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Tag Archives | teenagers

Great Youth Group Game: Egg Roulette

This week we played one of our favorite summer camp games at our youth group. It was so great – if you haven’t seen Egg Roulette, yet, watch this fun clip from host Jimmy Fallon and celebrity guest Tom Cruise. Makes for a great youth group game … but be careful to turn the egg correctly so it breaks easily because the other way will give you a knot on your forehead … just ask my friend Justin Knowles. Ouch!

JG

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Damaged Goods

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I had a moment in our ministry a few months back and I’ve been thinking about it for a while now. I’ve been trying to think about how to share it. I wish I knew how to change the way girls felt about themselves and the way the church talks about sex but I can’t do it alone…that is where you come in.

Here is what happened:

We were in our final week on sex and I spoke on what happens when you have gone too far. I challenged two lies that we believe about ourselves and going “too far.” The first one is that we are damaged goods, I apologized for any words that our students heard in church about being a used flower or a cup of water filled with spit…having sex doesn’t make you those things. God’s grace and love covers us…completely. I also briefly addressed those who were sexually abused…again, just briefly.

After my message we allowed students to text in questions. In EVERY service, at least one student texted in a question about whether or not God saw them as a virgin if they were sexually assaulted. Even typing this breaks my heart, how much have we focused on virginity that these girls (and possibly boys) who were victims of abuse are still worrying about how God sees them and if he is upset with them for losing their virginity? In that moment, I paused and told the students if this is you than you need to hear me loud and clear…Jesus doesn’t see any of us as virgins…He sees us as HIS beloved children. The end. Period. That is it. We paused and prayed. I wish who ever wrote those questions would have found me after the service, but they didn’t. 

May this be a warning to us. When we talk about sex, virginity and God’s best for us…our students are listening and they are processing every word we say and they are looking for grace and hope.

Grace for the things we have chosen for ourselves.

Hope despite the things that have been done to us.

1 in 3 girls is a victim of sexual abuse before they are 18.

1 in 6 boys is a victim of sexual abuse before they are 18. {Taken from Parents for Megan’s Law}

We’ve made great progress in the conversation about sex, I am praying that we continue to make even more. May our youth ministries be places of grace and hope, where every student knows exactly how God sees them…as a son…and as a daughter.

Will you join me in a new conversation about virginity?

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“Stop being such a girl!”

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“Stop being a girl!” I’ve heard this phrase come out of the mouths of teachers, coaches, parents, youth workers…and even out of my own mouth. I could do a whole series on this statement but I’ll resist the urge to point out all the things wrong with it..and instead just focus on one thought.

This thought is about our student leaders, specifically our girl leaders. Are we allowing for girls to be fully girls as they lead in our ministry? Or are we asking them to “turn off” their feminine side in order to lead?

Here is what I have seen in my own life and in a lot of different ministries:

First, in my life, when I was a teenager I realized that I had some leadership skills. All the people I looked up to in leadership were men. In my young 16 year old brain, I came to this conclusion that if I was going to be a good leader that I needed to be like them…which meant that I couldn’t be emotional, talk like a girl  or wear pink. I needed to “stop being such a girl.”

Secondly, I have seen countless girls over the years do the exact same thing. Turn off their feminine side in order to step into leadership roles. Now, more than ever, I know what a major bummer that is for girls and for churches. One, we are created in the image of God and our uniqueness as girls is from Him. Second, these feminine qualities are missing in our churches and they are essential for fully caring for each other and for the world.

Here are two things we can do to help girls be fully themselves:

1. Affirm “girly” qualities. Being sensitive is a good thing. Being multi-taskers is a good thing. Being emotional about the right thing is a good thing. Being upset about injustice is a good thing. Being concerned about relationships is a good thing. Despite if in the past we may have seen all of these things as negatives- when these traits are directed towards the Body of Christ – they are are amazing assets to our ministries. When you see a girl using these “gifts” for good, call it out. Affirm the good in them…remind them that these things are part of God’s image in them.

2. Affirm girl leaders. I suppose I may be jumping ahead of myself but in order to affirm girl leaders you need to have girl leaders. So, first get some girl volunteers. Give these volunteers opportunities to lead in various ways. Leading games, speaking, leading small groups or planning events. And when they do, verbally affirm these women in front of your whole youth ministry. By doing this you provide visible examples of what it means to lead like a girl.

Wouldn’t it be great if at our churches instead of hearing the same whole thing, “stop being such a girl”- they would hear, “be a girl!” I hope more youth ministries would start celebrating what it means to be a girl.

How do you celebrate the girls in your ministry?

PS- I’ve heard some ladies say that they don’t like to be called a girl. It doesn’t really bother me…but maybe that’s because I am learning to love being a girl and see my “girl-ness” as a gift.  If everyone could feel that, maybe it wouldn’t be bother them either.

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5 Lies Girls Believe – Part 3

When we believe something to be true about ourselves it determines how we live each day. What we see around us can either inspire us or incapacitate us. In this blog series, we are looking at the top 5 lies that girls believe about themselves and the world they live in. {Part 1, Part2}

Lie #3- My Value Is Earned By The Opposite Sex

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If our bodies define us than the attention we get for our bodies becomes the way we earn our value.

Girls have been told and shown that their value is determined by those of the opposite sex or even just by the attention they can gather from them. Not to bring up the Miley incident again because who hasn’t talked about it yet…but we can assume based on that incident that even Miley believes that by making herself more sexy or attractive to the opposite sex, she creates more value for herself and her work.

A good portion of the confusion about relationships and sex can be found in the media. A few years back the American Psychological Association released research about media and the results were astounding.

The incident-to-scene ratio for sexualization was almost equal, totaling 1.18 incidents per scene for underage girls versus 1.29 incidents per scene for adult females.

Based upon a definition established by the APA of “healthy” vs. “unhealthy” sexuality, the study findings show that 93% of the sexualizing incidents among underage female characters occurred within a context that qualified to be categorized as ”unhealthy.” 

Media tells us that sex validates us…even unhealthy sexual activity.

What happens when girls believe that their worth is defined by the opposite sex?

We see girls who seek out attention from the opposite sex,  we see them develop poor ideas about relationships and  sexually aggressive behavior becomes normalized.

Unfortunately, we (youth ministries) have reinforced some of these ideas without really intending to do it.

Here are two ways that we need to rethink our conversation with students:

1. The Modesty Conversation

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Don’t throw stones at me but we have made WAY too big of a deal of modesty. It seems every week a blog goes viral on the topic of modesty.

Is modesty important? Yes, but I fear that it has become our primary spiritual indicator for girls. And by doing so, we’ve reinforced the negative message that implies that a girl’s value, both spiritually and physically, is the way her body causes others to respond to her. Which hurts her and those around her.

Plus, the statement “Modest is Hottest” is silly. Why is the end goal for girls still to be the hottest? It really does come back to their body.

2. The True Love Waits Conversation

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I believe that the church has come a long way in the conversation around virginity but I think we still have a way to go.

We have convinced teenage girls that the best gift they have to offer is their physical purity. We have turned sex into God’s greatest gift given to us. (Don’t get me wrong…it is a great gift but not the greatest.) All this does is confirm again for girls that their physical body and the way the opposite sex responds to them is where their worth can be found.  This makes finding someone to give this gift to the highest goal for a girls’ life. How incredibly short have we sold the faith journey to them?

So, what conversation should we be having?

Every day, every week, every month…We should be reminding our girls that their worth comes from God. He has called them daughters, worthy of his love, grace and He has created them for good things. When a girl believes that truth is it one of my favorite moments in ministry! “To deny our worth is to make God a liar.” – Barrs 

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5 Lies Girl Believe – Part 2

Last week, I started a series about the lies that girls believe and how they impact the way they live.

Over the series we’ll cover the top 5 lies that girls believe. We’ll look at how we can come along them to help them overcome the lie with the truth about themselves, God and the church. {Part 1 here}

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Lie #2 - Other Girls Can’t Be Trusted

Here’s what we know, teenagers begin to distance themselves from their families and look more to their peers and to media for their information and validation.

There is a repeated message communicated about girls and friendships. It’s simple- girls can’t be trusted, friendships are not sacred and this is coming from movies, television, books and magazines. Mean Girls, Gossip Girls, Pretty Little Liars…the list goes on and on.

Gossip and cliques become the norm. When you walk into a school cafeteria you see a scene right out of Mean Girls- lines are drawn between people based on their appearance, interests and socio-ecomonics. Social exclusion is one of the most common, and therefore normalized, form of bullying. This is the most common among girls. 1 in 3 girls have stated that they have experienced this forced isolation.

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One of the greatest needs of teen girls is for connectedness to others, for friendship. This great need is met with great fear and insecurity.  This lie that no one can be trusted leaves girls lonely and isolated OR worse it turns wounded girls into bullies.

What can we do? How we help girls experience genuine friendships?

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1. Communicate the Expectation

Teach about God’s plan for relationships. Help girls see that this deep need for friendship comes from their Creator. But not only does the need come from Him, the plan for how to do friendships comes from Him too. Teach all of the “love one anothers”. Along with the teaching about God’s plan, we need to be REAL clear about what we won’t allow in our youth rooms. We won’t allow for bullying or for social exclusion. Our youth room WILL NOT look like the school cafeteria. Don’t let one or two students control the experience for the others. In the past, I have used a kindness commitment to help communicate our standards. We did it as a 30 day challenge. Everyone signed one and  tied on a friendship bracelet as a way to remind themselves of their commitment. (Boys did this too.)

2. Girl Only Small Groups

I believe small groups is the easiest and most effective way to teach girls about authentic friendships. Not only will they grow spiritually but they will lay the foundation for years of friendship. Last summer, I attended a wedding of a former student, two of her bridesmaids were girls from her church small group. Life long friendships formed in a safe place BECAUSE expectations had been communicated.

3. Model Healthy Female Friendships

Allow for some of your female volunteers or staff members to share about their significant friendships. Let them share honestly about the struggle that they had with friendships and how they overcame the challenges of friendships with other girls. I love telling the story of when my best friend in high school smacked my face (in anger) on a mission trip…and how we overcame that moment.  By sharing and modeling friendships, we are teaching them the skills they need to build real relationships.

4. Care for the Wounded

Be intentional with caring for those who are wounded. And not just the ones that appear wounded but those who lash out at others. Be willing to ask tough questions about why they hurt other people. Offer help and encouragement to deal with the pain in their life.

If it is true that teens are looking to their friendship more now than ever, we need to facilitate opportunities for them to have safe friendships at church. We most be the place that counters the lie that other girls can’t be trusted by teaching girls how to build trustworthy friendships. How do you counter this lie in your youth room?

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5 Lies Girls Believe – Part 1

Here’s a bold statement: Every day girls are being told lies about who they are and every day girls are believing these lies. 

These lies that girls believe determine the way they live.

Over the next few post, I want to take a closer look at the top 5 lies that girls believe about themselves and the world they live in.

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Lie #1 - My Body Defines Me

Spend a few minutes watching TV shows that target teen girls or pick up a teen magazine and you’ll be overwhelmed by the messages coming at young girls about their bodies.

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(Don’t even get me started on this cover and what is wrong with it!)

Studies show that girls get depressed within 3 minutes of looking at a “fashion” magazine.

92% of girls want to change at least one thing about their bodies.

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(This was painted on a fence in my neighborhood. Seriously, everywhere they go…there are messages about their bodies.)

The University of Colorado did a study of teenage girls and found that most feared “being fat” more than cancer, nuclear war or the death of their parents.

Why the fear?

As far as the the world is concerned, a girl is her body. Talented and brilliant women are defined by their weight and appearance…Adele, Christina Aguilera, Condoleezza Rice…to name just a few.

The standards are unrealistic and unattainable without the help of computer touch-ups. It is impossible to feel like you will ever measure up.

If my body defines me…and my body will never measure up…than I will NEVER measure up. The lies we believe define the way we live. If girls believe this lie it can lead to “self-harm” behaviors or the pursuit of approval for their bodies in inappropriate ways.

What can we do? How can we be different?

1. Tell the truth

If the world’s lie is that their body defines them- we tell the truth- that they are so MUCH more than just a body. That who they are is really about what is in their heart, soul and minds. We counter the lie. We acknowledge the lie…and we tell the truth. Once a year, we try and do a girl only service or event where we can address these lies…we spend a majority of our time on this topic.

2. Be aware of your words

We need to be mindful of the way we casually throw words around in front of our students. Words like fat, hot, skinny or ugly can be painful reminders to girls that they don’t measure up. Let me be clear…most girls…even the most petite ones, view themselves as fat and ugly. Be careful how you use your words.

3. Redefine Beautiful

I think churches, especially youth ministries, should redefine beautiful. Let’s start talking about the beauty of a servant’s heart or a friendly smile. The words we use to define it MUST BE ATTAINABLE for everyone. Make it attainable and them help them attain it!

4. Include parents in the conversation

Girls need to hear the truth in their homes. Most parents want to help but they may not realize the full pressure girls are facing each day. We can help girls by including their parents. Help them understand by providing resources for them. Create opportunities for them to have important conversations.

Every interaction with girls is another chance for us to counter the lie that their body defines who they are by speaking the truth in love. What about you…what are others ways you have helped girls overcome lie #1?

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Metal Rock

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I am not really a metal rock fan. In fact, until about 4 weeks ago I didn’t even know what it was. Well, I had an idea but I just imagined Metallica…and I am not sure that is correct.

Here is what I do know, there a few of the guys in my youth ministry who are REALLY into it and they want me to like it too. So, one day at camp I sat down with them and they gave me a lesson. It was rather impressive! Did you know there are several kinds of metal rock? Yeah, me neither. They played a variety of songs and types of metal rock. I tried to understand it…I even maybe tried to appreciate it…but it wasn’t going to happen. I asked lots of questions and I tried to sing like they do in metal rock. We laughed. We had kind of a cool moment. I am pretty sure for these guys,  I communicated more love than I had ever before because I sat and listened.

While there music sounded like clanging cymbal to me, it reminded me of what Paul said about love.

If I speak in tongues of  men and angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 

So, here’s a Monday morning thought…

It doesn’t matter how sweet my programs are, how great our worship is…or what kind of amazing youth room we have…or how gifted I am as a speaker…IF I don’t love my students then to them I sound like a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. I sound like Norwegian metal rock (yeah, there is such thing…I just found out!).

Somedays I forget to do just that…to love.

I am inviting you to start this Monday, this week, this season with love. Ask God to fill your heart with love for the students in your ministry, church and community. May his love for us overflow our hearts so that we might love our students better.

As we love our students may God’s love for them transform their lives. Because isn’t that why we do what we do?

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Book Review: Chivalry

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Years ago at the Student Leadership Conference, I met a teenage boy by the name of Zach Hunter. He was on tour promoting his Loose Change for Loose Chains campaign at the same time he was a spokesperson for the movie Amazing Grace. At 16, he was articulate and passionate about injustice.

When I saw his new book Chivalry, I was a bit taken back by the title until I read the subtitle which states, “The quest for a personal code of honor in an unjust world.”  This book isn’t just for guys and it is made really clear in the opening pages of the book. From the very beginning Zach invites students into a bigger conversation about what it means to be people who love and people who choose honor, mercy and selflessness instead of the world’s ways.

This book would be great in the hands of any high school student. Zach is able as a young person to identify with the struggles and desires of teens. While he is relatable, he is also challenging students to a different level of growth. Each chapter is a commitment to a code of chivalry. These range from commitments to community to the commitment to practice self-control and selflessness. Each chapter is filled with passages from God’s word that reinforce the code.

Another bonus, is that he points to students to other voices of faith. He quotes from C.S. Lewis, Cornel West, Annie Dillard, John M. Perkins…the list goes on. I love students being exposed to such a wide range of Christians.

I am planning on giving my copy to a student this week! Check it out here.

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Guys Only: What Girls Need to Hear (Part 2)

The movie, Field of Dreams, made this statement famous, “If you build it they will come.” I know the movie was about baseball but I believe this can be true about our youth ministries too. If we can start being intentional with our words and our programming, making our youth ministries more girl-friendly (building it), I believe they will come.

When we start to communicate truths that girls are desperate to hear because of the lies they are told by the world, we make our ministries a safe place for them. They will come…and they will bring friends.

We are digging into 4 messages that girls can’t hear enough from the men in their lives.

Part 1 – “I get it.” We communicate this by daring to bravely enter into and  attempting to understand girl world. (Check out part 1 for more details on this first step.)

The second message girls need to hear from you is:

“You Belong.”

Everywhere girls turn they are told they are not good enough, that they don’t measure up to the standard. They are searching for a place they can belong and place that accepts them just as they are.

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We can say it all we want with our words, but girls are watching for all of our non-verbal messages.

Can they SEE that they belong?

Do we communicate the same thing the world does? That in order to belong they have to meet the standard…does our youth room feel like a school cafeteria?

Does our youth ministry only showcase students who are “beautiful”?

When they show up to our programs do they see themselves? This is about what the program looks like as well as who is running it.

Consider allowing girls to be part of planning the programs in addition to leading the programs. Also, find a variety of female adult leaders who can help lead programs.

Every time you give them the microphone or give them leadership in the planning of your programs…you communicate in a way that’s louder than words that they do belong, that the youth room is a place for them, just as they are.

The world tells girls everyday (seriously, everyday) that they don’t belong. Will your youth ministry be any different?

What do you do already to make your ministry safe for girls?

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Discipleship & Dentistry… what if?

I got a crown on one of my back molars today!

My dentist is a nice guy, but I’d rather see him at the gym or meet for coffee than sit in a chair with his fingers in my mouth (I don’t know, maybe it’s just me).

As I was waiting for the Novocain to take effect, I reflected on the “how” I got to this place. Obviously, I didn’t give into the scary warnings that I’ve seen since I was a child—“just floss the teeth you want to keep.” Sure, I could have been better at my preventative care.

How I really came to get today’s came from recent “cleaning appointment.” Two times a year my insurance pays for a cleaning. I don’t mind these appointments. For roughly 45 minutes I lay back and several things happen:

  • I get some superficial work done on my teeth.
  • I get some helpful coaching (“here’s a more effective way to floss”, “keep this [pick] in your car and use it when you’re at stop lights”, etc…).
  • I get X-rays of my mouth.
  • I get a specific diagnosis of my current condition.
  • I’m give some gifts/tools to help me be more effective (i.e. floss, a new toothbrush, any other gadget that they’ve discovered since my last visit).

You may be thinking, “Uh yeah Doug… thanks… but, I’ve been to the dentist… where you going with this?”

What if part of our discipleship strategy of teenagers expressed similar check-up features? I’m referring to specific appointments beyond (a) attendance at our programs, and (b) the normal relational times outside of programs.

  • What if a very similar procedure was followed as I listed above? Less about their teeth and more about their heart.

  • What if teenagers knew that being part of your youth ministry meant a more formal conversation, twice a year, to talk specifically about their spiritual health?

  • What if kids knew that check-up (performed with love and grace) was coming as part of being a young follower of Jesus?

  • What if they left this meeting with a new book, a prayer journal, a Bible reading plan and any other tools that might be helpful for their continued spiritual growth?

Like me and flossing… they could walk away from that time and decide that what you lovingly told them wasn’t as important as you think it was. Sure, that could happen. They make their own decisions. But, I wonder if this type of one-on-one faith check-up might not be just what some of your teenagers need to stay spiritually healthy.

I realize there’s a lot of “what if’s” in this post. I don’t have the answers. I was never that formal in 30 years of being a youth pastor… maybe I should have been. Who knows… maybe one of you will start something like this that will not only help your students but it will become something youth workers copy and use in their setting too.

Who knows? Maybe it was just the Novocain and it’s a dumb idea.

You tell me.

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Guys Only – What Girls Need to Hear From You (Part 1)

I am guessing there are girls in your youth ministry. Maybe just a few girls or quite possibly your ministry is predominately all girls. While at the same time the truth remains that you are not a girl. (Well, unless you are a girl reading this post for guys only…which is totally acceptable!)  And, girls and guys see and experience the world differently. This requires us to be intentional in our ministry approaches to those who are different than us.

Girls need you to understand their world.

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They need you to counter the lies that they believe about themselves and replace it with the truth of who they are in God’s story.

There are 4 messages that girls can’t hear enough from the men in their lives.

The first message girls need to hear from you is:

“I get it” 

This starts with a willingness to engage in their world. You have to be willing to admit that you don’t see or feel the world the same way they do and you must make attempts to understand girl world.

How do you do this?

Ask Good Questions. Let girls tell you what it is like being a girl in your town. What are their biggest pressures? What kind of expectations are they experiencing at school? How do they feel about the conversation around body image? What do they think about their place in God’s story? Don’t forget follow up questions, really try to dive into their thoughts and feelings. You can also ask your female volunteers…just be sure to ask questions!                    

Don’t Minimize Their Experience. As you dive into girl world, you may find some things silly or frivolous but to a teen girl they are anything but silly. Don’t minimize what they feel because you don’t feel it yourself. Sometimes we can make light of topics such as weight or the way girls interact with each other but these are not light topics. We can’t minimize their feelings instead we need to their validate their feelings WHILE helping them towards healthier and holier responses.

“I get it”

As part of your messages consider acknowledging their pressures and give voice to their potential feelings. Each point or action step in your message can include a specific challenge for both guys and girls based on what is happening in their worlds. So simple but  such a powerful way to communicate clearly that you get it.

How else do you think you communicate to girls that you understand their world…that you get it?

(Total side note: Thank you for being willing to speak into the lives of the teenage girls in your ministry and life! They desperately need to hear from you! I hope you will join us on this journey of discovering the 4 messages that girls need to hear from you!)

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Teen-to-Teen Mentoring… can it happen?

25 more free books… read the post and find out how to get them.

Do you have to have it all together to mentor? What does that even mean? Nobody has it all together, even Paul…So that means, wait for it…YOU QUALIFY! Not only that but you have teenagers who qualify to mentor.

Mentoring is something that takes place in the course of life. Not after you have passed a test but as you go along.

Teen-to-teen mentoring

Teenagers have so much to give and yet need so much. By allowing your older teens to mentor younger teens, you are allowing growth to multiply. When your older teens spend time praying for and preparing for an hour (or so) with a younger teen, they are growing in Christ! They don’t know it all but neither do you! By spending a little time each week with a group of older high schoolers, you are multiplying your efforts. They can, in turn, spend time with younger students and challenge, motivate and encourage them to live for Jesus.

Teen-to-teen mentoring is a simple program that allows high school teens to challenge, affirm, look at scripture, and pray together. It doesn’t take that long for your high school students. It is a 30 minute meeting weekly with you the other mentors and then 45 minutes to an hour with a younger student. The meeting time and place can be determined by the students so they can mold it around their schedule.

Why don’t you allow some of your older youth to mentor some of your younger youth and watch how both sets grow in their relationship to Christ. They don’t have to be teaching controversial truths about the second coming or political parties, but can walk with their younger friends as they learn to get along with their parents and others. Give it a try and see how they can be led by God just like you can.

We want to help! Tami Wright, the co-author of Mentoring from Start to Finish is graciously mailing out 25 FREE books the first 25 people to email deb@homeword.com with their mailing address. You will hear from Deb on Monday Feb.11th to find out if you’re one of the first 25 (if you don’t hear back from her, you didn’t win… sorry.)

Question: What are some of the topics that you would utilize with teen-to-teen mentoring? What are your thoughts?

Guest post: Dr. Grant T. Byrd is the Minister with Students at 1st Baptist Church of McKinney, Texas and the co-author of Mentoring: from Start to Finish. He is the minister “with” not “to” or “of” because the students at the church serve alongside him! Grant has been in student ministry for more than 25 years. He has an incredibly beautiful wife (Jill) who has put up with him for over 20 years, a teenage boy (Keegan) who keeps him honest, and a wonderful daughter (Darby) who wants to be a teenager TODAY! Grant is passionate about Jesus, his family, teenagers, and the Dallas Cowboys!

[Are you getting Doug's daily blog in your email inbox?] If not, it’s real easy–go here.

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10 Ways to Show Your Small Group Leaders You Care


I know a lot of youth groups slow down a little or take the next couple of weeks off (during Christmas Break) and small group leaders get a little break. That’s a good thing! During this time, it’s great to make sure they know they’re loved and valued and essential to the health of your youth ministry. Drop them a short note or a quick text or a Merry Christmas… anything that communicates value.

As you prepare your care structure for next year, consider these 10 simple ideas to show small group leaders how important they are:

1. Call them the day of their small group. Take notes on the conversation and follow up with them the next day or week about something they said they were going to try in their small group.

2. Whenever you send something to your own small group students, make extra copies and send them to your small group leaders as examples.

3. Email them as a group and let them know about a lesson you taught or something that “worked” with your own small group.

4. Send them articles that you read about teenagers, culture, family or youth ministry in general.

5. Mail an actual note letting them know how much you appreciate them and couldn’t do ministry with out them. EVERYONE loves getting mail!

6. Ask them how you can pray for them personally… not just for their ministry to teenagers.

7. If they use the words, “If I only had…” or “I need to find a… ”… try to get it to them! How nice is it when someone else makes your job easier for you?

8. When you come across a teenager who is in a small group, ask him/her if they’d write their small group leader a note of affirmation (offer to mail it for the student).

9. Schedule a short, face-to-face meeting before or after youth group/church/etc… Get in the habit of regular “just wanted to connect and see how you’re doing” meetings. Let them know they’re not alone.

10. Send a short email reminding them that you’re available to answer any questions they might have about their small group. Do this often… ministry to teenagers can sometimes be lonely!

I realize these are very basic (and doable) ideas, but there’s a lot of power in the simple, basic ideas that communicate concern for your leaders. Leaders typically don’t leave a ministry, they leave leaders. Be the type of leader that your volunteers don’t want to leave.

Question: What else would you add to this list? Share it here.


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The Homecoming Dance Playlist

GUEST POST by Jonathan McKee has become a regular guest blogger on this site! He is the author of numerous books including the brand new Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent, as well as youth ministry books like Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation. You can find his excellent blog here.


I just had lunch with someone whose father works for Homeland Security. This man knew of threats to our country we are probably glad we never knew about. He’s not allowed to talk about the threats, not even to family… but sometimes he would use indirect communication. This person told me stories of early morning phone calls to their house on the East Coast from their dad in D.C. where he would simply say, “Today would be a good day for you to grab the family and go for a drive… to Kentucky!”
As a guy who studies youth culture for a living… sometimes I discover things that most people are probably glad they don’t know.

I just saw the song playlist for the Homecoming dance at my daughter’s high school this coming weekend, a dance I’ve given both of my daughters permission to go to (which has always been an interesting decision to make as a parent). Some of the students posted the playlist on their Facebook page and my youngest, Ashley, showed it to me. I had her snap a few screen shots and send it to me. As I look over this list this morning, reading through the titles of songs I’ve studied and written articles about… I’m troubled with what I know about this music.

My daughter said, “Please don’t call the principal.” (Ha… I’ve only done that once in her lifetime.)

I talked with my oldest daughter, Alyssa, about it this morning. I asked her, “Why don’t you think I should call the principal?”
“Because it’s not going to do any good,” she said matter-of-factly. “They know it’s bad, but they don’t want to know. They just tell the DJ to play the clean versions and they think that they’ve done the responsible thing.” (More from this conversation in my blog.)

I just wonder what would happen if the principal really knew what was going to be played in the speakers on Saturday night?

Here’s just a glimpse:

HOMECOMING DANCE PLAYLIST:
I’ll start with the 3rd song on the playlist:

Ayy Ladies- Travis Porter

If you got some good p**sy say (YEAAAAH?)
If you got some good head on ya shouldeeeeers
If you got some good p**sy say (YEAAAAH?)
If you never let a hoe f**k you oveeeer
If you ’bout yo’ check, drank Moet
Know the p**sy stay wet, I need all dat
Tattoos on the back, I see all dat
You already got a man, I ain’t tryna be all dat

I’m just tryna hit it by the end of the night
Lil’ mama so bad and her booty so tight
When I hit it from the back, don’t fuss, don’t fight
When I put it in ya mouth, don’t scratch, don’t bite…

If you’re wondering how they’ll play a song like this, let me introduce you to the “clean versions” of these songs. The clean version of the above song plays the same thing, but with the italicized words “silenced.”

Isn’t that comforting?

Don’t worry. All songs aren’t that blatant. Most are like this one from Usher…

Scream- Usher

Kill the lights, shut ‘em off

You’re electric

Devil eyes telling me “Come and get it”

I’ll have you like

Ooh baby baby ooh baby baby

Ah-ooh baby baby ooh baby baby

Girl tonight you’re the prey

I’m the hunter

Take you here, take you there

Take you under

Imagine me whispering in your ear

Then I wanna take off all your clothes and put something on ya…

If you wanna scream, yeah

Let me know and I’ll take you there

Get you going like

Ah-ooh baby baby ooh baby baby

Ah-ooh baby baby ooh baby

If you want it done right

Hope you’re ready to go all night…


Then there are songs that make you just scratch your head. Before every chorus, here’s the words…

Get Ourra Your Mind- Lil Jon

I don’t give a f**k, I don’t give a f**k, F**K IT!

I don’t give a f**k, I don’t give a f**k, F**K IT!

I don’t give a f**k, I don’t give a f**k, F**K IT!

I don’t give a f**k, F**K IT!

Kinda curious what the clean version will sound like.

Remember, this “poet” is what our society calls an “artist.” We’ve come a long way from Wordsworth, Shakespeare and Keats, don’t ya think?

And We Danced- Macklemore

I am not, I am not going to stand on the wall

I will dance, I will dance, I will break that ass off

And I see you in the corner, corner looking so small

Doing the robot like if I die tonight at least I went hard

I will not, I will not give a damn who watches me

I will live, I will live liberate the fox in me

I will be the discoball, freak and give my all

To whatever girl’s booty I’m freaking on

I’m not skeeting nah, it’s just freaking hot

Alright I skeeted…

And “skeet” is to ejaculate, for those who are curious.

The dances I’ve chaperones always say, “No alcohol or drinking.” Then they play a song like this one:

Bottoms Up- Trey Songz

Bottoms up bottoms up (up), Ay whats in ya cup

Got a couple bottles, But a couple aint enough

Bottoms up bottoms up (up), Throw ya hands up

Tell security we bout to tear this club up…

We (adults) are so stupid. Maybe that’s why the adults in charge of this upcoming dance allowed this song to be on the playlist…

Get Low- Lil Jon
…a song I actually wrote about in my parenting book . because I saw the “clean version” of this song played at a school dance, and the kids were all shouting the explicit version on the dance floor. I’ll let you peak at these painfully explicit lyrics here.

Here’s the lyrics to just a handful of some of the others songs on this weekend’s playlist:

Cat Daddy- The Rej3ctz

Wobble- VIC

Take Over Control- Afrojack

Whistle- Flo Rida

Snapbacks & Tattoos- Driicky Graham

Smack That – Akon ft. Eminem

Carry Out – Timbaland & Justin Timberlake

Domino- Jessie J

Sigh. Do parents even want to know this?

Hmmmmm… to dial the school… or not to dial???

Question: Do you think Jonathan should call the principal? Would you let your kids go to this dance? Do you think parents should respond to this type of thing? Why? Why not? Share your thoughts here.



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Do teens get tired of being wired?


Teenagers love their phone! They have it when they wake up, when they fall asleep, in-between classes, after playing sports (even during halftime)… I’ve even seen kids have it at the dinner table in restaurants (a cardinal sin in our family). It’s like another appendage.

But, do they ever tire of it? Do they prefer face to face conversation over texting? Well, thanks to the fine folks at CommonSenseMedia.org we get a picture of what they really prefer.

To see the entire infographic (which is really good)… go to CommonSenseMedia.org

Question: What do you think? Do these stats tell the same picture you’re currently experiencing? Share your thoughts here.


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