Friday, June 29, 2012

Youth Ministry Games - Mystery Meat

To be honest, this game has absolutely nothing to do with the delicious canned meat product known as Spam. I just used the picture to get your attention. Clever, huh?

Mystery Meat is actually a game designed to get your students up and moving around. The goal is to have all of your students find their partners as quickly as possible.

Here are the items you will need in order to get the game going:

  • Note cards
  • A black marker
  • Tape

On the note cards, write the name of a fast-food restaurant (McDonald's, Chick-Fil-A, Burger King, etc.) and an item that is specifically found at that restaurant on another card. For example, one pair might be McDonald's and Big Mac or Chick-Fil-A and waffle fries.

Have the students line up and tape a card to each student's back. When the signal is given, students may walk around and ask Yes or No questions about their cards, but they may not look at the cards. Questions can include, "Am I served on bread?", "Am I opened on Sundays?", or "Am I made of beef?".

Continue the game until all pairs have been matched.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I Can't Even Begin to Tell You How Exciting Last Night Was

Our church has Bible study on Wednesday evenings. At the present time, we have Bible study for adults and for our teenagers. There are plans to branch that out, but those things take prayer and time.

For the first two months that I have been on staff, our youth group has averaged about four people each Wednesday night. I am extremely thankful for those students and their faithfulness. Tonight, however, was different.

I have been teaching off and on, but I will be taking over the teaching full-time at this point. With that in mind, I began to make a concerted effort to invite the students out. I fired off text messages and Facebook comments, inviting all the students I have on Facebook. I was hoping for about 8-10.

Imagine my surprise when THIRTEEN students came in! It was incredible! We did some announcements, played a game called "Mystery Meat", and voted on a name for our Wednesday evening service. Our time together is now called, "Awakening!" After those activities were finished, we studied Colossians 5:1-17, looking at how we are free from the slavery of the law and how we should be sharing the good news of our freedom from sin.

Last night was a win for God's Kingdom. It was an answer to prayer. My heart is bursting with excitement. Our God is good!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Do You Remember Getting Your First iPhone?

Okay, I don't, but that's because I don't have an iPhone.

I do remember getting my first iPod Touch. It was a gift from a wonderful family who I had the privilege of teaching both their children. I remember thinking it was the most amazing invention on the planet. I spent all kinds of time reading about it, playing with it, downloading apps for it, loading music onto it. My iPod Touch was incredible. I was completely in awe of such an amazing tool. The day my iPod broke was devastating to me. I couldn't wait until the time came when I could purchase another one.

How many of you have felt the same way about something? Maybe it was a new toy. Maybe it was a new car. It might have even been a girlfriend or boyfriend. Everyone can remember something that they had or wanted that absolutely consumed them.

That is the feeling of desire we should be attempting to foster in our students. We should be teaching them the Bible in such a way that they are hungering and thirsting for more of it. They are so excited about hearing the Word of God that they cannot wait until Sunday or Wednesday and they are telling all of their friends about it and inviting them to church.

So why isn't that happening? Why aren't our students that excited about church and the Bible? Could it be that we don't exhibit the same desire we want from our students? Are we so consumed with the desire for God's Word that it is spilling out of us?

If not, let's start there.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Reflections on Spirit Night at Chick-Fil-A

This past week, our youth ministry partnered with the local Chick-Fil-A to host a Spirit Night. For those of you unfamiliar with Spirit Night, the concept is that Chick-Fil-A will allow your group to come into the restaurant for dinner. For every patron who purchases food and tells the cashier that they are with your group, your group will receive 15% of their bill. The more promoting that your group does in conjunction with the event, the more people who will attend and the more money your group will raise. It is also a benefit to Chick-Fil-A because the increase in business results in an increase in revenue.

We promoted the Spirit Night like crazy. Some kids from the youth group and I made a promotional video that we showed in church. It was a big success and we are still getting compliments on it. We posted reminders on our church's Facebook page and put a flyer in the church bulletin.

The night of the event, the restaurant was full. It was a wonderful to visit with families and to enjoy a meal together. There was a lot of laughter, smiles, and hugs. I am proud to say that the good people of Charles Town Baptist Church came out to support the youth ministry in a huge way. I was so happy to see so many of my friends there and it was obvious that they were enjoying themselves.

While I don't know the exact amount that our youth ministry was able to raise just yet, I am confident that it was a substantial amount and will go a long way to help cover the costs of the events we have planned in the coming months. I also received many positive comments from members of the church and I am confident that another Spirit Night in the future will be an even greater success.

If you haven't seen (and didn't follow the link above!), here is the video we made.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Youth Ministry Games - Blind Pudding Cup Challenge

When I was in college, I remember the campus pastor telling a story about a youth group game that he did where he blindfolded some students and had them feed bananas to each other. There was a serious point to the story, but I don't really remember what it was. Anyway, that story gave the idea for a great game. It is called the Blind Pudding Cup Challenge.

Here is what is needed for each team:

  • Two players
  • A chocolate pudding cup (other flavors can be used)
  • A plastic spoon
  • A blindfold

The players line up front to back. The student in the back puts his arms through the student in the front's arms. The student in the back is then blindfolded and handed a cup of pudding and a spoon. When the signal is given to begin, the student in the back must use the spoon to feed the pudding to the student in the front. Hilarity will ensue when the pudding ends up everywhere but inside the front student's mouth.

It might be a good idea to provide the students with aprons or shirts to keep their clothes from getting covered.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Giveaway Winner Announcement

I am happy to announce that the winner of the giveaway is Josh Evans. Josh left a comment and "Liked" the Facebook page. For being selected, Josh will receive a free copy of Viral by Leonard Sweet.

I appreciate all of you entered the giveaway. Please be on the lookout for more giveaways in the future.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Giveaway - Viral by Leonard Sweet

The other day I had the opportunity to read and review Viral by Leonard Sweet. As you may have read in my review, it was not exactly what I was expecting. That being said, there was still some great quotes and useful information in the book.

When I received my review copy, I was sent both a print version and an e-book version. I would like to give the print copy away to an interested reader.

This is a very simple giveaway. To enter, simply leave a comment below telling me how you utilize social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) in your ministry and how effective you find certain technologies. You will receive one entry for your comment. You can also earn additional entries into the drawing by Liking my Facebook page and by following me on Twitter. When you have done those things, please leave me a comment letting me know what you have done.

I will select one person at random to receive a copy of the book on Thursday. Best of luck and happy reading!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Spirit Night Video

Our youth group will be hosting a Spirit Night at the local Chick-Fil-A in Ranson, West Virginia. The agreement that we worked out with the manager is for us to receive 15% of the money that comes in during our time. I believe this is a pretty standard policy. It is a great way for us to earn some money for our youth group without having to do a ton of work. We get to have a delicious dinner and enjoy each other's company while earning money. Our plan is to use the funds to help defray some of the costs of the summer's activities.

In order to promote the Spirit Night, one of my leaders, her daughters, and I shot a video. I need to give props to my friend Josh Evans for the idea of the video. We shot the video on my camcorder. I then took the footage and edited on Windows Movie Maker Live and added a few features.

You can watch the video below.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Book Review - Viral by Leonard Sweet

I was initially very excited about reading Viral by Leonard Sweet. As a youth pastor, I am very interested in ways to utilize and leverage social media for ministry purposes. Sweet uses his book to discuss Twitter, Google, iPhones, and Facebook in the text. He approaches each of these items from a Christian perspective, offering insight in ways that he believes they should be used in an attempt to bring about revival.

Dr. Sweet has a tendency to be a bit too postmodern for my liking. While I consider myself fully in what he calls the Googlers, I have difficulty with some of the things that Sweet discusses as the direction that Christianity needs to go.

Having said that, I did appreciate the metaphor that Sweet used in his section on iPhones. In this particular section, he describes the way that an apple is eaten whole and an orange is broken into pieces. This is a way that many individuals treat their Christianity and their lives. They break it into sections, keeping one part from another.

Overall, I believe there are individuals who will like the book, but it was not necessarily what I had anticipated. I was hoping for a more practical guide for utilizing social media. While this book touches on social media and Sweet's apparent love for it, this book fell short of what I was looking for.

I was provided a review copy of Viral by Waterbrook Multnomah as a part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to give it a positive review.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Why Do We Hate on Nicodemus So Much?

I had the opportunity to teach on John 3:1-10 the other during the Wednesday Bible Study. As I was studying and reflecting on what I knew about Nicodemus, I realized that very little good is ever said about Nicodemus.

Growing up, every time Nicodemus was taught about, it was always in relation to not being like him. I mean, the man went to see Jesus under the cover darkness. He was embarrassed to be seen with Jesus. Or was he?

Let's look at a few things about Nicodemus to see if we really want to be saying such negative things about him.

Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews and a member of the Pharisees. He was a busy man and an important teacher. With that in mind, here are a few reasons that Nicodemus might have chosen to go at night.

  • Jesus and Nicodemus were important individuals. Every where they went, both men would have been surrounded by large crowds of people. There would have been little time to talk during the day. Waiting until night would have afforded both of them an opportunity to sit and talk without interruption.
  • Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin and a Pharisee. It is possible that Nicodemus believed that being seen with Jesus would have been taken as a sign that the Sanhedrin approved of Jesus. At this point, there was no real way of telling which way to go with Jesus. Nicodemus may not have wanted to lead others astray had Jesus turned out to be something untoward.
  • Nicodemus was concerned about what others would think of him. This is the reason that most Bible teachers and youth pastors focus on. We look at the night fall and say that Nicodemus was ashamed of Christ. This may have been the case, but we aren't sure.

I think the most important thing for us to take away from this discussion is not when Nicodemus went to see Jesus, but that he went to see Jesus. There was obviously something about Jesus that made Nicodemus curious, something that he simply could not ignore. Nicodemus chose to go see Jesus. None of his friends went with him. And Nicodemus left a changed man, changed enough that he stood up for Jesus in front of those very friends he was worried about earlier. Changed enough to take care of Jesus' torn and bloodied body after the crucifixion. Nicodemus was changed.

So, let me ask again, why do we hate on Nicodemus so much?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Sad Reality of Abortion

I know the other day I wrote that I was going to focus on all things youth ministry and attempt to keep that focus for this blog. However, as I am typing this, I am looking at my beautiful wife and my newborn son sleeping on the couch. I can't imagine a more beautiful picture and I am overwhelmed by the blessing that God has given me.

At the same time, I just read a blog post about a woman in China who was abducted and forced to abort her second child because she was in violation of the one-child policy and could not afford to pay the penalty. While I am not writing this to debate the morality of that policy, my heart is breaking for that family and for those who believe that abortion is a "reproductive right" and who will angrily argue for a woman's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy.

Please take a moment to visit the link below. I must warn you that the pictures are incredibly graphic and sad. You will see the devastating aftermath of abortion, forced or otherwise. The aborted baby's body was thrown on the bed next to the woman. With the exception of the fact that she is dead, the baby in the picture is no different than my son.

This is the reality of abortion, a very sad reality. A dead child and a heartbroken mother.

Here is the link. You may also want to visit here.

My Top Five iPad/iPod Touch Apps For Youth Ministry

One of the most important tools that a youth pastor can have is an iPod Touch or iPad. I have been blessed to have both. I purchased the iPod about a year or so ago, when the headphone jack on the first one went out. Additionally, the school I teach at has given a few of the teachers iPads to use in the classroom.

One of the things that youth pastors like to write about are their favorite apps. One time I wrote about my favorite apps for the Kindle Fire, but here is a list of the most used iPod/iPad apps in my ministry.

Evernote is probably the most important tool you will use in youth ministry, other than your Bible. Evernote is a storage system that you can access from nearly everywhere. I use to store my sermon notes, meetings notes, and blog posts that I see that I want to go back to in the future. I can type the notes on my laptop, save them to Evernote, and then access them on my iPad. The only downside is that you have to be connected to the internet to readily access your files, but this is easily solved by downloading your files before you get to an area where you may not have service.

I think Facebook should be pretty self-explanatory. I have heard that there are more individuals on Facebook than live in a lot of countries. That means your students are probably on Facebook. If you want to keep up with what is going on in their lives, Facebook will tell you. You can also use Facebook to send out events and announcements. This is a great app to have.

   Students love to see pictures of themselves, especially when they know that it will be posted on Facebook. Instagram is an incredible camera app that works with the camera installed in your iPod Touch or iPad. After taking the picture, you have the option of choosing various filters, applying a caption, and sending it directly to your Facebook account.

The Hootsuite app is essential if you are trying to update and maintain a personal Facebook page, a youth group Facebook page, and a Twitter account. Hootsuite allows you to link a number of accounts to it and you can update as many as you would like in just a few simple steps. Right now, I am able to update two Twitter accounts (@wannabepreacher and @ctbcjonathan) and both of my Facebook pages with one app. It saves me a lot of time.

I don't see this app mentioned often, but it is a great tool, especially when you need to learn a lot of new names and faces. While I have not figured out all of its functions, I do know that Evernote Hello allows the user to take a picture of an individual, attach a name, and write the location. My plan is to use it more extensively when our youth group has a number of guests coming in. I had a pastor who took pictures of individuals with a Polaroid camera, so he could learn the names and faces. This is the updated version.

There you go, my five favorite iPad/iPod Touch apps. I use most of these apps almost everyday and I believe that they have had a huge benefit on my ministry.

What apps do you use in your ministry?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Getting Focused on What's Important - Where I'm Going With this Blog

I started writing this blog almost a year ago. The idea was to chronicle and record the events that took place as I was pursuing God's call on my life to ministry. A lot has happened in the past year. I finished seminary. I was offered a position at Charles Town Baptist Church as the Associate Pastor for Youth and Children. My wife recently gave birth to our fourth child. It's been a really busy year.

While I had intended to write about my journey in pursuing ministry, I also managed to get off track. There was a time where this blog was a humor blog. I wrote about current events in the world of Evangelicalism. I wrote about my children. I wrote about music. Occasionally, I wrote about my pursuit of ministry. The blog was all over the place. I never really found my place or my voice.

With that being said, I am going to refocus the blog. I am going to make it primarily a blog about youth and children's ministry. My desire is to write about ideas related to ministering to students and to children, providing encouragement, resources, and training to other ministers who are pursuing God's calling as well.

I will still write about my children and my family, from time to time. God has blessed me with an incredible wife and four of the most amazing boys since Jacob's (I just hope they turn out better than those fools). My children do some amazing things and I believe that God is teaching me about ministry through them.

You can expect to find book reviews related to youth ministry. You can expect to find event ideas and reviews of resources. I promise that I will make a visit to my blog well-worth your time. If you feel that I am not upholding this promise, please contact me at or on Twitter at @CTBCJonathan or @wannabepreacher. Of course, positive comments are always welcome as well.

Thank you and I look forward to serving God with you in the future.