Mallory from Worship-Backgrounds has given MoreThanDodgeball.com readers an exclusive worship background download from their site. They’ve got TONS of free ones (most are solid for youth ministry) and make them available for free simply in exchange for you giving them your information by signing up. You in?
I’m writing this late on Sunday night… or maybe it’s early Sunday morning.
The Super Bowl is over now, and I have no idea who won. I wasn’t at a party, and didn’t see any of the new commercials that everyone will be talking about. Nope, I wasn’t on a spiritual fast-from-media … I was on an airplane crossing the ocean.
I actually love Super Bowl Parties. Not only for the party itself – but also because I can be “in the know” about what got served up on TV. It’s a good conversation starter with students, too.
But here’s another advantage of workong with middle schoolers! They won’t care that I missed the game – even the ones who were glued to the screen the whole time. In fact, some of them may be glad I didn’t see it! Because it gives THEM an opportunity to “fill me in” on what I missed.
I find that junior highers love to give me their perspective on anything I don’t know about. Especially since I’m always teaching them things – they love the chance to “teach me back”. So don’t worry if you haven’t read the Hunger Games, or heard Selena’s most recent song…Or seen the funniest Super Bowl commercials. Just ask a student to give you their expert opinion. It’ll make them feel valued, it’ll remind them that you care — and it’ll save you time by knowing which commercials to look up on YouTube and which ones to skip.
Oh, and congrats to whichever team won, Luckily for me, my Cincinnati Bengals never play in the Super Bowl, so I don’t have to worry so much about missing it.
What is it about youth ministry that makes it seem like it’s always a game of shadows for so many of us? I just went out to finally see Sherlock Holmes 2 with two of the guys from our middle school ministry. After begging my wife to go with me since it came out, I finally gave up and took initiative on my own. As a side note, in case my wife reads this, it’s not her fault she never took me up on it as my invitations were always unplanned and spontaneous, and that doesn’t really work with an eight month old child. All this, however, is simply semantics. The movie was as good as I had hoped it to be, but as I drove home after dropping off the two guys it hit me: I’m pretty sure I’ve been involved in a game of shadows in my youth ministry this past year.
I’ve really discovered a lot over the past few months. One of the biggest discoveries came recently when it hit me that I’ve been sucked into the most common traps of youth ministry this side of the Mississippi. It started without even a warning. I simply looked around at all the programs, exciting events, and cool activities going on within our church and thought, “Wow, that’s what positive ministry looks like”.
I began brainstorming, and watched as ideas poured forth from my head onto my white board. Each one looked more brilliant then the last. As I did this, I convinced myself that my motivation was right. I thought, “These shiny new programs and events are what will help create the opportunities for relationships and sharing Christ.
Truth is, all I really did was fill up my plate-as well as the plates of those who VOLUNTEERED to minister along side of me. At the end of the year I found my self chasing hard towards an impressive looking ministry. The problem was I would leave at the end of these events wondering, “is this really the way it’s supposed to be?”. Sure, there were tons of students, lots of growth, and loads of fun, but for what purpose?
I look back and wish for the opportunity to do less, but mean more! I am determined to change things around. This game of shadows will confuse me no more. I am resolved to have a ministry driven by purpose. Not just any purpose, but the ONE purpose to which I am called. A Mathew 28 purpose.
Here’s the point: it’s so easy to get trapped by the pace of ministry, the lure of a dynamic program, and constant increase of numbers. It’s good to have a paced ministry, but be sure that the pace is one that ministers not only to students but also your family and yourself. It’s great to have a dynamic program, but understand, it’s not about you, your job, or your own personal success. It’s about making Christ’s name famous.
Lastly, let’s talk numbers. We hear this stuff all the time, and I realize that, but had it not grabbed me so easily I wouldn’t talk about it.
The reality is, Christ will draw people to himself, and He doesn’t need our help. He has invited us into his work, and wants us to be a part of it, but it’s His show. Listen to this carefully, numbers are a sign of positive Christ centered ministry, but not thesign. The power of the Gospel will draw students to it so don’t be so enthralled with numerical growth that it becomes the driving factor for your decision making as a leader. Let the Gospel of Christ lead, and be thankful for the way in which He uses you! Don’t be distracted by the youth ministry game of shadows.
My friend AC was just licensed as a minister and asked me to walk him through our baptism process since it is his 1st baptism this weekend. Going to be great! Here’s what I sent him:
Fill out a baptism card
Before every baptism service we have cards that students fill out with their basic information, as well as a few questions about their faith and spiritual life. Parent permission is required to be baptized in our high school ministry.
Explain what baptism is
Baptism is a symbol of what God has already done in our hearts. He has made us a new creature, He has washed away our sins. This is only possible through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Baptism doesn’t save you, it is normal water and actually nice and warm on a cold night like this — the water is a picture of the cross (the water and the person form a cross), the death (when the person is put under the water) and the resurrection (when the person is brought back up) of Jesus Christ. Today you are identifying yourself as a follower of Jesus Christ and taking this first step of obedience.
Ask everyone to participate
The baptism isn’t just about one person — it is also a time to celebrate and commit to walking alongside them in community as well. We have several traditions in HSM, one being that we all cheer (and join with the rejoicing in Heaven) when someone comes up out of the water. We also take a moment to pray for the person being baptized as well.
Pause for a quick picture break!
Ask the individual questions/testimony
At this point, I like to ask the person being baptized a few questions about the faith and testimony. For sure they need to be able to articulate the basics of their love for Jesus.
The actual words/process of baptism Well, (name) based on your testimony, it is my privilege to baptize you on the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Buried with Him in baptism (put them under the water), raised to walk (bring them up) in newness of life. [everyone cheers!] I like to hug the person being baptized, and then splash a few other people gathered around. Ha!
Invite others to be baptized
As I wrap things up I like the tradition of inviting others to be baptized — it rarely happens right there, but we have baptisms on the first weekend of every month and want to make it a practice to make that known.
Got any questions? Leave it in the comments and I’ll do a FAQ follow-up post!
In this Jan. 17, 2012 photo, contemporary Christian recording artist Jamie Grace poses for a portrait in East Point, Ga. Grace’s song “Hold Me,” featuring TobyMac, is nominated for a Grammy Award for best contemporary Christian music song. (AP Photo/Greg Foster)
ATLANTA (AP) – When Jamie Grace performs music, all of the uncontrollable facial twitches and involuntary body movements called tics become an afterthought.
Tourette’s syndrome has plagued the 20-year-old singer for nearly half of her life. But she hasn’t allowed the incurable neurological condition to completely weaken her faith. Grace says she wants to use her first trip to the Grammys as another platform to share her inspirational story of resolve to motivate others.
“I’m not the only person who has something in their life they can’t control,” said Grace, sitting inside her dorm room where the walls are lined with Johnny Cash posters while the record player plays the country legend’s song “I Walk the Line.”
“It’s all about taking control over what I can control and that’s saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got Tourette’s, but I can also play guitar, I can also sing and write songs about it,’” she said. “Hopefully I can encourage other kids who are going through crazy stuff too.”
Grace’s song “Hold Me,” featuring TobyMac, is nominated for best contemporary Christian music song. She wrote the guitar-driven ballad at a time when she felt lonely in her dorm room at Point University – a small Christian college in suburban Atlanta.
“I saw that there was depth there,” said TobyMac, a Grammy-winning Christian rocker who signed Grace to his label Gotee Records in 2010 after he discovered her through YouTube. He took notice of her when he learned that she posted a three-minute medley on the online website that included 12 of his songs.
TobyMac saw potential in Grace’s airy vocals, her ability to play several instruments and her savvy songwriting. Her constant message of hope and perseverance in songs drove him to introduce himself to her through Twitter.
“She really did intrigue me because she’s writing songs that are meaningful,” he said. “Her songs have light to them and sound like they can be around for a long time. Her songs have heart to them, unlike most songs that have a hooky track or melody. She has a beautiful story to tell through her music.”
It has been a tumultuous road for Grace, who was diagnosed with Tourette’s at the age of 11. When she took medication to combat the repetitive symptoms, she said the medicine caused her to lose her hair and made her feel emotionally inattentive like a “zombie.”
At the time, Grace – known by family and friends as a bubbly character – lost her motivation to sing and thought boys would never find her attractive. She remembered asking God why she had to struggle to walk on her own, couldn’t hold a fork to eat food, or had to wear biker gloves to protect her scared knuckles because she would unconsciously punch things as a result of her Tourette’s.
Mona Harper, the mother and manager of Grace who also homeschooled her, said her daughter would be sick four times a week from the medication.
“She lost her unction to go out in front of people and sing,” said Harper, who is a co-pastor with Grace’s father at Kingdom City Center in suburban Atlanta. “Things regressed for her but she showed a lot of resilience, and wasn’t dismantled by the things that were happening to her. The beauty of it for me is to see her bounce back and not break down.”
Grace’s breakthrough from her somber state came after she heard a testimony by Christian singer Tammy Trent, and her grandfather bought her a drum set when she was 14. She went on to learn how to play the piano, guitar, banjo and the ukulele.
For Grace, music became a stress reliever from her Tourette’s. She realized that her recurring twitch did not happen as often the more she beat her drums, strummed her guitar or sang a melody.
“It’s almost like I’m in another world,” she said. “Everything goes silent and it’s so amazing. … I learned how to manage it through music. I can still follow my dreams and I know that God hasn’t forgotten about me. I just had to pray about it.”
Grace said she had to lean on her faith more since she stopped taking her medication about four years ago. She has learned how to cope with her condition and hasn’t allowed it to have a stronghold over her life.
“If I didn’t have Tourette’s, I don’t think I would be as strong as I am now,” said Grace, who has her own nonprofit mentoring program called GraceTalk. “I wouldn’t have the strength of resilience to speak with the 14-year-old girl who doesn’t feel beautiful.”
In the spring, Grace will graduate with a degree in child and youth development. Along with continuing her musical career, she wants to help families with children who have Tourette’s and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
TobyMac feels strongly about the longevity of Grace’s music career. With her being a young black singer who has an infatuation with country music, can sing R&B and gospel, and can play the acoustic guitar, he expects her to make more appearances at music’s top showcase in the future.
“She’s full of surprises and has all of these different facets,” he said. “She can really make a mark. For her to earn a Grammy (nomination) this early in her career, I think it’s an amazing sign of things to come for her.”
Follow Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/mrlandrum31
This is a quick, easy, simple meeting you can use anytime you want to get your group ready for a service event. Maybe you’re planning a day serving your community this Spring. Or maybe you’re beginning a new service aspect to your entire youth ministry. This is a very direct way to get your students thinking about service. We use this meeting with all The Big Day of Serving churches that chose to serve at a Big Day event