In the past two years, I read books. Lots and lots of books. An insane number of books! I miss reading just for the joy of reading. Even now, I’ll be reading a fiction book for fun and be planning out a book report for it. Thankfully, much of what I read was extremely valuable. Many of them I would not have even known about unless I had been “forced” to read them for class. So I present with you the 8 best books I read during seminary. I highly recommend you find some time to check these books out. They will be work it.
Community That is Christian
Post Modern Children’s Ministry
Sticky Faith: Youth Workers Edition
Church + Home
The Emotionally Healthy Church
Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership
Systematic Theology: A Systematic Study of the Christian Life
The Next Christendom
If you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to hear what you thought of them in the comments!
This weekend, I will graduate with my masters degree from Cincinnati Bible Seminary. It has long been a dream to get my masters, and I finished it exactly 10 years after getting my Bachelors. As I prepare to get hooded, I just wanted to share some things I learned over the past 2 years…
Church history is a complicated mess
Family ministry will be the next wave of church revolution
The “meat” of what I learned was from the books I read
Its great to be challenged by people with lots of different ideas and perspectives
I learned a lot more than I knew being “in the trenches” of ministry
Bible classes challenged me to look past the surface issues of the text
My spiritual life is much more important to my leadership than I ever imagined
Grace is a powerful spiritual force that the church does not exhibit enough of
The Church has survived tougher spots than 21st century America
This is just a sampling of what I learned. There is part of me that wishes I could have taken many more classes. But that sane part of me is slapping that part and celebrating all that I’ve achieved. Regardless, I’ve learned a lot. If you’ve been to Bible college/seminary, what is something you learned?
If you have a youth room, you likely have a ping pong table. Why not put that table to good use this week by playing this fun and crazy version of ping pong!
What you need
Ping Pong Equipment
Two VERY LARGE shirts per table
This can be either an upfront game, or an awesome tournament. Its pretty simple. Divide into teams of two. Each team will be given two paddles and a Tshirt. They will be required to put the tshirt on the both of them, with each player having one arm out of the arm holes of the shirt and both heads sticking out the head hole.
You then begin with the craziness. With both players now securely bonded to each other via the Tshirt, they are to play against the other similarly dressed team in a match of wild doubles ping pong. Play according to official doubles ping pong rules (or whichever rules you want to make it most interesting!) Each player should alternate hits of the ball. Play to any number of points you want.
This is an amazingly fun twist on an old favorite, and will help to liven up your next youth group meeting or retreat. If you play it, let me know how it went!
HT to my friend Jason Frisch for this great idea!
Apparently my website had been hacked. Who knows how long it has been going on, but I noticed a lot of weird stuff going on with it. Occasional redirects, a huge spike in traffic, and a host of other bizarre behavior have been plaguing my site for a few months. After a several hours battle and lots of thrilling diving through code, I think I at least cleared up the biggest problems. Don’t know if I’ve fixed everything, so if you happen to have something strange happen on my site just let me know. Otherwise, I am so sorry that this happened and hope that nothing has hurt anyone who visited me site.
Do parents know whats going on in your ministry?
I’m talking beyond a calendar of events. Do the parents of the students in your ministry know what your talking about in youth group? Do they understand the vision of your ministry and how it impacts their children? Do they know of any spiritual victories, or defeats, that their kids have had recently?
Parents are the most important influencers in the lives of their children. That is undeniable. Yet we as youth workers too often ignore these influencers and instead operate independently of them. That is insanity.
Believe me, I know the hesitation. I’ve been in ministry for a long time, and have seen my share of parents who couldn’t find a verse in the bible if you spotted them the page numbers. I’ve sent out plenty of calendars, announcements, emails, and texts only to hear from a parent the day after a big event, “I never saw anything about that!” So, it can sometimes feel like a waste of time when we communicate with parents.
DON’T LET YOURSELF FEEL THAT WAY!
Even if it doesn’t impact 9 out of 10 parents, we are helping that one parent better impact their students. Truth is, the more we communicate the more likely we are helping parents. Here are some simple things we can do to help keep parents in the loop…
1. Communicate vision – Find times to regularly communicate the vision of the ministry, and put it into personal terms for the parents. For example, one of my goals of the ministry is to equip students to have a deeper relationship with Christ. That sounds great, but it would be more meaningful to a parent for me to say something like, “This month, we’ve taught your students how to be better communicate with God through prayer.”
2. Communicate lessons – I stole this idea from Josh Griffen at More Than Dodgeball. He would put weekly updates on the lesson they taught that week. It included the big idea, the verses, and some questions that the parents could ask to follow up. The students aren’t going to voluntarily discuss this stuff many times, so give parents the info so they can bring it up and reinforce the lessons we’ve taught.
3. Communicate calendars – I know, I know…it seems like this is all we do sometimes. In my experience, parents need to see something at least 5 times before it sinks into their conscious. You might give them a year long calendar and post everything in the bulletin, but we need to consistently be bringing our activities before the eyes of the parents. Find 3 effective ways, and train your parents to interact with these. For me personally, I’ve create a one page printed paper called “Fridge Notes” that lists all this month’s activities in detail, with a short list of the next few months events, that they can post to their fridge to remember. Whatever you do, be sure to do it consistently.
4. Communicate personal stories – As a parent, I want to hear how my child is doing when they are outside of my purview. Take a few hours a week to shoot a few parents emails or letters sharing what you’ve seen from their student. If they’re doing well, be sure to share those stories. If you’re concerned, be willing to be honest in some struggles you may be seeing. Just be sure not to break any confidences. If a student confesses to you that they are struggling with porn, don’t just email a parent out of the blue saying, “Hey, check your internet filter!” (There are ways of dealing with this, but don’t ever blindside a student unless its a serious issue).
5. Communicate a willingness to partner – Continually let parents know you are an ally, not an enemy. Let them know you want to help them, and let them know how. Point them to resources that can help them. Regularly forward articles from professionals or blogs you’ve read. Be a resource to help.
These few things would only take a few hours out of your week, but would be magnified exponentially in your students as you work to support the parents. I’d love to hear in the comments how you have worked to keep parents “in the loop” in your ministry.