youth ministries

Your Guide To Facebook’s News Feed Sizes [infographic]

I love being able to know all the sizes of how to post different social media items online.

How many different accounts do you post to?   Are you posting in multiple accounts with multiple users?

A few weeks ago, I was posting on the Facebook page for youth ministry media and I noticed that each post was getting a third of the views that it would usually get.  I started to look into it, and I realized that the program I used with this blog was resizing the image weird, and the Facebook was posting only as text.  I quickly ditched that program and picked up a program called co schedule and my posts are back to where they need to be.

One thing that I noticed during this glitch on this website was that images are king in the social media world.  People need to see everything before they click.  That is probably why instagram is just killing it right now.  To make sure that you are getting the most out of your messages, you need to make sure that the images attached to your posts are the right size.

Below is an infographic called, “The Unofficial Guide to Facebook’s New News Feed Image Sizes”.

Enjoy!

TheUnofficialGuidetoFacebooksNewNewsFeedImageSizes_5331a8157d292_w1500

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How To Create The Perfect Post [infographic]

 What do you post to your social media networks?

This is a simple question, but when I want to see what the youth ministry pro’s out there do when posting to Facebook, instagram, twitter, and so on, I like or follow them.  Over the past years I have seen terrible posts, and looking back I have published some of those posts.

I don’t know about you, but I want to put something on social media so that people will see it, and hopefully the students friends or parents will see it.  There is an art to creating a post, and here are some helpful tips when creating a post with Facebook, twitter, and pinterest.

Here is the info graphic called How To Create Perfect Posts from MyCleverAgency.

Here are a few things that stand out:

1. Images matter.  Each social media account except for twitter needs to have a image.  The infographic states how important the image is for better visibility and retweets or shares.  This is crucial.  When I am promoting something on my Facebook page, I always use an image to hit home the message.  This is a visual cue that communicates to the student what I am doing that night, or during that event.  Don’t mess up the images…they really matter in a digital world.  If you need some help you can go to youth min.org’s marketplace for some awesome images.

2. Engagement matters.  Posting online isn’t about just communicating information.  I know that is basic, but the important think is to engage with the students in your ministry through a digital way.  One of the important things we make sure to do is not reply to questions on out youth ministry Facebook page while logged in as my youth ministry.  I want the response to be attached to a person.

Engaging in a conversation is important today online, but it really is effective when those conversations in a social network are followed up in a face-to-face conversation.  I have seen way too many youth pastors rely solely on social networks to build youth groups and relationships.  Digital relationships should never be the end goal, real face-to-face relationships should be.

3. Post in the late afternoon.  I have realized this the hard way.  I have often posted stuff to our Facebook page only to have no one read it because everyone is in school, and by the time they are out, it is so buried in their news feed.  I schedule all the social media accounts now to notify students of things coming up 30-45 minutes after they are out of school.  This gives them enough time to make plans for that night, or to invite a friend one last time before youth.  It really matters when you post things.  One rule I use is to schedule everything.  This way I can control when it will most likely be viewed more.

 

What else stands out to you in this infographic?

 

how to create the Perfect social media Post

The Complete Social Media Cheat Sheet [infographic]

 How many social media accounts do you use for youth ministry?

My guess is that you are at least using Facebook and twitter.  I am always frusterated when I am managing one of the many social media accounts, and Facebook or whatever social media company decides to change up it’s sizes or layout.   In that moment, I can hear wasted hours down the drain resizing all the images or creating new ones.

Here is the cheat sheet for twitter, Facebook, google plus, pinterest, instagram, youtube, slideshare, vimeo, and linkedin.

I am finding it more common today to see youth pastors have social media marketing added to their portfolio.  It’s great that we youth workers are so tech savy, but it can easily eat up hours of time.  Actually, if you have managed your churches website and social media accounts you know it could eat up a week, month or even a summer.  It has happened to me!  I am always looking for ways to make managing these things easier.  So, we found this social media cheat sheet for you.  Enjoy!

What other cheat sheets would you like to see?  What is the best way you communicate to teenagers on social media? 

 

The Complete Social Media Cheat Sheet

What We Have Been Working On

what-we-at-youth-ministry-media-have-been-working-on

 

 

It has been a crazy year for me.  I really haven’t been blogging for the past 3 months.  In the past 4 months I have take a group of 43 people on a missions trip, wife had a baby, and led a healthy growing youth ministry.

Looking back on it, I was doing too much stuff, and something had to give.  It was this website.  I felt tired and burned out, and in need of rest.  So, that is what I did.  I rested, and finished the ministry year well.

Well, I am back at it.  Thanks for sticking around!  It really means a lot!

Here are a few things we are working on in the month: 

1. Changing the theme of the blog.  Our theme is so 2011, and isn’t easy to read on an iPhone or iPad.  The theme we are going with is made for mobile and is easy to navigate.  With this we are going to change the categories, and headings that the posts go under.  I am looking forward to hearing about what you think of the new look.  I am hoping to change it over this weekend.

2. Rebooting the podcast.  I launched this and just couldn’t pull it off.  I am looking forward to starting this back up and building a discussion around youth ministry and technology.

3. Special series.  I have talked about doing a series for the past year that would help coach a youth worker in the first 31 days of youth ministry.  I am working hard to get this resource up and running.  It will eventually be sold as an eBook.

4. Community engagement.  I am looking forward to spending time on other peoples blogs.  I love reading youth ministry content and look for me around your blog.  It is going to be a great summer and fall.

Thanks again for sticking around.  You rock!!

What else would you like to see us work on?

The Only Bible Program You Need

 

What program do you use for studying the Bible?

I used to use a program called Accordance.  When I was in seminary over 8 years ago this was the only program I could use with my ibook.

Times have changed and the Bible program Logos has quickly become a front runner.  If you are looking for an excellent bible studying program you need to check out Logos.

Here are a few things we love about Logos

1. The amazing amount of content.  I can’t believe all the content they have.  You could build sermon series from material that Tim Keller developed.   I could spend hours looking through all the content.  Quickly I have realized that I need a bigger book allowance.

2. Sync everything everywhere.  I love having a great Bible app.  I love having all my books and resources everywhere with me.  I will often be studying something in my office and end up having to meet up with someone.  A few times I have been ditched at starbucks, and I can easily pick up my iPad and finish up some studying for a passage that I was speaking on that week.  Having your material wherever you go is helpful, and after you use it a few times you will wonder what you did without it.

3. Get Logos to read to you.  Do you love having a robot reading to you?  I personally love it.  It helps me to read a book faster and multi-task while I read.  You can read books faster and retain information by listening and reading along with a book.  If you don’t believe it, try it out!

4. Easy to copy and paste into any document.  The nerd in me loves this feature.  I could copy and paste this into any document.  ANY ONE!!!!  Word, Pages, Proclaim, Keynote, LiveType, and more.  The part I really loved was that you could paste into documents and insert proper footnotes.

5. Easy to use.   I can’t believe how easy Logos is to use.  It makes me sad that I haven’t used it sooner.  The only reason I have held off for so long is that all my commentary sets I purchased in seminary were on accordance.  I think its time to start using Logos,and its time to purchase all my commentary sets back.    

6. The Payment plan.  How sweet is it that you can your book allowance for your church to buy books, or commentary sets.  This is how I plan on using my book allowance for the next few years.

Things that I don’t like about Logos

1. It feels daunting to start.  I know at conferences there are training sessions on how to use Logos correctly.  There are tons of videos on how to use this program, and my fear is that I could spend years and not even figure out how to use 90% of this program.  Honestly, you could do so much with Logos.

2. Not all the books transfer from different Bible programs.  If you wanted to destroy all other Bible programs out there, all you need to do is give the collections that people have purchased for other programs for free.  I would have switched years ago.  It was just one Commentary set that held me back.  To repurchase it would cost $500.

 

A few resources I am looking forward to checking out are: 

Youth Ministry and Leadership Collection (20 volumes)

Timothy Keller Sermon Archive 2012-2013

 

Also, one thing I want to use Logos for is to build sermon material that you would get from our store(eventually) and with all the resources craft your own message!  

What do you think? Do you use Logos?  What Bible program do you use? 

5 Websites New Youth Pastors Need To Know About.

Are you new in youth ministry?  Are you feeling like you need help?

Yesterday, I was talking with a awesome youth pastor who has been doing youth ministry for the past year.  He stumbled across my youth ministries Facebook page, and he wanted to ask some questions about youth ministry.  It made me realize quickly how much content is out online that no one knows about.  I quickly emailed this youth pastor a few links that would help him in ministry.

Here is a list of 5 basic resources that you might not know about.  These are resources that I use all the time.  It is my basic toolbox of youth ministry resources.  If you know of any extra resources that I haven’t added here, please let me know what they are.  I could add them to another post.

1. Youthmin.org.  This is the website I go to for all things youth ministry.  The thing that I love about this community is that all the people running it and writing for it are in full time ministry positions.  All the material and resources are proven, and tried in real ministry settings.  I am a contributor for youthmin.org, but I have been a slacker.   These dudes are legit, and will help you think about the why behind your youth ministry.

2. Youth leaders stash.   This is my go to place for games.  If I want to find a new game, or a few new games this is the place I go.  I have been using this website for the past 5+ years.  Chad is the guy running the website and all the games are fun, and are easily doable.

Honestly, I don’t love planning and running games.  But youth leaders stash helps me find, prepare and run games for my youth ministry in no time.  This is the one stop shop for your youth ministry games.

3. Average youth ministry.  One day when I grow up I hope I am like Ben Kerns.  This guy is always churning out amazing content.  His website is one that I read everyday, and you should to.  I love his heart for ministry and passion for youth ministry.  He has wisdom, and insight that I am so thankful for.  His website has helped me and my ministry, and because of that I am thankful for him and how God is using him.

For wisdom in the trenches, go to average youth ministry.

4. Download Youth Ministry.  This is one of the best youth ministry websites created in the last year.  The store is a treasure trove of content.  When a youth pastor asks me where to download games, series images, series, and anything else, I direct them to download youth ministry.  Take a few minutes and get lost in the crazy amount of content on this youth ministry website.  It is really impressive.

This is the place for all things youth ministry. Go check out download youth ministry now!

5.  Stock photos that don’t suck.   This isn’t a youth ministry website, but it is a great place to find back ground images for your youth ministry . Actually, if you check this website out and look through all 5 of the stock photo websites you will probably see a ton of the photos that we use.

Eventually, I would love to have a free youth ministry stock photo website, but until I get a legit camera, this website will do!

 

Those are the 5 websites every new youth pastor needs to know about. What would you add to that list? 

Is Too Much Tech Bad For Teenagers? [infographic]

 Are teenagers today getting too much tech?  How is it effecting them? 

This infographic from Onlineschools.com looks at the digital habits of teenagers today.  All the research is based from Pew research.

Here are a few things that stand out:

1. Teens are not critical thinkers online.    10% of teenagers have considered the author credentials or expertise when looking at online content.  A year ago I was talking with a teenager about what protein powder is the best, and he did a google search.  The surprising thing was how the student used the information.  He came back to me showing what was the best.  The first thing I said was, “Who is this expert?”.  This student though this author/blogger was legit because the content looked good, and his website looked great.

The first thing that struck me was that students today are not thinking critically when looking at articles online.  One example of this is the constant barrage of articles being posted every day from teens on a variety of content.

We need to help students navigate the digital world, and decide what content is worth while.  This could be very dangerous when looking at crazy content out there on Christianity.  Help parents and students navigate what content is written by credentialed authors.

2. Technology is hurting teenagers grades, and isolating them.   47% of students who are heavy media users have Cs or below.  32% of those teens who are heavy media users are sad, and lonely.  I have seen students become more connected in the past year.  Students show up to youth group with cell phones out, and are constantly engaged in a social media world.

I have been thinking about how can I help the students I work with disconnect.   These students I work with need real people in their lives investing into them.  I always try to ask students what is the end goal of social media?  The end goal should be to foster deeper relationships and more face to face time.  It shouldn’t withdraw a teenager and isolate them.  If that is the goal of a student we need to help him or her, and their parent.

 What else stands out to you?  Is technology destroying teens today? 

Is too much tech bad for teenagers?

Kids And Technology [infographic]

How do you use technology in your youth ministry? 

We need to figure how to to work better with a digital native culture.  One thing that I know, is that we are not going back.  We not going back to a pre-digital era.  I have talked with a few youth workers who think that reading on a digital device hurts retention, and that they recommend students to only read paper Bibles.  Reading this infographic called, “Kid Tech”, should make us wonder how we will help students read the Bible, and how we can use their devices in their spiritual relationship with God.

Here are a few things that stand out from this infographic: 

1. 7 out of 10 kids are using tablets.  This past christmas a ton of the students in my youth ministry got iPads, and iPad mini’s.  I was amazed at how many students received these expensive devices, but it shows a new era of digital consumption.

Seeing students with iPads and iPad mini’s makes me think how we can help them use those devices to draw closer to God?  We have talked about setting up a texting service that would text out a verse for 30 days.  We have tried to use bible reading plans, and scripture videos, and anything else that might “stick”.  I feel like this is still an adventure, and we are quickly learning how to reach teens who are digital natives.

2. iPad students out perform non-iPad students.  This is really surprising.  The stats I have been reading say that kids who use digital devices don’t retain information as print.  I don’t believe this.  I agree with this infographic when it says it offers a deeper engagement.

Kids are quickly adapting to a digital world, and people who didn’t grow up in it are struggling…and will continue to struggle through a digital era.

I heard of a youth group recently who’s pastor keeps all the students phones while they are at the youth group.  I wondered why you would take away their device?  When I preach, I want my students on their phones.  I want them to have a Bible app, and know how to use it.  I want the students I lead to tweet out passages, and thoughts.  I want their faith to affect their whole life…including the digital life.

Those are two things that stood out to me.  What else stands out to you from this infographic? 

Kid Tech, According To Apple [Infographic]

Infographic by MDG Advertising

The Selfie Challenge [game]

the selfie challenge game

 

 

We played this game on tuesday, and it was a huge hit.  The best part about it, is that a grade 7 student came up with the idea for the game.

The game is called The Selfie Challenge.

Duration of the game: Anywhere from 15 minutes to the whole night.  We started at the beginning of the night and we awarded the best selfie at the end of the night.

How to Play:

1. Put this slide up, or make up a slide with a leaders number on it.

2. Tell the students that they will win a prize at the end of the night for best appropriate selife.

3. Get a leader or leaders to pick the winner.

4. Show some of the pictures on your projector through apple TV.

This game was a huge hit.  Everyone loved it, and we received multiple images from each person.  The students also loved being able to see some of the selfies on the big screen.

*warning: make sure your phone is on a wifi network.  You could easily blow through your cell phones data package with this game.

The Coolest Writing App I Have Ever Seen

hemmingway app

 

This is hands down the best app to help people write.  

I have shown this to numerous pastors and they are all blown away at how this simple application will help pastors become better writers.  In turn, it will hopefully help us be able to articulate the gospel in a way that is relevant to the people we are in front of.

What it does: 

– Tells you if your sentences are difficult to read.

– Tells you when you are using too many adverbs.  The program will want you to swap adverbs out for verbs.

– Helps you simplify words.

– It will grade your writing with a grade.

 

Go ahead and throw your talk or sermon into this application to give it a try!  It is worth it.

Go and download it here

When Helping Hurts Free Audio Book

when-helping-hurts-free-ebook

 

 

Do you take students on missions trips?  Have you ever been asked to never come back? 

I have heard countless stories of youth groups going on missions trips and completely destroying the missionary, and the relationships that the missionary is trying to build in his/her community.  Why do we often make it all about us, and what we want to get out of the “experience”?

The book, When Helping Hurts, is a must read for anyone who is going on a missions trip.  Also, for the month of February it is free over at christian audio.  Pick it up here for free

I am going to use this book with my missions trip team as we prepare to go.

What books do you use to prep your students for a missions trip? 

Are Teens Really Fleeing Facebook?

Are Teenagers Really Leaving Facebook?

Are teenagers leaving facebook?  Or are they slowly changing their social media habits?  

This week I came across this awesome article from our friends over at churchm.ag called, The Facebook Exodus: Where Are All The Teens Going?  You need to go and check it out now!

I am constantly hearing chatter that teenagers are leaving facebook.  The real question is, are teens leaving facebook ?    Lets look at this demographic from Finance Degree Center.

According to this infographic, 23% of students say that facebook is their most important social media network.  This is a huge drop from the past years, and even this quarter.  I have seen  teens use facebook less, but when I ask students if they are on facebook it still is a, “yes”.  Are they leaving, or are  they are slowly changing the way they spend their time online.

The one stat that is conveniently left at the bottom of the infographic is that facebook still has 1.2 billion monthly active users.  This is more than all of the other social networks combined!

Also, what the infographic leaves out is what percentage of each other social network is being used by teenagers?  That leaves things pretty vague.

What does this mean for youth workers?

It means that we need to diversify the way we communicate to teenagers.  Teenagers are changing the way they spend their time online.  We need to change the way we communicate in those different social networks.  Should you ditch facebook?  Probably not.  But you should figure out where the teenagers are online in your ministry, and go there.

We need to focus on relationships.  In all the clutter of social media, we need to spend time in our ministries building face-to-face relationships.  That is what matters.  I have never heard a student say, “wow, your instagram post made me want to become a Christian”.  Don’t spend all your time online, spend it with your students in real life.

We need to focus on a few social network platforms.  I don’t want to spend all my time online.  I also don’t want to spam all the students I work with.  In my youth ministry, I pick a few social networks, and I communicate through them well.  I still find that texting is the best way to communicate!  Focus on a few, don’t spread yourself too thin!

What do you think?  Are teenagers leaving facebook at an alarming rate?  Have you ditched facebook as a way to reach teens?   

 

How To Make 2014 The Best Year Yet!

HOW-TO-MAKE-THIS-YEAR-THE-BEST

 

 

How are you preparing for 2014?

 

Looking back on 2013 I am very thankful for such an amazing year.  A few highlights included purchasing my first home, hiring an intern, building relationships, and seeing students lives transformed by the gospel.  This past year had its ups and downs, moments when I didn’t know what I was doing, and great moments trusting Jesus for everything.  Looking back on a year can be terrifying, or exciting.  I am already looking forward to making 2014 the best year.

Here are a few ways I am looking to make this year the best yet: 

1. Have a plan.  I can’t stress this enough!  You need a plan.  I dusted off my life plan a few months ago and realized how unintentionally I was living my life…yikes!  I you don’t have a goal, you will never hit it.  I want to live this year with intention.  I love what Moses said in Psalm 90, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. 13 Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!”  I want to live what that kind of intention this year.  I want to be intentional with God, my wife, my kids, and my calling.  I wrote about a how to build a life plan in a post called, “Why I Created A Life Plan (And Why You Should Too!) “.

2. Find a mentor.  One way to grow is to find people you want to be like, and go and learn from them.  I have a few mentor/friends that I go to, and they invest into me.  I look back on my Christian life so far, and I am thankful for Godly men and women who have invested into my life.

Stop trying to be the lone ranger.  That was a terrible movie, and you will die out there all alone.  You and I need people pouring into us.

The best way to find a mentor is to find someone you really respect, and what to be like.  Ask them out for coffee, and then ask if you could meet every two weeks for the rest of the year.  It is simple.  You don’t need to get a professional coach, you need someone who can help and push you this year.  Someone who can ask difficult questions.

3. Stay on track.  The first thing I do is buy an epic calendar.  I love this calendar from neu year.  It has been my yearly tradition to order it, and then fill the thing in for the whole year.  Love it.  There is nothing like having a nice looking calendar on your wall.  I don’t know about you, but I need to have a hard copy calendar somewhere.

I would also have someone who isn’t your Lead Pastor or Senior Pastor to hold you accountable to ministry goals.  I don’t want to be driven by numbers, but I do want student’s lives to be changed.  I have firm numbers that I want to hit this year, and the best thing about those numbers is that I can’t do it on my own.  I need God to show up and work in the youth ministry.

Those are a few ways to make 2014 the best year yet.  What are you doing to make this year the best? 

 

 

50 Gifts From The Past 50 Years [infographic]

Here is a fun infographic for Christmas.  Here is the question of the day.  How many of these gifts did you have?  

I have had 10 of these 50 gifts.  Love the list.  It is funny to look back and see what the top gifts were back in the day.

My top toy as a kid was a teenage mutant ninja turtle.  I used to love those things.

 Have a Merry Christmas. 

50Years50Toys_52a1f7a359635_w1500

The Youth Pastors Gift Guide: Books

the-youth-pastors-gift-guide-2013-books

 

 

How many books do you read a year?

Why not finish this year off by purchasing books you can read over Christmas, or start in the New Year.  I don’t think that youth pastors are known for being readers.  That stereotype is slowly changing.

One of the best investments I made this past year was to get an iPad.  I love reading on my iPad.  One feature that I love about reading on my iPad is that I can highlight parts and then at the end of the book, I can send it to my evernote account.  I love being able to categorize all the books I have read, and the quotes that I could use whenever.  Plus, the books are so cheap on kindle.  What do you read on? 

Here are a few books that we loved this past year, and a few books we plan on reading in the new year.  What else would you add to this list? 

Youth Ministry

Public Jesus: Exposing the Nature of God in Your Community

Taking the Cross to Youth Ministry (A Theological Journey Through Youth Ministry)

Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World: A Hopeful Wake-Up Call

Redefining the Role of the Youth Worker: A Manifesto of Integration

Church
Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live.

The Prodigal God By Timothy Keller

Disciple (Re:Lit) By Bill Clem

The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness

Gospel Coach: Shepherding Leaders to Glorify God

Who Do You Think You Are?: Finding Your True Identity in Christ

Gospel-Centered Discipleship (Re:Lit)

Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church

Money: God or Gift

Surprised by Hope By N.T Wright

The Explicit Gospel (Re:Lit)

Walking with God through Pain and Suffering

Other
How to Deliver a Great TED Talk: Presentation Secrets of the World’s Best Speakers (How to Give a TED Talk)

The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World

Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World

What else would you add to this list?  

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