Thursday, October 20, 2016

"Un-blurring The Line" (Relationships with Students)

The evening news, newspapers, and internet seems like a running weekly ticker update on the latest teacher, coach and yes,"youth pastors" crossing the line into inappropriate relationships with a student.

Whatever you are called in your ministry context: pastor, director, leader, worker... we need to be careful when it comes to our relationships with students.

We, of course, want to have "relational" ministry.  Books and seminars have been teaching us relational ministry for years, and we should be doing ministry that builds Godly, appropriate connections and relationships in our ministry.   It is after all one of the most powerful things we can do in the lives of our students, is to introduce them to a relationship with God and others.

The lines however become blurred quickly when relational ministry becomes relationship ministry, that becomes just relationships. Even if it is not moving into inappropriate, abusive situations, we must work hard to un-blur the lines...

Friendly Not Friends.
While working on my masters in education a few years ago, one of our professors said something that has stuck with me, even more so in a church setting- "You can be friendly with students without being friends..". The fact is simple, while we want to have a good relationship with students and build a community of faith, we as adults are not their friends, even though they sometimes see us that way.   Your students have friends--their age, they don't need a 20+ year old being their best friend. Often we drift into how some parents are trying to parent, as their child's friend not their parent.  Do not fall into the same trap, because it will quickly become a slippery relationship slope for you as well.

Invested Not Intimate. 
As we invest our time, efforts and ourselves into serving students we naturally connect with them, and they with us.  Students coming from homes and relationships, where they are not being invested in, we naturally become people they connect with.   Even students that come from good homes, are drawn to people who take the time to listen, care, and pray with them.   Especially as we have deep discussions on spiritual things, closely connected to the emotion, the line can seem blurry as we feel closer to students and they to us.   What looks like investment and humbly serving students can easily drift into false feelings of intimacy.   Be care to invest in students minds, hearts, and lives while keeping a clear line drawn back from the entrance into intimate connection.

Caring Godly Love Not Human Attraction 
We use an unfortunate phrase in youth ministry settings  "loving on students".  If you take half a second to think about how that sounds to someone outside a church-setting, you will see how creepy that really sounds.   We do want to show students love.  We do want show them an example of God-center "love" (agape).   As brothers and sisters in Christ, in the settling of church we want to teach them about how live in the loving family of God (philia).   The problem comes is when we cross the line of loving our students into "loving our students" (eros)

Why is the news packed with stories of inappropriate relationships between a formerly caring adult and a students?  Part of the issue, is that while we are working to build a "relational" ministry, many time we are also trying to build an "attractional" ministry.  We are trying to attract students to our events, activities, teaching and in the mean time also attracting them to us.  Our personality, style, and that we truly care about them.   We must be very clear and set our stance firm, our ministry needs to be about caring and loving students in away that will attract them to Christ-- not to us, otherwise not only will we blur the line, we will quickly erase it!  Ministry built on attracting students to a person and not Christ are just waiting for disaster!

Professional Not Personal
Paid... unpaid...underpaid...Whatever you are, we are a professional.  Even if this is not your profession, as a person in authority and leadership we are seen as the person in charge.   The ministry we are working in needs to have clear expectations, rules, and policies in place for you and your helpers.   While we own the ministry and take it personally when things go wrong or people complain.  When it comes to how we are to act with students, it needs to be more professional and far less personal!  Our professional relationship with a student must never cross the line into a personal relationship.   This may seem cold or business-like but there is a way to minister to students that does not enter into our personal spaces, emotions, and relationships.

My prayer for you is that God would guard your heart, mind, and life as you work to guard the heart mind, and lives of students.  We have all seen and heard of way too many people falling because they blurred, lost and then crossed the line with a student or someone else in their ministry. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Game #95: "Civil War Dodgeball"

Yet another twist on the old youth ministry classic dodgeball.  Just in case you are sick and tired of the same old week in and week out of playing dodgeball. "

A favorite around our 5th-8th grade ministries. 

• Dodgeballs
• Cones or a way to define a center line

Quick explanation: A game of dodgeball where players may not be eliminated immediately but rather lose the use of the area of their body that is hit.

Before the Game:
• Define the playing area and the center line
• Set out dodgeballs at the center line

• Divide up in 2 equal teams
• Give the “Quick explanation”, rules and an example.
• Say something like this as an example, “If you get hit in the arm, you lose that arm for the remainder of the game…if you get hit in the leg you lose that leg and have to hop on the remaining leg for the remainder of the game…”
• On “Go!” everyone starts playing.
• You may yell “Healed!” throughout the game restoring everyone back to full health.

• Use your usual “house rules” for dodgeball.
• If a player gets hit from the shoulder to their hand, they lose the use of that arm and it must be held behind their back.
• If a player gets hit from the shoulder to their hand in the other arm they lose the use of both arms and can now only “dodge”. They may NOT kick the ball
• If a player gets hit in leg from the hip to their feet, they lose the use of that leg and must hop on one leg
• If a player gets hit in the other leg from the hip to their feet, they lose the use of both legs and must play on their knees.
• If a player gets hit in the head, chest or back, they are dead and out of the game.


The winning team is the one with the last remaining player still “standing”

Monday, October 17, 2016

Top 10: MORE Kinds of Ministry Leader?

10. The Author- the name that everyone knows not based on his church or ministry, but based on his latest book.  If you want to see him, it would be easier to look on the back of the book cover than trying set up an appointment or see him upfront.

9. The Traveler- missions trips, speaking engagement, conferences, retreats, and vacations is where he will be.  Long gone are the days of being upfront leading or speaking locally when there is a big world to see and he hasn't seen all of it yet...

8.The CEO- business as usually is just business.  Runs the church based on the latest Fortune 500 company leadership model.  What is the bottom line for money, attendance, and productivity...

7. The Guru- think the Daili Lama for Christians.  The calm soothing voice of wisdom and spiritual understanding, while not really leading anything--lets just see where the spirit leads us this week....

6. The Lost Boy- like Peter Pan in Neverland, the boy that never grew up is now leading a his own motley crew of misfits.  Shorts, flip-flops and a laid back attitude. Where did he put those sermon notes, oh well I guess there are somewhere in my office...

5.  The Buttoned Up- Suit, White Shirt, Tie, Wingtips and at the church picnic!? .  Proper grammar, proper manners, and prop him up against the wall he is stiffer than the starch in his boxers....

4. The Lover- like Olaf from Frozen, he like warm hugs.  He just wants to "love on you"!...All the time.  Everything will be okay if we just show everyone love. ...

3.  The Joel- "the lovers" kissing cousin, with a heaping helping of blessing! "Bless you and bless you and you!! God just want you to be loved and blessed with health and wealth and...great hair, a beautiful wife, a better you....

2. The Scholar- has more degrees than the thermometer and is working on a new one.  Spends more time in this office studying for this weeks lecture (cough-"sermon")  than actually with people finding out what they really need to hear.  He can speak fluent ancient Greek and Hebrew but doesn't know how to talk one on one with you in modern English!?

1.  The Pastor- in the trenches day in and day out with his people.  Studying when he can, but spending as much time as he can in the needs of those around him whether they attend the church or not.  His family and he are there when you need them.  He loves you, wants the best for you, but is not afraid to open the Bible and speak the hard truths using the "two edge sword" to do the hard work of real ministry.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Youth Group "Appropriate" Halloween/Fall Movie Night Movies

I posted this list last year around the same time and have had requests for it again. I figured I would re-post it again as well.

Also check my other two Youth Group Night Movie Night Lists:
- "20 Funny Youth Group Movie Night Movies"
- "20 More Series Youth Group Movie Night Movies"

Obviously this is still a bit of delicate topic with "Halloween" parties vs. "Fall/Harvest" parties  so please do not be offended. Here once again are a few that MIGHT work for your youth group movie night. You know your church and families, so please choose wisely and with good discretion.

15. Monsters, Inc
14. Little Monsters
13. Wallace and Grommit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit
12. Addams' Family & Family Values
11. Arachnophobia
10. Coraline
9. Frankenweenie
8. Hocus Pocus
7. Casper
6. Ernest Scared Stupid
5. Monster vs. Aliens
4. The Nightmare Before Christmas
3. It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
2. Monster House
1. Hotel Transylvania (1 & 2)