youth ministry

Free Classic Christmas Advent Calendar Game

Here is a free youth ministry game to play with your crew.  It’s really simple, and all you need to do is buy cheap advent calendars.  We play this every year and it’s always a hit.  

The best part of this game is that it’s simple, and easy to play with almost no instructions.  

Time to play: 5 mins

Supplies: 

Advent Calendars

How to play: 

  1. Download this image put it up on the screen. .
  2. Give each player an advent calendar.  
  3. The first person to finish the advent calendar wins a prize or an epic advent calendar.  

Freebie Friday: 5 Handwriting Fonts

Fonts matter.  I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for a good font.  Lately, I have been searching the web for good handwriting fonts.  I have found some great fonts.  Here is the top 5 go to for handwriting fonts.

Have an awesome friday!

1. Novito Nova.  You can get this goregous free font here.

top youth ministry handwriting fonts

2. Dickie.  This is a fun font that was created by designer Dave Ellis. 

top youth ministry hand writing fonts2

3. Mink Type.  Mink Type is a cool hand painted display typeface (only eps version is available) that  is created by using brush tools in Illustrator. Each letter has 3 variations including upper and lower cases, you can create your custom feel for your design.

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 1.27.10 PM

4. Happy Fox.  A great fun font to use on your Facebook page, posters, or your instagram feed.  Get it for free.

top youth ministry hand writing fonts

5. Skinny.  This is the most hipster font of the bunch.  It is worth the download.

top youth ministry hand writing fonts 4

 

Those are the top youth ministry handwriting fonts.  You can check out more free fonts here.  What are your go to handwritten fonts?

 

An Amazing Resource To Help Students

Yesterday, I came across these videos from John Piper called Look at the book.  Right away, it got me thinking how I could use these in my youth ministry.  The one thing I love about what Piper is trying to do with Look at the book is to help people study the Bible.

Check out the video:

On the Desiring God website they explain what they are trying to do:

Look at the Book is a new online method of teaching the Bible. It’s an ongoing series of 8–12 minute videos in which the camera is on the text, not the teacher. You will hear John Piper’s voice and watch his pen underline, circle, make connections, and scribble notes — all to help you learn to read God’s word for yourself. His goal is to help you not only see what he sees, but where he sees it and how he found it.

A few simple ways I want to incorporate this in my youth ministry:

1. Share each week on my Facebook group.

2. Add to my student leadership material on how to read the Bible.  I love that it is a video!

This is so awesome!  Let me know how you will use this in your youth ministry!

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The Photo Booth Challenge [game]

photobooth-challenge youth ministry game

 

 

Type of game: Upfront

What you need to play this game: iPad.

Set up time: 1 minute

How to play the game:  Get a group of 5 students and open up the photo booth app in the iPad.  Take a photo of yourself with the Photo Booth app with a funny setting on.  Make sure to make a crazy face.  Get the students to make a similar photo with the same face.

We played this last week and it was a hit.  We posted all the photos we took on our Facebook page.

Tip: One way to make this game epic is to get an apple tv and show the image on the main screen.

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

Taking A Mobile Phone Sabbath

 

When was the last time you went without your mobile phone?

Two weeks ago I went on holidays.  I decided to bring my iPhone with me with the idea that once it dies, I won’t recharge it until I get home. Over the course of two weeks I realized how attached…addicted I was to my phone.

Looking back, it was sad how much I was on my phone.  I feel like I have lost moments with my wife and kids.  Moments I won’t get back.  All of those moments wasted for what?  Checking Facebook, or instagram?

Last week, I was listening to a podcast by Timothy Ferris, and he was talking about being productivity.  The best way he described to be productive is to turn off the iPhone for one day a week.  I think he called it the digital reset.  It got me thinking about how technology is shaping us, and forming us.  Whether you like it or not, we are being changed and moulded by the devices we use, and the apps we use.  We need to be intentional about taking breaks from things that are consuming so much of our creative time.

Losing Control

I have been reading a book by Timothy Keller called, “Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters“.  He states in his book what an idol is, ““When anything in life is an absolute requirement for your happiness and self-worth, it is essentially an ‘idol,’ something you are actually worshiping.”   It struck me how we are being controlled by technology.  It isn’t helping us, it is controlling us.

The real question is who is in control.  Are you in control of the device you are using?  Or is it controlling you?  Is your iPhone an absolute requirement for happiness and self worth?

In Exodus 20 God spoke to his people about how they should live,

2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.

4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

God is calling us to put him first, and to have nothing else in our life that would be the absolute thing that brings us joy.  God wants a relationship with us, but our self worth and identity is being built on other things.

Personally, I struggle with my iPhone.  The struggle is that I need it for work today in a digital world.  But, I am realizing how much I need to put it away and really see my family and life.  I need to be in control of my technology, and make sure it isn’t the other way.  This means taking a break once a week from my digital devices.  My brain needs rest from the digital landscape we are in.

Modeling Behaviour

How many students do you work with who’s life requirement is to have a smart phone and to be connected in a digital world?  Most of the students I work with need their phones.  It’s what brings them joy, and sorrow.  The students I work with need another way.

They need to see me defeat my idols in my life.  They need to see me leave my cell phone in the car, or at home.  They deserve my complete attention.  And I need to model to students how dangerous it can be when digital devices don’t help your life, but hinder it.

Have you thought how you are modelling to students how to use digital devices while following Jesus?

We need margin to rest, and to give our brains a digital reset.  We need more that just a day a week, but to be honest that is a great starting place.

Putting the phone down once a week has made me realize that I don’t really need it.

The Printable Youth Pastor 2014/2015

The Printable Youth Pastor Series is back!

We want great resources for you to use.  Last year while planning out the fall, I created a template that we use for fall planning and idea was born to created a series of printable things to help you in youth ministry.  I am quite particular when it comes to planning out the calendar.  I like having the whole year calendar in front of me, and I have a neu year calendar on the wall.  They make the best looking year calendars. 

The resources in this series will be: 

 

Fall Planning Calendar 

Click HERE to download the Fall 2014 Planning Calendar.

Winter/Spring Planning Calendar

Click HERE to download the Spring 2015 Planning Calendar. 

Spring/Summer Planning Calendar

Click HERE to download the Spring/Summer 2015 Planning Calendar. 

A five days a week print off  (Click here to download)

Preaching Series Template: Download Here

 

Preaching Series Template Weekly: Here

 

Sermon Series Outline Template

 

Also, if you want the editable files they will be available after everything is on this page.

Is there anything else we should add to the printable youth pastor series that you would use?  What about a social media plan template? 

A Day In The Life Of The Mobile Teen [infographic]

 Are you using a texting service to connect with teenagers?

The one thing that I have done right in the past few years is setting up a texting service.  The best part about having a proper texting service to communicate with parents and students is that all the messages are received.  It is unbelievable.  I remember looking at the stats after the first text I sent out, and sat back  and was amazed at the number that popped onto the screen.  It said that 100% of the messages were received.

If you are looking for a decent texting service you can check out eztexting.  These services are always changing, but if you are willing to do some work, you can find a great deal for a texting service.

Here is an info graphic called: A Day In The Life Of A Mobile Teen.

Here are a few things that stand out:

1. 75% of teens have phones.  Why are we not building a database for mobile phones?  Some texting series allow you to “collect” info on the people who are subscribed.  This can be a useful tool when trying to stay current in the students lives that come to your youth group.  I bet this stat is a bit old, and it is more like 85% of students have phones.  This will constantly grow.

2. 20% of teens make plans over texts.  Again, this is the reason why you need to have a texting service.  I do believe that some of the students that I work with don’t know what is going on.  We have all different kinds of social media, handouts, announcements and more.  But, when they received that text message they read it.

3. 64% of teens text in class.  Teenagers today are accessible anywhere.   This is both good and bad.  Every time that I set up a scheduled text message I make sure that it is 3o minutes after school.  I don’t want to bug teenagers while they are in class.  The best part of having a texting program is that the students text in a number to subscribe, but they can easily opt out at any time.  It sure makes me careful to not spam them with tons of useless stuff.

Those are few things that stood out to me from this info graphic called: A Day In The Life Of A Mobile Teen. 

What else stands out to you?  Anything surprising?

day-in-the-life-of-a-mobile-teen_50291746b2c03

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?

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