What We Did This Week

Acts Social MediaWe had another great week in our student ministries. I really enjoyed teaching on Stephen from Acts 6 and 7 both nights and was loving the energy students brought into the room this week. Below are the details of what we did this week.

What We Did at Porch (High School)
Worship Set List: Relentless (Hillsong United), This I Believe [The Creed] (Hillsong), Always (Kristian Stanfill), Take the World But Give Me Jesus (Ascend the Hill), and Sweetness of Freedom (Citizens & Saints).
Teaching: We continued our Acts series by talking about Stephen from Acts 6 and 7. We looked at who Stephen was, his defense before the council, and his attitude as he was put to death. As we looked at Stephen, we challenged ourselves to be followers of Jesus who are courageous in the face of persecution and to allow God to use our persecution to be a witness for the Gospel. We didn’t do a game or anything this week so we jumped right into the talk after the band did one song and then after the talk we finished the night with more worship than normal.
Highlight: Teaching on Stephen. I have read the story of Stephen many times but have never taught on it. God used my time of study and prep to challenge me personally so I was fired up to teach it to my students.

What We Did at Edge (Middle School)
Dog Pushes Cat Into Bathtub
Upfront Game: Snapchallenge. This is a great game I got from Download Youth Ministry. Basically you show a Snapchat picture that has been doodled for five second. Then the contestants (we had a boy and a girl go head to head) must answer a question about that picture. It was fun game and our students loved it.
Group Game: Poop Deck. A classic youth group game that we pull out a few times a year. Our students love it and it’s a great game to get everyone moving. You split the room into three sections: low deck, mid deck, and poop deck. When the person leading the game says “poop deck” everyone must run to the poop deck. Last person in is out. Same rules apply when the leader yells “mid deck” or “low deck.” We eliminated three students each round until we got down to just a few students to help the game go a little faster. We had around 90 students plays so if your group is smaller just having one person get out at a time should be fine. The leader can also yell “man overboard,” which for our group means you must run to the nearest wall. If the leader yells “hit the deck” everyone must drop and lay flat on their stomach. Click here to download the graphic we used for this game.
Teaching: Same as what I did the night before with our high school students. I cut the talk down so it was a littler shorter but we still covered the same main content.
Highlight: Leading Snapchallenge was really fun. I love leading upfront games and this one was one of my favorites. We also picked two students that did really well on stage and made the game even better by their remarks and such.

Creating a Good Atmosphere Before Your Service Starts

PJ-AW203_TEENHO_D_20100728164045I’m a stickler when it comes to the atmosphere in the room before our student ministry services start. When it comes to our student ministry, there is a certain atmosphere in the room we want to set way before we even start the actual service. We strive to create an atmosphere that is welcoming to new students, promotes community, and gets students excited for the service that is to come. There are many ways to create this type of atmosphere and some of it depends on your context. I want to share with you a few things we do each and every week that helps us create the right atmosphere in the room before we start our services.

Music. Our media team knows that music should be playing before the first student walks through the door. Some of our students are already there because they are in the worship band, media team, or student leadership team, but once the band gets done practicing the media team knows to hit play on our pre-service playlist. This playlist usually starts no later than 15 minutes before the first student arrives. For our pre-service music we use Spotify. We have a pre-service playlists on Spotify that we use each week, one playlist is for high school and the other is for middle school. Our playlist is made up of mostly non-Christian artists with a handful of Christian artists thrown in. You can click here to take a look at our high school ministries pre-service playlist and click here to see our middle school ministries pre-service playlist. We are constantly updating these playlists by adding new songs as well as taking older songs off. There is a reason our playlists are 90% made up of non-Christian music. First off I hate the idea of “Christian vs non-Christian” music, but that’s a topic for another post. When it comes to our student ministry I want to be playing music before our service that our students actually know and like. One of the best ways to create a good atmosphere is to play music. This is why when you walk into a restaurant there is usually music playing in the background. But what creates an even better atmosphere is playing music you know the people walking into the room like and know. I am always asking our students for music suggestions for our pre-service playlists as well as taking time to scroll through top charts on Spotify to see what songs and artists are popular. I also listen to a few radio stations when I am in the car to catch some of the songs and artists our students may be hearing. Before I move on, don’t think I just throw any song a student recommends or I find on Spotify onto our playlist. If it has curse words, I won’t put it on the playlist. If it promotes sexual promiscuity I won’t put it on the playlist. But if it’s clean and students like it, I will put it on the playlist.

Things to do. Another way we create a good atmosphere in the room before we start our services is by providing things to do. It’s great for students to walk into a room that’s bumping with some good music but if nothing else is there for them to do while they wait they will be bored. We always have things set out for students to do before we start our services. Right now we have a ping-pong table, Wii, Kan-Jam (which is one of the best games ever), football, and a basketball hoop. It’s not a ton but it gives students something to do. But there is a great purpose than for them just to have something to do. The purpose of having these things available is that they help students build community with each other. We see students building community each week as they do some of these things we have available to them.

Places to chill. Having things to do is great, but it’s also vital to have some comfortable places for students to just sit back and relax. Some students thrive at connecting by doing something while other connect better by sitting on a couch and just talking. We provide a few areas for students to just kick back and chill. We have a corner with couches as well as an area with a tall table and stools.

Adult and student leaders being trained to connect with new and regular students. One of the main ways to create a good atmosphere before your service starts is to have leaders and student leaders trained to connect with new students and regular students. Music, things to do, and places to chill will mean nothing if students are not talking to one another and welcoming new students into the group. This is why our adult and student leaders are trained and encouraged to be moving around the room talking to new students and welcoming them into the group.

Countdown. I have vowed to never starts a student ministry service with a countdown. Every week we have a five minute countdown that signals we are about to start. I love using countdowns because it naturally pulls everyone into the room and gets them ready to start without anyone having to get up say anything. We have a membership with Centerline New Media so we use countdowns from them each week.

These are some of the things we do each week to create a good atmosphere before we start our services. What does your student ministry do to create a good atmosphere before services?

Books I’ve Recently Read

51c69HfZihL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Finding Common Ground by Tim Downs. My campus pastor had me read this book to better understand his philosophy and style of ministry. Because I have been on staff under my campus pastor for a little over two years now I had a decent idea of where this book was going. However, it was great to read a book like this that I know had shaped my campus pastor’s view of how he does ministry. I was glad he had me read it because it was a book that challenged some of my views on how to speak to and reach the unbelievers in the world around me. As the title suggest, Tim Downs goal in this book “is about the crucial job of finding common ground between the Christian and the secular worlds, two vast continents that are rapidly drifting apart” (page 12). As Christians, we are not called to remove ourselves from the culture and to create a “sub-culture” of Christianity but instead we are called to engage and be salt and light in our culture. In this book Down helps the reader understand the importance of sowing the Gospel. That means taking the times and means necessary to connect with unbelievers, understand them, and helping create an atmosphere that when the time is right the soil of their hearts will be ready for the Gospel. Throughout this book Down gives the reader tons of principles, ideas, and practical information to help Christians connect with unbelievers in their culture. Two chapters in this book really challenged me. First, was chapter 4 called “The Sower’s Art.” In this chapter Down talks about how the communication contains both science and art. Science being what is said, the raw content, and art being how the content is being shared and presented, the style of of the communication. Christians are guilty of putting a lot of emphasis on the science of connecting with unbelievers and sharing the Gospel. We focus on getting all the facts right and make during our theology and doctrine is perfectly lined up. These are not bad things. In fact, we need to be practicing good science in our communication to unbelievers. However, Down says, “Christians don’t tend to see the value of art. In this area, we are thirty years behind the rest of our culture” (page 54). In this chapter Down helps Christians understand how we can take the Gospel and Biblical beliefs and package them in a way that is understandable and effective for the unbeliever. Down says, “We must begin to encourage all Christians that spiritual growth requires developing goths science and art. Every Christian must grow in his knowledge of Scripture and theology, but equally in his ability to communicate it persuasively and attractively, whether through rioting or teaching or interpersonal communication” (page 59). The other chapter that really challenged me was chapter 11 called “Planting Part 2 – Materials.” In this chapter Downs challenged Christians to really evaluate the type of materials we give unbelievers that informs them about our faith. We should use resources that are relevant, speak the cultures language, raise good questions, and other things. I’d recommend this book for anyone who wants to effectively connect and reach unbelievers in the culture around them.

new-detox-coverSexual Detox by Tim Challies. I have read many books on the topic of sexual sin. Some have been great while others have not been so great. This book was one of the best books on the topic of sexual sin that I have ever read. In this book Challies writes to men who are sick of porn and the negative effects of sexual sin. Challies tackles issues such as the reality of pornography and sexual sin, masturbation, the gift of sex, and how men can go through a “sexual detox” in their soul as well as in the bedroom with their wife (or future wife). Challies deals with the reality of issues surrounding sexual sin but offers Gospel-centered principles on how men can be victorious over these sins. This is an incredible book that every man should take the time to read. It will convict and get to the heart of porn, lust, and sexual sin while offering practical advice on how to honor God and your wife in this area.

Two books I have recently read that I chose not to review here are The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer and The True Measure of a Man by Richard Simmons. I am currently reading Jesus Continued by J.D. Greear and plan to read Prayer by Tim Keller next.

What We Did This Week

Acts Social MediaWe had great nights in both our middle school and high school ministries this week. We had great attendance at both and there was good energy in the room both nights. Below are the details of what we did this week.

What We Did at Porch (High School)
Group Game: The Purge. We did this game a few weeks back with our middle school students and figured we would give it a try with the high school students. It went pretty well. The game is simple but crazy. You give every student a blown up balloon and the goal of the game is to be the last one standing with your balloon. You want to try and pop other peoples balloons. There are no rules except you cannot physical hurt someone else. We put a 15 minute countdown on the screen and threw a box of “supplies” out in the middle of the room. The box had plastic straws, balls, bandanas, duct tape, rope, and a few other random things. When your balloon gets popped you “die” and are out. Click here to watch a video of a youth group playing this game. Also, click here to get the graphic we used for this game.
Worship Set List: The Ascension (Phil Wickham), Hail the King (Citizens & Saints), Oceans [Where Feet May Fail] (Hillsong United), and Great I Am (New Life Worship).
Teaching: We continued our series through the book of Acts by talking about how the early Christians prayed and practiced radical generosity. The talk came straight from Acts 4:23-37.
Highlight: Each week I create postcard sized handouts to give students that have blanks to fill in for the talk. Most students use them and fill in the blanks as well as take notes, but the majority of them probably don’t do much with them after the night is over. I assume that because usually most of them are left on the floor or in the trash cans. However, this week I found out one of our students who just came to faith in Christ has been taking them home and putting them above his bed to help him remember what we have been learning. Makes doing these cards worth it!

What We Did at Edge (Middle School)
Video: Good Llama Bad Llama. This is a funny video from Download Youth Ministry. It’s a video that is only available to members right now. This is just another reason to get a membership with DYM. The membership is worth it. The video really doesn’t have a point other than to make students laugh. It basically says something a “good lama” does and then says something a “bad lama” does. We used it as an opener right when the countdown ended.
Upfront Game: Emoji Hunt. This is another sweet game from DYM that’s only available to members right now. It’s a game that runs as an app on your computer. Basically a slot machine type looking thing is on the screen and when you are ready it spins and will stop with three different emoji’s on the screen. You also have a phone number of your choice on the screen and the student that texts those emoji’s to that number in the order they are on the screen wins. This game was a hit with our students! Once DYM puts this game on their website for anyone to buy make sure you grab it and use it.
Group Game: Scatterball. We play this game at least once a month with our middle school students. They love it! It’s basically dodgeball but with only one ball (we usually throw in a few more as the game goes on). You can only take up to three steps with a ball as well. If you get hit you’re out and if you catch the ball the person that threw it is out. Play until there is one person left standing. Click here to download the graphic we use for this game.
Teaching: This week we had small groups and in their groups students continued our Acts series by talking about how the early Christians prayed and practiced radical generosity. They read and  discussed this from Acts 4:23-37.
Highlight: We picked up a new leader this week as well has had one potential leader come to check it out. As our middle school ministry grows we are in need of more leaders so it was great to see God provide in this area.

What We Did This Week

Acts Social MediaAfter taking a week off in student ministry programs due to Spring break, we returned to our nomad schedule this week and had great nights in both our middle school and high school ministries. Below are the details of what we did.

What We Did at Porch (High School)
Upfront Game: Egg Roulette. This is a Jimmy Fallon game that has been around for awhile and if you haven’t done it with your students you need to. It’s always a hit! There are a few different ways you can play this game. This is how we do it. Basically you get a bunch of eggs, boil some of them and leave some of them raw. Figure out how many rounds/students you want to use and boil enough eggs where a few people get out each round. Make sure you have it planned out so the final round has two students and out of the two eggs they must choose from one of them is boiled and the other raw. The student that gets to the end of the game without a raw egg cracked over their head wins. We had students come up in pairs and had them pick an egg to crack over their partners head. Click the link above to download the graphic we used for this game.
Worship Set List: In Tenderness He Sought Me (Citizens & Saints), Great I Am (New Life Worship), Jesus I Come (Elevation Worship), and Unstoppable God (Elevation Worship).
Teaching: We started a new series that we will be in for the next seven weeks called “Acts.” In this series we are looking at seven different passages/events from the book of Acts. Last night we looked at Acts 1:1-11 and talked about the promise of the Spirit and the call to be witnesses for Christ. We are also challenging our students to read through the book of Acts on their own within the next forty days. We gave them a “Acts Reading Challenge” bookmark sized handout that has the book of Acts broken down into forty days of reading. Click here to listen to the message.
Highlight: The highlight of the night came for me after the program was over. I saw a handful of tweets from students that talked about what they learned from the message and how much they love Porch. I love seeing that kind of stuff on their social media accounts.

What We Did at Edge (Middle School)
Upfront Game: Egg Roulette. Same as above except we did more rounds with more students.
Group Game: Birdy on a Perch. Students break up into pairs of two. One student has to be the birdy and the other has to be the perch. Have them start on opposite sides of the room (you can also have them walk in separate circles or do something else) and when you saw “birdy” they must race to find their partner. The student that is the perch must get down on one knee and the student that is the birdy must sit on the other students knee. The pair that is last to do this is out. Continue until there is one pair of students left.
Teaching: Same as above except I shortened the message a bit. Click here to listen to the message from Edge.
Highlight: Having one of our 6th grade students come up to me after to tell me he wants to read through the entire book of Acts before Sunday. We will see if he does it.