Youth Ministry Resources Archives

For pastors and volunteers in youth ministry today, there is no glossing over the fact that many teens identify with a homosexual or bisexual lifestyle. Just a couple of decades ago, you would have been hard-pressed to find a teenager who admitted to being gay — even if they were secretly leading a homosexual lifestyle. The culture of today has changed that, yielding acceptance and support to individual sexual identity. Chances are you have gay teenagers in youth group at church. So how do you handle it?

We’ve been called to lead teenagers into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Period. The End. We all know what the Word says. Even non-Christians are aware of the Bible’s verbage concerning homosexuality. It’s wrong…no if’s, and’s or but’s. However, so is every other sin. In fact, all of us have sinned. Whether it was a homosexual lifestyle, sleeping with a significant other before marriage or holding unforgiveness in our hearts, all of us have come short of the glory of God. So what changes us? What compels us to lead a lifestyle pleasing to God?

I dare say it is the unfailing love of our savior. A savior who never condoned our sin, but instead loved us through it. He loves every person…including people who are gay. Love is a powerful thing. Love can move mountains. Most of us were changed and transformed into the new creations we are today because we had an encounter with God’s love. Gay teens need the same thing — they need to know they are loved. They need to know that someone — you — sees them for more than the sin in their lives.

In fact, gay teens may need love even more than most other kids their age. According to the Centers for Disease Control, LGBT youth are more likely than heterosexual teens to report being bullied or abusing substances. Teens who questions their sexuality are also more likely to be teased, miss school, report depression and even engage in suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

How to Minister to Gay and Lesbian Teenagers

The teen years are tumultuous and all about finding independence and identity. Teenagers are heavily influenced by the messages around them and can carry hurts and soul wounds for a lifetime. That is why finger-pointing and chastising doesn’t work and never will. Instead, a youth minister must walk the line of speaking truth into the life of a gay teenager, but doing so in love and grace.

If you need help learning how to address gay, lesbian and bisexual teens in your youth ministry, Ministering to Gay Teenagers by Shawn Harrison is an excellent resource. Available as a digital download or hard copy, this book will help you learn how to:

  • Respond when one of the students in your church youth group ‘comes out’
  • Answer the ‘tough’ questions so often ignored by the church
  • Help a teen’s family as their teen identifies with or participates in a homosexual lifestyle
  • Practically serve and minister to LGBT teens in love and truth

Youth leaders, please read this book. It will lay out the framework for ministry to gay teens and also help you learn to look beyond the surface and into the issues affecting each individual teenager’s life. As this issue becomes a growing part of today’s culture, the kids you minister to today and in the future are relying on you to learn God’s heart for LGBT teens.


Ministering to Gay Teenagers by Shawn Harrison

 

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It’s an argument as old as church itself — when is the best time to hold youth service? After all, you want to leverage your time to be appealing to both parents and teens, but you may not want to interfere with family time or other events. There are very good arguments for many different times to have youth services. Though it is impossible for everyone to agree, we here at M2Y have compiled some information that may help you in making your decision. But remember, ultimately you will need to make a decision that works best according to your personal and church schedule.

Single Youth Services vs. Multiple Weekly Services

In planning the time of week for youth services, few youth pastors are lucky enough to pick a time without encountering concerns, complaints or downright opposition from staff members, parents, and the worst — senior staff members who are also parents. If your plotted time doesn’t bode well with everyone, the people-pleaser in you may decide it’s best to hold multiple weekly services. And that’s okay…if, and only if you have the time, energy, support and dedication to pour into your teens and services whole-heartedly more than once every seven days. Coasting by isn’t going to cut it, and your teens will notice if you are showing up with poorly prepared messages or sloppy planning. In our opinion, do one thing and do it right. If you are doing your job well and not ‘running on fumes’, others will adapt their schedules to fit yours.  On the other hand, if you are overflowing with helpful adult leadership and have more than enough time to hold multiple weekly services (we call you the one percent around here), then go for it!

Breaking it Down – Day by Day

Sunday Morning

Many churches adopt Sunday morning youth services, though we here at M2Y only recommend them for Sunday School purposes and in addition to another main youth service. The truth is that teens don’t like getting up early and are less likely to attend Sunday morning – especially if they do not attend church with their families. Also, teenagers are old enough and fully capable of worshipping with adults in the main Sunday morning service.

Sunday Night

Sunday night is a popular night for youth services and is also one of our favorites. The reason? Kids have had time to unwind after a week of school and are less likely to have homework than they are on Wednesday nights or prior plans than they are on Saturday nights. Plus, youth service is fresh on their minds after being reminded at Sunday morning church service. The downside? They have school the next day and parents may want to reserve Sundays for family night.

Wednesday Night

Wednesdays are perhaps the most popular night of all for youth services, but why? More and more churches are getting away from mid-week services due to scheduling conflicts. Instead, they are opting for a small group format that seems to work well and also foster relationship among church members. Kids often have after-school commitments, sporting events, and homework that gets in the way of regular Wednesday attendance. If you are itching for a mid-week gathering, try a small group format, fellowship or Bible study.

Saturday Night

Like Sunday nights, Saturdays are popular nights for youth service – especially among larger churches. Our advice? Go with a Saturday service if you have a youth ministry that your teens are itching to come to week after week. There’s no school the next day, and you’ll benefit when teens are at church rather than hanging out late into the night without adult supervision. Keep in mind, however, that Saturday nights are sacred to most teenagers. If your youth services aren’t up to par – they probably won’t show up. It’s nothing personal, except that their social lives are a high priority (right up there with breathing and sleep).

 

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Welcome to 2012, the time when more and more people (specifically young people) are attending church online. Whether you agree with it or not, the fact is — it’s happening. But instead of fighting it by trying to push teens through the door every Sunday or Wednesday, take advantage of it. This is a whole new opportunity to reach the teens in and around your community. No, that doesn’t mean it’s an excuse for your students to just stop showing up. But, rather, you can market this as an outreach to your closest mission field.

Assuming you have a youth group website or church website, (if not — stop now, and set up Easy Web Hosting $6.95) you have the power to drive students and parents to the site, and eventually through your doors using podcasting or, preferrably, video streaming. The beauty of live video streaming is in the connections. You can link to archives of previous youth services, as well as announcements or worship. These videos are easily linked to from your Facebook page, where students may choose to share the videos with other friends who, perhaps, do not currently attend your services.

If other students in your community start watching your services online, you may not see their faces personally at first, but after a few weeks of watching, don’t be surprised if some start showing up in person — especially when you host special event nights..

Cheap Video Streaming

It’s no secret that youth groups are on a budget. The cheapest (Read: FREE) way to video stream is by recording your services, and then posting them to YouTube. As you well know, YouTube videos are easily linked on Facebook, and they can be embedded into your website with some simple HTML code that you get right from the YouTube website once your video has been uploaded. You can start acquiring channel subscribers on YouTube who return to watch additional messages, skits, etc. in the future.

If you would rather produce higher quality videos that look professional, you can use a video streaming services, or learn more about online streaming with a written guide. There are several of them out there. Check your local book store, or if you have the patience to wait two days for shipping, you could probably save a lot of money ordering through Amazon. The Streaming Media Bible is a great option, although there are many products that could help your stream cast your church services.

It’s All About the Kids

In the end, it doesn’t matter whether the students in your community ever darken your youth ministry doors. What does matter is that they get to know and accept Jesus Christ in a personal relationship. You could be the very person who helps change their lives the most, and not even know it.

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It is that time of year again when our loyal seniors make the leap from high school into college, and we — along with parents — hope that all we have taught them over the past several years will stick with them throughout some of the most difficult and tempting years of their lives. So how can you make the transition from youth group to college as smooth as possible?

Help with the Transition to College Ministry

If your students will be attending a local community college or going straight into the workforce, try helping them connect with the college ministry leader at your church. Throw a college/senior social to help students get to know some of the college kids at your church. If your kids will be moving away, try helping them connect with a college ministry near their new college campuses.

Equip Your Students with Christian Resources for College

Chances are, you or your church performs some type of senior recognition at the end of each school year (If not, try organizing one this year). Instead of giving them a certificate or a shiny new Bible, try providing your seniors with books that are designed to help them through the difficult circumstances they may face in college. We suggest “Make College Count” although you may find other resources at your local bookstore or on Amazon. To make it personal, write a personal note of encouragement to each student to be placed on the inside cover of the book. You never know when those kind words could be just what your students need when they are in a dorm room far away from home.

Help Your Students Find Their Identities

The college years are a time of soul searching for all students. Your teenagers will begin to search within themselves for answers to life’s most important questions. They may begin searching for purpose, or may even begin questioning why they believe what they believe. This is a normal part of growing up, but you can help guide them in the right direction by encouraging your teenagers to begin determining who they really are before they exit your youth ministry. Give students your personal phone number to reach you or another youth leader any time with questions or for prayer — even after they have left your ministry.

Conclusion

Ultimately, every teenager in your youth ministry will embark on an independent journey in life. Although we wish the best, we know that everyone makes mistakes. Above all, be loving and patient with previous students throughout their college years. The Bible promises that “He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it!”

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Nothing will make a teenager yawn faster than hearing you ask them to turn to Leviticus. While it’s no secret that some of the oldest books of the Bible seem less exciting and make less sense to young people than Acts or Romans, those books hold a treasure of scriptures that set the foundation of our faith. So how does a youth pastor making teaching the old testament to teenagers more exciting? Even more, how do you get teenagers to start researching the scriptures themselves?

Fascinate Them

Teenagers like to be wowed. Actually, adults like to be wowed too. As humans, we love the extraordinary – especially when it unfolds right in front of our eyes. Try giving you students a handful of scientific scriptures. Ask them to determine why those scriptures are so significant to us today. For example, in Job 26, scripture says that God hung the Earth on nothing – which proves scientifically correct. But how did Job know this fact? Again, Isaiah states that the Earth is round. Students know the story of Columbus and the general belief that the Earth was flat for thousands of years after Isaiah made his statements.

Answer Their Questions

Because the Old Testament is made up of ancient scripture, many students wonder why certain scrolls made it into the Bible and others did not. What was the process for determining which scriptures were the inspired Word of God, and which ones were not? If Elijah was a man of God, why did he cause 52 boys to be mauled by bears just for calling him “baldy.” Try promoting a series on the Old Testament by encouraging students to write down their questions and put them in a box in the weeks leading up to the series. They will be more likely to show up to services if they are already interested in what you are talking about.

When in Doubt, Get Help

If you need to teach the Old Testament to your youth group, but don’t have the first clue as to where to start, consider using the Rooted youth series. It is a six-week study designed to help teenagers understand the importance of the Old Testament and what it means for us today. It answers all the tough questions for you, including why the Bible doesn’t mention dinosaurs, why the Bible isn’t just another religious book and how the Old Covenant affects our New Covenant. Even more, Rooted explains the difference between the books and divides the Old Testament in to the poetic books, the prophetic books, the Torah and the historical books. The best part? Rooted is about $29, which is less than $5 per lesson – and it’s both downloadable and available by mail. Get it here: Rooted – Old Testament – Download

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The New Year is upon us, and you may be re-evaluating youth ministry in the new year. Perhaps you’re looking for ways to freshen up your ministry, or maybe you need a complete overhaul. Either way, we’ve got some tips for making this year the best year ever for your youth group.

Start the Year with a Bang

As your students come back after Christmas break, don’t wait until school starts to get your youth ministry hopping again. Start the year with a bang by scheduling a New Year’s party. We suggest a new year lock-in. If your church isn’t a good location, do a lock-in at a local gym or a willing volunteer’s home. Schedule a lot of fun lock-in activities. Our picks include a scavenger hunt and a lot of fun Xbox Kinect games. There are a lot of party games for lock-ins, so take a look on Amazon for some deals, as well as a variety of Kinect games.

Get Your Resources in Check

Make sure you’re ready to tackle the new year with your group by getting your resources in check. This means finding a couple of good websites to follow for great ideas, as well as scheduling a couple of youth pastor conferences during the year for refreshers. We also recommend subscribing to a Group Magazine Subscription (1 Year) – 6 Physical Issues. They are full of ideas relevant to today’s youth ministry. You’ll find youth camps, retreat ideas, sermon ideas, volunteer resources and more freebies in their magazine. And at $2.49 an issue, we consider it a bargain.

Try Something New

This year, instead of sticking with the same old tired way of doing ministry, why not beef it up by adding some variety to your services. For example, if in the past you just showed up with a sermon on Wednesday night, why not plan out your entire year by themes. We recommend something different each month. Do a four-week series each month on a particular topic. February is a good time to discuss all things love and dating with teenagers. Other theme ideas include missions, tough issues (depression, divorce, etc), the cross, prayer, honor, and just about any other topic you can think of. Be sure to promote each series with posters, post cards, information on your website, funny skits, media and games. If you have the resources, end each series with a fun event night that kids can bring friends to and you can promote the next series at.

Find Some Filler

Free up your time and reduce stress by anticipating the moments during the year when business can prevent you from having a well-prepared service. Instead of throwing something together or having a game night with no spiritual substance, go ahead and create five or six filler services that are ready when you need them. That way, if you have a family emergency or a busy week at the church, you’ll seem very well prepared despite your lack of time and energy.

Our suggestions for great filler include the Nooma – Nooma Pick 6 from Rob Bell, or one of the Simply Youth Ministry complete sermons from Doug Fields. They add a lot of new sermons throughout the year and are available for immediate download, complete with a message, media and youth outlines. Want some ideas that really make an impact? Try the One Month to Live – Download, which teaches teens about living as though you only had one month left on this Earth.

Renew Your Relationship with Your fVolunteers

Volunteers are the oft-too-forgotten part of our ministries. The simple truth is, they want to be a lot more involved than you think, but they also want to be thanked. Instead of only scheduling volunteer meetings with instructional information, have monthly appreciation gatherings at your home. Try a pot-luck and game night to bond with your team. Pray together, and toss around ideas. They’ll appreciate feeling more a part of the direction of the ministry, rather than a herd of cattle being pushed in a single direction.

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Can you believe it’s already time to start thinking about youth pastor conferences 2012? Maybe you’re back for more because you visited one of the Youth Pastor Conferences we recommended in a previous post. Or maybe you are new to youth ministry and need some ideas for getting your church group on the road to success. Just like before, we narrowed down our recommendations for the best youth ministry conferences around for 2012. Take a look at each one to see which one fits your needs best. All will attempt to help you grow as a youth minister, and the encouragement you leave with will spill over into your ministry to touch the hearts and lives of the teens you minister to. And while you’re waiting for the next conference, get a nice refresher with Scott Aughtmon’s AWESOME e-book, Lasting Student Ministry. We like to think of it as a youth conference in a box.

  • Orange Conference known as OC12, April 25 – 27, 2012 in Atlanta – this conference is gaining steam among youth workers. It always features functional and practical breakout workshops on topics that matter to youth pastors. Some of our favorites from the past covered topics like planning for youth group Sunday, motivating youth group volunteers, using social media for your ministry connections, dealing with special needs and a number of other subjects. Registration is already open and starts at $239 for an individual or $219 for groups. Check it out at WhatIsOrange.org
  • Simply Youth Ministry Conference 2012 known as SYMC 2012, March 2 – 5 in Louisville – perhaps the most well-known of all youth pastor conferences, this one will knock your socks off. It is associated with Group publishing and Simply Youth Ministry and is absolutely top of the line. It’s great for networking and learning about the latest in youth ministry software and trends, such as the ever-popular Live Curriculum. 2012 conference speakers include Francis Chan, Matt McCage, Duffie Robbins, Tim Schmoyer and loads more. You’ll also be entertained by Shane and Shane, The Skit Guys and Jeremy Camp.  Check it out at SimplyYouthMinistry.com
  • National Youth Workers Convention 2012 known as NYWC 2012 – The dates and conferences prices aren’t yet published for this conference, but it isn’t one to be missed. It typically takes place in a couple of cities between end of September and mid-November, with registration opening sometime at the end of July. NYWC is all about refreshing youth pastors with the rest and encouragement they need. Yes, you’ll still get equipped for ministry through the main sessions and countless breakout workshops (for 2011 they had 80!), but you’ll also get to hang out with a lot of other people who do the same thing you do. NYWC also features late night comedy and hang-out time, so you don’t want to miss this one. Check it out at NYWC.com
  • Unleash Conference at New Spring Church, March 8, 2012 in Anderson, South Carolina – this is a one day youth pastor conference in 2012 located a couple hours north of Atlanta. It packs a full conference into a one-day event for the youth pastor on a budget or time crunch. Registration is super cheap – starting at $49 for the early bird rate – and the conference is beneficial for all church leaders, rather than just youth pastors. Check it out at Unleash.cc
  • Youth Pastor Summit 2012, March 5-6 in Orlando – this one is a lot of fun. Yes, it’s in Orlando, so it’s a great excuse to slip over to Disney or Universal theme parks for some fun. Best of all, it’s free. The conference is located at both the Hard Rock LIVE in the Universal theme parks and at First Baptist Orlando. The first day of the conference features morning sessions, free lunch from ChickFilA and live bands. You’ll then have the afternoon and evening to enjoy in the Universal Studios theme park for free. Day two features more sessions and some praise and worship. No doubt you’ll leave refreshed. Check it out at StudentLeadership.net.
  • Seeds Conference 2012, March 7 – 9 in Tulsa – Seeds is a really state-of-the-art conference for the entire church staff. Church on the Move used to do multiple conferences for each ministry of the church, and then decided to combine them all into one superconference with separate tracks for youth ministers, childrens pastors, lead pastors, etc.  Check it out at SeedsConference.com

For more youth pastor resources, check out Teen Life Ministries (lessons, small group studies, devotionals, discussion starters). And if you’re ministry could use a little help in the media department, take a look at Christian Teen World. For a low monthly fee, you get access to two sermons per week, an archive full of over 100 previous messages, teacher lesson outlines, student lesson outlines, fully illustrated powerpoints to go along with each lesson, group icebreakers, handouts, lessons on incorporating social media into your ministry, wallpapers, classroom materials and more. We highly recommend it – especially if you aren’t a full time youth pastor or need help due to time issues.

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So it’s already time to throw your teenagers a group Christmas party and you don’t know how you’re going to top last year’s gathering. You’ve already exhausted the white elephant game and you can only handle watching Elf so many times. What’s a person to do? Well, there’s always Holiday Charades and the traditional Christmas trivia, but how can you spice it up…as in, keep your teenagers awake and participating? Well, we’d like to think we’ve assembled a pretty great list of Christmas party game ideas here…feel free to read through them and add your own ideas at the bottom. Also, don’t forget to take a look at our first post about planning a Christmas party from last year.

Christmas Carol Karaoke

Grab a karaoke machine and start playing your favorite holiday tunes. Whether it’s a solo competition, group style or lip synching, judge each performance on a scale of  one to five, with one being a “lump of cole,” two being a  “fruit cake,” three being an “ugly Christmas sweater,” four being a “cup of hot chocolate” and five being a “new iPad under your Christmas tree.” Well, you get the point. Just make it fun.

Holiday Costume Party

Remember that candy-induced holiday just a few weeks back? What was the name of that again? Oh yeah, Halloween. Here’s a thought…why only dress up for Halloween? Why don’t you host a holiday costume party and tell everyone to come dressed as their favorite holiday character. The possibilities are endless. From Santa and the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, to the Grinch and Scrooge, the possibilities are endless. And it’s just one more way to spice up your Christmas party.

Human Christmas Tree

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but if you need further elaboration, here it goes. Pick a few teens to “decorate” as human Christmas trees. Divide a group of kids into teams of five and hand them a strand of Christmas lights, tinsel, garland, ornaments and popcorn strands to decorate their “trees.” Put two minutes on the clock and have them light up their trees at the end. Take a vote on the best trees and hand out awards.

Did you like this post? Let others know about it. Share us on Facebook. And while you’re at it, subscribe to our blog’s rss feed for regular updates. And feel free to share more of your own ideas for Christmas party games for teenagers in the comments section below.

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Youth Group Facebook Page Optimization

We just finished discussing in Part One of this two-part post series about how Facebook is one of the biggest tools in your youth ministry arsenal. It is a powerhouse for reaching out to students and parents – whether or not they attend your youth group. You absolutely, 100 percent need a youth group Facebook page. It gives your students a sense of community and a place online to share their experiences, youth group photos and get support from each other. But enough of why you need the page – if you’re reading part two of this series, you already have one and now you just want to know how to get your students active on the page. If you don’t have a page, visit Part One for the set-up tutorial before continuing on this page.

The first step to getting more people active on your youth group’s Facebook page is to get more people to actually like the page. You also need to retain those people and keep them active on the site. If you took our advice in section one, you were able to Create a custom Facebook page in minutes with North Social apps. This is a breeze, because it’s as simple as creating a quick landing page and incentives that gets users to like your page. However, there are more ways:

  • run a Facebook “like” competition (give away a free t-shirt randomly for every 100 likes you receive)
  • create a YouTube channel with recent messages and announcement videos. Link to your Facebook page.
  • Offer special discounts on youth group products and trips for Facebook fans only.
  • Regularly post to your youth group page’s wall about upcoming services – leave cliff hangers that they can only find out the answer to if they attend service
  • Post open questions about how the youth group is affecting your students’ lives
  • Post pictures and videos to the page frequently – tagging students and parents to get them to comment. Not only will they remain active on the page, but their friends will gain exposure to the page as well.
  • Consider running a Facebook ad for your group. Though you may not have the funds to run regular targeted ads to the youth in your community, you may be able to afford an ad for your major events, such as concerts, retreats and guest speakers.

The biggest key is consistency. As you know, consistency with your students breeds trust. The same principle applies to social media. Keep your students and parents interacting with each other regularly. Whether that means posting a daily devotional post or polling your kids about what topic they would like to discuss next in your group, just do something…and do it often.

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If you have a youth ministry, Facebook is probably one of your biggest tools for staying connected to the students you minister to. There are more than 400 million people using Facebook, and for many, it may be their first impression of your youth group. Because the world of social media is constantly evolving, it can be difficult to stay up to speed on Facebook pages, youth group fan pages and how to incorporate your ministry into the middle of it. We’re going to give you some tips for making a custom youth group Facebook page and using it to reach out to your students.

We’re breaking our youth ministry Facebook page tutorial into two parts. This first part will discuss the look of your page. After you finish reading, head over to Make a Custom Youth Group Facebook Page – Part Two, where you’ll learn how to market your page to your students, parents and the students in and around your community that you want to attract to your ministry.

If you haven’t already done so, create a Facebook page for your youth ministry at facebook.com/pages. Update your youth group’s information and add a picture to your page. At this point, you should have a basic youth group Facebook page, and your wall should be the first thing visitors see when they come to your page.

Look to the top of the page for the “edit page” feature. Click it to customize the layout of your page. It is here you can customize

  • Who is allowed to view the page
  • Who can post to it
  • Who may post pictures to your youth group page
  • Who may tag your youth group in other photos
  • And you can also determine how strong of a profanity censorship you would like on your page.

If you have a youth group Twitter account (which we highly recommend), you can link your youth group Facebook page to your Twitter under the Resources tab in the “edit page” feature.

Edit your About section to reflect the thing you want your visitors to see most. Next to your page picture, this is the most visible section of your Facebook page unless you customize it. You about section could include information about service times, an upcoming youth ministry retreat or a link to your youth group website. Make it short and sweet, and also easy read.

If you want to take your page to the next level, with impressive graphics, giant pictures announcing upcoming competitions or events, or by making an professional-looking Facebook landing page with video, polls and tons of other features, you have three options. The first – and most unlikely – is to custom code all of the effects yourself. This is extremely complicated, and the coding changes constantly, as it seems like Facebook updates itself every five minutes. The second option – and most expensive – is to hire a professional to do all the dirty work. But again, this is a large investment and will require ongoing funding to keep the site up to date.

The third option – and most economical- is to use apps to customize your youth group’s Facebook page. This is the secret of major companies and small businesses alike, and now you can harness that power in your youth group’s page. For example, you can Launch a professional Facebook page with North Social apps. It uses a whole slew of apps to customize your group’s page. Examples include apps that can customize your first impression, display a showcase of photos or videos from your last big event, take donations for your ministry, create a map to your next event, and even an app to accept volunteers for your ministry. You can also display a rotating Twitter feed right on your Facebook page.

 

Once you’ve got your Facebook page looking the way you want it to, head over to Part Two, where we’ll teach you how to optimize your Likes and expand your reach to more students in your community using social media. Again, if you are a youth minister of any size group from 2 to 2,000, and you aren’t utilizing Facebook for your ministry, you are grossly underexposing your ministry.

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Teens love games that seem cutting edge and professional. If you have a computer or laptop in your youth room, you can play these games and have a blast. We’ve put together a list of (we’d say impressive) youth group Power Point games and screen games that don’t require Power Point for you to use at your next youth service.

Summer Themed Youth Group Game – Race This

Available as part of the Race This Volume 2 from Simply Youth Ministry, SYM is offering one game free of charge for download from their website. These games are just like the ones you see at sporting events on the jumbo screens, where one color, drink or other item races another and the crowd yells out which one will win. Each race is randomly selected and the winner changes each time. These are great for use during down time or before service and are compatible with both Mac and PC. To get your free download, click here. Or, if you can get the  full set of Race This Vol. 2 – Download.

Downloadable Game Show Games for Groups

You can download free game show games for your group, such as “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader” and “The Family Feud.” The games are fun and interactive and available at Download-Free-Games.com. However, unless you are just really set on using your big screen to play a game show game with your group, we suggest mimicking the games on the popular show, “Minute to Win It.” They are absolutely hilarious and performed with things you already have around the house.

Customizable Wheel Spin Game for Groups – Spin that Wheel

This one is a new one and very professional looking. In fact, you could play this over and over, customizing it however you wish and using it either as the sole game or to enhance a game you are already playing. It works by imputing your prizes onto the wheel and letting your kids spin for prizes such as t-shirts, gift cards, or a bag of chips. The possibilities are limitless. Alternatively, you could use the wheel to determine something the players have to do in the game. For example, lose a turn, get a free spin, lose all your points, or you could imput actions, such as eat 15 marshmallows in 45 seconds or some other ridiculous task. Your a youth pastor – you can come up with something, we just know it. To check out the game and view a demonstration, click Spin That Wheel – Download.
Spin That Wheel - Download

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New Product - Live Curriculum - Doug Fields' 4-Yea

The Live Curriculum available from Simply Youth Ministry is rapidly growing in popularity. At first glance, it looks like another youth curriculum program with a few bells and whistles. However, we’ve recently taken an in-depth look at the program to bring you a Live Curriculum review that will answer your questions and help you make a decision as to whether or not the program is right for your youth ministry.

About Live

First and foremost, we have to note that the Live Curriculum is not something you want to use for your regular group youth service. Instead, the program is designed to streamline either your small group or Sunday school lessons that are usually taught by your youth leaders. That being said, most successful youth ministries have some sort of small group gatherings on a regular basis, and we at Minister to Youth believe that those gatherings are vital to creating solid relationships and foundations in ministry.

Live works off of a 36-week year, assuming that many youth groups postpone small groups during the 12 weeks of summer and during the holidays. However, pastors can organize and edit the lessons as they see fit. The lessons are age-appropriate and are designed to build upon each other over time. Essentially, you can plan your lessons for up to 4 years, or 144 weeks in advance from anywhere, anytime. For an example, SYM’s chart below provides an example of the lessons and the order you can teach them in:

New Product! Live Curriculum – Doug Fields’ 4-Year Small Group Curriculum!

Easy Features

A purchase of Live comes with one to two years of access to the online tool where you set up what your leaders see. Each leader can log-in with permissions to view your customizable master calendar, view the lesson plan for the week, and view any notes you place in the leader’s news feed. From the dashboard, you can also send out pre-written parent emails about the week’s topic, and if you are a Simply TXT user, that program is fully integrated with the Live Curriculum as well, allowing you to effectively send out reminders to your leaders and students.

Portability

We have to say, this is our favorite feature about the Live Curriculum. Simply Youth Ministry recently released an incredibly cool iPhone and iPad app that finally brings youth ministry into today’s technology. You can view entire lessons on your screen without carrying around your bulky laptop. Oh, and did we mention that this app is FREE? We’ve provided screen shots below. Oh, and if you aren’t an iPhone or iPad owner, the Live Curriculum is soon to launch an Android app as well.

iPhone iTouch Log-In Screen

Time

The fine people over at Simply Youth Ministry do more than help youth pastors minister to students – they also minister to youth pastors. They have research that suggests that the connectivity and fluidity of the Live Curriculum will improve a youth pastor’s effectiveness by more than 73 percent. And it makes sense too; having a 6-year road map of lessons gives pastors more time for what’s important – connecting with students.

Customization

There is nothing worse than feeling tied down to a curriculum or series that you don’t really want to teach or you don’t feel is a good fit for your youth ministry. We like that the Live Curriculum offers both junior high and high school options to choose from, and that the lessons are editable to your discretion. For an example of how to edit a lesson, you can watch the following demonstration:

YouTube Preview Image

Conclusion

Our final conclusion of the Live Curriculum is very positive. Though we can think of a few things to improve upon (for example, we think leaders should have access to the online tool for the length of their Live Curriculum usage), we found few things to deter us from recommending the program to youth pastors. We even consider the $249 and $499 prices to be quite modest considering what’s included…all of the organization and full lesson plans come out to less than $3.50 per lesson. To us, $3.50 is worth about 7 minutes of our time on a good day, so unless you find it easy to write a quality lesson plan and organize it for your leaders in 7 minutes or less, chances are it’s a good value for you too. And better yet, you don’t have to put together a small group lesson for 2 to 4 years.

To purchase Live Curriculum, or try it for FREE, choose which version you want to learn more about below:

High School Live Curriculum

Jr High Live Curriculum

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