be run by the students!

It is one of the most fun things that my group does and we look forward to it every year! I group them into pairs and assign them a passage of scripture (usually there is a theme, like parables or miracles). When it is their week, they are responsible for several things: bringing the snack, running “highs and lows,” leading the lesson, and overseeing prayer requests at the end. Of course I help prep them during the week leading up, but once small group starts it is all them!

Here are a couple reasons why I keep bringing it back:

-It is fun! You Own the Small Group (YOTSG) is a blast and allows students to express themselves and their creativity. Last year, when a group was teaching about the vine and branches, they brought in this HUGE tree branch, shears, fruit–everything! While it was super messy, it was super fun! The things that they do when they teach help make some really special memories.

-It helps the group. If you have ever worked in customer service, you find yourself having extra patience and saying thank you much more often when you go to restaurants. You do that because you know what it is like to deal with how crazy customers can be. This is the same principle. After leading their week, students know what it is like to try to get the group to listen and respect each other and how hard it can be to get people to participate. Students come out of it being a more productive and well-behaved student in group. It pushes them to take ownership in the group.

What are some things that you do to mix up small group?

Colton [Email||Twitter]

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First 2 Years: 4 Secrets to Listening Better

Listening

I’ve been really passionate about listening recently. Mainly because there aren’t that many people that do it. One problem is that I don’t think people know how to listen well. The other problem is that I don’t think people understand the power of listening well. I used to think that I was a great listener until I had two incredible and life-giving conversations with a mentor of mine that changed everything for me. Not just in how I encountered my own brokenness, but in how I encountered the brokenness of others. Here are four of the qualities I have noticed in great listeners:

Be slow to speak. We are in ministry for a lot of reasons, one being our addiction to life change. We love seeing students’ testimonies unfold before our eyes. But the problem with that is we sometimes try to cut corners and expedite the process. When students tell us about an issue, we can be quick to give life advice and layout a plan to make it all better. But most times, people are just looking for someone to listen to them. Let them ask you for advice. Have them talk far more than you. Some of the best conversations I’ve had were with people that spoke maybe 15% of the time.

Make them your world.  One of the most valuable things you can give someone is your time, but we cheapen that gift when we aren’t fully present. Whether it is checking your phone every five minutes or thinking about what you need to get done next, it can be such a struggle to make someone our world for just an hour. You want someone to open up to you? Be all in.

Ask Questions. Two of the biggest needs teenagers (and people in general) have are to feel known and to feel understood. One of the best ways to help meet these needs is to ask intentional questions. Ask questions that lead to discovery and for you to better understand them and for them to better understand themselves. In the midst of tragedy most people aren’t great at identifying their thoughts and feelings, so ask questions that help navigate them towards some kind of clarity.

Find the “why?” There is always a reason behind what we do. Never settle for what’s on the surface. It is impossible to compartmentalize our lives. Everything is connected to everything. So when something like an anger issue surfaces, the actual problem isn’t the student acting out, the real problem is something much bigger.  Find that “bigger” thing.

What are some qualities that you would add to this list?

Colton [Email||Twitter]

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First 2 Years: 3 (More) Onstage Rules

Onstage Rules

A few months ago, I wrote a post on 5 “rules” for being onstage and I thought I had to give it an update.

Have Fun. Having fun isn’t something that you do just for you, but for the audience as well. If you’re not having fun, they aren’t having fun. Sometimes I think we focus way too much on trying to be funny when we need to be focusing far more on having fun. When you play games, keep in mind that you are creating memories with your youth group. Laugh with each other. Don’t freak out when things don’t go as planned. Turn those mistakes into moments. Laugh at yourself, laugh at the hiccups, and just have a great time.

Timing is Huge. When you are onstage, you have to be paying attention to the clock. I think we will agree that we would never want our stage time to “drag” or be boring. A great way to avoid that is to time things out. Always look out for ways to “tighten up” your time by cutting out unnecessary sentences and filler talk. Have a rough idea of how long the segments of your stage spot should take. For example, if you’re doing 3 announcements at the open of service, know roughly how long each will take. (Note: Unless we have a video to go along with it, a single announcement for us rarely lasts more than 30 seconds). For things like games, always be thinking about pacing–never spend too much time on any one part (explaining rules, intro-ing contestants, etc.). When in doubt, feel it out. Feel the mood of the room, if you feel like you are losing them, wrap it up!

Be Mindful of Your Body (Follow-Up). Look out for your nervous body habits. Everyone does something without thinking about it. A lot of people do “pretzel feet,” which happens when they cross their legs while standing. Do what you can to prevent any distracting body movements. For example, if you are sitting on a stool for something, make sure it isn’t a spinning stool. It is incredibly tempting to move back and forth and spin on something like that. Those body habits seem harmless, but they can be distracting and keep us from fully engaging. Be aware of what you are doing. If you don’t know what “your thing” is, ask a friend after you get off stage or even ask someone to record you.

What are some things you would add to the list?

Colton [Email||Twitter]

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First 2 Years: How to Avoid a Coup

Change is inevitable. Whether your church seems to change on a daily basis or your church hasn’t seemed to change in years, it WILL happen eventually. I have worked for a lot of different bosses and I have seen some handle change well and some crash and burn. The biggest difference I have noticed between the two is communication. Communication is everything. If you do that well, you are paving the way toward a smoother transition. Here are the two big components of communicating:

Explain. Talk to your team. If you ever have the choice between announcing big change over email or in a meeting, always choose a meeting. Your team wants to hear from your mouth what is happening. When people don’t know the “why” behind your choice, you leave them to come up with their own story of how you came to your decision. That can be incredibly dangerous. Explain your logic and heart as clearly as possible and know that explaining isn’t for seeking their approval. Sometimes you are going to make a tough call that might not be popular for everyone and no matter what speech you give, you might not be able to change their opinion.

Listen. Sometimes this piece is forgotten in the communication process. If you want your team to be on board with you, they need to know that you respect them. If they don’t feel like you value their opinion then that respect piece can be hard to keep. Your team wants to feel heard and they want to feel understood. By no means does that mean that you have to take every suggestion, but take the time to make sure you do this step justice. About a year ago, our boss was thinking about making a huge change in our student ministries team. We had a big meeting about it where our team gave concerns and advice on what we thought about it. Some of what we said he took and some he left behind, but that didn’t matter much because we felt heard. We felt respected and were all on board with him.

Colton [Email||Twitter]

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