Self

#misfits, adolescent, community, Family Ministry, purpose, students, Uncategorized

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Sometimes youth simply need space to figure things out on their own. Come on, this one shouldn’t be a surprise to you. Think back to when you were a teenager. No matter how many times someone told you not to do something or warned you about the “severe consequences” of this or that, chances are you still did it.

One of the basic needs for youth is to “experiment to discover self, gain independence and to gain control over one’s life.” In other words, youth need space to try to figure out who they are.

This can be very difficult for some people, especially parents. Hopefully, a trust has been formed through giving youth the other basic needs that you can put some slack out on the reigns.  Think about it for a moment, you’ve helped give you safety and structure, given them a place to belong and helped them develop self-worth; they should be getting a great glimpse of their identity.

Youth will try to test that out. This is the experiment phase as adults we dread for our young people. They can engage in risk-taking behavior, question their faith, question authority and in their journey of self-discovery have the potential to miss the mark completely.

It takes caring adults to walk with youth in these moments. Adults who will act as waypoints when youth lose their way; to be a lighthouse calling the ships back from sea.

I love the stories I’ve heard recently about parents creating codes with their kids so the kids can have a way out of a tough situation. The teen will text their parents, older siblings, or even you, the code word and in response they would call the teen saying that they are coming to get them it is an emergency, or some other excuse. See, youth often know that they may not want to be in a situation, they need that independence to make that choice themselves, and sometimes they just need an escape plan. This plan works great because the teen has an escape but feels safe because the parents establish trust enough not to ask the teen questions and punish them. What steps can you take to help the youth around you get a sense of independence?

Hang tough as the youth who you work with are on this journey of self-discovery. Call out the greatness you see in them. Walk with them in the messes they make and help them figure out how to clean it up best. This is how teens learn to handle all the stress, poor decisions and chaos that life can throw at them. It is scary, but love them and pray like crazy.

Do Something

#misfits, adolescent, community, Family Ministry, Student Ministry, students, Uncategorized

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When I talk with youth workers about how to engage youth I talk about the BIG 3. These are three questions that youth wrestle with:

  1. Who am I?
  2. Where do I belong?
  3. What am I to do?

The first question deals with identity; the second, community and the third question deals with purpose.

A basic youth need is to develop self-worth through meaningful contribution.

For youth workers that means to help youth find their voice, find their passion and get involved. Youth should find their purpose and figure out how to use that purpose in a way that is bigger than themselves.

This contribution often looks different for each youth. It is unique because of who the youth is and where they feel they want to get involved. Maybe it is a local youth council, volunteering at church or at a community center,  or being part of school activities.

Youth simply need to know that they can contribute something to the world. That who they are, and the things they can do, matters to the world around them.

Not sure how to get the ball rolling in helping youth get plugged in somewhere? Ask them some good questions, what they like to do, what are some of their talents and passions? For instance, if a young man loves basketball try to see if he could volunteer to coach young kids.

You are a great resource for youth because you are able to see some of these connections better than them and have your own social network to tap into to get them involved. As you walk with youth help them to leave a mark on the community they are a part of.

#Basic

#misfits, adolescent, community, Family Ministry, life, purpose, Student Ministry, students, systems, team building, Uncategorized

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As youth workers we often get the privilege of watching a youth grow over multiple years. Friends over at Orange have broken these down in what they call Phases. Each phase has unique strengths and challenges for that age group.  Youth are often asking similar questions and have similar concerns that are unique to that particular phase. Many moons ago, Dr. Gisela Konopka, helped pioneer the way for youth development and helped generate eight basic needs that all youth need to develop in a healthy way. Over the next few weeks I want to look at each of these basic needs, why they are so important and ways that you can help youth that you work with meet these needs. The eight basic needs for healthy youth development are:

  1. Feels Sense of Safety and Structure
  2. Experience active participation, group membership, and belonging.
  3. Develop self-worth through meaningful contribution
  4. Experiment to discover self, gain independence, and gain control over ones life
  5. Develop significant quality relationships with peers and at least one adult
  6. Discuss conflicting values and navigate their own values
  7. Feel pride of competence and mastery
  8. Expand their capacity to enjoy life and know that success is possible

Before we dive into the how we can help youth attain these important developmental needs, we should evaluate where we are currently.

First, when you think of youth development what do you think of? What does it sound and look like?  what experiences are important? What do youth value? What does it feel like? Jot some ideas down and hang it up somewhere.

When you were a youth, which of these were important to you? They all have an importance to the eight basic needs of youth.

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Finally, what is your program doing right now to meet some of these needs?

When we are able to help meet the needs of our youth, we are able to better walk with them through their lives. As we look through these basic needs, we are able to improve our practices and our programs to allow for youth to have a place to belong.

Party Time

#misfits, adolescent, church, community, Family Ministry, life, organizational strategy, students, Uncategorized

party

We all have the one type of kid we wish we could connect into our programs.

She’s the cheerleader and bible study leader, the captain of the sports team, the influencers and role models of the youth we hope to influence. They would be the core kids and the leadership team members. Just think, if we could influence the influencers, oh the possibilities.

Sometimes they come, and sometimes, they don’t.

We can get so wrapped up in these kids we forget about the ones who do come. Who show up consistently, who feel they belong, who need a connection to Jesus and to an adult that will give a crap about them.

This story popped in my mind this morning, it’s in Luke 14:15-24

In the story, a man decides to throw a dinner party. My imagination takes me to the blowout bash of the year.  The event has great party gifts, Gordon Ramsay is cooking food, Jay-Z and Beyonce are providing entertainment and there is an A list guest list.

And no one shows.

They all have something else to do, some other event, some other priority that takes their time.

When the man threw the party, he had an expectation of the type of people he wanted there, and who would come. They didn’t.

Then the invitation went you. The Misfits came. The homeless and wretched came. Those from far off came to the party.

What if you are planning events and programs for people who won’t show up? They have sports practices, school assignments, time with friends and family, and other priorities that eat at time.

What if the perspective changes? What if we send out for the Misfits and the wretched? The ones in your group who show up and need your group to connect them to Jesus, to one another and to adults who will champion for them. What if we made it a safe place for all youth to come and they don’t need to fit a certain mold or expectation we put on them.

Party with the youth who are there, celebrate with them, share your life with them, help them discover the purpose of their own life, and point them to Jesus.

Win-Win

#misfits, #politics, adolescent, church, community, organizational strategy, systems, Uncategorized

winwin

 

There is a scene in the movie “A Beautiful Mind” that has always stuck with me.

   It is a scene where the main characters and his friends are at a bar and a group of girls walk in. They begin to apply various theories into how to approach the girls. What stuck out to me was the idea that decisions should be made for what is best for the individual and what is best for the group. It brought to my attention what I would later learn to be the concept of Win-Win strategy.

Dealing with other organizations, finding new partners and even recruiting new volunteers can be complicated. Many times there are different agendas and motives for people wanting to participate. There is also this sense of control and who has more power over the other. Everyone wants to call the shots and everyone wants what is best for their own organization. However, what is often best for one party is not best for another. In these Win-Lose, or even Lose-Lose, scenarios relationships can be broken, partnerships fail and success if often hindered.

I have tried to apply Win-Win thinking into new endeavors and partnerships that I form. This is one of the seven habits of highly effective people. Win-Win helps people and organizations to collaborate and cooperate together, instead of competing with one another.

Thinking Win-Win is often not the norm of organizations and can be tricky. There is a balancing act between being empathetic to the needs of another person and sticking to vision and mission of yourself and your organization. It often takes out of the box thinking, innovation and giving up something inconsequential for something valuable. To apply Win-Win into your interactions with others it takes a lot of maturity, integrity, and understanding of what is core to achieving the purposes of your organization.

If you are in the middle of debating new partnerships or new collaborations and you just seem to be getting stuck, start to think Win-Win. Get to the Core of your organization, your mission and values, the things that if changed would radically change the function of your group. If the partnership starts to endanger these things, they may not be a good fit. However, what are some little things that you may be able to give up in order for something new to start. Start to think Win-Win and see how new things start to flourish and partnerships begin to form.

Habits

#misfits, church, community, Family Ministry, Ministry, Uncategorized

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     Last week we introduced you to the book ‘Your Best Us’ by our friend Ted Lowe. This week we wanted to give you an insiders look at how the book can impact your marriage. By no means is this a cheat sheet, in the book each one of the four habits is dived into and gives tips to put them into practice and personalize your journey. Your Best Us helped us look at where we are at in our marriage and pick things to work on. These four habits help us to increase the connection we have in our marriage and we hope to point other couples to practice these habits too. 

Habit 1: Have Serious Fun

“One of the best ways to protect your marriage is to enjoy your marriage.”

     Your marriage should be fun. This habit defies some of the common barriers that stop us from having fun. In our marriage, it is busyness and exhaustion. Sometimes, we are just too tired to enjoy one another and would rather go to bed. This stops us from simply talking and connecting for the day. To practice having fun we continued our weekly tradition of Date Night. For us it is Monday night (unless talked about before hand) and we go out to eat and go do something together. It gives us our own time, allows us to talk with one another, ask each other questions and dream together.

Habit 2: Put God First

“When our connection with God is growing it postures us to love others better than we could ever love them on our own.”

     Habit 2 finds us getting back to our basics. It simply asks the question “how are you and Jesus doing?” This habit rekindles our love for God which in turn rekindles our love for our spouses. If you are finding yourself in a rut lately, start up a new reading plan, pray (pray alone or with your spouse),  or join a small group at your church. These small steps can help you discover the Us in your marriage.

Habit 3: Respect & Love

“Our spouses reveal the brokenness in us”

“hurtful words from broken people, write lies on our hearts”

     We were introduced to this idea in our pre-marital counseling. We are two broken people, with hurts, habits and hang ups, coming together in marriage. Things can get intense. From the words you use, the tone you use, or simply leaving the fridge open too long. Sometimes, we don’t think the best of our spouses. Respect & Love helps us to identify the cycle of negativity that separates us from connecting with one another. When we can identify the negative cycle, action can be taken to start working on replacing the negativity (and lies we believe about ourselves) with positive truths.

Habit 4: Practice Your Promise

“We can chose to love better.”

     Standing in front of a room of friends and family, we took vows together. It is these promises that we need to practice. This habit simply challenges us to ask the question: WHAT AM I DOING TO MAKE THIS MARRIAGE WORK? It gets us out of the victim mentality, that “woe is me,” that blames the other person. It helps us to take ownership of our promise to our spouse and to simply show up.

     It was great reading this book together and simply talking about how to become the BEST US. Go to MarriedPeople to learn about how you can empower couples and pick up your copy of “Your Best Us

Rally

#misfits, church, community, Family Ministry, misfits, Student Ministry, Uncategorized

rally

 

The problems we face as individuals, neighborhoods, cities and as a nation, we cannot face them alone.

It takes a group of people, united in a common vision, to tackle problems that are as complex as we are as people. It is the same in working with youth,  it truly takes a village.

There are so many people who can speak into the lives of youth and so many available resources. Somehow in the quantity of it all, people have fallen victim to the bystander effect. The idea that someone else will offer help, someone else will step up, someone else will champion for that youth, simply because they are around. In the end, since everyone has fallen to bystander effect, nothing is done and we grow more apathetic.

As student champions we must rally all the adults in a students life to work together.

No matter the organization in which you are dealing with youth, there are other adults that can influence the same child you work with. Their parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, mentors, aunt and uncles and even the guy at the gym their son tries to emulate. There is greater potential for influencing the life of a child when we rally together.

I have been working and researching a lot on at-risk youth the past year. The single biggest idea that I continue to come across is the more positive connections a youth has in their community, the more likely they will experience positive outcomes.

Think about that one kid that you love so much but somehow they just don’t see your vision for them in their life. Who are some other adults you can rally around them? Start of with their parents. Ask how you can help. Talk to them about what you see in their child and you want to make potential, a reality. Connect with other people, build a network of connections and people who want to see youth flourish. We cannot afford to be islands, isolated people, trying to influence youth. We must work together, collaborate, share ideas and resources in order to impact the lives of our younger friends. 

Orange Quotables

#misfits, adolescent, church, community, empathy, Family Ministry, Ministry, organizational strategy, Student Ministry, students, Uncategorized

The Monday after Orange and I am still processing all the awesome stuff that happened at Orange. I am thinking about the students I work with, my neighbors, the city I live in and my own ministry. I posted the notes to the sessions I attended in these blogs.

#OC17 Rundown 17.1

#OC17 Rundown 17.2

Here are some quotes that stood out to me amongst all the wisdom shared at Orange Conference 2017.

Love everybody, always.

    -Bob Goff

I’m not trying to be right anymore, Im trying to be Jesus.

    -Bob Goff

Following Jesus means leading a life that will be constantly misunderstood.

    -Bob Goff

If the church doesn’t do this, then who does.

    -Nicole Fulham Baker

Something powerful happens when neighbors who aren’t for the church, realize the church is still for them.

    – Jeff Henderson

If we listen long enough, we’ll hear someones pain.

    – Ryan Leak

When we can show up for yourselves, and surround ourselves with others who believe in us, we can find the possibility within us.

    – Mike Foster

I have to do this, because this matters, they matter.

    – David Tieche

This is what we need: adults who will take extreme ownership for problems they did not create, for kids that are not theirs, and say “I will solve it” even though it is not their responsibility.

    – David Tieche

This is the sacred task of youth workers, we get to call out the essence the youth we work with.

    -Dave Tieche

In every case if a teenager has an asset it is because a caring adult has given it to them

    -Dave Tieche

God is in love with people, you cannot dismiss people and be ok with God.

    -Andy Stanley

When you approach this new way, of loving people the way Jesus loves you, all the old loopholes and questions and excuses close.

    -Andy Stanley

I can’t just try to keep kids entertained and attending, I’ve got to challenge them to serve and to minister.

    – Doug Field

Mr. Rodgers didn’t qualify who his neighbor was. Neither did Jesus.

    -Jon Acuff

We never let parents, parent alone.

    – Carlos Whittaker

The next generation needs someone who has gone before them to be for them.

    – Gerald Fadayomi

There are no ordinary children.

    – Danielle Strickland

Sometimes it takes a party, to change how we see each other.

Sometimes it takes a party to demonstrate that God cares about people who party.

Sometimes it takes a party, to confirm that we can always be forgiven.

Sometimes it takes a party, to prove that people matter more than our opinions.

Sometimes it takes a party, to remind us all that everyone is invited to the party.

Start a party.

    – Reggie Joiner

Students need consistent opportunities to love and serve others and to coach them while they do it

    -Reggie Joiner

#OC17 Rundown 17.2

#misfits, adolescent, church, community, Family Ministry, Ministry, misfits, stories, Student Ministry, students, systems, Uncategorized, volunteer

 

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First things first. YOU HAVE TO HEAD TO ORANGE STORE!!!

https://secure.orangestore.org/

It is packed with some awesome resources, curriculum, strategy and advice. Take a few minutes to look through everything, make a wish list, ask for it, and then ask Orange Specialists for advice. They are great at helping ministry flourish in communities and wrestling with the difficulties alongside you.

Main Session 2

The main session this morning was awesome. Orange introduced us to some new friends and some familiar faces.

This morning we were introduced to Lucas Leys, founder of e625. He is influencer and change maker for people working alongside and in the hispanic culture. He had some points to share about the current state of the hispanic culture in the U.S. A huge thing that got to me was that the hispanic culture is fearful, but eager to engage with the Gospel around them. Then an old friend of Orange, Andy Stanley, then came out and dropped some knowledge. He talked about the Old Testatment, Vertical Morality, versus what Jesus brought to the table, a Horizontal Morality. The Horizontal Morality simply asks the question, “What does love require of me.” This question, though simple, is more demanding of our faith. It forces us to engage the people around us in new ways that demonstrate the love of Jesus in our communities and to our neighbors.

Moving High Schoolers to Be Neighbor Minded

Doug Fields @DougFields

Doug Field is a wealth of knowledge on everything Student Ministry. This session Doug talked about how we as churches need to change our measuring stick of success. We have to move from a numbers based approach and look at how our students are serving and ministering to the communities they are a part of. Doug highlight his SHAPE strategy to help students discover their gifts and where to put them for their own success. When our goal is to create students who have a passion for seeing a need and meeting it with love, they become more neighborly, more like Jesus.

At Risk Teens

David Tieche @DaveTieche

It was great connecting with David for a few minutes before his session.  He blew this session out of the water has he talked about best practices for dealing with teens labeled ‘at-risk.’ Dave talked about how a teens external and internal assets impact their choices in life. The more assets a teen has the less likely they are to engage in risk-taking behavior. Where do teens get these assets from? Caring adults. Dave gave out some great tips for working with teens, best practices and simple questions to start the conversation.

Partnering with Schools in the Intercity Untitled 4

Nicole Baker Fulgham @nicolebfulgham

Being an educator I have always looked for ways to partner with schools in the community. There is a need for time, people, and skills. When churches can connect with schools in a way that respects the mission of the school great things happen. Nicole Baker Fulgham shared strategies for working with intercity schools. Something that I am personally taking away is to get informed about the city, the community, you are a part of, especially when it relates to multi-cultural issues.

OC#17 Rundown 17.1

#misfits, church, community, Family Ministry, Ministry, stories, Student Ministry, Uncategorized

Orange Conference hasn’t even started yet but I am already feeling excited and pumped for the next few days. Today, the YouLead Breakouts gave us just a taste of what’s to come. The first session was called “Understanding Social Justice in the City” from Sean Watkins. Then, I went to see Jon Acuff give some tips and advice in order to “Talk Better Now.” The mxain session was awesome as always with a lot of great speakers bring out the best of the theme For Our Neighbors. Here are some of the BIG ideas from both Sean Watkins and Jon Acuff and the rundown on the Opening Session.

Social Justice in City

Sean came out right and said that, “our calling as parents, our vocation as youth ministry leaders, is incomplete if we do not address social justice issues.”

Going through Nehemiah as a guide to leadership, character and how to do social justice reform in our communities Sean broke down how leaders can engage the communities around them. The issues in our cities, in our communities, that are evident to people around us should break your heart, should make you angry as it breaks Gods own heart and angers Him. We begin to engage the communities around use first by becoming more aware. We must lament and grieve to the injustices in the cities and communities we are a part of. That we should engage the least of these in a way that honors the fact that God is so portrayed as a stranger needing hospitality. Ask yourself questions that raise your own awareness about social justice issues and those around you. Who is missing from your programs? Who has come and not returned? Why? What are the social justice issues in the city? Once we are aware, we know, and knowing is half the battle. We must continue to strive to understand the context of social justice issues through the historical lens of our cities, understand the biblical mandate to engage in these issues and to look for ways to meet a need. From awareness, to action to advocacy. We must advocate for these issues that impact the lives of people we encounter. We cannot afford to simply not be racist but we must be anti-racism by advocating for those impacted by racism in our communities. Bring people along with you in this journey, be honest with where you are in it yourself. Find organizations that are combating these issues and work hand-in-hand with them.

Sean did a great job of clarify issues, giving us a biblical understanding of social justice and equipping us to take the next steps. Check out his, and others, podcast at Voices from the Margins. Sean works for Intervarsity and can be reached at sean.watkins@intervarsity.org or followed on twitter @seanisfearless

Talk Better Now

Most people get excited to hear Jon Acuff speak. I am no different. I walk away with something new to motivate me, a new technique to try at work or that little nudge to push me past my comfort zone. Jon gave a quick and dirty rundown on simple ways he prepares to give speeches and tips for listeners to be more successful.

Jon gave the audience some points on being a better speaker. His first point was to simply know your audience. This helps you to connect with someone through a message. Ask the host questions like what should you avoid in the speech, what is the audience going through, what are they excited about. These questions help formulate a better understanding of the audience, develops empathy with them and allows the audience to connect in a deeper way. His next tip was to play to your strengths. Simply write out your speech, then edit later. They are two different things and shouldn’t be done in unison. Using that template create main islands and bridges that connect those main ideas. Predict where there will be pushback from your audience on ideas and explain them in a way that they acknowledges their pushback but also challenges them. Be authentic in your talk. People, especially teenagers, can smell dishonest a mile aware and can be pretty unforgiving. When speaking, read the room and use tension through changing rhythms to tailor your talk to the audience. Practice until it is almost perfect and then make sure you enjoy the process, or the audience won’t either. A huge idea that Jon talked about was the speaking is a form of serving. That it is his goal to communicate an idea in such a way that it equips the leaders with something they can take way with them. That peoples response should be, “it was like you were reading my diary, you understood what I was going through.”

Jon has so much to give about being an effective communicator. He has a tone of great books out and is always on twitter @JonAcuff.

MainSession

Opening session saw some awesome speakers light up our world and get ready to start a party. Jon Acuff, Carlos Whittaker, Gerald Fadayomi, Danielle Strickland and Reggie Joiner all brought their voices. Ways to see our neighbors, to help parents, listen to students, see people in a fresh way and how to start a party. We are FOR OUR NEIGHBORS

Click the section headings for Notes on sessions and connect with Orange using the hashtag #OC17