Merry Christmas from Rob & all our bloggers here at iheartyouthministry.com! Normal blog schedule will resume on Monday. Merry Christmas!
A few weeks ago our students were at camp and they had a good bit of time to kill. Some of them caught a nap, some played cards and quite a few students were just hanging out and talking. However, one student caught my eye.
She was reading.
Now the act of reading didn’t catch my eye, rather it was WHAT she was reading grabbed my attention: The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Wow! That’s a very weighty work to read in one’s free time at camp. I started to think about when I read that book and the conviction that it brought about in my own life.
As I thought about that book and discipleship in general, I realized how the 21st century church is moving away from pursuing discipleship. Some churches have classes on Sunday or Wednesday night called “discipleship”, but they barely scratch the surface as to what it means to be a disciple of Christ. We desire a relationship with Christ that is easy to pursue and that can be molded to our schedule. We want all the benefits of being a child of God but none of the difficulties. We take God’s grace and Christ’s work on the cross and cheapen it. Bonhoeffer says it this way:
“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
As a church we want the true blessings of the discipleship that come in pursuing Christ: spiritual growth, brotherly/sisterly love, community, an overarching purpose in life, unstoppable joy and a peace that passes all understanding. Yet, as a disciple of Christ we are promised persecution, trials of our faith, personal shortcomings, unmet expectations and backstabbing by those we trusted the most. Just like Peter, we want to pursue Christ as we walked on the water…
…but sometimes we sink. We fail. We are let down by our spiritual mentors. That expectation of sinking steers us away from getting out of the boat, but our pursuit of Christ isn’t about our expectations and needs. Jesus says: ” Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
That is tough to swallow. Jesus says, “I want you to follow Me, but you have to be ready to die to be My follower.” We don’t want to have to let go of everything in our lives. We like a lot of things and people, but count the blessings that come to us in Christ. He becomes our purpose, hope, strength, love, passion, foundation, guiding force, wisdom, trust, truth, healer and salvation. That’s not a bad list of blessings.
So when I count the cost of discipleship….I should also count its blessings.
(this guest post was submitted by COLLIDE STUDENT MINISTRIES . Check them out!)
Congratulations to Jerry Webb on winning this month’s iheartyouthministry.com FREEBIE GIVEAWAY! Congrats Jerry on having the worst Christmas sweater! :D
Every two weeks our core team gets together to plan out our weekend services for IGNITION (Daybreak Church’s Jr. High Ministry). What we usually do is pass out a bunch of blank personal sized marker boards and let the entire team start dreaming up the different elements that make up our weekend service. Here are the elements that we plan for during every weekend at IGNITION (in no particular order):
1) Worship: We plan out which worship songs we will do, whether or not we will have the band do any cover songs, etc. Our song choices center around the theme of the weekend message.
2) Games: We usually plan on two games per service. One game is an “up front” game, where we bring students up on stage for some activity. The second is a “crowd game” which is more of a “everyone plays at the same time” type of challenge. Again, we usually (but not always) create games that fit the theme of the weekend.
3) Elements of Fun: This is where we think up different types of bits/skits/prizes/giveaways/etc. This can be as small as giving away free hot-cocoa after one of our Christmas services as students leave, or as complicated as a full on costumed skit with smoke machines and more!
4) Understandable Message: Every planning meeting we ask ourselves the question “what is the simplest way we can say this?”. We try to determine how to take a complex spiritual truth and make it easy to understand and relevant to teenagers lives.
5) Graphics/Video: This part is pretty straight forward. We think about what kinds of bumper videos do we need to make for the current series, whether or not we need to shoot any funny/thought provoking videos. We also get some great ideas from youtube!
6) Grade Groups: During a small portion of our weekend services (about 10 minutes) we have students move into smaller groups called grade groups. These groups are always same age/same gender. We use this time to try and get to know all of the students by name. It’s a great way to make the large crowd seem smaller. During planning meetings we determine where in the service these groups should be go, and if we want them to talk about anything in particular relating to the weekend message.
7) Environment: This is where we dream about what we want to do in terms of set design. It could be as simple as putting a chair and table on the stage, or super complex like building a rocket to sit on the stage. We usually draw out all of our ideas so we can really get creative. (You’d be surprised how a little bit of time spent on the environment of your youth room can go a long way. And it doesn’t always have to be expensive. In fact, grab a few of your student leaders and let them go nuts designing your youth room for your next series!)
8) Announcements: As of last week we just switched over to trying out video announcements (versus somebody standing on the stage giving announcements). We’ve been finding that students aren’t focusing a ton on the announcement time, so we are experimenting with doing some super funny announcement videos to try and capture our jr. high student’s attention a little more. :)
Not sure if any of this was useful, but I’d love to know how you all plan your youth programs. Share your own process for building your crowd programs in the comments section below. :D
It’s that time of year again and my friends at HSM have created another killer Christmas rap video! Check it out! Featuring my friends Josh, AC, Chris, Jessica, Taffy and Hope!
P.s. For more info on what HSM has been up to for Christmas, head on over to my buddy Griff’s blog at www.morethandodgeball.com ! :D
This weekend we started our brand new Christmas series entitled “IT’S AN IGNITION CHRISTMAS!”. Keep on reading for a breakdown of the games we used, message ideas, song choices and more!
Series: ”IT’S AN IGNITION CHRISTMAS!”
Pre-Service: It’s Christmas again, so we had to use my buddy Grant’s “That’s Christmas” video as our countdown. This video never gets old.
Grade Groups: Click here to download our grade group questions for this weekend
Games: This weekend we played a Christmas version of the impossible shot (students had to throw plastic snowflakes through a hanging wreath) and a game of “FINISH THAT LYRIC: CHRISTMAS EDITION” where students had to finish the lyrics to popular Christmas songs.
Message: Me and one of our IGNITION staff taught this weekend on HOW we can know that Jesus is REAL. We talked about how, unlike the myth of Santa Claus, Jesus was a real living person who has the power to transform their lives. We looked at some basic tools of apologetics that students can use to determine the validity of Jesus’ existence/ministry/resurrection.
So I’m always on the lookout for new bits of technology that make my life easier as a youth pastor. And as I was browsing the internet I ran across YAPTAP. Seriously this is a genius piece of technology that every youth worker needs to try out. It’s basically a messaging service that is built for youth ministries. You can create custom groups to communicate with (student leaders, weekend volunteers, staff, small group leaders, students, etc.), create reminders for events and more.
But the coolest part of the software is that is communicates to your students/leaders cross-platform. That means when I send a message out to my volunteers they can choose whether it gets to them via TXT, EMAIL, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, etc. This software basically eliminates the need to send out multiple messages to your students/leaders over multiple platforms. It simply takes care of all of that for you, so you can just worry about getting the important information you need out to your volunteers. One of the cooler features is that students/leaders can actually subscribe to your message list by simply texting in a keyword to your personalized number and their contact information is updated automatically without you having to put it in yourself.
All in all it seems like a super great tool, and we are going to try it out within our own jr. high ministry setting (I will let you know how it goes next month). The only downside I can see is that it costs a little bit of money depending on how many students/volunteers you have in your ministry setting. But I’ve looked into a bunch of different messaging services and this seems to be the least expensive.
Oh, and the best part? It can be accessed over your iPhone, iPad, or on the web. Here’s a screenshot of the iPad/iphone versions (which are free on the app store)
Try it out (you get a free 30-day trial) and let me know your thoughts!
Check out this great bumper video that we used for our “IT’S AN IGNITION CHRISTMAS” series. One of my student leaders made the video and I laughed so hard when I saw it…I had to turn around and watch it again.
How do you use video elements in your student ministry? Do you shoot/edit them as a staff or do you have students do them? Share some of your ideas in the comments section below. Merry Christmas!