PlugRug: A Ministry Digg

March 18, 2008

Tim over at Life in Student Ministry has developed a great new website called PlugRug. Simply put, PlugRug is a Christian ministry version of Digg. Blog posts from youth pastors and ministry workers can be “plugged” to this website. Then users can either “plug” the post more or sweep it under the rug. Overall, this website will be a great collection of ministry ideas and discussion. Tim hopes (as do I) that PlugRug will become a goldmine of youth ministry information. Great stuff!



Saving Websites for Reference

March 17, 2008

As I explained earlier (see Youth Ministry Hunter/Gatherer), I have been gathering resources, illustrations and ideas for my virtual reference filing cabinet. One problem I have run into is how to save all those great ideas from websites. There are some great youth ministry websites that are chock full of illustrations, ideas, and thoughts. Until now, I have been Copy and Pasting the text into a Word file, then saving the file in my filing cabinet. However, this has been time consuming, which often means I just read the post and never file it. That is until now.

The other day I discovered htm2pdf, a free web-based service that converts a HTML file (website) into a PDF file. Simply paste the URL of a website into the entry bar, click Convert, and the website is converted! You can then open the PDF file right in your browser and save it where you would like. The great part is that the whole website is located in the PDF, not just the text. So say you are inspired by a great post here on A Shore Thing (if I ever write a great post). When you convert the page into PDF, the whole page is seen, so all the pictures, links, and comments are saved as well.

Overall, a great web service that has already helped me save some great ideas from the Web.

Book Review: Speaking to Teenagers

March 11, 2008

I just finished Speaking to Teenagers over the weekend. Written by Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins, this book will soon become a youth ministry standard text. Although I don’t foresee this book replacing Creative Bible Teaching as the textbook for giving a Bible lesson, Speaking to Teenagers will become a companion book in many colleges and seminaries.

In this book, Fields and Robbins take the reader through every step of giving a message. And by “every step” I do mean every little detail; the authors make sure they cover all aspects of sermon preparation and delivery. The first third of the book seems a bit weighty, only because it dwells on the philosophy and basis for communicating with students. The last two thirds of the book are the real enjoyable chapters, where the authors provide you with concrete steps to improve your preparation and presentation of a message. Throughout the book, Doug and Duffy weave in personal examples from their decades of experience in youth ministry.

Overall, a great read filled with help and advice on improving your communication. Especially helpful to new and veteran youth workers alike.

Speaking to Teenagers book
Speaking to Teenagers at Simply Youth Ministry

Missing Students

March 9, 2008

On Friday night, our Junior High boys were supposed to go to the Sixers game. We had 8 students signed up, along with 2 leaders. A van was rented, tickets were purchased, and I was waiting at the Tabernacle at 5 pm, ready to go. Unfortunately, none of the students showed up. None. I called a few that I had numbers for, and received no real reason why they bailed.

Now I have had my share of event failures in ministry. This one was surprising, though, since it was an activity the students wanted to go on, and it was free (for them, not us!). One nugget of truth I have learned from this experience: the more you think you understand students and youth ministry, the more you find out you don’t. Remember, it is not your ministry, but God’s.

Local Youth Pastors: No Competition

March 5, 2008

Today I went to the local Friendly’s with other local youth pastors for our monthly meeting. In this meeting we joked around, talked about the universal struggle for volunteers, and problem solved specific issues in our ministries. One guy has had a recent influx of Junior Highers, bumping his numbers from 20 to almost 60! While this is a blessing, it has also left him seeking more leaders for this ministry.  We gave him some of our ideas on how to approach volunteer recruiting.

As I left, I thought how these monthly meetings are a blessing. Every month I look forward to meeting with my friends, hearing about their ministries, helping them through struggles, and sharing a common bond of ministry.  Some may see other local pastors as competition, since we are provide the same service: getting students to Jesus.  However, there are MORE THAN ENOUGH students out there lost and without Jesus.  That is why our meetings are so important: so we can help each other reach out and minister to these lost students more effectively.  I thank God for these meetings and cannot wait for next month!

Recording Youth Events

March 4, 2008

I saw this post on Lifehacker called “Effortlessly Document Your Party.” Basically, this post described ways the author was able to record his 27th birthday through video, pictures, and a real-time slideshow of the party.

As I read this post, I thought some of these ideas would be great in a youth ministry context, especially during a Lock In or All Nighter. I especially liked the “photo booth” idea, mainly because of how easy it is, especially if you have a MacBook or MacBook Pro (I have neither). Most students are familiar with using webcams, and it is simple enough for them all to learn immediately. One could be set up in your Youth Room, and throughout the evening all the students must stop by and contribute. My favorite part of this idea: you don’t have to be creative, your students will be creative for you!!

Brandon Schmidt Mac photo

Suggestions on Using photos from Youth Events:

  • End of Year Slideshow (What student doesn’t want to see their face on the big screen?)
  • Collage of the Event
  • Thank You cards to Volunteers
  • Newsletter to Parents/Ministry Prayer Supporters
  • Photo section of Youth Ministry website
  • Promotional material for future events

Do you have any ideas for recording and presenting your events? I’d sure love to hear it. Post them in the comments below.

Writing Messages

March 2, 2008

I spent most of yesterday working on a message I will be giving to my home church’s Junior High ministry. It is about Elijah and the 450 Prophets of Baal. The message is entitled “Showdown on Mount Carmel” and I will have the students whistle the typical Western music that accompanies any shootout (I tried typing it out here, but it just looked like a jumble of letters).

While working on this message, I realized that I have a very precise way of formatting my message outline. Here is a sample of my formatting:



Big Idea

Date Written

Date Given




Body of Outline (Headings, verses, and tips)




I have always forced myself to write message outlines like this. I almost never write out a manuscript, but always an outline. The outline helps me organize my thoughts, while serving as my only form of notes during my message. My reasoning for precise formatting may be a slight case of OCD, but more likely it is because I want to instantly recognize who, what, and where I gave this message when I look back at the files. After a few years in ministry, it is inevitable to talk about the same passage/topic more than once. Because of meticulous formatting, I can quickly find any previous outline related to the passage, thus avoiding redoing work. Plus, you can make sure you did not give a similar message to a group two years in a row!