Crafty Post #2: The Gargantuan Calendar

25 05 2010

So, about a month ago, I decided that our Youth Wing needed some more decoration.  And not just any decoration, either…a gigantic calendar.  This was my inspiration (thanks, Jana!), and we had just enough leftover ribbon from Dinner and Dance to begin!

I had two of my youth help me draw out the squares, which we then covered with blue ribbon.  And it looked…not quite like I had imagined it.  I added on some of the event decals, and it looked…well, tacky.

But then this weekend, we made the date numbers using my mom’s Cricut machine.  This, apparently, was the finishing touch!  I’m about to have to change the calendar out for June, and I’m still looking for more creative ways to post events, but this is certainly a start, and I think it works nicely!

Slumber Party Invitations

25 05 2010

Next month, the youth and children’s ministries are teaming up to host a mother-daughter slumber party for tween girls (incoming grades 4-8).  It’s going to be a super girly night, and even though I’m not the most girly-girl ever, I’m so excited about hanging out with my girls and their moms.  (Plus, my own mom is coming, too!)

I thought this event required something beyond the cursory email announcements and text-message reminders that I sent out every week, so I took it upon myself to design and craft special sleeping-bag invitations for the party:

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most crafty person in the world (that honor goes to either my mother or my sister, who can create literally anything out of paper or fabric).  But every once in a while, I just get the urge to go all out, and this afternoon’s project was the result:

Julie and I sat on the floor of the Fellowship Hall and assembled the invitations.  First, we printed out the text of the invitation on pieces of hot pink cardstock, and we cut them into 3×8 inch rectangles (each invitation consisted of two rectangles: one for the front and one for the back.  We also cut sheets of pink patterned felt in 3-inch squares (2 matching squares perinvitation), and glued the felt to the back of the cardstock rectangles.  We folded the edge of the front back into a triangle shape, to show off the pretty felt on the inside.

Then, we created the little girl heads by cutting out a circle of skin-toned paper and gluing on googly eyes and yarn hair.  We glued the heads to back art of the sleeping bag, and then glued the sleeping bag paper together.

Voila!  In less than an hour, we had created a whole party’s worth of sleeping girls — 19, to be exact.  Hope these invitations make them begin looking forward to the party as much as I am!

The Silly Bandz Post

24 05 2010

This is the story of my Silly Bandz…and about how God works in mysterious, and sometimes downright weird, ways.

If you do not know what a Silly Band is, I feel so sorry for you: either you have been living under a rock lately, or you are a grown-up who lives in the real world.  In either case, I will try to enlighten you: Silly Bandz are the newest craze in fashion.  They are silicone rubber bands that have been molded into various shapes: dollar signs, toucans, magic wands, guitars, etc.  Kids wear them as bracelets, use them as rubber bands, show them off, trade them, etc.  You can buy them at Wal-Mart, dollar stores, online…

My encounter with Silly Bandz began a few weeks ago.  One of my youth counselors had bought the “Holy” set of bandz, and she presented me with two of my very own: a cross and a dove.  I have to admit, my first reaction was one of annoyance: this was yet another example of a cultural fad being co-opted by the Christian-consumerism machine.

But then I wore them around for a few weeks.  And I found that these two little pieces of silicone were the best conversation-starters I could have ever dreamed up.  Every time I met a new middle schooler (at church or outside of church), our conversation began in one of two ways:  1. “Oh, you have Silly Bandz too!” or 2. “Which Silly Bandz do you have?  Look, I’ve got these…”

Yesterday, I taught our high school Sunday School class.  In celebration of Pentecost Sunday, our lesson focused on the Holy Spirit.  However, the five high schoolers who showed up were less than enthused about being awake at 9:30 a.m., much less about having to talk and think about God.  After several minutes of crickets chirping, I took off my orange Silly Band and decided to try something new.

“Look,” I said.  “This Silly band represents the Holy Spirit, for me.  It’s shaped like a dove, which is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.  But it’s also orange, and it kind of looks like a tongue of fire.  Fire’s another symbol of the Holy Spirit.  I also think it kind of looks like a hat, although I’m not sure how that relates…no wait, yes I do!” (I was getting more excited by the second)  “On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit appeared as tongues of fire on the heads of the apostles, so it was like they were wearing a hat of the Holy Spirit!”

My students were smiling now.  Probably they were making fun of my dorkiness, but I like to believe I had given them an image to remember. “What’s your other Silly Band?” asked one of the girls.

I showed them the yellow cross. “Obviously this one represents Jesus.  So it seems I’m just missing one that will be a symbol of God the Father, so if any of you have a Silly Band that might complete my trinity, let me know.”

Believe it or not, that actually led into a mildly interesting discussion about the nature of the Trinity.  (“Is it really one God if there are three different forms?”)  And our Sunday School lesson carried on.

This afternoon, I taught violin lessons up at the Noel Community Arts Program.  Alice, one of my six-year-old students, was wearing about 15 Silly Bandz on one arm.  The first thing she said as she entered her lesson was, “Do you really only have two Silly Bandz?”

She felt sorry for me, apparently, and asked her mom if she could give me one of hers.  Her mom said yes, and so she began the process of picking one to give away.  In the end, she gave me a Silly Band from her “Princess” set; I suspect she chose it because it was gray, and thus the least interesting band on her arm.  Nonetheless, when she handed it to me, I could hardly believe my eyes:

Unwittingly, she had picked the perfect symbol to complete my Trinity.  My mind started racing through the stories of the Bible: from YHWH’s role as the “first king” of Israel, through that wonderful phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come.”  The entire story of our faith, it seems, can be summed up by three colorful silicone bands.  (And two of them glow in the dark!  That’s a whole other good piece of symbolism, for some other day)

I suppose I'm wearing my theology on my wrist now!

Go Ahead, Make My Day!

20 05 2010

In my “Teaching for Biblical Faith” seminary class, we’ve talked a lot about “signs of learning.”  As my professor says, it doesn’t do any good to just get up there and talk, if no one is learning anything.  We’ve mentioned signs like people participating in the discussion, asking questions, taking notes, changing their behavior.  But, as a youth leader, here are a few of the things that just make my day:

1. Overhearing youth talking to each other about the night’s lesson

2. Parents telling me that their kids come home each week from Bible study and explain the story to them

3. Youth who quote the lesson’s Scripture in their facebook statuses

4. Students who call me when they miss Bible study so that they can catch up on what they missed

5. Weeks after I hand out notecards with a “challenge” on it…seeing that a student is still carrying that challenge at the front of their wallet

On the other hand, last night at Bible study, I had students who couldn’t find the book of Acts, and another who learned for the first time that Job is a book of the Bible.

There’s always more work to do!

What DO I do all day?

13 05 2010

I apologize — I haven’t posted regularly at all lately, and all my posts have been about youth ministry.  But, c’est la vie.   I am living and breathing youth ministry in everything I do, it seems.  And so far, at least, I’m loving it!

This morning, I had the opportunity to go help out with the parish-wide honors orchestra.  I got to meet students from five different area middle and high schools…and since I wasn’t their “regular teacher,” I got to be the cool, fun, young violin teacher…or at least, that’s how I’m hoping they saw me 🙂

After all the rehearsals were over, I ate lunch with a group of seventh graders, one of whom is a part of our youth group.  In the midst of our conversation, the following exchange happened:

B: So, do you, like, have a job or something?

Me: Yeah, I work at the church.

B: You work at our church?

Me: Yep…I’m the youth director.  (Just so you know, the student I was talking to is a faithful member of the youth group…comes every week to Bible study, etc.)

B: I knew that.  But…what do you do all day?

Me: Well… not sure whether to be offended or crack up 🙂

Loaves + Fish = Great Idea!

13 05 2010

So I was reading the story of Jesus feeding the multitude, when suddenly it occurred to me … Jesus would  have been a great youth minister!

I mean, look at this model of ministry:

1. Free Food! It’s a well-known fact that teenagers (and college students…and well, maybe everyone) are 10 times more likely to show up when there’s free pizza.

2. Flashy Miracle!  I’m not saying that multiplying the food was a gimmick…but it certainly gave people something to talk about.  And really, it’s not all that different from ministries that give away iPods, or ministers who offer to shave their heads when enough people show up for youth group.  Bottom line is, we want our meetings to be absolutely positively cool enough for our students to talk about with their friends when they get to school the next day.

But the best part about Jesus’ model is that it doesn’t stop there.  The next day, when the crowd shows up again, Jesus has some sharp words for them:

You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs—and for free.  Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.

Gimmicks and free food are fine…at first.  But if we never challenge our students to move beyond a superficial understanding of faith, then we’re not doing our job.  If we feed their bellies every week and never feed their souls, then something’s missing.   As we introduce them to the Bread of Life, the invitation is always the same: “Taste and see that the Lord is good!”

Creepy, yes? This is what happens when you google "Jesus pizza." From