As I am gaining altitude in a jet that seats about 60 people, I am grateful for space.  I am in a two-seat row by my self in the back of the plane.   Good times.  I just left the airport in Little Rock on the first leg of this trip to Germany.  On to Chicago and then to Frankfurt, Germany!  My friends Jens and Steffi will be picking me up tomorrow sometime I hope.  I will be speaking at Teenagerfreizeit Rehe 2011.  I was told there were approximately 90 students from all over Germany attending this annual event that is sponsored by Wiedenest Bibleschule.

I can hear many of you thinking…I didn’t know Dustin spoke German.  Well I don’t.  I can butcher the language with the best of you.  But about 10 years ago I was privileged to make a connection with my friends in Germany while I was a Youth Pastor in Florida.  A pastor that was on staff with me in Titusville, FL had also served in Germany.  An acquaintance of his had a friend that wanted to learn about student ministry in the united states…with a few phone calls and favors being promised to me, batta bip…batta boop, Bob’s your uncle and I had my very own German!  I took care of him and loved him and called him Toby.  Toby stayed with my wife and I for 6 months or so, working alongside me and absorbing all he could about ministry in the USA.  This was the beginning of life long friendships and investment in the next generation of leaders in Deutschland.Continue reading

What an important reminder that youth ministry is happening beyond our own little circle, our town, our state, and even our country!  This is a global thing, and people need to know Christ!

Dustin Sams is now in Germany, and will be speaking for “Teenagerfeizeit Rehe 2011”.  Dustin will be there from July 21st – August 1st.  He is bringing the Word to teenagers throughout the week by way of a translator.

This is an exciting opportunity to share Christ with teens and young adults who desperately need to know Him.  This will also be a great way to inspire those in Germany and introduce new and exciting ways of doing youth ministry.

While teaching at “Teenagerfeizeit Rehe 2011”, Dustin will also be speaking a few times at a local church, and meeting with other student ministry leaders to “brainstorm” youth ministry ideas. Through this they will be able to share ideas with each other, gaining insight about what is and isn’t working.  As any youth pastor knows, building relationships and sharing knowledge with other youth pastors is invaluable.  There is so much to learn from each other.

With all of this exciting news, lets take a moment to pray for Dustin as he speaks to these teenagers and young adults.  Pray that what he speaks will be translated clearly and accurately, and that the Holy Spirit will be the author.  Pray that the students will be receptive to the Word and that lives will be forever changed, that they will become new creations.

Lets also pray for the area youth pastors in Germany, that through meeting with Dustin, they will gain insight about how to better reach their students.  Lastly, pray that though these youth pastors are in Germany, relationships will be built, giving us new people to share our passion and ministry with.

To keep up with what Dustin is doing in Germany this week, be sure to follow him on Twitter: @dustinsams

Stay tuned for more updates as Christ speaks through Dustin, and lives are changed in Germany!

The “Snowpocalype” has landed on Arkansas in full effect, I was able to sled with my son, pull a dozen brain-dead rednecks from ditches, and catch up on some reading.  I wanted to pass on a good idea that was pulled off by a Youth Pastor friend in Texarkana.  He is a very humble guy and attributed the idea to his brother Brian Mills, but since I haven’t met Brian and creativity in Student Ministry is “forgetting who you stole the idea from” AND because Brian is still using blogspot…Brian is out of luck on getting props from me. 🙂

So onto my friend Sean and his team at Beech Street Baptist Church in Texarkana, AR.  Snow fell all over the place and most of us had to bail on our mid-week services around here…so with a video camera and Bible in hand, they busted out a quick Vlog to bring church to their students (and mine) via Facebook. Check it out here.  Another good use of tech and social media. Read Sean’s post about it on www.seanmillsh2o.com as well as other insights into student ministry.  This is surely a trick that anyone with a shoulder-cannon and software that is packaged with any computer now-a-days can do.  For those of you that are perfectionists and have the newest Mac…you can be as elaborate as you want.  But in the end, great message via great social media avenues that a lot of students are using…equals a good way to connect God’s word to those at home.  Grab a Mt. Dew and sit down and think about how you could do something like this.  Have a great continued snow day! DVS

Dear Friends of the Younger Generation,

“A blueprint for the Great Commission in Arkansas”
– Rodney Welsh, Youth Pastor in Heber Springs, Arkansas

What did Rodney mean by his statement? Let’s find out by following six spiritual generations deeply transformed by Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry (JFYM)–Shira, Olivia, Carrie, Rodney, Dustin and Eric.

6 Generations

We begin with Shira, a sophomore, who began a relationship with Jesus in 2008 through her friend Olivia who then discipled her. Both graduate this year and want to become missionaries. Before this, Carrie Welsh started a discipleship group for Olivia and four others. They learned how to communicate their faith to friends like Shira. Carrie was equipped to disciple students in a leadership team led by her husband, Rodney Welsh. Rodney took them through “the slow, but very rewarding process of making disciples” after attending a JFYM Forum in 2007. He heard Dustin Sams speak about it in 2006 and was drawn to “thinking about ministry that lined up with the way Jesus did ministry.”

Dustin Sams, youth pastor in Stuttgart, Arkansas, has implemented JFYM for seven years and is one of Reach Out’s Eagle Leaders. Dustin comments: “After hearing Barry speak, I started my first discipleship group with five guys. Four of the five now attend Ouachita University, preparing for ministry. . . . We have seen tremendous numerical and spiritual growth. . . . So many of our students are now going into ministry themselves.”

Before Arkansas, as a youth pastor in Florida, Dustin shared that he had one dad whose daughters were in his youth group “invest in me with no strings attached, just a desire to see me succeed in ministry, my family and my faith. I was an event-to-event style youth pastor and headed towards burn-out. But Eric Ball taught me about JFYM and literally kept me from burning out.” Eric serves as Reach Out’s International Director.

These discipling and mentoring relationships vividly illustrate “the blueprint.”

11 Multipliers

This blueprint of spiritual multiplication in Arkansas repeats itself through…

Matt Rothacher     Bill Newton    Donnie Burrows     Dave McClung      Randy Brantley
John Cowling    Lynn Riley    Mark Simmons    Grant Medford    Dustin Sams     Rodney Welsh

75 Introductions

We believe the blueprint of the present and future will exceed the past!

Last week Roger Palmer, Reach Out’s National Director, introduced Jesus’ model for ministry to 75 Arkansas youth leaders at our one-day JFYM Forum. John Caddy, our current leader in Arkansas, has plans for the Eagle Leaders to equip youth leaders in 35 areas of the state.

Every church in Arkansas will have the opportunity to implement Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry so that kids like Shira and Olivia will come to know Christ and be discipled by a caring adult like Carrie!

We need you to partner with us! Your investment of prayers and money will yield more of this kind of multiplied spiritual return in the days ahead!

Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry

Through applying this newly expanded resource, God will produce life-change and life-changers through you.  Details to be emailed soon! Go to www.reach-out.org for more information.

Jesus is Lord,

Donate to Reach Out Youth Solutions


PO Box 870141

Stone Mountain, GA 30087

Office: 770.413.6045

Fax: 770.220.1980

Website: www.reach-out.org
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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. 🙂

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