iheartyouthministry.com- Youth Ministry Blog

GUEST POST: The Cost (and Blessings) of Discipleship

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!)

iheartyouthministry.com Christmas Giveaway Contest!

Ok, so it’s almost Christmas…and I am in the mood to give some stuff away. And not just any stuff…some FREE YOUTH MINISTRY STUFF! The contest is as easy as “1,2,3”!  

1) In the comment section of this post, be the first one to post a picture of you wearing your ugliest Christmas sweater. (come on, we all know you have one!) 

2) I will laugh at how silly you look (don’t worry, I’m laughing with you not at you)

3) If you are the first person to post a picture you win! And what do you win? How about this: 

-2 copies of “Purpose Driven Youth Ministry”

-2 copies of “99 Thoughts For Small Group Leaders”

-2 copies of “Youth Worker’s Emergency Handbook”

-1 copy of the “One Minute Bible” 

-A zip file full of “THE OTHER 6” editable templates that you can use for your student ministry. 

That is a prize that is worth over $60.00 for absolutely free! So start taking funny pictures in your Christmas sweater and let www.iheartyouthministry.com make your Christmas a merry one!

On your mark…get set…go!

Pax, 

Rob

Introducing Heather Ham (volunteer youth worker...and my awesome wife!) Q&A on Youth Ministry

Rob:
Alright babe, so I want to welcome you to your first post here on iheartyouthministry.com . Why don't you let everyone know a little bit about who you are (hobbies, likes/dislikes, and how you serve in youth ministry). On your mark..get set...go!

Heather:
Well, um...as far as hobbies go I enjoy going to the movies, and I love watching t.v. shows (The Office, The Biggest Loser and Once upon A Time). I hate the taste of mint and I enjoy watching musicals. And as far as youth ministry goes, I serve as a volunteer Jr. High youth worker at Daybreak Church in Carlsbad, CA. I help out at our weekend services and I lead a 6th grade girls small group during the week.

Rob:
Awesome. So beginning next week I am super excited to announce that you are going to become a guest blogger on this site writing about issues surrounding volunteers in youth ministry as well as being the spouse of a lead youth worker. But for now, what have been your biggest joys and biggest struggles over the years while serving in youth ministry?

Heather:
Let's see, I think the moments I love the most in youth ministry are getting to be present when the students in our ministry begin to "get it". You know, those "light bulb" moments when our students really realize how much Jesus really loves them. There is really nothing cooler than getting to be a part of that exciting journey. Probably one of my biggest struggles is trying to find the balance between attending every meeting, every youth event, weekend service, etc. and making sure that I take enough time just for myself. Personal soul care is so important and unfortunately it's easily overlooked when my calendar is full of youth ministry events.

Rob:
What kinds of things will you be writing about when you post on iheartyouthminstry.com? Give us a sample of some of the topics that our readers can expect reading from you.

Heather:
I look forward to sharing my youth ministry experience from the perspective of not only a volunteer, but also as the spouse of a full time youth pastor. I'll be posting on the importance of spending quality time with your spouses (away from church), how to combat the expectations that go along with being a youth pastor's spouse, as well as any helpful ideas/resources/thoughts that might benefit other volunteer youth workers & spouses.

Rob:
Awesome. Well you know that I am super stoked to have you join us here at iheartyouthministry.com (let's face it, you will definitely up the hotness quotient of the bloggers.) ;D So stay tuned for more youth ministry tips/resources/thoughts from my wife Heather Ham every Wednesday right here on iheartyouthministry.com

Pax,

Rob & Heather

High-res 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
Pax, 
Rob

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

Pax, 

Rob

As youth workers all of us have a desire to see students grow closer to Jesus and grow deeper in their faith. Even though most of us LIKE big programs and getting a huge crowd together, we really LOVE it when we are sitting eye-to-eye and knee-to-knee with a teenager as they begin to really get how much they are loved by God and then begin to pursue His purpose for their lives. 

We all WANT our students to grow spiritually…but HOW do we that within our youth ministry settings? The look/feel/design of this process will look different depending on the identity/culture of each church, but here are a few questions that all of us need to be asking ourselves often when it comes to spiritual growth in our student ministries:

1) What kind of students are apart of my youth ministry? (regular attenders/visitors/student leaders/committed Christians/non-Christians)

2) How can I create a process to move students from “just showing up” to becoming committed followers of Jesus? (discipleship)

3) How does the larger church’s discipleship process work? 

4) How can I explain spiritual growth in a simple way that my students can understand?

5) How can I get my pastor/volunteers/parents on board with my desired discipleship process?

I would suggest taking a significant amount of time to go through these types of questions with your team (staff or volunteer). Take an entire weekend and dream together with your team about what spiritual growth could look like in your student ministry setting. The more thought/time you put into developing a strong discipleship process for your students, the greater the reward. Our team at IGNITION (Daybreak Church’s Jr. High Ministry) just finished planning/dreaming up our newest discipleship process/roadmap for our jr. high students (we used the analogy of learning how to surf to describe growing spiritually). Check out the video above to see what we came up with to help our San Diego jr. high students understand our youth ministry’s process for spiritual growth. 

I’d love to hear from all of you what you have tried (or are trying) in terms of developing a strong discipleship program/strategy in your youth ministry. Share some of your thoughts in the comments section below! :D

Pax, 

Rob

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!

Merry Christmas!

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

Pax, 

Rob

IGNITION Weekend In Review: Week #1 “IT’S AN IGNITION CHRISTMAS!”

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. 

Worship Songs: : this weekend we had our student worship team cover Justin Beiber’s “Drummer Boy" as an opening cover song. We also sang "Saviour Of The World.”

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. 

Pax, 

Rob 

Youth Ministry Resource Highlight: YAPTAP Communitcation

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! 

Pax, 

Rob

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!

Pax, 

Rob