30 08 2011

Lately, I’ve been reading Timothy Eldred’s book, 4 Hour Youth Ministry.  Eldred is the head of the Endeavor Movement and a champion of youth-led ministry (as opposed to youth ministry led by adults).  While we’re far from fully implementing the Endeavor model in our youth ministry, I am certainly gleaning many new ideas!

One of my favorite ideas is a new model for taking attendance: instead of simply keeping track of who bothers to show up for a given activity, Eldred suggests keeping track of how often you contact each student.  The idea is, if you don’t take the time to show up on “their turf,” why would they ever bother to show up on yours?  And hopefully, it will give us a practical framework to move out of a numbers-centered ministry into a more relationship-centered ministry.  Eldred says he tries to contact each student in four ways: individual communication (face to face), in a small group, verbally (calling them on the phone), and written (emails, letters, etc.).

With regard to that last one (written communication), I enlisted the help of my graphic designer sister Jana!  She came up with some beautiful designs for postcards that I can print myself and mail to students, volunteers, and parents.  Now I have birthday cards, thank-you notes, “Glad you came” postcards, “Thinking of you” cards, and blank notecards for all occasions.  I’m particularly excited about the birthday cards.  I’m going to write a personal birthday message on a balloon and attach a balloon to the card.  Then, when they get their card and inflate the balloon, they’ll have a personal birthday message waiting for them!

And, as Jana mentions in her blog post, we’re planning to come up with a new set of designs every year!

Check them out:





30 08 2011

Clearly it’s been a busy summer.  It always is, in youth ministry.  I kept telling myself, I’ll blog when things settle down.

But then the fall semester began, busily, as well.

When will I learn, life never gets un-busy????

So, as I start back here on my blog, here’s a recap of everything that kept me busy this summer:

 First, I took a bunch of high schoolers to Georgia for a mission trip. It was both exhausting and energizing.  In spite of bus breakdowns, credit card malfunctions, emergency room visits, and swarms of gnats, it was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on.  Our kids (and adults) came away with a much deeper understanding of Christian community and God’s mission here on earth.  I highly recommend working with the Fuller Center for Housing. We worked with their Student Builders program, which was not nearly as programmed as some of the big-name mission-trip organizations (we did our own evening programming and such).  But that made the whole experience organic and authentic…instead of us simply imposing our needs and schedules onto the community where we were working,  we were able to really become a part of the community in a special way.  We ended the week of work with a house dedication ceremony and community cookout.  Even after returning, our youth have really gotten on board with this organization…so, we’re planning a weekend mission trip to a local Fuller Center affiliate in just a few months.

operating a metal press in San Antonio...that's right, be impressed!

We weren’t home for long before we left on Mission Trip #2, Destination: San Antonio.  It was probably more exhausting than energizing, mainly due to the limitless energy of our middle school participants 🙂  I designed the trip around the themes of “accessibility and disability.” Our kids worked in the morning with special needs students at a Vacation Bible School, and our afternoons included a combination of service projects and educational activities.  My favorite moment from the week happened on Wednesday afternoon, when our youth spontaneously began doing the Hokey Pokey with a group of special needs adults and children who were participating in a summer lunch program.  We also took a tour of Morgan’s Wonderland, an amusement park that is 100% handicap-accessible.  It was pretty neat: you should check it out if you’re ever in the area!

The last trip of the summer was, believe it or not, a vacation!  (Gasp!  All my youth director friends were shocked that I took a week off in the middle of the summer!)  My family met up at Yosemite National Park for a wonderful week away.  I had a great time hanging out with my sister and cousins and enjoying the scenery of waterfalls and mountains.  We took several hikes, toured around Yosemite Valley, and saw some of the big sites of San Francisco (what a neat city!)


Other notable things that happened this summer:

We took the youth to Six Flags for a day.  We went bowling.  Our church softball team finished the season undefeated.  We cheered them on in their last game.  I played in some weddings.  I got a new phone and lost all my numbers.  Jordan started training for a marathon. I thought about training for a marathon but then remembered that I don’t enjoy running.  My mother broke her wrist and had to have surgery.  We stayed with her while she recovered.  We turned our church into a jungle for Vacation Bible School.  We enlisted the help of local fire fighters to hose our youth down on Water Day.  Jordan and I celebrated our third anniversary.  We bought a food dehydrator and dried a bunch of fruit (and made fruit leather…no beef jerky yet, though).  We hosted a worship concert. I spent a few days at a statewide youth ministry meeting.  We went to Weekend of the Cross, painted houses, etc.  We moved!  We unpacked.  We unpacked some more. We shared our mission trip experiences with the congregation. Jordan turned 24. We painted the Sunday School rooms.  We spent time with some of our high school grads before they headed off to college.  We went tubing.

And then, the new school year began…