Poll Question 4: What Presentation Software Do You Use?

One question we see on the YouthMin.org Facebook group often concerns the presentation software we all use for our Youth Ministry.  We know the importance of having the capability to share game slides, lesson slides, advertisement graphics, video clips, and more.  But based on your budget, your technological expertise, and your youth room setup, you may prefer one presentation software over another.

We’d love to know what software you use, and you can even share a brief comment below about WHY you love the presentation software you use.  Looking forward to seeing the results.  Also, don’t forget to check out the YouthMinResources.com site for great games and resources you can use with your software.

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Four Reasons Why Your Youth Ministry Doesn't Need a Youth Website.

I love my youth website. I spent hours making it just right and after seeing my site stats, I know more than just my students and their parents are checking it out. However, I know a lot of people who don’t need a youth website. If you are considering getting a youth website please consider the following:

1. It’s hard to keep up-to-date.

It is far better to have no website than an outdated website. When people go to your youth site they want to see what is going on and get an idea of what your ministry is about. If it is outdated with old events you never took down or a blog that hasn’t been updated since 2010, it will actually deter people from going to your ministry. If you are not willing to spend sometime each week keeping it fresh with new photos, new content, and new posts, don’t get a website.

2. It’ll be a hit to your budget.

One thing I know youth pastors love is free. Free resources and free game ideas are literally the most searched things on any youth ministry website. I will keep it honest with you. If you are looking to make a website for free, don’t get a website (I can hear the people who like using Wix preparing a comment now). There are free options out there. WordPress.com offers a free blog format but you are limited on themes unless you purchase one. You can make something on Tumblr but I wouldn’t recommend it. And yes there is Wix. However, I am not a fan of advertisements on ministry websites.

  • Domains will run you typically $10 a year.
  • Cheap hosting can be as low as $10 a month (there could be cheaper but I would be scared of their servers). Quality hosting will be around $15 -$20 a month.
  • WordPress Templates cost anywhere from $35 – $65
  • Then there is the time equity of knowing how to install, create, and keep up with a WordPress site.

This doesn’t include hiring someone to make a site for you. If you aren’t willing to spend the money, don’t get a site.

3. Know your audience

Knowing your audience will always save you time and money. If your kids don’t use social media that much (I know it is rare but they do exist) you don’t need a website. If your kids are younger (Middle School age) you probably don’t need a website. If your youth group is small, you don’t need a website. I know small is subjective and I know small youth groups with great websites. However, small youth groups in rural areas perhaps don’t need a youth website because they same goals can be accomplished with handouts or emails.

4. It might be unnecessary

Youth Ministry websites are a recent thing. The intent behind them are good. Get info to the kids and they can have access to it 24/7. It can also be a free way to market the ministry to the students in your city. However, Youth ministry has long survived without a website and some of the strongest ministries I know only have a single page on their churches main site. Sign-ups can still be done manually in youth group. Pictures can still be seen on Facebook. Announcements can still be done from the pulpit or if it must be online, Twitter and Instagram. Your ministry will see far more growth from students inviting their friends than the odd chance of a student googling “Youth Ministries in my city.”

This isn’t to say their aren’t some legit reasons to have a youth ministry website. I address 4 reasons why you should have a Youth Ministry website in a post coming tomorrow.

Fresh Start: Youth Ministry Design Bundle

The new year is quickly approaching and you might be thinking that your ministry looks a bit drab. Before gutting the entire thing, why don’t you download this great design bundle we put together for you? Even the slightest changes can breathe new life into an old look.

For $15 you get access to 16 premium design files:

  • 5 Service Stills (Welcome, Volunteer, Small Group, Lifegroups, and Bible Study)
  • 2014 Spring Calendar Template designed for Apple Pages or Adobe Photoshop (January-April)
  • A small group starter kit (Sign-up form, Tracking, Charts, and Leader Info Cards)
  • The Bubble Branding Package (Business Card, Letterhead, and Timeline Cover)

The bundle includes fonts, .psd files, pages files, jpg’s, and png’s. Purchased separately, you would pay $30.00. This deal gives you access to great files at 50% off.

Visit our marketplace to purchase!

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How To Run Family Worship Night

It’s Orange Week! Our team here at YouthMin.org absolutely loves the Orange philosophy, their crew, their conference, and curriculum. A few of us were asked to focus this week on aspects of Orange, and we love participating every year in Orange week!

Over the past few years, our ministry has hosted a Family Worship Night every year. The purpose for the night is to give parents opportunities to engage with their students on a spiritual level and give them some form of takeaway that night to impact and encourage spiritual conversations moving forward.  Each campus has approached this in a different way, depending on the context of our community!

As student pastors/ministers/directors/volunteers/leaders, Orange hits the nail on the head…we only get a fraction of the time with students their families get.  We cannot be the primary discipleship avenue in a student’s life!  Sometimes, the family isn’t in the picture, and that’s a reality we encounter regularly, but in an ideal situation we assist the parents.  So a large part of our job needs to be focused on encouraging these types of discussions and dynamics with families – hence Family Worship Night.

I want to give you a couple things to think through when hosting your own Family Worship Night, a couple ways you could approach it, and finally, a free download to use in your own ministry!

 

  • Typically, we’ve hosted ours when we already have worship services.  For us, that means we pick a Wednesday night that is not a week our numbers are typically down. You know the ebb and flow of your own ministry and community, so think through the implications of WHEN to do your service.
  • Do you want to provide food? One of our campuses brings in a dinner for families to share together (each family member pays at the door). Our campus does not have space to do this, so we choose not to include food. If we could, we probably would….but we can’t…so we don’t!
  • Make sure your leaders know in advance. Our small group leaders are not a part of our weekly worship services (for a lot of reasons), but on Family Worship Night, they’re there in force! It’s a HUGE opportunity for them to connect with parents, and typically our leaders stand-in for parents when students show up without someone.
  • What is your goal for the night? I’ll unpack two options below.
  • Don’t be afraid of getting face time. Odds are, many parents won’t be very familiar with you, so make sure in the beginning of the night you introduce yourself and let them get to know you a little bit. They’re sending their student to you weekly, so make sure they see you.
  • PUBLICIZE THE EVENT!  Make sure parents know about the evening. Whether you do a mailer, make phone calls, have small group leaders call the parents in their group, send out an email, whatever you need to do, make sure you are letting parents know about 3 weeks before the night!
  • Pray. Pray like crazy. You will have students show up without parents. You’ll have parents show up out of obligation. Lord willing, you’ll have parents show up who know nothing about Jesus. The opportunities are literally endless, so pray for the Holy Spirit to move through the night!  Do not wait until an hour before doors open to ask God to bless what you’ve already built.  Soak it. Bathe it. Cover it. Pray it up.

 

OPTION 1 // THE PREVIEW SERVICE

  • PURPOSE: Show parents a glimpse of what their students experience each week.
  • Keep the program structure changes minimal.
  • If your ministry does games, do a game that will engage families together. I’ve done games like an adaptation of the Newlywed Game or Pictionary. If you need game ideas, head over to Fun Ninja. As you are finding a game, keep asking yourself, “What can I do that will give a family a memory….without including a hospital visit.”
  • The service itself is not one that lends itself to fostering spiritual conversations, so I try and have give-aways and resources available for parents to see in the lobby.
  • In years past, I’ve given away and/or sold copies of 30 Days by Richard RossParenting Beyond Your Capacity99 Thoughts For Parents of Teenagers, and this year, I’ll give away a copy of Playing for Keeps. You can have drawings, give them as game prizes, or simply have them available for sale.
  • Tailor messages to include families, not just students, but don’t change the way you would normally program a service.
  • When I’ve done this in our ministry, it’s usually in the middle of a series. I want the parents to see how we’re teaching, unpacking, and connecting concepts in the context of a series.

 

OPTION 2 // THE CHANGE UP

  • PURPOSE: Helping parents engage with their students, break down “awkward barriers,” and give them a practical takeaway that will hopefully ripple effect into other areas of life.
  • Typically, I preach in a youth service. And by preach, I mean the past 5 times I’ve been up I’ve been closer to 40 minutes than I am to 20.  For a night like this, I shift my focus to facilitating conversations.
  • We still do games and worship like we would in Option 1.
  • During the “message” portion, families move chairs into circles, and I facilitate conversations where the parents and students are talking about various aspects of life and theology.
  • Think about what you want them to leave having said and gear your message and questions around that. Do you want them to open up about how they see God working in their student? Do you want them to have conversations about the poor decisions parents have made and how God came through? Do you want a dad to tell his son how proud he is of them?
  • I usually have some soft, reflective music in the booth ready to go (or have your worship leader pick at the guitar). This fills the awkward void and lets people feel like other families aren’t listening in.
  • PRO’s: A lot of parents want these conversations but don’t know how to initiate them.  You’re helping them open up and share their heart.  Students want their parents to share, but don’t know how to initiate it either!
  • CON’s: You will have students show up without parents.  Have small group leaders there and available to help process the topics with them. In the end, you can’t hit every student and every parent in one night. This is a shotgun night, not a sniper rifle night.  Your aim is the broad group.

Option 2 can feel daunting, so here’s what I want to do!  For the next week, you can download my manuscript from our last Family Worship Night at our campus! Keep in mind, you get what you pay for, but there is only one stipulation.  IF you use this, LET ME KNOW HOW IT GOES!  Even if you don’t want to use it, this could give you a more tangible idea of how I approached the night and help spawn some ideas that would better fit your ministry and your families.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE MANUSCRIPT.

If parent ministry or family ministry is a growing desire in your ministry, do not miss the opportunity to sign up for The Orange Conference on October 10th.  The people at Orange “get” families, students, kids, and ministry and do an incredible job at equipping churches for pouring into the family!

Using Social Media for Ministry

I really enjoyed this post from Jarrid Wilson yesterday about Social Media and the Church, and in particular, I really liked this quote of his

Let’s be a generation that TAKES BACK the internet and social media for the Good of Christ, using them to share His LOVE and HOPE. Use your social networks for Gospel good works. We are called to tweet, post, pin, tumbl and digg all in the name of Christ.

Our Youth Ministry tries to really keep this mindset, and we use our instragram feed to post pictures that are meant to keep the theme of our messages in our students lives throughout the week. We post verses that are meant to be a 20 second devotional. And we have other things we try and do to use your Instragram feed for Ministry purposes.

Odds are, if you have an Instagram for your Ministry, you do, too. But finding those images can be tough work. I’m blessed to have photoshop at my disposal, but not every Youth Pastor is. So what I thought we would start doing is every week on Friday’s, we’ll share the images we shared as a site, and you can feel free to use them in your ministries.

We’d love it if you shared your images as well!

If you make images to share on your churches feed or ministries feed, and you want to share them with other Youth Pastors, share the image in the comments and we’ll put it into the post. Together, we can make this a great resource for ministering to Teenagers through Social Media.

So, here are this week’s pictures from us so far:

4 things that will help you make a better Youth Ministry Calendar

calendardesign

For the last few years, the Ministries I have been apart of have traditionally released our Youth Group calendars three times a year; Fall Calendar, Spring Calendar, and Summer Calendar. We had a pretty good set up of our fall and spring one’s this past year, but we changed it up in the summer, and learned a few lessons that I believe are helpful for other Youth Pastors Planning a Youth Group calendar.

1. Our Parents prefer the month view, not a list of events.

Try to design a calendar that fits the needs of your ministry while maintaining complete ease of use. Do you need to go with a month view? Maybe you have a lot of detailed events and need a list view. The goal here is to design something that will fit your specific ministry context. Below are two examples.

what should a youth group calendar look like event calendar student ministry

2. Everyone is going to have questions about events, don’t waste time/space on printed calendar, make blog posts on youth website or facebook events with detailed information.

The Fall calendar was blank on the back. It was also an 11×17 printed page that looked fantastic on the fridges, and was something every parent didn’t mind hanging in their kitchen. It looks clean and sharp, and people liked showing it off. The Summer calendar has a bunch of paragraphs on the backside having to explain the events in more detail. We’re doing Facebook events for all of these events regardless, but realizing the fall version of calendar communicates far better than what we did for the summer calendar.

3. It’s better to put out a calendar a week late than have inaccurate information a week early and all summer.

Our Summer Calendar went out a week late this year, but we also have accurate information due to some changes in the church calendar, as well as finalizing dates for our Summer fuse at specific host homes. Because we are taking Youth Group to three different houses, we needed the calendar to properly communicate where parents were taking their kids on a specific week. At the end of Summer, no one will remember getting the calendar a week late, but they would have remembered not knowing where Youth Group was going to be each week.

4. Ultimately, it’s a calendar, not a piece of art.

I’ve seen some amazing calendars, and I want to make the best looking calendars I can for our students, and to share with other Youth Pastors for their Youth Ministries. But the big thing I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter how cool a calendar (or really, anything you design in youth ministry) looks if it doesn’t accomplish the task of communicating what you need it to. I saw one calendar that looked sweet, had an amazing modern design and looked like a movie poster. But, the information was so small in the design that for me, it would have done no good. Make the information stand out, not the design.

Those are my four lessons about planning a youth group calendar. What has your experience taught you about calendars for youth ministry?