I think I want to rename this one in the honor a great 90's one hit wonder... One of my favorite games in youth ministry is a game called Crossed or Uncrossed also known as Scissors...
Scissors is a neat trick to have in your bag for those down times when everyone is getting bored. Unfortunately, you can not do it more than once with the same group. If you do not have a pair of scissors, two sticks, two pencils or anything which can simulate open or closed scissors will do. Have the group sit in a circle. While passing the scissors to the person on his/her right, the leader says "I receive the scissors (either open or closed) and I pass them (either open or closed)". The person receiving repeats the statement while passing to the next person. The leader (and anyone else who has caught on to the trick) announces if each part of the statement is right or wrong. Continue until everyone can pass the scissors correctly. The trick has nothing to do with the scissors. Open and closed refer to whether the person's legs or feet are crossed (closed) or uncrossed (open) when receiving and passing. This activity usually generates some discussion about the importance of looking past the obvious and thinking creatively. Every time I've seen the game played it lasts quite a while. It is so funny to see the confusion when people think they have it right and they are wrong!
In December of 1997, I started in first paid youth ministry position at Faith United Methodist Church in Lexington, SC. Recently I have looked back at my time there. I have looked at my notes and my talk outlines, and I have really learned a lot. I was getting paid $5,000 a year and had a $500 yearly budget. I had a youth room that doubled as the church preschool during the week. I was a freshman in college and only 18 years old when I started. I had one youth that was 19. But none of that was a discouragement. I was so excited to be in ministry. I was excited to be where God was calling me. I had no clue that I was under paid and that my budget was so small. All I saw was a couple of teenagers that were excited to have me there and ready to learn about God.
I have recently became friends with several of my first group of youth on Facebook and after going through my records I have found my roster of students. I really want to reconnect with as many as possible to hear what they are doing today and see how they are.
After several different ideas that went through my head of what I should blog about today...I thought of a song that I wanted to share. Its an older song that has meant a lot to me and Jessica during the past eight months.
In youth ministry, God daily dares us to move and get out of our comfort zone. Too often we stick with what we know and how we have always done things. Lately God has really been challenging me and several of my youth ministry friends to get out of our comfort zone and do BIG things.
God is always calling us to do BIG things in His name, but too often we are lazy or too comfortable. So today I dare you to move in a different direction. Move out of your comfort zone!
A couple years ago I had several friends who stepped down from their positions in youth ministry after being burned out. Two of them were single and the other was married. They were only getting paid to serve in their church for 40 hours a week, yet they were working 60-80 hours a week every week. They were doing great ministry by going to lunch every day at a different school, running several small groups, going to every after school sporting event, and putting on a great youth program on Sunday nights. They would sometimes take a day off...sometimes they wouldn't. They were going...going...going...but they really weren't taking care of themselves or their families.
It made me look at how I was doing ministry. I saw that at times I would be doing the same thing and putting in that many hours and not taking care of myself. At the time, Jessica and I were just dating. And I knew that if I wanted to ever get married and stay married and still be in youth ministry.
Shortly after that I went to a Youth Specialties event. I really can't remember who spoke and talked about dividing your day into thirds when being in ministry. But whoever it was....THANK YOU!
Basically you look at your events for the week and for each day you divide your day into thirds...Morning, Afternoon, Evening... If you plan on going to Lunch with youth and spending time in the office and have a small group that night...then you take the afternoon off. If you have an afternoon meeting and a chorus concert to attend...then take the morning off. Pretty simple!
At first I had trouble doing this and found myself not doing it every day...but slowly I started blocking my schedule out into thirds and it made life in ministry a lot easier.
Like today...it is Wednesday...so my first third is spending time at home getting things done around the house and spending time with family. I will then go into the office after lunch and do office things before Wednesday night programming...since I won't be home until around 9ish...Tomorrow I have nothing planned for the evening, so I will work in the morning and afternoon and spend my last third at home with my family!
I encourage you if you have trouble balancing life and ministry to try this for a week or a month and see how God really can use you not only in ministry but in your family!
One of my favorite songs is "If we are the Body" by Casting Crowns. I bring this up, because it has been really awesome to see my friends be the Body of Christ lately. I have recently seen on my news feed on Facebook, many of my friends be the Body of Christ. There is no IF with many of my friends...they ARE!
I see so many of my friends serving in roles in Children's Ministry and in Student Ministry. I see my friends giving up their weekends and weekdays to be part of lock-ins, small groups, Trunk or Treats, and so many other great things. All I can say is WOW!
I remember a few years ago when I was speaking and a "friend" from high school came up to me and told me that she was first angered to hear I was speaking at a church event, because she knew how I acted at times in High School, but after hearing how God had changed me she was glad that I was in youth ministry. I have to admit that I have felt the same way when I have seen status updates of some of the people I knew in high school thinking how could they be in church...I knew what they did and who they were in high school and college....and I then go back and remember being told the same thing! And then I just stop and I thank God for turning their lives around like He did for me.
It is so awesome to have social networks where we can share with our friends how we have changed and how we are trying to help God change the world through all these ministries at all this churches. I am so thankful for all of you that read this and for those that don't who are serving all over in volunteer and paid positions in the church. Know that I pray for you all often and that even though we might not be at the same church...we are on the same team!
I have been leading youth worship in my youth groups since 1997 when I first started in youth ministry at Faith United Methodist Church in Lexington, SC. During that first year of youth ministry I knew only a few chords and played really only 3 songs for most of the year...Light the Fire, Peaceful Easy Feeling, and Lord I Lift Your Name on High. It was a great time of worship every week. I think back to other ministries and think of the funny songs and the great worship that happened. I also look at when the music went from doing it for the glory of God to trying to sound like the CD.
The other night I had the chance to lead worship with just me and my guitar. I picked 2 songs that I have not played for a while. It made me think back in time to when it was just me and my guitar leading worship. It made me think about when I wasn't concerned about my singers singing a three part harmony, having a guitar solo, or having the drums start off as they do on the CD. It reminded me of the nights sitting on my porch at my dorms trying to learn worship songs. It took me back to a time where I was running for God and not worrying about who was watching.
We all have those places that we need to reconnect with God. We need to go back to how we used to run with God, but this time run harder and keep our eyes focused on Him. There are many great things that we have done right in our past. Don't forget to review and see what you can reuse or get re-energized!