Tag Archives: awesome
Almost two years ago my wife had my Bible engraved with the words “Treasure Map for a New Adventure” I don’t think that either of us we’re prepared for what that would really mean. We had just accepted a new position as the youth pastor a church in Central Arkansas, and that had meant saying goodbye to our home and our friends from the previous five and a half years. So our “New Adventure”, we thought, was this next phase in our youth ministry journey, after all it’s what we do, who we are. Well over the past two years God has for a lack of a better term screwed me up. Starting last March Jesus began to seize my life in a complete new way, a way that at first made me uncomfortable. I began to look at the things I had been doing, how I had been approaching ministry and in light of what I had thought was important began to shift what we were doing (See getting rid of Elmo). There were a lot of things that God changed and birthed in me during this phase, but perhaps the most dominate thing has been a fervent passion for the Word (Thank you David Platt. punk.). I suppose that alone will destroy things you believe, assuming they weren’t actually in the Bible, and cause you to move beyond casual church Christianity. Shortly after the initial dynamic switch in my world God began having people tell me they thought I was going to be called to pastor. Well if you’ve ever talked to me about youth ministry you know that is about the last thing I could see myself doing. I’m a “lifer!” (A phrase my best friend and mentor coined referencing guys that are in youth ministry for their whole lives). It was really easy to dismiss those comments, I’m a career youth pastor with no pastoral experience, I have never been to seminary, and I’m anti-establishment. No way any southern baptist Bible belt church is hiring me. Besides, I told myself, I certainly would not make a good pastor. Well there were too many things happening, people telling me, and desires welling up inside me so I reluctantly asked God what was His desire for me. I reminded Him that I love my students, they are growing, they are the future, I’m not sure I’m qualified to be a grown up pastor. I sought Him constantly for about two months and His response came to me over two days in early November.
“You are in Potiphar’s house. Preparing for something larger. You are going to be a pastor.” I was actually relieved to finally have some clarity, as unbelievable as that seemed. I was still very uncertain that I could do all that pastoring requires but knew that if God was telling me to go do that, and I didn’t want to end up in fish I should probably move that direction. Besides Joseph was in Potiphar’s house for a long while learning to speak Egyptian, run a household, and unbeknownst to him getting ready to run a nation. Then Day Two took being unprepared to a whole new level.
“The church you’re going to pastor is to be one you start.” A CHURCH PLANTER?!!! You don’t have any money when you’re a church planter! I have a wife and three children and a good paying job and an Awesome house, and… I DON’T KNOW THE FIRST THING ABOUT PLANTING A CHURCH!
So that is pretty much exactly where I find myself. Following God in obedience, stepping out of my comfort zone and past experience to chase His will for me. To allow Him to do whatever He desires, clinging to Him for dear life as I step out into this new adventure.
I often find myself in awe of great pastors that we find in the main stream media Christian media; Steven Furtick, David Platt, and Francis Chan to name a few. As a communicator I often stop and wonder, aside from just God wants them to be his messengers, what it is that makes them them and me well me. I’ve even asked the question to my pastor and several others and their replies, while varying slightly, were simply opportunity. These men were in the right place at the right time and God used them. It sounded good to me, made complete sense, and as I found out is true, well partly true. I watched David Platt’s message “Outside the Camp” to the SBC in 2009
and like fifteen seconds into it I realized why he’s the man. Sure he was blessed with an opportunity, but if he wasn’t who he is the opportunity would have meant nothing. The truth is David Platt & the lot of “great” pastors/speakers are who they are for the same reason that Tiger Woods is the best golfer in the world.
Tiger Woods is awesome at golf for several reasons. First he has a passion for the game. I read in a magazine today that he just purchased a huge new “pad” complete with a four hole putting green in it. He genuinely still enjoys golf, even to the point where its fun enough to do even in his down time. He hasn’t let the fact that golf is his profession strip the joy and love for his sport away. In the same way David Platt (and these other men) have a passion for God and His word. Their role as pastor has not diminished the hunger for the presence of God’s word in their lives.
Tiger Woods Daddy had introduced him to golf before the age of two, and he’s been working on shaping his craft and skills, his knowledge and his understanding of the game. He like Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis and other great athletes constantly strive to improve. They continue to spend time practicing so they may deliver to the best of their ability. In those first fifteen seconds I watched David Platt passionately recite scripture from memory, there stood a young man who had clearly spent many many hours in the Word. Studying God’s divine book was obviously something that he did on a very regular basis, with great intensity and discipline. His commitment to take the call of God’s messenger very seriously was evident and he delivered God’s message with the type of confidence that comes when you’re completely confident of the results of your efforts in study.
The application for me today is a humbling one, and my friend summed it up best when he said regarding Tiger, Peyton and Dr. Platt, “it’s there obsession.” They are obsessed with the Lord and His Word, and in light of that thought all I can do is repent.
So I’m the guy thats always needing to transfer files from one computer to another! And sure I have a flash-drive attached to my keyring and sure I’ve had to email files to myself to get what I worked on at home to the office where the printer resides. But a couple of moths ago I relocated to a church, and with said relocation upgraded video editing hardware to the world of Apple. What I encountered was a tedious exchange of plugging and unplugging the flash drive from the Mac to the PC (yeah our office hasn’t converted so publisher is on the laptop). Well, wouldn’t you know that they’ve invented yet another helpful wonder in the world of technology that has solved this problem for me permanently! It’s called the dropbox!
The Dropbox defies all logic and is on its way to rendering flash-drives obsolete, well maybe not, but its definitely a huge time saver. Its basically an online server. You simply download the dropbox and it installs a universal folder that is accessible from wherever you have internet service. So that means work on a text document at home and save it to the dropbox and then open up your work computer and bam! there it is. Or if your like me and you show videos during your Wednesday night service and you edit them on a different computer than you show them on. You simply save them into the dropbox and open them up on the display computer and your in business. Its that simple. All you have to do is create a dropbox account and then download the app on whatever computer you need to use it on. Also, if you have an iPhone you can download it on there as well, which is really cool. For instance I spoke a few weeks ago at a friends Back to School Bash and saved my outline in the dropbox and then right before I got up to speak I pulled it up on my iPhone and went over it once more before taking the stage. Oh, and did I forget to mention you can share a folder with another dropbox user? My good friend is helping build our new ministry a website, and we have a shared “WEBSTUFF” folder that I save information and images I want on the site in. He’s able to access it from his computers that have dropbox on them. It has proven to be a great asset to my regular week and saved me quite a bit of time emailing and saving on flash-drives. The best part of all is “ITS FREE!” That’s right for up to 2GB of storage you simply sign up, download, and use for free. In addition to the 2GB of storage if you sign up through a friends recommendation you score an extra 250MB of space, likewise if you refer someone to use it. So my gift to you, and yours to me is if dropbox sounds like its for you. Simply click the link below and get started. You’ll never be without that file again.
Several years ago I was looking for wisdom on how to restructure our ministry to be prepared to handle ministering to hundreds of teenagers, I took my wife, pastor, and at that time our lone volunteer to Indian Springs Baptist Church in Bryant Arkansas the ministry that Mark Cox now heads up. I learned a lot during that visit and rather than tell you how I handle adults I asked Mark to share how he does it:
I didn’t get into youth ministry because I’m organized.
God called me.
He equipped me to start.
He’s been equipping me ever since.
That means I wasn’t a genius right out of college.
Have you ever taken a spiritual gift inventory multiple times over the course of a couple years and seen different responses each time?
I have. The crazy thing is that as I grow, I can see God changing my desires and gifts. For example, I’m not a natural speaker. The first ten talks I gave should’ve been video taped and kept on hand for entertainment purposes. Seriously, you’d laugh. Things have changed over the years as I learn what works and what doesn’t in that arena, as well as many others.
This change is especially happening in me in the area of organization. Let me pause for a moment to issue a quick disclaimer. I’m not what most people would call organized. If my youth workers are reading this, they’re most likely laughing to themselves, knowing that this is definitely not where my gifts lie. And I would agree! But since I started in full-time ministry five years ago, I’ve really grown in this area.
One of the key areas that demand organization in youth ministry is volunteer staffing. It’s probably not a surprise to you that youth ministry happens largely on the backs of committed volunteers that make the thing happen week in and week out.
One of the major pitfalls of youth pastors is to recruit volunteers into standing around on Wednesday nights. The excitement usually dies after about a month, when the volunteer usually ends up feeling like they aren’t really helping with anything. And in most cases, they’re not. But it’s not their fault. It is the job of the youth pastor to invite volunteers into the youth ministry for two main purposes:
- To provide an environment for teenagers in which they can experience God in a real way.
- To give the volunteer a vehicle for spiritual growth in their own life (serving = growth)
Sadly, a bunch of volunteers end up dropping out because they don’t feel like they’re making a difference (read: they’re not growing). If we’re not leading adults into an organized vehicle for serving, they will drop out.
Our strategy for staffing volunteers goes a little something like this (before I go on, you should know this article isn’t about recruiting volunteers; it’s about what you do with them once you get them).
- Only do what only you can do. I stole this line from Andy Stanley because it’s genius. If you’re the one person in your church that can communicate God’s love to teenagers, why are you spending all your time running a vacuum or picking up the pizza? Invest most of your time into preparing excellent messages! Before you start recruiting volunteers, you need to know what you’re great at. Start with the three things that you’re great at. These are the things that make you super-valuable to your church. These things are why you got hired. Focus on these things and have volunteers help you with the rest.
- Define the needs of your student ministry. What do you offer to your students each week? Do you serve food? Do you play games? Does your room need to be clean? Each of these areas need to be covered. Decide from the beginning that you’re not going to get involved in these areas, other than providing leadership and resources to those who will.
- Save yourself time by delegating authority. This is simple, but dangerous. Some of your volunteers have gifts in the area of leadership. Put the volunteers that you would trust with your children over the other volunteers. To do this, separate the major areas of service into departments, and staff each one of them with a volunteer leader. For example, our student ministry contains five major areas (Inside Operations, Outside Operations, Crowd Control, Service Programming, and Counseling. Everything that we do is broken down under these five areas of service. For instance, the café that we open each week falls under the leadership of Inside Operations. The parking lot attendants fall under the leadership of Outside Operations. I don’t ever need to be worried about having enough counselors at the end of a talk, because my Counseling Director has that taken care of. In order to do this, it takes two strong elements: leadership and organization. If you want to expect people to be strong in their area of leadership each week, it takes continual direction. Also, instead of offering the eternally-coveted “stand outside and make sure no one dies, is making out, or making pipe bombs in the parking lot” task, you give your volunteers authority. You can usually make this change pretty simply. It’s all about the words you use to achieve the same result. Instead of asking someone to watch the students in the parking lot (boring), invite them to ensure that each and every student is able to enjoy their experience while they’re outside. That takes care of a lot of simple tasks (welcoming, keeping it safe, hanging with them). The difference isn’t in the tasks that need to be taken care of. It’s all in inviting someone into a greater responsibility than just a watchman. After all, are you in youth ministry because you like to supervise kids? I’m guessing not.
- After you’re done coaching your volunteers, coach them some more. This is hard for me to talk about because it’s a personal weakness of mine. It’s natural for me to think that the initial direction was enough to inspire people to commit to excellence for an entire year of weekly service. This just isn’t the case. Everyone needs to be reminded why they serve, and what’s expected of them. The easiest way to do this is to creatively show them the effect they have on what happens. As I said before, it’s inevitable for volunteers to fall into the “I’m not making a difference” trap. Murphy’s Law applies to everyone. Fight this! One of my volunteers once told me something that changed the way I looked at youth workers for the rest of my life. She said, “Mark, you just need to treat us like we’re 3rd graders.” I immediately reassured her that I had too much respect for them to do that. She then helped me to understand that everyone needs reminders; even the most committed youth workers. Think about all the things a 3rd grade teacher has to remind her students of. How many times do they need to be reminded that they have homework to do, or to turn in permission slips? Exactly.
It’s all pretty simple once you recognize a couple important goals:
- What am I really good at?
- What are the things that I would ruin if I got involved?
- What services do we want to offer our students each week?
- How many people is it going to take to pull all of this off each week?
The beautiful thing about learning how to organize your volunteers in the environments is that it frees you up to focus on what you do best – the thing you got into youth ministry for, to see teenagers’ lives changed!
You can download Mark’s Volunteer application: YW Application (Final)
And the Remix Job Descriptions here: Remix Positions Packet
-Mark Cox is one of the premier youth pastors in the state of Arkansas and his passionate and sincere heart is still serving the people at Indian Springs Baptist Church in Bryant Arkansas. To get more from Mark check out his blog www.thinknextnow.com, and be sure to get his insights via twitter, and catch up with him on facebook.
So we’ve all been there in front of the room of teenagers trying to remind them of the deadline for Summer Camp or the cost of bowling, and we all know the difficulty in actually relaying the information. I’ve seen it done a variety of ways and I’ve even done it multiple ways myself. I have however found that in my opinion the video announcements have been the most effective. Why? Because for some reason we’re trained to watch whats on the screen as if its more important than the people around us. I say let’s take advantage of this poor culture shift and at minimum relay your important information. Like when the “Listening to other people class” begins.
I’ve always called our video announcements the News (FBC NEWS, Underground NEWS, etc.) but feel free to call it whatever “Update” “Info” whatever sounds catchy to you. In my nearly six years here at Parkers Chapel I’ve done the news three distinct yet similar ways, and I wanted to share them with you to give you an example of what I’m talking about.
When I first started back in the fall 2004 and into through the 2005 school year and summer I found student volunteers to use as news anchors.
Advantages: I believe that this way is probably the most effective way to get your teens to pay attention. They are more likely to listen to their classmate than you or something else.
Disadvantages: You totally have to compete with the competitive lives of your students. Which makes it extremely difficult to get both of your anchors there at the same time. Also, it relies on the fact that you have some charismatic teens to deliver your announcements. Its also another one of the those areas where you should hold your students to a higher level of accountability spiritually if your going to frequently have them in front of their peers.
Note* I have found that the best way to deal with the scheduling is to plan out your announcements several weeks in advance have your students bring multiple outfits and then film for an hour or two and do several months worth of announcements. You might miss the impromptu announcement but you’ll nail the majority which is better than not having news at all one week cause you couldn’t work out the scheduling.
Bonus: This video contains another great way to captivate your teens, show them footage of themselves. The fear factor montage was shot at our weekly games and then we simply plugged it in the video.
For the majority of 2006 & 2007 I was pressed for time and scheduling with my news anchors after moving between several I became desperate to find actors with schedules that were wide open in fact they didn’t even have to be breathing or move for that matter. I have some random toys on my shelves in my office so I grabbed Smokey the Bear & Yoda and shot a few different angles of them on my desk with some blue construction paper behind them and then went in and added voices. Please forgive the sound, its sloppy I know.
Advantages: The obvious advantage here is that after the initial filming unless you just have a desire to change the background you don’t have to ever film again which brings the time it takes to produce an announcement clip way down. Obvious plus, who couldn’t use more time. As well it lets you wait until the night before or morning of to finalize your video giving you the most up to date announcements (None slide through).
Disadvantages: Your dialog has to be pretty captivating. Since there is no actual people on the screen to watch you’ll most likely need a gimmick of some sort (Our students loved Yoda’s backward speech and bluntness towards the bear). The other obvious disadvantage is if you don’t do or are uncomfortable doing voices. In my opinion as is witnessed here, they don’t have to be good. In fact they might actually be funnier if they aren’t so grab a Hulk Hogan pillow or a troll doll (you might wanna put some pants on it) and give it a shot.
Note* Initially we had a mini plot-line between the bear & Yoda where they didn’t like each other and I found random videos like the bear getting on the top of a power pole touches the transformer and is blown off (search youtube a definite must see), or a street performer dressed as Yoda singing Britney Spears (Again Youtube should have it otherwise google it). Also, at the end you’ll notice that Yoda mentions a student (little Austin Collins) and we threw up a pic from Kindergarten). That started as Yoda showing off his ability to use the force, and he made a red dot appear and then disappear and then all of sudden he says Alan Mooney and the picture of one of our seniors popped up. Everyone laughed so hard that the next week I made him bring up Alan Mooney again, and then little Alan Mooney which was his kindergarten picture that I got out of a kids year book. This brought on even more laughter and the next week in anticipation of the end after Yoda says may the force be with you he’d say little so and so and throw up their picture to the surprise of the student and delight of the rest. A perfect example of the gimmick or hook that I mentioned in the Disadvantages section.
Bonus: The special feature is another way to keep their focus. This was around the time that Napoleon Dynamite was big so these Utah State Fair videos were a great example of clean funny stuff. Youtube is a great resource for this. Search for Super Bowl ads, crazy videos, people falling down is always great. Find something you think is funny and around 1 – 2 minutes.
For the later part of 2007 and most 2008 when we did the news I went back to using students (junior highers that were easier to schedule), but in the winter of 2009 I found LT. LT is a freeware program from crowd control games I thoroughly enjoy him.
Advantages: All the simplicity of Yoda & Smokey with the bonus of a moving gimmick built in. LT is very simple to operate, he has multiple one button reactions for example pressing #1 makes him smile goofy, #2 makes him look surprised like he’s saying “OOOOOOHHHH”
Disadvantages: The major disadvantage for using LT as your spokesperson is that he’s designed to be used live. What that means is you most likely will need another program in order to capture his movements and make him available for editing. I use a simple program called Snagit which ran me about $50.00 so while LT is free to use him, this way may not be.
Note* I have found that he has much more possibilities because of being designed to use him live. For instance he could Emcee a conference or awards night or DNOW or whatever you wanted to use him for, plus live he could call out a student thats not paying attention and freak everyone out. However you use him he is worth the download.
Bonus: LT has three preset backgrounds and four shirts as well as the black screen background and the green screen. So if your editing software has green screen capabilities then you can make LT be anywhere.
Well that wraps up this lengthy yet informative post on the art of video announcements. I suggest you try out whatever method will work best for you and get filming! Trust me announcements will neve be the same.