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Jeremy Steele

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The first impression we get of the character of God is in the creation passages in Genesis.  God is a brilliant creator! One way we experience this creator God is by trying to become more like Him.  

If one of God’s main roles is as Creator, then when we create, especially when our focus or intent is growing in Him, we experience God.  After teaching on this, you can release the youth to spend the rest of the time being creative. Use your imagination! Here’s what came out of our imagination:

Then we dismissed the teens to spend the rest of the evening creating at these stations:

  1. Snow Sculpting:  Using the snowy blend of “Yuck” from Buckets-O-Fun, we made it in three colors and allowed students to create on pieces of tin foil.
  2. Finger Painting:  By far the most popular (go figure).  Fingerpaints, paper, done.
  3. Cookie Decorating:  Cheap walmart cookies, cheap tub or two of icing, leftover sprinkles from giant sundae.
  4. Flower Arranging:  Donated flowers from florist or cheap grab bag of flowers, scissors and vases or bottles.
  5. Writing/Drawing:  Inspirational photographs, Bibles, paper, pens, pencils.
  6. Garage Band Loops: Get people who have Apple computers to bring them.  They come with a program called Garage Band that students can use to create music from existing loops.
  7. Event Soundtrack.  Had one computer plugged into the sound system with the web browser open to“In Bb.”  Students simultaneously play youtube videos in the same key creating a live soundtrack for the event.

 

Paper airplanes are universal fun, and can be a great metaphor when talking about how our appearances don’t always reflect our abilities and how small changes can make a big difference.  Before you meet, take a moment to Check out Fold ‘N Fly for instructions on several different design options you can share with your class.  You can even print out some templates.

Begin by pairing students up.  Ask them to design and fold a couple of plan prototypes that they think will fly the fastest, highest, straightest or farthest.

After they are all folded, as a group talk about which ones youthink will go fastest, highest, fly straigtest and farthest. Then test your predictions. 

After the first flight, bring your pairs together and make modifications to the airplane to make it faster, higher, straighter.  

Debrief:

Could you tell how the plan was going to fly based on its design?

How did your modifications affect the outcomes?

Think about your life.  How does this activity describe you right now?  

A year’s worth of free lessons, how to talk about school shootings, and Ice breakers of course!  This year has been filled with some incredible resources we have offered to you for free!  Every one of these is a can’t miss article, make sure you’ve read them all!

8. The Spring Break Problem:  2 Simple Solutions (Meredith Garreau): It happens to all of us- as we get closer and closer to Spring Break, we’re debating how to adapt our lessons and games for a smaller crowd. It can be a little stressful also when you have a church and youth group on the smaller side already, let alone when kids get a week off from school. Meredith’s article will be just what you need when it’s spring break or, maybe, the week after New Year’s

7. From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces: A Tool to Process with Youth (Andy Millman): This year has been full of hot-button issues in our culture.  Choosing to ignore those divisive, heated issues doesn’t help students learn how to process, but just offering a cable news-style free-for-all will end up with a lot of unnecessary pain.  This tool by Andy is an incredibly helpful in addressing any heated issue that your youth are dealing with.

6.  Seven Months of Quality, Methodist Youth Lessons FREE:  Make that 12 months now! We have been releasing weekly youth ministry lessons you can use in your church for free. This article announced our seven month milestone, and blew up when it released. Oh, yeah, and you’re welcome.  With a whole year available, you don’t need to worry about writing (or buying) Sunday School material!

5. My Mom Was a Lunch Lady Whose Sloppy Joes Taught me About Grace (Marc Baugh): Seriously. Sloppy Joes and grace, what could be more methodist and youth ministry?  This devotion will challenge you, and give you a great metaphor for your next lesson on grace!

4. 15 Killer Questions to Break the Ice in Sunday School (Jeremy Steele): Sometimes the youth aren’t talking and you need to toss a conversation grenade into the room.  This handy list of questions will get their mouths moving, and is a perfect tool to keep bookmarked for those desperate moments!

3.  19 Years After Columbine, No Longer a Unique Story: Supporting Youth Who Have Experienced Trauma (Amy McMullen):  20 years after this tragedy, we reflected on the lessons learned and where we have gone since.  Amy was 10 when this happened in her hometown and lost a close family friend.  Her words are a powerful tool to help us consider how we are responding today.

2. Methodist History in a Bag: Amazing Teaching Tool for Confirmation (Sharon Cook): History can be boring, but this tool will help get students eyes and hands involved as you pull different items out of a bag to share different stories from Methodist History, but why keep it to Confirmation?  This would be great in any gathering of Methodist Youth!

1. Responding to a School Shooting: Three Approaches for Youth Workers (Paulo Lopes): This year (as too many others) has been rattled over and over again by the horror of school shootings all over America.  Dealing with this complicated, issue can be incredibly difficult as your own personal feelings and perspectives can make it difficult to think through what is best for your students. Paulo walks us through three approaches to help us map out what our students need in these situations so that we can meet them where they are and help them move forward.  We also discussed the issue on our Podcast. it was one of the best of the year.

Is your church having a difficult time growing in the younger generations?  Are you frustrated at how youth and young adults are experiencing church but not sure where to start to fix it?  Are you uncertain as to how you can asses whether or not your church is doing effective ministry with younger people that will help the church continue to equip the next generation of disciples after they finish youth ministry?

The beginning to finding answers to all of that is found in the 2016 resource Growing Young from the Fuller Youth Institute. This books is based on solid, scientific research into what is working in churches that are succeeding at growing in the younger demographics.  As  Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin dug into the ministries of those churches, they uncovered six essential strategies that  helped young people discover and love church.  

Let me give you an example.  One of the strategies is something they call “Unlocking Keychain Leadership.”  In decades past, younger people were given both literal and figurative keys to the church.  They were entrusted with real responsibility and allowed to take on significant areas of ministry. In general, that is not the case today.  Far too often church leaders are holding onto the keys of leadership as they age and refusing to pass that keychain down to the younger generation.  

However, churches that are succeeding at growing young are reclaiming that old tradition of passing the keys down to younger generations.  As they do that, they see ministry transformed and young people stepping up to the plate.  If your church wants to grow young, they are going to need to take hold of this practice and celebrate the leadership of younger generations.

This is an essential book for every church leader to read at this point as all the membership research shows a general downward trend in membership among younger generations.  To help you get a better overview before diving into the book check out this six-part blog series Young People Ministries produced to introduce you to this groundbreaking work.  Then, make sure you buy a copy for all your church staff to read together… this is the Christmas gift that could change your church and seriously impact the next generation.

IT’s getting close to turkey day, and that means you might need a thanksgiving-themes icebreaker or two.  Never fear!  We have your back!

Steal the Turkey Leg

First, buy a 24″ inflatable turkey leg.  Then, use this turkey take on the classic youth group game “Steal the Bacon.”

  • Split your group in half and have them stand in two straight lines facing each other.  
  • Give students in each line a number starting with 1.  (That means there will be two people with “1” two people with “2” and so on.)
  • Put the Turkey Leg in between the lines.  
  • Call out one of the numbers.
  • Each person with the number attempts to grab the turkey leg and return to their spot without being tagged.  If they accomplish this feat, their team (line) gets a point.  If they get tagged, the other team gets a point.

Thankful Bible Searching:

Make sure you have several students with access to a searchable Bible app, and break them into teams to answer these questions.  Once everyone is done, have each team report back and vote as a group on which team’s answer was best.

  • What is the strangest thing that someone gave thanks for in the Bible?
  • What is the most loving thank-you offered in the Bible?
  • What is something that someone has given thanks for in the Bible that you would not be thankful for?

You Ate What?  A Thanksgiving Feast Questionnaire

Pair students up and ask them to answer these questions. Once they are finished interviewing each other, ask them to share the highlights with the group.

  • What is the strangest casserole you’ve ever eaten?
  • What is the most unique thing you’ve ever added to a turkey sandwich?
  • What is your lest favorite type of pie?
  • What is a family tradition around thanksgiving you wish wasn’t a tradition?
  • What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever had to eat on thanksgiving?
  • Do you keep everything separate on your plate, allow it to touch, or stir it al together?
  • What is the strangest thanksgiving tradition you have ever heard of from your friends or family?
  • How long do you consider leftover turkey ok to eat?
  • What is your favorite way to consume leftover turkey?
  • Gravy or no gravy?  If gravy, what kind?
  • Cranberry sauce  should: be sliced from the can, mashed up in a bowl, cooked with real cranberries.

 

We have your lessons covered.  You don’t have to download random lessons online that have weird theology.  You don’t have to write them yourself.  You don’t even have to pay a lot of money for something from a traditional publisher.  If you are looking for solid United Methodist youth ministry lessons, we have seven months already written for you (and more on the way).  

And they’re free!  How does that work?  When your churches pay their apportionments, some of that money goes to produce these lessons for you to use for free!  Each week’s lesson is written by a seasoned United Methodist youth worker and contains an icebreaker, a discussion based on scripture, and an active element designed to help the teacher engage the imaginations of the students.  

But it gets better.  These series also serve as companions to the adult worship resources (which are found at https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/worship/worship-planning) so by getting your pastors involved as well, you will be following what your pastor is preaching.

Just head over to https://umcyoungpeople.org/about/worship-theme-lessons-for-youth and you’ll find seven complete series waiting for you, and more on the way!

Whether you’re just starting out in youth ministry or remember the heyday of DC Talk, getting advice from experienced youth workers is essential in helping you learn the ropes and innovate new solutions to old problems.  There are, of course, great sites like this that release coaching, games, and ideas every week to help you along the way, but sometimes you just need to ask a pro who has been there before.

That is why we are trying something new.  We are going to offer you the opportunity to hear from one of our incredible contributors on a subject that is important to you.  But unlike the typical webinar model, the majority of our time is not going to be spent on presenting content; rather, we are going to spend most of our time answering your questions live.

Our first topic will center on Growing and Equipping Student Leaders.  Host Jeremy Steele will interview veteran Chris Lynch, and will get us started with some big ideas and take your questions.

All of this will happen on October 18th at 11AM Central Time.  Go ahead and set your calendars.  You can join from your phone or through your web browser, and if you will send us a message with your email address, we’ll send you a copy of the “Leadership Lab” resource of your choice (which you can preview here: https://umcyoungpeople.org/resources/leadership-lab).  Here’s all the details.  We’ll see you there:

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/444109563

Icebreakers usually either help us think differently about something or just get us talking.  This one does both as it challenges students to stretch their brains to do something they don’t normally have to do.  And, all you need is paper and pencil!

One of the interesting things about mirrors is that they reverse whatever image they show you.  That is why the word Ambulence is written backwards on their hoods… so you can read it in your rear view mirror.  We are going to take a moment to do some backwords thinking/writing.  Follow these steps to make some mirror-focused art.

Think of a word that describes you.  

Write it correctly.  

Using your correctly written version as a guide, write the same word in reverse and LARGE on the paper you have.

Then, illustrate the letters in a way that depicts what the meaning of the word.  (See the example)

Ask each person to share their word and explain why it describes them.  

This imagery of the armor of God is powerful not just because of its easy translation into flannel graph, but it invites us into prayer through its imaginative approach to Biblical themes. This prayer activity helps students think creatively about how they might pray about the issues it raises.

Before class get a piece of butter paper and have a student draw a life-sized outline of a body. Think through which parts of the body would be labeled with each piece of the armor of God, and pre-draw a line, but do not label the area. Once you are finished, tape the paper to the wall.

  • Begin by asking students to read Ephesians 6:10-20
  • Then, ask them students to look through the scripture and fill in the labels on the drawing.
  • Point out that the passage doesn’t end with the armor, but with prayer and tell students that you are going to spend time writing prayers for each element.
  • Challenge them to write a prayer that includes something about the faith idea (salvation) and the part of the body or the part of armor (helmet/head).  They might say something like “Please help redeem my thoughts and make them be like the new me instead of the old me.”
  • Give each student several post-it notes and invite them to write one short prayer for each piece of armor that will fit on a single post it.  When they finish each prayer, they can go stick it on the part of the body outline labeled for that piece of armor.
  • Close your group by praying several of those prayers out loud.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is a major theme in the New Testament.  This is a highly visual metaphor that people see a lot, yet don’t reflect on how it can help us understand what God asks of us when we open ourselves up to being filled with the Holy Spirit.  

Have two large mason jars.  Leave one empty, and in another put something that can float that is smaller than the opening at the top (a small rubber duck works great).  

Start by pouring water from a pitcher into the completely empty jar until the jar is full but not overflowing.  Then ask each student to hypothesize how many drops of water it will take to make the jar overflow. After everyone offers their guess, pass an eye dropper around the room allowing each student to add a single drop to the jar until it overflows.  Then, repeat this process with the other jar.

Read Ephesians 5:15-20

Debrief with these questions:

  • What about the empty jar seemed to echo the scripture we just read?  
  • How can it relate to being filled with the Holy Spirit?  
  • How can it relate to giving thanks at all times?
  •  Now think about the jar with the [rubber duck] in it.  What might that [rubber duck} symbolize?  
  • What does that make you think of when you think about this scripture’s call to be careful how you live?