Monday, November 24, 2008

Cool Text Toy!

Pyzam Glitter Text Maker
Glitter Graphics Maker & MySpace Layouts

If your students are into Myspace like mine are, you will want to be able to do some cool stuff with Myspace. So here's a cool toy that allows you to create your own glitter text! Fun Stuff.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Invite Night pt 4: Sermon

Invite Night occurred October 15th, 2008 and saw 6 new people come to our youth ministry (there were 37 total for the night), with 5 students getting saved or recommitting their lives to Christ. It was such a resounding success that we've decided to detail the process here so others can take this idea and try it in their ministries.

Here are the other parts: Advertising, Games and Schedule.

Something tragic has occurred. The blog silence for the last two weeks (save for yesterdays post) was for the most part due to the fact that my computer blew up and I was using my outdated laptop for a while. This made doing anything and everything painfully slow. Therefore I tried not to be on the computer as much as possible, which is actually a nice exercise, if you mean to do it and don't have it forced on you.

*End Rant*

I said all of that to say that my actual sermon notes from Invite Night are now missing. If I ever stumble across them I'll post them, but here in a nutshell is what I talked about:

I started by referring to the game Chubby Bunny, and asked them (rhetorically) what they thought the point of a game like that was. After giving them a second to ponder that question, I opened another poll question, asking them their favorite super heroes from their childhood. The best responses were mighty mouse and captain caveman. From there we discussed Jeremiah 29:11 and talked about how God created us with a purpose, like a super hero and unlike Chubby Bunny.

At Youth Conference, the speaker Jeremy Johnson gave a great illustration about how a sponge in it's packaging has all the potential in the world to absorb water, which is it's purpose. However, a sponge can only absorb water when it's placed in water. I talked then about how we were created to be in fellowship with God, that's our purpose, and only in God can we be fulfilled.

That's the night in a nutshell, it was amazing, and even more encouraging is that some of the students are coming back, and they're getting plugged in to their purpose. I would highly recommend doing an Invite Night, in fact, we've got another one planned for January.

Did you do an Invite Night? Leave me a comment.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Invite Night pt 3: Schedule

Invite Night occurred October 15th, 2008 and saw 6 new people come to our youth ministry (there were 37 total for the night), with 5 students getting saved or recommitting their lives to Christ. It was such a resounding success that we've decided to detail the process here so others can take this idea and try it in their ministries.

Here are the other parts: Advertising, Games and Sermon.

Here is the schedule for how the evening went down. Check out my other posts for a description of the games we used.

5:45-6:15- Pizza and Poll Questions. We also used this time for visitor registration. For the first time using you have to take time to show them how to do it, and you have to be patient with the ones that aren't catching on.

6:15-6:18- Butterfly Man- A Video Clip that we got from Bluefish TV. You can view it by clicking here.

6:18-6:30- Wii Sports Boxing Tournament. Tournament is too strong a word, there wasn't a bracket. We let students challenge each other based on age and opposing genders. You can read more about the set up by clicking over to part two.

6:30-6:35- Another Poll Question- And a convenient excuse to get the students participating in Atomic Twinkies out of the room while we told everyone else what to expect.

6:35-6:45- Atomic Twinkies- I apologize for not posting pictures, my camera didn't do this game justice. I'm not sure that the students will ever trust an eating game again.

6:45-6:48- SWAT- Another Bluefish video while we cleaned up the mess left behind by the last game and set up for the next one.

6:48-6:57- Chubby Bunny. If you don't know what this game is, you must not be in youth ministry. We ran out of ideas at the last moment (just kidding, it actually segued into the sermon I preached that night).

6:57-7:00- One more Poll Question, some hangout time and a chance to use the restroom before service.

7:00-7:30- Worship. Our youth band rocked that night!

7:30-7:40- Give a ways and announcements.

7:40-8:15- Sermon. But that's a post all to itself.

Is this helpful? Leave a comment.


Friday, November 14, 2008

What should I do after I get saved?

Below is a letter that I wrote to a girl who recently got saved in one of our church vans coming home from playing mini-golf. I started looking around the internet for resources about what to do after salvation, and since I couldn't find anything I liked, I thought I'd start a series on my blog. This letter will be part one of many:

Hey I just wanted to write and tell you that I think it's awesome that you took this step tonight. I really feel like God was in the whole experience, and I hope you do too. If you ever have any questions about what happened tonight, please ask. The bible says that all you need to do to be saved is what you did tonight, but there is a lot more to being a Christian than just saying one prayer. Here is a recap of the talked about tonight, just to make sure you understand what's happened.

1) God Created You and Loves You Alot. He created the whole world just so he could have a relationship with you. He thinks you are absolutely amazing.

2) Everyone has sinned. It doesn't matter who you are, everyone has done something wrong in their life. The problem is that God is perfect and because He's perfect imperfect people can't have a relationship with Him. We can never do anything right enough to get back together with God, therefore we are destined to be punished.

3) Jesus took our punishment. The reason Jesus came to this world was to take care of the sin problem. Think of sin as a prison, with no way out. Jesus came and took our place in the prison so that we can have a relationship with God.

4) We can live for Him. God wants us to be with Him, and just like any friendship we need to spend time with Him in order for it to grow. We do that by praying and reading the bible. Prayer is easy, you don't need to memorize any fancy sayings or anything like that, you just talk to Him. Tell Him all your feelings, your hurts, and your desires. He just wants to hear from you. Reading the Bible is God's way of talking to us. I would suggest reading in John. Try and read a chapter a day, but if you miss a day don't give up on it.

Well, that's about it for now, since I've already written you a book. Do you have a bible? Let me know how you're feeling when you read this, if you're confused about anything just ask.

I'm proud of you,

What should I do after I get saved? Part 2 of 8

The most important step you can take after receiving Christ is to get plugged in to a good local church. There are many reasons why this is important, but here's a few to get you started:
  1. To learn about God
  2. To get around people who believe like you do
  3. To encourage you when you mess up
  4. To help you grow in your newfound faith
  5. and lastly, because you don't know what you don't know (more on this in a minute)
A lot of people, including people you know, will tell you that you don't need to attend a church to believe in God. They will tell you that they pray on their own and that is enough for them. They will also tell you that the church is full of people who aren't as "Spiritual" as they are, and that being in church is hurting their faith in God. They will tell you all of this and be completely wrong. The reason is that people don't know what they don't know. The most important reason to be involved in a church is to get together with others who are on a spiritual journey and begin to talk with them. When we get into a church it will prompt thoughts in our heads that we've never thought before. And in doing that we will grow in Christ.

Next time we'll talk about what to look for in a good church.


What should I do after I get saved? pt 3 of 8

Last time I promised a blog on how to find a good church, and here it is. A good church will have several qualities, including:
  • They Preach from the Bible- seems like common sense. You go to church to learn about God, where do you learn about God except through the bible, so all churches should tell you about the bible right? Unfortunately no. It doesn't always happen. If you're at a church and the Pastor doesn't refer to the bible during his message, get out of there. I don't go to church to hear someone's opinion of life, I want to know Jesus.
  • The People are Friendly- why would you go to a church that wasn't? As a side note, every church pastor I've ever talked to says their church is the most friendly church in the world, not sure if that helps, but there you go.
  • They focus on discipleship- which just means they have a plan to help you get to know God better. Incidentally, I think this is an area where our church struggles a little.
  • They focus on outreach- Some churches are too focused internally. The reason we're here is to tell others about Jesus (we'll cover this later). God longs for us, and for his people to hide in church and expect people to come to them is a disrespect to God.
So there you are, remember that there are no churches out there that are perfect, but some are vastly better than others. Good luck and I hope you continue to get plugged in at church.


What should I do after I get saved? Pt 4a of 8

What to expect when you get to church

Hopefully by now you've picked out a good church to go to, but I know that some of the things Christians do may seem a little weird. I'm not going to explain how every church functions, but maybe some insight from my church will help you learn about yours. Here are a few things you'll probably experience when attending an average church.
  1. Worship- A typical church service starts with singing. The amount and style vary, but usually there's some sort of worship that takes place. People stand and clap, they raise their hands in the air (it's a physical way of saying "I surrender" to God) or they will bow down on the ground (to humble themselves before Him). Worship is one of the ways we connect with God, it allows us time to focus completely on God and what He's done for us.
  2. Announcements/Greeting- Even now it feels funny to reduce our church service into a formula like this, but it is what it is. During the service someone will stand up and talk about all the things the church has going on that week. Also at some point they will ask you to shake hands with the people around you. Our church is very good at greeting, if you leave there without a handshake, maybe you should have left the chainsaw and hockey mask at home.
  3. Offering- Yes, we will pass bags around to collect money. No, you are not required to give. In fact, if you're a visitor at our church we don't want your money. Because we don't want you to leave feeling like you had to put something in the plate. It doesn't work that way. The bible says God wants a happy giver, not someone who gives because they feel the need to.
Well, this blog is getting a little long, so I'm gonna cut it off for now and post the second half tomorrow. Hope to see you then.


What should I do after I get saved? Pt 4b of 8

What to expect when you get to church part 2

Yesterday I posted part one of this topic (which BTW is part 4 of another topic). I think the most important thing you can do as a young christian is get into a good Christian church. For the rest of this series, check out the sidebar and click the graphic like the one on the top of this post.

So, without further ado, here are a couple more things you should expect in church:
  1. Preaching- Some people call it "Giving a talk" some call it a message and some call it a conversation. Regardless, at some point during the service someone will stand up (usually the Lead or Senior Pastor) and speak on something from the Bible. Usually there are notes and powerpoint slides available to help you follow the sermon, and the church should be able to get you a Bible before the service if you need one. Also, if you have questions, write them down and find a staff member after church, you'll never know if you don't ask. Remember, the truth is out there!
  2. Altar Call- This is the conclusion of the message, and it's a time when people can come down to the front of the stage (called the altar, I don't know why) and respond to what God is saying to them. Sometimes there is prayer for needs, or because a part of the service touched a person. Sometimes it's loud, other times it's quiet and intimate. During this time just respond as you feel that tugging on your heart.
Well, that's what to expect when you enter a church, be sure to find one near you today!


What should I do after I get saved? pt 5 of 8

How to read the Bible

If you've been following along on our simple process to becoming a mega-christian superstar(or maybe you're just trying to survive without sinning every 10 minutes), then eventually the question turns to: What do I do with this book? By now you should have gotten a bible (the church you're attending can help you with this if you haven't) and maybe you've thumbed through it a couple times. You may even have decided that you're going to read the whole thing through so you started, like any book, at the beginning, determined to get to the end. I would encourage you to do it a little different.

You see, the bible isn't like any other book you've ever read. In fact, it's a compilation of 66 different books, divided into 2 sections (called testaments), written by different authors and spanning almost 1500 years. Normally I'm not the type of person who reads the end of the book first, but with the Bible you should start in the middle. In fact, start in the book of John (that's in the New Testament, right after Matthew, Mark and Luke). John tells the story of Jesus, the God who became man for you and me. After that, continue on to the end of the bible, reading over the story of the early church in the book of Acts, and then going into a series of letters that were written to encourage the first Christians, 2000 years ago. Pay close attention to these letters because they address a lot of the topics that you might be struggling with. There's some powerful stuff in those letters. And finally, once you've read the ending, go back to the beginning.

There are a few tools you can use to help understand what you're reading in the Bible:
  • Devotional: This is a book that takes a portion of the bible and cuts it up into easy to understand sections. A Christian bookstore or your church can help you find one that's on your level.
  • Concordance: Some Bibles have these in the back, this is a tool that cross-references all of the words used in the Bible, and allows for easy searching of themes and topics. Ex.: If you wanted to find verses about salvation, you look up the word and it points to verses like these: Acts 4:12, Romans 1:16 and others. If you'd rather look online, has a keyword search feature that's really handy.
  • Christian Friends: Even among strong Christians, we don't talk about the Bible enough. So ask us questions about it, because it's through dialog that we really grow.
Hopefully this points you down the right path. Comments or questions? Send them to me and I'd be happy to try and help.


What should I do after I get saved? Pt 6 of 8

Today we're going to delve into a very potent and very misunderstood facet of the Christian life: Prayer. Prayer is, in it's most basic form, a conversation between us and God. In fact, most of the time we try to complicate it and turn it into something else.

Jesus gave us a model for prayer, but He didn't say that this was the only way to pray. Before we read through this model together, take a moment to tell God about how your day is going so far. Go ahead, I'll wait. Good job! That was prayer right there, and that's all it takes to begin building a relationship with God.

However, there is more to prayer if you feel like taking the next step, and Jesus told us how we should pray (Matthew 6:9-13). I'll color code this section, and you can see my comments below.

9 Pray like this: Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,
12 and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

  • Jesus begins by taking time to praise God. He's done so much for us, we need to express our gratitude for how God is working in our lives.
  • God is our King, and as believers we are a part of His Kingdom. We need to learn to obey Him in everything we do, and submit ourselves to His guidance and correction. Jesus is telling us to submit to God.
  • All of us have needs, and God is interesting in helping us. He wants us to ask Him for the silly things, as well as the important. But know that He is A LOT smarter than we are, and He knows what's best for us, even if the answer is no.
  • If you've messed up (and all of us have) He wants us to take the time to say we're sorry.
  • And then ask Him to help keep you from sinning again.
There is a lot more that can be brought out of this teaching on the Lord's Prayer, but my goal here is to wet your appetite for more. Hopefully you're beginning with your day with Bible reading. Take a minute before you open the bible to pray and ask God to show you the truth in His Word, and when you come across something that challenges you, pray about it.

What should I do after I get saved? Pt 7 of 8

Matthew 28:19 says "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit". Water baptism is clearly not a requirement for salvation, according to the Bible (see Eph. 2:8-9, Rom. 10: 9-10), but it is a command that Jesus made. If you are serious about living as a Christian, this is one of the steps you will need to take, and it's better to do it sooner rather than later. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Jesus modeled it. Matthew 3 tells of Jesus going to John the Baptist to be baptized in water. While there He says that it must be done "to fulfill all that God requires (Matt 3:15, NLT)". This event marked the beginning of His public ministry.
  2. Jesus commanded it. In Matt 28:19 (see top) Jesus doesn't give the option of baptism, suggesting that it was to always be done.
  3. Baptism is symbolic of what Jesus did for us. Romans 6:3-4 says that in being baptized we identify with Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. It's a picture of what happened to us at salvation, and a great reminder of the cross.
  4. Baptism is a public act. When we are water baptized, we publicly tell everyone of the change that Jesus has made in our lives. It provides accountability by allowing others into the personal decision we made to follow Jesus.
Water baptism isn't talked about nearly enough in the church. Salvation (saying the prayer) is easy, but it's hard to walk out this life. We need people around us to help us out in the tough times, and through water baptism we allow others access to what God is doing in us.


What should I do after I get saved? Pt 8 of 8

Well, here we are, the end of the basics, but the beginning of this journey for you. If you've enjoyed what I've written here, please leave a comment to let me know. I want to leave you with one final thought, one last tip to get you started on the right foot: Tell someone what's happened to you. Find a Christian that you look up to, and tell them what's going on in your life. Don't assume they're too busy, and don't put this off. It's too important. Try and meet with this person and ask them what it means to be a Christian. Besides talking with God, this is the most crucial step, and yet it's so easy to overlook.

Again, leave me a comment if you have any questions, otherwise may God bless you and keep you, may His face shine upon you, and give you rest. Amen.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Invite Night pt 2: Games

Invite Night occurred October 15th, 2008 and saw 6 new people come to our youth ministry (there were 37 total for the night), with 5 students getting saved or recommitting their lives to Christ. It was such a resounding success that we've decided to detail the process here so others can take this idea and try it in their ministries.

Here are the other parts: Advertising, Schedule and Sermon

An hour before service started we opened the doors and unleashed all sorts of fun and craziness. We played three games specifically that I feel went over really well:
  1. Atomic Twinkies. Not sure what the actual name of this would be, but it's hilarious. It's a normal food eating contest, except we spiked the twinkies with Tabasco sauce! You can imagine the look on their faces when they dove in face first (no hands of course) and were chewing along happily only to discover their mouth was on fire!!! We prepped the audience ahead of time so they knew what to be looking for, which added to the fun.
  2. Wii Boxing. By placing a TV monitor on stage and running a LONG RCA cable to the projector, we were able to play the Wii while everyone watched from their seats. The best part was doing Jr High Guy vs Girl and Sr High Guy vs Girl. I think the girls won both matches. Then my five year old schooled a freshman in high school. It's great sitting in the audience and just watching the people box on stage, arms flailing everywhere. We wanted to use it more, but ran out of time.
  3. I blogged about this right after the event, so you can click here to read about it. It was really fun, although it does take sometime to explain to everyone the first time through. As a side note, I learned that no one in my group with texting capabilities is interested in High School Musical 3? Is that more of a tween thing?
Of course, in addition to this we did standard raffles with CD's and things to give a way, but the games were the best part of the preshow.

Have questions or comments? Leave me a comment and let me know!