Saw this a few months ago and I pray for believers in India more now than ever.  It is one thing to sit in our air conditioned homes and offices and say “that’s too bad” or “Isn’t that sad?” and another to be motivated to pray for the Christians that are being subjected to this type of treatment in many parts of the world.  I am sure it will motivate you as well.  I have friends that are doing God’s work in some of the most difficult areas to reach with the Gospel…pray.  I get angry, physically upset when I watch this…it is ok to be offended…man can do horrible things…

Below is a similar video with less edited film footage…be prepared

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Recently stopped in and got some pictures of the updated FBC Forrest City Student Ministry facility.  They used some great ideas with LED Lighting on plain walls so they can actually change the color of the walls whenever they feel like it.  Some other highlights of “The Stand” was staining of the concrete floors, leaving some of the frame-work for the ceiling tiles over the “cafe” area, and the sign-in desk.  Take a look at the pictures and let me know if you have any questions about it, or you can contact the Youth Pastor at FBC Forrest City.  His name is Chris Roller and you can find him on Facebook.  If you are within a day’s driving distance and would like me to share some of your creative ideas with Youth Workers around the world, please let me know.  Even better, if you have high quality pictures of your space, please send them to me at dustin.sams@fbcstuttgart.com so we can share with others. Blessings.

Other things to look at:

  • Screens Directly on a flat wall for the projectors.
  • Steel/Roofing Tin on Stage Front
  • Elevated Flat Screen TVs/Gaming Systems
  • Lighting
  • Updated Kitchen/Cafe Area
  • Ceiling Grid Left open over Food Area
  • Multiple Color LED Wall Wash
  • All Lighting is controlled from Sound Booth
  • It is very clean and roomy.  Good use of existing space in a building that the church owns.

I was hanging out with some of my favorite Youth Pastor friends a few months back and one of them (ARodgers) flipped me a sweet new business card he had.  They are small and very cool…a must have for those of you that use business cards.  I am already a big fan of the cheap ones that I have been getting from www.vistaprint.com for years and I usually get new ones every few months.  I purposely get them in small numbers so I can change them up.  Toss them out, put them in letters, write notes on them,  or just balance out your favorite table at the local choke and puke.

www.moo.com is a great little site and they love to print.  I like it also because they don’t have a million different products.  Just business cards, mini-cards, greeting cards, and postcards.  Check them out.

Some high points about www.moo.com:

  • You can choose from some great pre-designed artwork.  It looks sharp too, not some cheesy clip-art.
  • You business cards can have a ton of different designs or slogans (up to 100)…all in the same single order you make!
  • Uploading your logo or design is easy, click on the photo to see an example of the variety that I have ordered recently.
  • There “text-o-matic” design lets you put some creative text on the front.  Youth Pastor, Bobby Markham used it to put the title of the lessons series he had done in the recent past.  They looked sweet.
  • Packaging is recycled and very cool too. Enjoy.

Decide how many teams would best serve your ministry. From two to eight teams, I have tried them all. The best results have clearly been when there are four teams…but it depends on how many adults you have involved in the beginning. Don’t throw some adult leaders under the bus and place them in charge if they are clearly not wanting to be or not ready to be. I recommend a minimum of four adults per team. We are currently in our third year of LIFE in my current location and I have 10-15 adults per team. Pre-select “colors” that your teams will use. Try to pick colors that are impartial to local school colors. Primary colors like Red, Blue, Yellow, and Green work well.

Since ’94, I have tried various ways to divide the students for the initial team selection. Here are some examples:

• Take your “core” group of students and divide them evenly between the teams yourself. This works great for smaller youth groups and gives you the ability to divide your “stronger” students for the greatest impact in your community.

• * My favorite: Select adult team leaders and give them a list of students in your ministry. I use Youth Assistant Software, so I just print detailed reports complete with pictures to make it easier for adults to identify students they know to be extroverts/introverts, hard workers, class clowns, boyfriend/girlfriends, and so on. The great thing about this is the ability to tailor the event to connect with all types of students. It is not just a popularity contest by any means. Once you have a list and given the adults a few weeks to prep, you get them together for a “Draft.” I love this model because I like fantasy football. I set it up the same way. Draw straws for first draft and complete the first round. (for clarity, we will use the example of four teams) Team 1 gets first pick and eighth pick. Team 2 gets second and seventh. Team 3 gets third and sixth pick. Team 4 gets fourth and fifth pick. Continue the draft until all of your core students are drafted. You may or may not want to place your Student Leaders on each of the teams to get them started and to make sure that each team has some very reliable students to get started with.

• Randomly distribute students between the teams: Draw from a hat, number off 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. It is ok to play Jr. Holy spirit in this case, after all you are the leader and you should be able to make whatever decisions you need to in order to have a successful event. Go crazy with it.

Once the teams are selected you let those students know in advance so they can prepare for it. This will include collecting clothing that represents their team color, coming up with a theme with their adults, decorating their “wall”, or beginning to invite students that were not pre-selected to be on a team. This is where the fun begins.

In some upcoming posts, I will be going into detail some of the facets of the event: Points, Games, Strategy, and Follow-up.

You don’t have to call it LIFE; you can call it macaroni salad. Grab a title that you and your students can identify with. The first year we called it LIFE, the second year was “Come back to LIFE.” “Dive into LIFE” and “Surge into LIFE” followed, so just be creative. We will refer to it as LIFE so as not to confuse you…unless you already are, then just pick up the phone and call me.

LIFE is a team based outreach that basically rewards students and their respective teams with points for doing things they should already be doing. The main thing they are rewarded for is inviting their friends to our weekly Student Ministry event. I have only implemented it on Wednesday nights…but feel free to try it anytime.

To begin, select adult team leaders for each of the teams. It seems to work better with a team “leader.” This can be a married couple that you have working with your students or single adult. I have seen great success with both styles of team leaders. Once you have team leaders committed, you begin to surround them with other adults that will compliment those leaders. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, so play to their strengths. You most likely need to have team leaders that are organized and efficient. You can then have the designated “fun” adults that will help these adults motivate the students. When I began working with this event, I was single and in my 20’s…so I was the energy guy. I got the students motivated for the games, helped them learn chants for team spirit, and was just a strange college-age adult that connected with students. I was teamed with an adult couple that was approaching their sixties and we rocked! This is a great time to give some adults an opportunity to “try out” their involvement. It is great because it has a beginning and an end. It is not an open-ended commitment with no way out. We all like to know what we are getting into, so you can’t spend enough time explaining what tasks they will have. This is very important especially for the first year of LIFE. Once you have done it before, people will know what to expect and word of mouth is the best publicity.

I have seen this event double the size of my youth group. We have had retention of visitors as high as 60% and many students saved. The smaller the youth group, the larger the return initially. Even when my youth groups have been large to begin with, I have still seen some great results. Dream big and see what God can do.

Continued in Pt 3. 🙂

 

Eight crazy weeks and Jesus…

 One of the most effective events we incorporate into our yearly planning is based on an early 80’s Outreach program called “L.I.F.E.” by Bill Wilson and ………… Hold on…don’t tune me out yet, hang with me. I love change…in fact, I like change too much. Every few months I go through a fit of restlessness, I have to fight the urge to put my home up for sale and move. We moved a lot when I was a kid, either we had to pay the rent or move. I was just very thankful that mom would take me with her when we moved. I usually end up re-arranging my office to placate the urge to change venues. It works well for me and keeps my wife and kids happy. So think of this as “L.I.F.E.” Re-Mixed.

So when I reference the model of “L.I.F.E.”, I reference it loosely. If you are lucky enough to have a vintage copy of the handbook for it, complete with 120+ overhead transparencies, then great! Otherwise, you will have to take my word for it. One of the codes of creativity is forgetting who you stole the idea from. I am paying homage to Bill and the very detailed 300 page handbook for reaching out and connecting the Gospel with students in the early 80’s…and I do it with the utmost respect for him and his ministries. I have found that it is just as effective, if not more so now in current ministry situations. So with that said, here we go.

“L.I.F.E.” stands for “Life Is For Everyone.” True enough statement. I was introduced to it in the early ‘90s while hanging out with my mentor Jack McCarty. He is still in student ministry and has had untold influence in a crazy number of students and college interns. That influence is continuing each time I see a student give their life to Christ. Hopefully, you will see many lives changed and your student ministry grow in numbers and spiritual depth.

Continued in pt 2. 🙂

Thought I would highlight a game our adults used recently:

Ingredients: Oreos and Gummi Worms

Set Up: Crush 4 (four) Bags of Oreos (not double stuff)…you will find that they begin to look like potting soil.  If it doesn’t begin to look like potting soil…then you are doing it wrong.  Obviously, if you are doing more than four bowls of dirt…then you will need to get more oreos.  Add as many gummi worms as you want to the mix and bingo!

The Game:  Add four students and no hands…they got to see how many worms they can get in a selected amount of time.  We used one minute and it seemed to work well.  Give bonus points to the cleanest worms and such.  You may want to make sure they don’t pick up the bowl or various other limits on the game.  The cool thing about some of these games is that they are fast and furious and get over with quickly while still providing lots of laughs.  Make sure and get some pictures or video of the game to use later.  Put them up on the wall or send them to the students with a note saying thanks for eating dirt.  Have fun.

Social Networking Clients Compared

With so many social networking sites out there, a person can easily become overloaded with alerts, requests etc.  Anymore, it is just not reasonable to go to each separate site, several times a day and keep up with those who found a “lonely pink cow” on their farm (You know who you are).

With that said, I still believe that online engagement is critical in the church today, especially in the youth ministry field.  Lucky for us, tools have been developed to aid in keeping up with all of the feeds, streams, statuses, tweets, posts, etc.  The only decision is; which one do I use?  Hopefully by giving you a little insite on some of the more popular “all in one” social networking applications, you can make a decision and free up some time in your day to do other things, or become even more involved with your online communities.

>We will be focusing on 4 of the more popular clients that engage in all or some of the following communities: “Facebook“, “Twitter“, “MySpace“, and “LinkedIn“.  Sure there are other networks out there, but these are more prominent today.

Seesmic Desktop

This is one of my favorite clients for managing all of my social networks.  It is “Adobe Air” based, so you have to have “Adobe Air” installed to run it.  You can download that here.  This is a good thing because “Adobe Air” applications are multi-platform capable (You can run it on Windows, Mac, or Linux).  “Seesmic Desktop” currently integrates with Facebook, and Twitter however, having just aquired “Ping.fm“, integration to over 50 social networking sites is soon to come.

If you are on a Windows platform, you might look into “Seesmic for Windows“.  It currently integrates with Twitter but is only in beta.  There is more integration to come, and it is a native windows application.  Performance is good, and the UI is fantastic.

If you’re not interested in installing an application, Seesmic offers a web app that is currently integrated with Twitter only.  It is quite nice.

Seesmic does have a mobile app available for Blackberry, and Android devices.

As quoted from their website: “Build your community in one central place with Seesmic Desktop, which integrates both Twitter and Facebook. This all-in-one tool makes it easy to reply to your friends and share text, links, photos and videos all in one screen.”

Web Site: http://www.seesmic.com

Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck is another great client.  It is also “Adobe Air” based.  Tweetdeck currently integrates with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn.  Naturally the more integration that you have, the more bloated that the app can feel.  However, I think that they have done a great job not “overcrowding” the interface.  It runs well, and has tons of features.  If you check all of the sites mentioned above regularly, you might want to give it a shot.

Tweetdeck does have a mobile app available for iPhone.

As quoted from their website: “TweetDeck is your personal browser for staying in touch with what’s happening now, connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook and more.”

“TweetDeck shows you everything you want to see at once, so you can stay organised and up to date.”

Web Site: http://www.tweetdeck.com

DestroyTwitter

DestroyTwitter is an app for the Twitter “PowerUser”.  If you are a beginner in the client world for managing your social networks, I would probably look at others first.

Like the others, this app is Adobe Air based.  It supports multiple columns.  It’s integration is limited to Twitter, so if your’re looking to manage multiple social networks, this app is not for you.  However, it does what it is intended, and runs smoothly.

As quoted from their website: “DestroyTwitter is a compact though robust Twitter application built to run on Mac, Windows, and Linux using Adobe AIR. It consists of a series of canvases that constantly update to keep tweets up-to-date using notifications that appear when a new tweet arrives. DestroyTwitter uses a minimal amount of memory compared to its AIR-based alternatives without sacrificing functionality and performance. As a result, it can easily run in the background as an automated process.”

Web Site: http://www.destroytwitter.com

PeopleBrowser

PeopleBrowser is the one stop shop for the information junkie.  It supports many social networks.  It is personally too much for me.  The interface can seem a bit crowded and response time is sometimes slow.  However, it can provide a wealth of information on trending topics, and what is happing in the social world.

PeopleBrowser provides a multi column web interface that is authenticated via your Twitter, Facebook or PeopleBrowser account.  There is also an Adobe Air application that you can download after logging into the web interface.

As quoted from their website: “PeopleBrowsr is a data mine and social search engine for real time conversations. We’ve built a set of applications sitting on the data mine to monitor your brand, identify your audience, analyze tweets sentiment, filter the buzz, manage feedback, share accounts, run campaigns, track keywords, build widgets and engage across multiple social networks simultaneously.”

Web Site: http://my.peoplebrowsr.com

What do you use to manage your social networks?  Let us know!

I subscribe to many RSS feeds, and this site was one of the updates that I read about today.

There is a new “Social Site” available for Youth Ministry. It is http://youthministry.ws.

YouthMinistry.ws was created by Steve Blanchard. He is the author of the “Youth Ministry Ideas” blog.

Here is the description from the site: “YouthMinistry.ws is an online community of youth leaders. The community operates like Facebook. You can start your own blog and share thoughts, pics, videos. There is also a forum where you can start topics and ask questions and get them answered by the community and also you can create groups based on your town you live in or state that you are from.”

This is the intro video that is on the front page of their site.

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If you are a social junky, I would encourage your to sign up and give it a shot. It is brand new, so the more the merrier.

I don’t think there can be to many free tools/resources for Youth Ministry, do you?

DES