Growing up, I loved going to McDonald’s. I loved the play area, the Happy Meals and the Happy Meal toy. In other words, I wanted the “Mickey D’s” experience because I knew it would be fun, I would get fed and I would leave with something. Shouldn’t the church be the same way?
Jelani Lewis on ministrytodaymag.com
via Children’s Ministry Magazine July/August 2011 pg. 22
There are so many variations one can do with a bin of bean bags. In this iteration we played a sort of “bocce” version where the students had to get the bean bag “on” to an object, or the “closest” to an object. For the objects, we just used things that were readily available. We had cones that we set out and divided the group into 3 teams and the team with the most bean bags the closest won. We moved the cones back and forth, closer and further away during each round. Then we had one of the students grab the cone and hold it toward their teammates, who in turn tried to throw the bean bag into the cone.
In the video above, we were doing a handful of challenging group throws, and we challenged the students to try to land the bean bag on the garbage can. One person was able to do it!
Hmm… I came across this intriguing post from a blog entitled True Woman (interesting reading I do, eh?!). It has to do with summer time projects that families can do with some of the freedom they have in the summer. I thought the article was worth sharing. You can read the post below or go to its original location here:
I’ve noticed a strange look on the faces of my friends with school-aged kids lately. It’s a look I see about the end of May every year. It’s one part delight and two parts panic, and I think I know the source—school’s out for summer! For many moms, that means having all of their children home all of the time.
Many families I know take the summer fun approach. They fill their days with trips to the pool, excursions to the lake, and movies in the afternoon. I’m all for fun summers. I love to take my boys swimming, cool off with red popsicles, and stay up late enough to catch lightning bugs in old mason jars.
But, I think summer also offers a unique opportunity to do ministry together as a family. A whole lot of free time offers a whole lot of opportunities to reach out to others and minister side by side. If your kids can get a taste of the value of serving like Jesus did, they’ll be learning an important lesson.
So, here’s a starter list of family summer ministry ideas:
Help with Vacation Bible School
Many churches host VBS during the summer. Instead of just sending your kids off to attend, grab your pre pre-teens and teens and get involved yourself with serving. If your church doesn’t have a VBS, look for ways to serve in another church, or launch a one-day VBS for a few kids in your neighborhood.
Plan a local short-term missions trip
You don’t have to be a missionary to take a missions trip. Simply think of a group of people who have a need, and find a way to meet that need while sharing the love of Jesus. You can go for a day, a weekend, or a week. Here are a few missions trips my family have done:
- Clean up a playground in a low-income housing area, and then offer a free hot meal to the residents (hot dogs and chips work great!).
- Find an area of your state that has been impacted by a natural disaster, and get plugged in with a relief organization such as the Red Cross or Samaritan’s Purse.
- Ask your pastor for a list of widows or shut-ins, and call and offer to do lawn work for free during the hottest days of summer.
- Call that same list of widows and shut-ins and offer to bring them fresh produce from your garden. They likely don’t have the oomph to garden themselves, but would love to share in the bounty of your back yard.
- Call your local pregnancy care center and offer to come and sort supplies for moms in need.
This list is just the tip of the iceberg. The possibilities are endless!
Encourage your children to set up a lemonade stand to raise funds for people in need. Even young children will enjoy creating and decorating a lemonade stand, making lemonade and treats, and collecting money from “customers.” (I would recommend calling friends and neighbors and encouraging them to stop by). Then, give your child a few options of organizations and let them go with you to deliver their hard-earned money.
Adopt a family
Not every momma gets to stay at home with her kids in the summer. This can be especially true for single moms. That means some kids are left to fend for themselves while their parents work. If you know a family in this situation, offer to take the kids during the day for the summer, and be sure to specify that you don’t expect any payment in return. Will it be a sacrifice? You betcha! But God’s Word urges us to look after each other in practical ways like this. Be intentional about looking for a family that you can help by being generous with your time.
Chalk up some blessings
Grab the sidewalk chalk and hop in the car to visit people in need of an extra boost. Write an encouraging message in chalk on their sidewalk or front stoop, or write out a verse that is applicable or encouraging. Taking the time to give an encouraging word can go a long way . . . doing so in bright colored chalk is even better!
Summers provide a unique opportunity for families who have the time and flexibility to break free from routine. Using that window to serve others in Jesus’ name is one of the best uses of your family’s time. Any other ideas? How can your family minister together this summer?
via True Woman
1. Keep them Engaged
When kids are engaged they are much less likely to talk and cause problems. This isn’t always true, but it holds up as a general rule. So, make sure you’re presenting the Gospel and the Bible faithfully, but also make sure you are doing it in a way that kids are engaged. Get them involved, have some fun, convey the excitement and your issues with kids talking at the wrong time will decrease.
2. Have Clearly Defined Rules and Consequences
Come up with a short list of rules for your class. Keep it simple, but make sure being quiet when they’re supposed to is one of the rules. Also have a very concise and clear consequence pattern. Go over both of those every week so the kids know what is expected and know what will happen with they don’t follow the rules.
3. Give them Time To Talk
Build time into your lesson when they have the chance to talk. Ask questions, get them involved in presenting the lesson, have an upbeat worship time. Give them an outlet to speak and they will be less likely to talk when you don’t want them to.
4. Build a Relationship
Kids will have a lot easier time interrupting you and being disrespectful when you don’t have a personal relationship with them. Build a relationship and speak into their lives, and you will be amazed at the difference in their behavior.
No really! Try it sometime when your classroom is really really loud. No matter how much they want to talk, kids also want to know what is going down. As they get louder, you get softer in your voice. When it works, it’s magic! The kids will stop talking because when you’re whispering they want to hear.
Two months ago, Charlene Rohr called me and told me about a dream she had the night before. In her dream, she saw youth groups from around the area at an event together, in unity, in the metropolis of Drummond, WI. I thought it was a great idea and told her I would support her in any I could.
So Char went to work and did what she does best: organize! She pulled together youth group leaders from Hayward, Ashland, Cable and Barnes and we had a meeting. At that meeting we decided what the event would look like, time frame and such. We ended up calling the event “The Gathering.”
It ended up being pretty good. We played games, had snacks and pizza. Northern Lights Church performed a memorable skit and Sam Hansen shared his testimony. At the end, the students gathered in prayer groups and prayed.
It was a simple event designed to bring together youth groups from the area and help kick-start some things for youth in Drummond, WI.
It’s a start…
I’m currently 33 years-old. I’m not that old, yet, But in a teenager’s world, I am OLD! And I feel it… not in a diminishing physical way, but in an ever-widening gap between me and the middle school students way.
I was in middle school (grades 6-8) from 1988-1991. There was no internet (as we know it). Most phones were still attached to the wall with long cords and long distance calls were expensive. Cassette tapes were on their way out and CDs were making their splash. Boom boxes and Sony Walkman’s were cool (no such thing as an iPod). Pants with pockets and rolled up at the bottom was in style. Tony Hawk was every skateboarder’s hero. And I could go on and on…
Today’s culture is very different, and considering… I am really OLD and out-of-touch with it.
The argument in youth ministry circles usually swirls around how much cultural relevancy does one need to have and how much biblical/scriptural relevancy does one need to have, and how the two interact.
Read this article:
Lately I’ve listened to a conversation going on in youth ministry circles on whether or not it’s valuable to be versed in youth culture . . . to be “culturally relevant.” I think this conversation is of vital importance to us as youth workers. Give me 4 minutes of your time to share my thoughts (and I welcome yours, as well).
I believe youth workers must strive to be experts in two things: Scripture and culture. Let me explain.
We know the truth of Scripture is timeless. It’s as effective today at spiritual transformation as it was hundreds and thousands of years ago.
However, culture is not timeless. Culture is fluid. It changes with time and geography. You would never attempt to reach a people group in another culture without considering that culture’s unique realities. You wouldn’t travel to rural Chongqing, China and teach the exact same lesson you would teach in Idaho Falls. While the underlying biblical truths have a universal application, the cultural “vehicle” through which your lesson is communicated would be wholly ineffective.
I believe as youth workers we should approach reaching our students with the same level of cultural awareness that we would take in approaching another people group in another culture.
Why? What are the benefits of a commitment to cultural relevancy? Glad you asked.
- It’s Strategic
Knowing youth culture helps you tailor your message in order to deliver Scripture’s un-changing truth in a way that is wrapped in the rhetoric of the society surrounding your students.
- It Shows You Care
Whenever I travel internationally, I learn some basic conversational phrases in the native language. When I need something and engage someone in their native language (however clumsily), they are much more inclined to help. It shows that I value their culture. Knowing youth culture says the same thing to your students.
- It’s Proactive
If you’re aware of a trend, movie, or TV show that you know you will need to respond to (such as this one), you can be proactive in engaging your students. By doing so, you have the opportunity to equip your students with a biblical response to whatever the specific issue is.
- You Become a Resource for Parents
I recently heard Josh McDowell say that the generation gap between parents and teenagers is wider than it has ever been . . . and parents don’t know it exists! You can become an invaluable resource for parents as they try and raise children in a culture that is pretty hostile to the ways of God’s Kingdom.
So, I’ve answered the “why.” What’s the “how”? How do we make sure we are as culturally relevant as we can be when it comes to youth culture? It’s actually pretty simple:
- Behave Like A Teenager
Watch the movies they watch. Read the magazines they read. Visit the websites they visit. Listen to music they listen to. By doing so you craft your cultural vocabulary. You will know the cultural factors influencing your students.
- Engage Students in Cultural Conversation
Titus 2:12 says that we are to “say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” You can help your students know how to say “no” to the harmful elements of culture by engaging them in conversation regarding the cultural influences in their lives.
- Look for the bridges to God’s Word
I believe one of your goals as a youth worker is to help your students develop a biblical worldview, to be able to see the world through the filter of Scripture. It’s vitally important to look for bridges back to Scripture as you discuss what you see in culture. By doing so, you help students rise above the negative effects of culture.
As I stated earlier, I believe all youth workers are called to be versed in culture. Want biblical evidence? Look no further than the way Paul conducted himself in Athens. Acts 17:22-23 says this:
Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship.
Paul studied Athenian culture then used this knowledge to craft a Gospel message unique to his audience. It is our call as youth workers to be committed to the same level of cultural relevancy. The effectiveness of your ministry is at stake.
It’s a tricky dance. Some youth pastors strive to be “cool” and “hip” with the students. And they are… for a while. But then they get old… like me. And you either have to grow in cultural relevancy and biblical relevancy and connect the two, or you have to quit and go work at Starbucks or something else.
Here’s what I think: I don’t think teenagers care how cool or hip or cultural relevant or versed you are. They just want to know how much you care. They want relationships. They want adults who look past their quirkiness and accept them for the rapidly changing human beings they are (developmentally) and still like like them. They want relationships with adults who can converse and field questions and thoughts and be safe with them. It’s the risk to be relational that youth pastors or any adult mentor to a teenagers needs to embrace to be “relevant” with teenagers.
Trust me, being cool is fleeting and temporary. Being relevant relationally? Well that has withstood the sands of time. It seems like human beings were made for significant relationships. Interesting, eh?
This past school year, about 10 elementary boys and I (and Pastor Heath and Wes) have really enjoyed playing Nerf battles here in our church building. The tradition kind of started when the students had a half-day of school and someone suggested that we get a couple of people together and play Nerf guns with each other. We didn’t broadcast announce it, just word of mouth and we’ve had around 10 students show up for these.
I’ve got to tell you… these Nerf battles are incredibly fun! Now I’m a particular kind of adult when I play games with kids: I don’t care! I don’t care if I win or lose… all I care about is playing. That’s just the kind of person I am. I’m not super competitive. All I care about is if the kids are having fun or not. So I usually have the least amount of darts and the simplest gun, but we laugh and play hard and it is really fun!
I really like that we have kept it small, but it has turned into a sort of tradition. Every time there is a half-day of school, all these participants are hounding me if we are going to do a Nerf battle. It’s been an amazing conduit for play-filled relationships and great memories!
You should try it sometime!
The event starts @ 11:00a with some singing, which Mark Wilson did this year. After some silly and serious singing, we do a character from the life of Jesus (someone who witnessed and interacted with Jesus). This year I was a Roman Centurion. So we sing songs and do a story, all of which last for about 20 minutes. We make it fast.
Then comes the gigantic egg hunt! We split the crowd into two groups and do the egg hunt in two separate places: 1) babies through kindergarten, and 2) grades 1-5.
After the egg hunt, families typically come back inside the church building to open their eggs, grab some popcorn and juice, and share stories of the hunt!
It’s a great annual event for the children in Hayward, one that lets the kids have lots of fun with colored Easter eggs spread all over the church property and also clearly communicates what Easter is all about and who this Jesus guy really is.
All in all we had 500-600 people in attendance. I wasn’t able to grab many pics, but was able to snap some quick ones. Here is a video collage of the Easter Eggstravaganza:
Last Sunday afternoon, May 1, 2011, the middle school students went down to the Patriot Paintball course in Chetek, WI and had a blast! The students (and the leaders) really enjoyed themselves.
The only negative part of the event was that it was really cold!! Note to self: Bring gloves next time!