Category Archives: Youth

Pump you up!

This past weekend we had our youth retreat and it was a blast!  We had one of my best friends Matt Richardson come speak to the youth, we played some crazy team competitions, ate some good food, hung out by the fireplace, flashlight tag and played a new game called Gaga ball….If you don’t know what that is I have included a clip from Youtube.  We played it a little different than this but this will give you an idea.

It actually began thundering, raining, and snowing while we were playing Gaga ball outside.  We had a wonderful weekend that I believe really helped many teens grow stronger in their faith.

We were all very tired but the end of the retreat and ready to go home.  It is always funny when you arrive back at the church because every year people seem surprised that you are tired and are not jumping for joy at what happened at the retreat.  You will be sweating, lugging in all the supplies from the weekend and people don’t understand many times why you don’t want to just sit and chat instead of go home and crash.  So in case you were one of the people who saw me sweating and lugging stuff into my office and the youth room and wondered, “Did they have a good time?  Dave and the other leaders look very tired and don’t have tons of energy.”  Please know we had a blast, it was an awesome weekend, but when we get back home we are all ready to go take a shower, lay on the couch, and fall asleep…no offense meant at all.

This brings me to the thought of what gives us energy?  We are all uniquely made and some things in the ministry will give us energy and some things will deplete our energy.  One of the things that gives me energy is reading.  It could be magazines, books, or blogs it doesn’t matter.  This really refuels me as it helps me to dream and have visions for the future of our church.  One of the things that drains me is trying to recruit people to join our ministries.  This is an area of weakness for me as many times I get drained when I am trying to find an adult leader for a girls small group and I get 20 No’s.  I am continuing to try to find ways to do a better job in this area or find people who are good at recruiting.

What about you?  What areas of ministry bring you energy and what areas drain you?

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It’s O.K. to laugh!

Yes my friends that is a giant pair of underpants I have on…This picture was taken last year at our Fall Encounter with our youth ministry.  We were getting ready to play a game where the teens had to have their entire team fit into their giant underwear and race against the other team around the building.  Some may say “Why do this?  What is the spiritual value in that?”  You are right no one had a mind-blowing vision from the book of Revelation after squeezing their team into the giant underwear….no one got saved by us racing around the building but some great things do happen when we let our guard down and act goofy.

This shows the teens and the adults it is O.K. to laugh at ourselves.  It shows the teens that the adult leaders in their group can kick back and have a good time.  Please understand my main focus as a Minister of Youth and Young Adults is train youth to be disciples and then for them to go out into the world and make disciples.  However, to see people take something as silly as a giant pair of underpants  and race around a building can make for an awesome bonding experience.

So my challenge for you is to let down your guard every now and then, have fun, be goofy, laugh at yourself, and don’t be surprised that when you do the awesome conversations and questions that happen because of it!

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Filed under Fun, Relationships, Youth

Games Gone Bad

Why are you stealing me?

Probably one of the worst game ideas (at least with my current group although this would probably be highly contested by some) was “Steal the Bacon”.   This game was very fun but became painful very quick!  You might ask what is “Steal the Bacon”?   In simple terms you 1.  split into two teams 2. make sure each team has the same amount of people  3. Number everyone off…making sure there are #1’s on both sides, #2’s on both sides, #3’s on both sides, etc… 4.  You separate the teams to opposites sides of the playing fields  5.  You then put an object in the middle of the two teams (football, frisbee, or we used a truck inner-tube).  6.  You then call out a number like 6 then the person on each team that was number 6 runs to grab the bacon and bring it back to their side.

This sounds like a wonderful game (and truly could be) and you can actually see many youth ministries and children ministries having a great time playing this game because videos are posted on sites like Youtube.  However our group decided to add more steps in the game and that is when you try to physically crush your opponent to the ground without even going for the bacon.  You would have a 6’1 250 lb guy with no football pads on trying to smash their opponent to the ground when they weren’t looking instead of just grabbing the bacon.  This was one of those “sacred cow” games they had done for several years at their retreat and I dared not mess with it at first.  It was during the second year that I saw people getting hurt, limping off the field, crying, yelling, and I said enough was enough and cut the game short.  It was one of those times that I knew the game should have probably been cut even sooner but I didn’t want to labeled “the guy who ruined the retreat.”  Sometimes it is a wise move to not mess with “sacred cows” if it is not necessary but other times if it is in the best interest of the group make the move now!  Thankfully we didn’t end up with broken bones and honestly I don’t know how!

What is a game that you have used in your children, youth, or adult ministries that has went really bad?

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Other duties as assigned…

Other duties as assigned

Many jobs have the phrase “others duties as assigned” at the end of their job description but I feel no other job quite fits this description like Youth Pastor.  The picture that you see above is with the youth from our church at our recent mission trip in North Carolina.  There were five youth groups there at our YouthWorks site in Taylorsville, NC and whatever youth ministry reached $300 of merchandise purchased first got to turn their leader in a human sundae which included chocolate syrup, strawberry syrup, sprinkles, and whip cream!  I must say I call shenanigans on this since we had the largest group doubling most of the other groups there but I played along nonetheless.  It had been really hot all week (usually over 100 degrees with the heat index each day) and we worked really hard and therefore I wasn’t particularly excited to get “Sundaed” right before we went home.  I thankfully got to take a shower (after I got rinsed off with freezing water from a garden hose) before I drove home but regardless I don’t think anyone would really choose to be blowing sprinkles out of their nose for half the day.  I would also like to call a second shenanigans because the youth also reached another incentive where one of the YouthWorks leaders had to eat a small cup of cottage cheese (she hated cottage cheese) however she ate 3 bites and gave up.

Why do I bring this up?  It’s because in the ministry we will be called to do many things we might not have “signed up for”.  During my interview process no one asked me, “Are you willing to be covered in chocolate syrup, strawberry syrup, sprinkles, and whip cream during the middle of the summer heat after serving all week before a 11 hour car ride?” However I believe there is much as a youth pastor that falls under the title “other duties as assigned.”  Does this mean that we have to do whatever people want us to do?  No way!  But are we willing to go the extra mile to reach out to those around us? To support them in their endeavors… I hope so….I think some of the most crucial things in youth ministry are for us to be able to laugh at ourselves, let down our guard, and enjoy life.

This picture although goofy reminds me that ministry will be messy both literally and figuratively at times.  We have to be willing to step out of the norm and be willing to step into the unknown.  Open up, let your guard down, share freely….maybe even get Sundaed and see where God might open up some doors.

What are some funny “other duties as assigned” stories you have?

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Do you feel like life is pouring down on you?

 

Image from savit keawtavee

 

I have struggled with depression in my life.  I have dealt with severe anxiety at times.  These are words people are afraid to share at times in the church for many reasons.  Sometimes I believe people don’t share this because they are afraid they will be looked at as failures, losers,  or not “real” Christians.  To be this open and vulnerable and to share these kinds of thoughts doesn’t always fit well in the life of the church.  It is much easier to go to a Bible study and say that your big struggle is you only read your Bible four days this week and not seven instead of saying that you are struggling with depression and you don’t even want to get out of bed in the morning.

In the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 14.8 million adult Americans experience clinical depression in any given year — or about 6.7 percent of the population over 18. Women are more likely to encounter major depression than men, and the average age for a bout of clinical depression to set in is 32. (http://curiosity.discovery.com)  However many go without seeking the help that they need.

This was the truth for me as well.  I luckily am no longer dealing with depression as it has been gone for close to 2 years now.  If I am honest with myself and with you I dealt with depression for numerous years.  It started off small where my view on life and myself began to change, my sleeping patterns began to change, my anxiety and irritability continued to grow, and my emotions always seemed unpredictable.  I brushed this off for a long time and just said I was in a “funk” and I was just upset because I wasn’t in a job that I desired to be (I had been out of ministry for 4 years).  However even when I did get back into full-time ministry I began to notice that I was still dealing with the ever-changing emotions, lack of desire to do anything….even those things I normally loved to do, and I even avoided people which isn’t normal for me.  It was then that I realized I needed help.  I met with a counselor to work through things that caused me anxiety which added to my depression and I began taking medicine to help with my recovery.

Yes I took medicine to help me get through my depression!  I can freely say I took medicine to help in my recovery and I am so glad I did.  This can be a difficult conversation in Christian circles as you will hear very many different viewpoints such as…

“Well if you are strong in your faith you should just be able to pray and you won’t feel depressed anymore.”

“Why are you taking medicine?  Can’t you just make yourself not sad anymore?”

“Oh my!  Don’t tell anyone that you are depressed and taking medicine they will think you’re not stable.”

“What do you have to be depressed about? I don’t understand why you need to take medicine?”

“So many people look up to you for advice and support you can’t let people know that you struggled with depression.”

Believe me if you are a Christian and you share about your depression with others you will hear these kind of statements….unfortunately.  I am here to say that because I finally stopped trying to do the whole cowboy thing and pull myself up by my bootstraps and admitted I needed help I got better.  The doctors and counselors made it very clear that even with the sessions and the medication I would still need to put forth the effort to get better.  The medication and the sessions were not some magic cure-all to make my problems go away but I am thankful I had them in my time of need.  After getting the help I needed I honestly felt like a veil had been removed an I felt like good ole’ Dave again.

So I am writing to say this if you believe you may be struggling with depression know this…

1. God loves you!

2. Seek the help you need!

3. Share how you are feeling with a trusted friend don’t go through this on your own.

What has been your experience with depression?

 

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