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    Monday, May 31, 2010

    Discipline and Teens

    Being in youth ministry means that eventually we will run into disicpline issues.  No matter what your particular context've had to (or will have to if you're a 2 week noobie) deal with discipline.

      If I were honest, this is one of my top ten most hated things in youth ministry.  I wish it didn't even need to exist, but sadly it does and most of us hate it.

      During the talk time is when most of the issues arise.  Games, events and things categorized as "fun" usually don't get a lot of troublemakers in the mix...probably becuase those kids are actually doing what is "fun" rather than annoying the crap out of you with their junky behavior. Granted there will always be one (at least) who no matter where, no matter what there are issues with that student.

      How do we handle these always in our face issues of discipline, respect and behavior?  On the one hand we don't ever want to teach that Church and Christianity are a form of "Behavioral Modification" which sadly many youth ministries and churches alik have done causing a mass exodus of young adults.  On the other hand there is a strong desire for the teens present not to miss out on what God wants to say to them...whether its an evangelistic message or a message that causes them to grow.  When kids disrupt, it causes the whole crowd to miss out on the talk.

      So again, what do we do?  How do we handle this stuff?  These questions have haunted me this year because it seemed that whatever we did it didn't work.  Students would get kicked out, come back after they "served their time" and would then again get kicked out.

      One thing I found was if/when you could get ahold of the home (be it grandma, mom, dad, or other guardian) the students would change their tune, for the most part.  It was a tough year though so the ACAC Student Ministries Team is hitting the summer hard with ways we can improve our discipline and still make it a place where people of all backgrounds, ethnicities and the like can feel safe, comfortable and loved. 

      Below are a few ideas we're wrestling with in which we hope to impliment this coming school year.  Feel free to comment or add your own ideas because we are looking at all things to improve this segment of our ministry.

    1. Set up a booth and a notebook.  Here we will have a leader at the booth so if/when a student gets kicked out it gets written in the notebook by the student.  There will also be a line where they write in their home number.  They will then be told to call their parent/guardian to inform them they are being kicked out.  This will help us keep track of who got kicked out, how many times and will also give us the phone number to the family so we can follow up.

    2. Re-train (or Train) Leaders to be more incarnational.  We have GREAT youth leaders and I love them deeply, however sometimes they are afraid to engage with the students.  This can be true in the game time and in the talk time.  When leaders don't have at least a first-name relationship with these teens, they will not have ample respect from those teens, which in turn leads to defiance.  I will be writing a blog on "Youth Leader 101" where I will put all the training we will be doing with our leaders on this subject and others

    3. Set up a Prayer team.  I believe in prayer!  This year at the very end, I set up a time for leaders to come early and pray with me for the night.  This will continue but we will also be asking our current prayer team to either make a new team just for Students or to engage in some heavy prayer for these teens (more so than previously done).  This includes me praying more for them and the ministry.  I am guilty of not taking these matters before God.

    4. Hold strong to our system of the 6 R's.
                Respect the Leaders
                Respect the Property
                Respect Others
    and if you don't comply with the above we will:
                Remind you that you're in the wrong
                Relocate you away from where you are
                Remove you from the program

       Although this has been in place, we have not written down boundaries of when to progress to the next step.  No one has been on the same page and it causes issues.  Some people (like myself) are a bit more gracious and let some minor things sldie.  Others are heavy handed and come down really strong right away on things I percieve as minor.  Getting on the same page will go a long way to healing some of the issues we have.

    Well, that's the got any ideas?

    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    You've Got Questions week 6

    This was done a couple of weeks ago, but it was our Final week on "You've Got Questions" where we had the Middle School students ask any question they wanted! 

      This ended up being more of an "Apologetics" series but it was fantastic none-the-less.  The teens really enggaged the talk time and were listening intently for 40 minutes.  I would NEVER go that long normally (usually I speak for 15 min. tops) but in order to answer all the questions the teens asked I needed to take more time.

      Like I said though the students were deeply interested in the content and were willing to sit through the explanations and the answers to their questions.  I had leader after leader suggesting we do this again and one even said: "The whole year could've been a series like this!"  So I think it went very well and I will consider doing it again!  Below are the questions that were asked as well as the links to get the PDF of the answers and the WMV of the message as well, enjoy!

    Did Jesus Have a Lover?
    What is life all about?
    Why do you (meaning Pastor Marv) Believe in Jesus?
    Why does God sometimes test us in weird ways?
    Why does the church teach perfection if we can never be perfect?

    Week 6 PDF Download

    Week 6 WMV Download (Audio)

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    You've Got Questions week 5

      This series has caused some of the most controversy of all series I have ever done. 

    I've had parents calling me asking me questions on why I've answered some of these questions the way I did.  I even recieved a phone call today saying that some kids who were debating a Jewish girl in their class were taken to the office for being "intolerant" because they were telling the girl that "Jesus is the only way to get got to get saved!"

      Although I am happy they've got the importance of Jesus, it's odd even though I shared in week 4 of the series not to argue with people.  It is odd they were labeled intolerant when the teacher themselves opened up the debate for class discussion...

      Even through the controversy, this series has been amazing.  As of the writing of this blog, we finished our last week (week 6) last night and it was great!  I'm a bit behind, so I am only posting week 5 right now.  Below are the questions that were asked week 5:

    Even though I believe in God/Jesus is it bad that I also believe in evolution/the process the earth was created opposed to Genesis?

    Jehovah’s Witnesses are always going around to houses, why don’t we do that?

    Did God really want some people to turn out different from all?

    Do new born babies go to heaven?

    Do Animals go to heaven?

    What’s it like being with God or Jesus, why?

    What would the world be like without Satan?

    If God was Jewish, why are we Christian?

    How Big was Eden?

    Here is the PDF download of the answers, enjoy!

    Week 5 PDF Download

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    Moving Up

    It's that time of the year again for Student Minstries...that time is: Transition time!

       5th Graders are moving into the Middle School Ministry, the 8th Graders are moving into the High School Ministry and the 12th Graders are moving away for college or staying local moving into the Young Adult Ministry.

      Things are changing, students are growing older and these transitions can be hard at times.

      My personal context is as a Middle School Pastor mostly.  I am on a Student Ministry Team where we are all part of the team and we all funnel in together, however, my primary focus is Middle School Students.

      This means, I am sending off 8th graders and welcoming in 5th Graders!  This is my first year in this particular context, so my first time really taking on such a big undertaking.  We have over 150 new 5th Graders moving up and the pressure is on! 

      Our Children's Ministry does an AMAZING job and for some of these upcoming students, they've interacted with CM their whole lives, as have their parents (the whole life of their child that is)!  They are stepping away from the familiar into the unknown world of Student Ministries.  This can be scary for both the student and the parent.  As I reflected on the seriousness of such a change, I realized that the best way to make this transition was not to wing it, but to actually have a Strategic Plan of Intigration!

    Here is the overall strategic plan:

    Tues. and Wed. May 11th and 12th During game time of Blast (our Middle School Mid-week event; it happens on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as does the CM mid-week event), I will head over to CM along with 2 middle school boys and 2 middle school girls to show myself, pump up the 5th grade Blast nights and to have the Middle School students share some of their Blast experience as well as Quest (our Sunday School) and Growth Group (our small group) experiences.

    Tuesday May 18th- First 5th Grade ONLY Blast night. we will be welcoming the new 5th graders with great food as well as a quick game, and a quick talk. Throughout the night, I will be doing a “talking walk through” explaining aloud all that we normally do on a Blast night.

    Sunday May 23rd - All of the Student Ministries staff will be visiting Jr. Worship 1st, 2nd and 3rd services to show our faces to the 5th graders and to engage on “their turf” along side of them. Also we will pump the 5th grade Blast nights, Growth Groups as well as Quest  to get them in the “know” about what we are doing in SM. (The reason we are doing this mid-week as well as Sunday is because the crowds can be different.  In our context more inner-city students show up for mid-week events and neglect Sundays.  Sadly, some of our churched kids show up only on Sundays and negelect the mid-week events)

    Tuesday May 25th- 2nd and last 5th Grade ONLY blast night. Here we will run a normal Blast, just like it will be when everyone is there together. We will also have a parent meeting during blast. Where the new 5th grade parents can come and get all the information they could download in one night. Scott (the SM Director) and I will be around so we can hang with both parents and the new 5th graders. We will do some Q&A with all of the parents and help them get acclimated to the change from CM to SM.  Here, I also invited some of our Vounteer Leaders (who have kids) to mingle with the parents and be there to answer questions as well.

      Let me note that most of the above has been Scott's strategic plan for YEARS.  The only addition I put into it was the parent meeting along with the leaders mingling with them.  I am so lucky to be a part of a plan that has been in action for years and has worked well at integrating the new 5th graders into our Ministry.

      I hope some of these insights will help all of us as we together trudge along in the murky waters of change and transition