Wonder Twin Powers...Activate

This past weekend we had our 2nd annual Lock-In (yes, I do lock-ins).  We partner with another church across town and do it up big (and still don’t spend big bucks).  Most student pastors know that we should be partnering with other churches (especially small churches), but I want to highlight the main reasons this is essential in the small church ministry world.

1) We need partners because we shouldn’t do ministry alone.  Jesus didn’t operate solo nor did he only work with people in his small group (his disciples).  He had others who helped him in the ministry (Mary, Martha, Lazarus, even Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimethea).

2) We need partners because we have limited resources.  We don’t have a huge budget to do huge events, BUT other churches have things that we don’t have.  For example, our church rents a building, but my partner’s church is mobile.  So every now and then they might have an event or meeting that needs more space or needs to happen during the week.  Every time they’ve had need, it’s worked out with our schedule and they leave the place better than it was before.  On the flip side, I needed a drummer for an outdoor event our band was playing.  My partner used to play drums “back in the day” so I asked him to come out.  He did a fantastic job and because of his heart for ministry, didn’t charge us anything for his time and talent!

3) We need partners because it makes ministry more FUN!  I can’t tell you the kind of stuff my ministry partner get in to.  Whether it’s enjoying a lunch, a “work related” road trip, or just setting up for an event, we have a blast doing ministry together because we know WE’RE ON THE SAME TEAM.

So what do you do if you haven’t found a ministry partner?  PRAY and NETWORK!  Chances are there’s someone in your area that has the same heart for ministry that you do.  Start with churches similar to your own (size, location, worship style, etc.) and if that doesn’t get you results, branch out.  If you hit a dead end, try to find a student pastor that’s new to the area because there’s a guy or girl that’s looking for some help!

Game Time

Every 3 or so years, the stars align, God smiles upon my tiny creative skills, and I come up with a new game to play with my youth group.

Here’s the latest one, hope you can use it.

Name: Sit Down Soccer
Basic Idea: Kinda like life-size fooseball, but the players remain stationary
Equipment: A beach ball and two nets (hockey net or small soccer goals work well)
Rules: Players use their hands to hit the ball (not catch & throw) into the other team’s goal.  Players can NOT stand or move from their position once the game starts.  The arrangement of offense and defense makes all the difference in how the game is played.  Since the first time we tried this, we made a new rule that says the only defenders near the goal can be one goalie and one other defender.  If you have more than that, scoring becomes near impossible.

At the mid-point of the game, I’ll usually allow everyone to move positions so goalies can change and offense can switch to defense.  Also, it’s good to have a few non-players around the boundaries to throw the ball back in play when it goes out.

That’s the basics, but there’s plenty of room for tweaks and improvements.  If you come up with either, let me know so we can try it out.

The Retreat Hangover

I probably shouldn’t be writing this, but I’m going through it now and I KNOW others have as well.  It’s the “retreat hangover”.  The day after you get back from a weekend retreat only to realize that you’re a) old b) sore c) in need of a vacation and d) wishing you were paid hourly (or paid at all!).

In case you’ve never experienced this youth ministry phenomenon, allow me to explain.

#1 - Brain haze - the inability to say anything NOT related to “stop farting, we’re in a closed space!”  This can also include a general lack of fine motor skills necessary to accomplish the simplest task (such as brushing teeth or taking out the trash).

#2 - Sloth speed - characterized by extremely slow movements that are absolutely essential to survival and/or job security.  This covers everything the YP must do that day to avoid the question “Why are you so far behind?”

#3 - Muscle rebellion - Typically occurs when there is much physical activity involved at the retreat.  This also includes a SEVERE awareness of the YP’s age and physical fitness (OR lack thereof).  Muscles will rebel and/or simply shutdown until proper amounts of rest, pain relievers, and couch laying have been accomplished.

Of course this list isn’t exhaustive and is meant to be taken with the amount of salt you find on your fries from Wendy’s!

In spite of the hard work, lack of (good) sleep, and the ensuing “hangover”, weekend retreats can be the BEST way to teach some deeper material, grow closer, and build momentum.

What other “symptoms” would you add to the “Retreat Hangover”?

Small Church, BIG Ministry

Bigger isn’t ALWAYS better (unless you’re talking about steaks, bouncy castles, or chocolate bars).  I’ve been in ministry for a little over 5 years and have always been on staff at small to medium sized churches.

I grew up in a large church environment.  It was (and still is) the BIG church in town.  We had the nice, big youth group, plenty of resources, and TONS of opportunities.  As much as I have great fondness of my experiences there, I’m glad I’ve never been on staff at a church that size.  So here 4 reasons why I love being on staff at a small(er) church.

#1 - Everyone can know me and I can know everyone.  Let me clarify...when I was on staff at a larger church, everyone knew me (the youth guy), but I didn’t know them.  I’m socially awkward enough without having to pretend I know everyone’s name (and I do that more than willing to admit).

#2 - I can easily call an “audible”.  I put the word “easily” in there because you CAN call audibles at a large church, but you better have a GOOD reason.  A great example of this...a few weeks ago we were in between teaching series with the students.  So instead of just teaching “another lesson”, I called an audible that week (I made the decision on a Monday).  So when the students showed up Wednesday night, we played "Sardines" all night throughout the church.  It was GREAT!  The kids were able to relax, I was able to build some relationships, and my wife became the “Sardines Grand Champion”.

#3 - Our student ministry can be a family affair.  This is another one of those things that CAN be done in a larger church, but it’s a whole lot easier in a small church.  My 13 month old comes with us every Wednesday night and hangs out before we start.  We have an AWESOME parent that volunteers to stay at the church and keep her during the youth service.  So as soon as we’re done, my little girl gets to come back and hang out with all the students that have grown to love her.

#4 - We can be a “big church” when it’s convenient.  By that I mean, if I wanna do a BIG event but don’t have the BIG budget (or the big crowd) to pull it off...I can call some other student pastors in the area and see if they wanna partner with us.  We pool our budgets together, draw a bigger crowd, and have an excellent time ministering side-by-side.

These are just the few things I love most about being at a small church.  What’s your experience been like and what size are you in right now?