Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Message: Ninja

How many of you have seen Ninja Warrior? The show with the ninja-like people and the obstacle course, and all the crazy Japanese yelling? Well, for those of you that haven’t, here’s one of the “ninja warriors” in the final stage of the competition:

Now, imagine how hard it would be to do that without any physical training. Do you think it would even be possible? Probably not, right?

Ninjutsu, the martial art used by ninjas, included lots more than just the physical training everyone thinks about. They would often start training as early as five or six to develop the necessary skills. They learned to fight and use weapons. They learned how to accept their own mortality and how to retrieve information from others. They learned strategizing, stealth, and strict adherence to their beliefs.

What could we learn from ninja training? We could learn to focus our minds and work harder. We could learn humility, and we could learn balance. We could learn how to learn from others. But I think the most important thing we can learn is the one word that best describes a ninja’s life—discipline.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

I challenge everyone this week to find some way to train yourself spiritually. Find one thing that you can do to grow closer to God and stronger in your faith. If you’re not good with Bible reading, find ten minutes you can use just to sit down and read a chapter or two a day. Deuteronomy 8:3 says “man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” If you have a weak prayer life, find a quiet spot in the morning or evening, get a prayer book, and read that to help develop strong prayer habits. James 5:16 says “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” For me, I’m going to spend the next few weeks finishing Hebrews 11 for memory, because in Deuteronomy 11:18 God tells us to “lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul.” However you choose to discipline yourself this week, though, remember why you do it—1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Theme Night: Ninja

Challenge: Through this week, find a way to train yourself spiritually. Find one thing that you can do to grow closer to God and stronger in your faith--extending your prayer life, adding an extra ten minutes to your Bible study time, memorizing a new passage, etc.

 Trivia: Ninja

Bible Passage: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Message: Spiritual discipline

  • Ninja: "Players stand in a circle. Players take turns, going around the circle. The player who is up can make one quick motion in order to slap the hand of another player. The motion must last not much more than 1 second. The player freezes in the position he or she ends in. The player being assaulted must try, also with one quick move, to evade being hand-slapped. This move must also last not much more than 1 second and the player then freezes in whatever position he or she ends in. If a players' hand is slapped, they are eliminated from the circle. If a players' move is not swift and quick, they are eliminated from the circle. Optional: Players are eliminated if they try to evade an attack when the attacker was really attacking someone else."
  • Tunnel Relay: "Teams race against each other while lined up in relay formation. All players spread their legs in straddle position and the last player from each team crawls through the legs. The next player follows in turn until the team is back into original formation. As soon as a player has crawled through the tunnel, they are to stand up so the next player can get through his legs. The first team that completes the order is the winner."

Theme Night: Murder

Purpose: To teach students that we are called by God not only to keep from killing others, but also to keep from holding grudges and being angry

Challenge: Staying angry at someone violates the fifth commandment. This week, find someone you’ve been holding a grudge against and go out of your way to forgive them.

Trivia: Biblical deaths

Message: Holding Grudges and the Fifth Commandment

Bible Texts: 1 John 3:12-16, Exodus 20:13

  •  Mafia
  • Handshake Murder: One person is chosen to be the “murderer”. When the game begins, everyone shakes hands with others. The murderer scratches the hands of those he/she shakes hands with. After a victim’s hand is scratched, they must shake hands with 3 people (more or less depending on number of players) before “dying” (dramatically!). Someone can guess who the murderer is, but if they guess incorrectly, they die as well. Dead victims may not guess. The murderer wants to be as subtle as possible in order to not be caught. The game ends when the murderer is identified or only two people (the murderer and one other) are left standing.
  • Dramatic Death Competition: The students with the most dramatic fake death wins!
Supplies Necessary:
  • Deck of cards

Monday, August 6, 2012

Theme Night: Potty Talk

This night was designed to teach students to guard their words and show their faith in how they speak.

Challenge: Guard your words this week—when you catch yourself using “potty talk”, step back and think!

Trivia: Toilet

Message: “Potty Talk—Keeping Your Mouth Clean”

  • Toilet Brush Hockey: Played with a Wiffle ball or crushed can and toilet brushes (2-5 players per team)
  • Bobbing for Turds: Bobbing for tootsie rolls or Snickers in water dyed yellow (one bucket per team)
  • Fill the Potty: Set up two buckets with toilet seats on top, give each team several rolls of toilet paper, and fill a bucket with water (or use a bucket from last game). Students must take turns throwing wads of wet toilet paper into the “toilet”, and whichever team fills their “toilet” first (or has “toilet” filled most after certain amount of time)receives five points.
  • Toilet Paper Bride: Students choose one person on their team to dress as a bride, using only toilet paper. Winning team receives five points.

Supplies Needed:
  • Three buckets
  • Two toilet seats
  • Tootsie rolls or bite-size Snickers
  • Lots of toilet brushes (10?)
  • Lots of toilet paper
  • Yellow food coloring
  • One Wiffle ball

Theme Night: Junk Food

This night was designed to teach students to treat their bodies as a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Challenge: This week, treat your body as a temple by not filling it with junk. Come back next week with a story about how you made your body God’s temple.

Trivia: Fast food

Message: Body is a temple of the Holy Spirit

  • Baby Food Hot Potato
  • Blend-o-Rama: 2 bags of random ingredients are placed in front of 2 students (no allergies, strong stomachs). The students have to blend all ingredients in the bag. The first one to drink the blend without regurgitating wins 10 points for their team.
  • Bobbing for spam: Like bobbing for apples, but with spam
  • Eat That Food: Students bet each other that they can eat a gross combination of foods (up to ten). Example: "I can eat that cracker and a sardine." "I can eat that cracker, a sardine, and a jalapeƱo." and so on until someone says "Eat that food!" If the one eating manages to finish the food without vomiting, they receive a number of points equal to the number of foods they combined.

Supplies Necessary:
  • Baby food (2 jars, really gross—beets, green beans, peas, etc.)
  • 2 blenders
  • 2 paper bags
  • Random ingredients (yogurt, hot sauce, frozen veggies, candy, etc.) for blending
  • 2 buckets
  • 5 or so cans of spam
  • Lots of random foods (20 or so, all in small amounts) (Ex. Sardines, jalapeƱos, peanut butter, etc.)

Theme Night: Idols

This night was designed to teach students how the commandment "Have no other gods before me" can relate to modern-day life.

Challenge: Think of something in your life that you feel is taking up time you should be spending with God (TV, internet, doing your hair, etc.). For the next week, limit the time you would normally spend on that and use it to grow closer to God (through prayer, reading your Bible, etc.). Come back next week and tell us what effect it had.

Trivia: Idols in the Bible

Message: Modern-day Idols

  • Celebrity Charades: Like regular charades, but doing celebrity impersonations
  • Youth Group Idol: Like American Idol, this game needs a panel of judges—one to four, depending on the size of your group—and a number of willing students. Instead of traditional American Idol songs, use songs like
    • The Barney theme song
    • I’m a Little Teapot
    • Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
    • Jesus Loves Me
    • Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • Who’s My Idol?: Everyone writes down the name of someone they could call their “idol”—a famous historical figure, an actor or sports celebrity, or a popular politician. Then have them tape the name on the back of the person on their left. Everyone goes around and asks people yes or no questions about who is on their back. They can only ask each person one question at a time.

Theme Night: Feet, Feet, Feet!

This night can be focused around one or two purposes: to teach students to serve others, or to teach them to share the Gospel.

Challenge: Walk outside your comfort zone this week to share God’s love. Next week, tell us what you did and how it affected you.

Trivia: Feet

Message: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news”, or Jesus washing the disciples’ feet

  • Hunt the Marble: Place three marbles in a large bucket of ice water. Before revealing the bucket, ask for three barefoot volunteers to compete in the game. Each competitor is then timed as they try to get all the marbles out of the bucket using just a bare foot.
  • Pass the Lemon: The students line up seated on the floor. They have to pass a lemon along the line and back using only their feet. If the lemon touches the floor, they have to start over again. (Could also use tennis ball)
  • People Minus Feet: Each team tries to stand on as few feet as possible. The one on the fewest feet wins.

Supplies Needed:
  • Bucket
  • Ice
  • Lemon or tennis ball

Theme Night: Bride of Christ

This night was designed to help students better understand what it means that the Church is the bride of Christ.

Challenge: When you find it difficult to be around certain other Christians, remember they are part of the bride of Christ, and respond to them with that in mind. Tell us next week how this affected your interaction with someone.

Trivia: Romantic Bible Facts

Message: Church as the bride of Christ, Hosea and Gomer

  • Toilet Paper Bride: Divide into teams, dress one student per team as a bride in toilet paper, points to best dressed.
  • Valentine Candy Mixer: Pass out candy hearts to everyone, then have each group come up with a poem or funny story using what it says on their hearts.
  • Four (Three) on a Couch: Put names in hat and pass out so everyone has a different name. The goal of the game is to get four (three) girls or four (three) guys on the couch. The person on the right of empty chair/spot calls the name of a game participant. The person whose piece of paper has the called name sits in the empty chair. Whoever sits on the right of the new empty chair calls out another name.
  • Honey, If You Love Me

Supplies Necessary:
  • Toilet paper rolls (2 or 3 per team)
  • Valentine candy hearts
  • Paper

Theme Night: Baby Food

This night was designed to challenge students to grow spiritually, moving from spiritual "Baby Food" on to spiritual "meat".

Challenge: Find out one way you are a “baby” in your faith. Do you have a weak prayer life? Do you need to read more of your Bible, or memorize more? Are you struggling with a certain sin? Tell someone else—you can tell the whole group or pull aside a leader afterwards—and have them keep you accountable for growing in it.

Trivia: Baby Trivia

Message: Milk Vs. Meat (Spiritual Growth)

  • Baby Food Hot Potato: Like Hot Potato, but the student who ends up with the baby food has to take a bite! (Keep a trash can ready for regurgitation, and use separate spoons for each student.)
  • Baby Bottle Burp: Two “parents” put a diaper around their “babies”, then sit them on their lap and feed them a baby bottle of soda (no more than half full), then make them burp. The first baby to burp receives 5 points for their team!
  •  Diapered Relay: Students have to put on a diaper (adult diapers or make-shift , go through an obstacle course crawling like a baby, return to their teammates (still crawling!), pass off the diaper, and so on until the entire team has finished. First team to finish receives 5 points!

Supplies Necessary:
  • Baby food
  • Plastic spoons
  • 1 pack adult diapers (or towels and tape)
  • Soda
  • 2 baby bottles

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Philosophy of Ministry

The following is a paper detailing my personal philosophy for structuring youth and family ministry. It was written for a class called Foundations of Youth Ministry, and I hope it becomes a helpful resource for some of my followers. This philosophy shapes how I intend to structure not only any youth ministry programs I begin, but also Children's Church, Sunday School, and any other forms of family ministry I work with. The ultimate goal of any and all of these ministries is to glorify God and lead others to Christ, and while the details of my philosophy are still being honed and refined, I pray it can be a blessing to someone. Please enjoy!

The biggest influence on my philosophy for youth and family ministry was my youth leader during senior year in high school. Rich Short and his wife Melissa took me under their wing and helped me to grow, not only as a student but also as a leader. They each built strong personal relationships with me that helped me grow and see what the life of a Christian and youth leader was supposed to look like. Melissa mentored me in Bible studies and one-on-one talks, and Rich helped me grow by teaching me in a career practicum, allowing me to lead youth nights and Bible studies, and helping me prepare for future youth ministry situations such as going through interviews, organizing fundraisers, and leading retreats or mission trips. One thing he told me while at the beginning of my practicum has shaped my philosophy more than anything else: “Youth ministry can be summed up in three words: relationships, relationships, relationships.” By this, he meant that youth ministry is not dependent on programming, but rather on the relationships built through programming.
Three of the books we read in class also strongly influenced the shaping of my philosophy—Purpose Driven Youth Ministry by Doug Fields, Four Views of Youth Ministry and the Church (Inclusive Congregational approach by Malan Nel), and Family-Based Youth Ministry by Mark Devries. In Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, the biggest influence on my philosophy was the visual representation of spiritual levels and the necessity of drawing students deeper into the next level. A large part of my philosophy is a rewrite of this—I redefined the levels identified by Doug Fields and established a different way to draw students to a deeper level. The emphasis on partnering with families in Family-Based Youth Ministry made me realize, as I had not noticed before, just how important the family is in raising a child in faith. Malan Nel’s Inclusive Congregational approach was also particularly helpful through the concept of making the congregation “comprehensive but differentiated”—helping me understand that youth need to be an inherent part of the church but also require the chance to grow separately.
Youth, by my definition, are an integrated and inherent part of the congregation and need to have ownership in the church but also need an identity separate from the children and adults in the congregation. They require a safe environment in which to grow and develop into independent Christian adults. In order to develop as such, they must take responsibility in the church by leading others, and they need to be influenced by mentors and role models within the church. In doing so, the students can fulfill the purpose of youth ministry, which is to provide them with an opportunity to become leaders and take responsibility in the church, as well as allowing them their own place to grow and identify themselves apart from the adults and children in the congregation.
Paul’s mentorship of Timothy (especially as depicted in 1 Timothy) had a particular influence on my biblical pillars. Of course, 1 Timothy 4:12 was a foundational pillar, as it is a reminder for students to view themselves as leaders and examples to others regardless of their age. 1 Timothy 5:1-2 establishes boundaries for the relationships youth should have with other members of the congregation through Paul’s reminder that Timothy should respect his elders and live as pure examples for younger students and congregation members. In Proverbs 1:5, youth are reminded that they are to “listen and add to their learning”—each member of the congregation (and particularly the youth) should make a constant effort to grow in faith and knowledge of spiritual matters. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 is a reminder to parents that they should be teaching the faith to their children and partnering with the church in order to do so, rather than depending on the church to be the sole source for the child’s spiritual foundation. Finally, in regards to youth as a part of the congregation, Romans 12:4-8 serves to remind students that they are an inherent part of the congregation and as such should function with the intent of using their gifts to further the goals of the congregation.
Concerning my vision, the visual representation based on that of Doug Fields can be found on the back page. This target-like image portrays a series of levels through which students must be taken in order to grow into mature Christian adults. They are arranged from least to most spiritually mature beginning at the outermost level, and can be explained as following:
·         Disinterested/neutral youth are those uninterested in matters of faith. They may occasionally attend youth events because they are “fun” or because they have friends who attend, but personally these students are completely passive when it comes to spiritual issues.
·         Observer students are slightly more involved than those at the “disinterested/neutral” level. Occasionally they may attend events for entertainment purposes, and at other times they may attend out of genuine spiritual curiosity. These youth are often seeking mentors after whom they can model their faith, values, and behaviors.
·         Youth in the faith of mentors category may profess the faith that they have been taught and follow the values of their mentors (whether parents, peers, or leaders in the church), but they have not wrestled with their faith and made it their own yet. Many students raised in a church family begin in this stage and move to the next level at different ages. (My siblings and I, for example, were raised in the church, but we each took ownership of our faith at different times—I was in third grade when I personally accepted Christ, but my younger brother did not until he was thirteen.)
·         The next level youth can reach is taking ownership of faith. These students are those that have wrestled with the faith that has been presented to them, going beyond what they have been taught, and have chosen to accept this faith as their own.
·         Finally, those of the youth which have taken ownership of their faith can choose to grow into mature Christian adults and begin the next step of mentorship—helping others grow and progress through the levels of faith until they, too, have reached this final level.
The first three levels are fluid in the sense that not every youth progresses through all of them. Many students spend their whole life in the church—implying that they begin at the observer level, if not the faith of mentors. Others are raised with little to no contact with the church, beginning at the disinterested/neutral state, or possibly at the observer level. Nonetheless, each student does begin at some point on this continuum, and the youth ministry is intended to identify which level each student is in. From there, leaders, volunteers, and mentors within the ministry can build individual relationships with the students and encourage them to grow in their faith by wrestling with difficult questions. Leaders in the ministry also will partner with the parents in order to encourage growth in the students, and each student will be encouraged to use his or her gifts to serve in the congregation and become a leader in some way.
In order to maintain a “comprehensive but differentiated” youth ministry (as articulated by Malan Nel), I would like to provide several different forms of Bible studies. The first form would be an all-inclusive Bible study that allows students and parents, males and females, young and old to learn together outside of the Sunday morning church service. Second, Bible studies separated by gender and age would be provided in order to feed different needs in students and families. Also, to the best of my ability, I would place students in some form of service within the church in order to best fit Romans 12—if a young woman had particular skills with young children, she could help in the nursery; if a young man were well-versed in the guitar (and not likely to become egotistical about his skills), he could play on the praise team; if a student was uncomfortable around people but good with manual work, he or she could help with cleaning the sanctuary or mowing the church grass.
I would also like to incorporate two remaining programs/activities, both related to building relationships with the students and mentoring them. First, weekly young nights and fun activities would be maintained in order to give disinterested/neutral or observer students the opportunity to develop relationships with volunteers and leaders, so these volunteers and leaders could become mentors for them and help lead them into the next level of spiritual development. Second, for regularly attending students, I would partner each with a mentor willing and able to walk with him or her spiritually throughout his middle and high school years. Each mentor would be spiritually strong in his/her own right, constantly available for the student, and willing to partner with student’s parents in order to foster strong spiritual development in the student.
In conclusion, my philosophy is best summarized as this: Youth ministry is a stepping stone for youth to become leaders, learn independence, and use their talents and abilities take part in ownership of the church. Youth ministry within the church is intended to be a resource to assist parents in teaching their children to fear and love God. Parents and the church are to be partners, working together to cultivate spiritually strong youth that will grow into spiritually strong adults to take leadership in and ownership of the church.

I hope this was beneficial to you. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please let me know and I will attempt to address them. Thank you, and God's blessings!