(The Top 5 is our quick list of resources, recommendations, or reasons that we feel you should know).
As of July of 2018 there are over 5 million different apps on iOS and Android. And 4.77 billion people have a cell phone in the world. So apps are a big deal. We are going to go over the top 5 apps that help you and your youth ministry. We are not including any social media apps as that is a separate list. As always we do not own or represent any of these apps (except for the USMB Youth one). Yeah, that’s right we now have an app for you!
ONE – Bible (The Life.Church Version) (Apple & Android | Free)
This goes without saying but this app has evolved into much more than just a Bible app. Besides all the versions of the Bible, ability to now read the Bible out loud, scripture verse look up, meme creator, there is one feature that just came out this year that every youth worker should know. The “Plan with Friends” feature is a must-have. How it works is you choose a devotional plan (there are thousands) then choose the option “with friends” where you can invite your friends to join you in doing that plan. You’ll complete days together at the same pace, be able to discuss it through the app, and track people’s progress. You can have a small group or whole ministry keep each other accountable and increase spiritual depth through discussion by doing a devotional together. And it’s all for free!
TWO – GroupMe (Apple & Android | Free)
There are a lot of communication apps like GroupMe, but this is the original and the most popular. This is a MUST if you want to communicate to your teens, adult leaders, or even ministry as a whole. It’s like a group texting app. All you have to do is create a group by adding phone numbers or email of the people you want and then send them messages. Only the people in the group will see the message. And you have an unlimited number of groups to be in. I have one for just my small group leaders, student leaders, my small group, and teaching team. You can upload files, send texts, or even pictures. You can create polls, schedule events, and more. And a person doesn’t even have to download the app to respond it just comes across as a text message for those people. The only downside is you better turn off notifications because of how often students chat back and forth within the app.
Both of these apps basically do the same thing. They post on your social media platforms all at once! No more switching back and forth copy and pasting from Twitter to Facebook. By linking your social media profiles you can make one post and be done! They even have the ability to schedule posts (which is the feature we enjoy the most). You can schedule a whole month’s worth of social media posts at the beginning of each month.
FOUR – A Task List Database app (there are many different kinds)
If you need help remembering sermon ideas, keeping track of what items you need to purchase for your next event, or having a to-do-list hand than you should have some kind of note app. The best ones are Evernote (Apple & Android | Free), Google Keep (Android | Free), or SimpleNote (Apple & Android | Free). Each of these apps allows you to keep track of lists, pictures, meeting notes and pretty much everything else in the cloud. Throw out that paper notebook, because you can update these apps on your computer, phone, or tablet and you’ll never lose anything again.
FIVE – Expensify (Apple & Android | Free & Paid Version)
Ever have to pay out of pocket for an expense only to lose the receipt? Never again with this expense, travel, budget, and report management system. You can simply take a picture of each receipt, load it up to a report and your ministry’s treasure or bookkeeper gets it all automatically. It’s basically a virtual accountant.
By: Kyle Goings (Student Ministry Pastor of First MB Church in Wichita, KS)
If you are a youth worker in any capacity the time comes when you have to teach them. Either leading a discussion, doing a devotional, or even giving a full message/sermon. Giving a full message or sermon can be a difficult skill to learn. So here are some tips I have learned over the years that have dramatically improved my teaching ability. No one will be able to implement all the tips in one single message but the more you improve your teaching the more impact your messages will make.
With a teen’s attention span today plus the dependence on technology and social media, and add in the bombardment of advertising they receive, the Gospel message tends to get overlooked. The Message segment seems to have more competition than ever. As youth workers, when you grasp the divine responsibility to preach/teach the Word of God, you become more effective and your youth ministry becomes healthier.
So here are some tips:
1. Pray Through the Process
This sounds like a no-brainer but sometimes we get so involved in the research or writing of the message we forget to be led by the spirit throughout the process. Prayer forces us to stop and realize that we should only be saying what God wants us to say. Praying also is a good filter to see what should be included and what should be left out.
2. Know Your “Big Idea”
This may be the most valuable tip on this list. This is the “bottom line” of your entire message. Summarizing it all down to one memorable statement. What is the one thing you want the audience to remember after your talk? Also, all sub-points, illustrations, and everything else should reinforce your big idea. In today’s ADD culture this skill set is needed more and more. So if you can’t summarize your talk’s main point, how can you expect the audience to? It should be simple, memorable, and the lowest level of spiritual maturity a person should understand it. Which means avoid “Christianese” and superficial phrases. Try to come up with your Big Idea early in the process, especially before your first draft (if you write your talks). The ultimate goal is to build the rest of your message around your Big Idea so having your Big Idea first is crucial.
3. Use as Many Senses As Possible
Everyone has five senses (taste, smell, hearing, sight, touch), try to have the audience members use as many of these senses during your message as possible. This is easier said than done. But you talking, no matter how good of a storyteller you are, is only using one sense. If you add a PowerPoint or slides you are now using two. But it’s scientifically proven the more senses you use in learning something, the easier it is to remember it. Quick biology lesson – Different parts of your brain remember different sense impressions. Such as images are stored in one area of your brain, while sounds in another, etc. So it’s not all stored in the same place. The more areas you have this single message stored in the more impact your message will have on your audience and for a greater period of time.
Here are some ways to use more senses:
4. Have a Strong Hook (intro.)
Jesus was known for his parables and storytelling, He hooked you right away before you even knew what he was talking about. Your introduction should be short, interesting, and evokes curiosity. A good introduction builds trust with the audience and eases them into your main point. If you go straight to the scripture passage with no context (which you can) and go “too deep too soon” you might lose them if they are not spiritually ready for such a thing. Jesus told stories because everyone can relate to a story, even if they don’t agree with the main point. Jesus also asked WAY more questions than He ever answered. The ideal situation is you have a strong introduction that leads the audience directly to your Big Idea.
Some good introduction points:
5. Application Always
Jesus taught for change. Either to have us think differently, behave differently, or believe differently. But Jesus always communicated for change. Application should never just be thrown in at the end of a message but it should be a crucial part of it. Your Big Idea put into action is the application part. The audience should know what you are challenging them to do, why they should do it, and how they should do it. Do not separate your Big Idea and the application. Every message should have the application part clearly communicated… always.
6. Practice, then Practice Again
This is easier for some people rather than others. This requires experience above anything else. Whether you write out every word or just do an outline or “wing it” or “are led by the spirit”–whatever your method, some kind of practice is needed. Too many times lack of preparation kills a message more than anything else. This means you need to plan your messages before the afternoon of the same day you give them. A good rule of thumb is by the time you give your message it should be the third or fourth time you have given it, and one of those rehearsals should be at least the day before. A good idea is to practice it once, sleep on it and see how much you retain the next day. The key isn’t to have it completely memorized (although the less you look at the notes the better) but as Pastor Carey Nieuwhof would say, “Don’t memorize your talk. Understand it.” That means that you know the subject, you know the structure of your talk (intro., teaching, application, conclusion, etc.)
7. Follow the Seven Minute Rule
There is a belief out there that is a complete myth which states “sermons need to be short because people have tiny attention spans.” The underlying wrong belief is that shorter = more engaging–that is not true. You can be short and boring and you can be long and impactful. There is no perfect length for messages. I have heard plenty of 45-50 minute messages that I just didn’t want the preacher to end. And I have sat through some terrible 10-minute messages that I thought would never end! Remember the issue isn’t length, it’s engagement.
So this tip is not about your messages’ length but rather the time you spend on each point of your message. The key is no point (whether you have 3 or 8 in a message) should be talked about longer than seven minutes without some kind of topic break. What I mean is, once you have shared your first point, given reasons why, or even use scripture to support it, if you take more than seven minutes to explain your point, than you begin losing your audience. The average human can only absorb so much information at any one time without some kind of break. So between points share a story, show a video, or the very least switch to a different point or subject! Simply talking about the same point over and over again doesn’t make an impact it actually hurts what you are trying to do.
I hope these seven teaching tips help you and your ministry. If you have any more tips, feel free to leave a comment below!
That’s right we have an app! One more way where students and youth workers from USMB Youth workers can connect, find resources, and stay up-to-date with news and events throughout the year. We know not everyone has the ability to use tUSMByouth.com on their computers, so we decided to provide an app to make it easier.
Android version is now live! The Apple version is live! And all for free!
Right now the app is mainly for youth workers. However, starting with YouthCon next April we will be using this app as the main source of communication. It will take the place of our normal booklet (we will still have a smaller version). This means you will find the schedule, map, special deals, speaker information, note taking ability, and even games all through the YouthCon section of the app! So stay tuned.
Right now until August 25th anyone who downloads the app and posts (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram) a screenshot of the app using #USMBYouthapp will be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift card to Best Buy!
(The Top 5 is our quick list of resources, recommendations, or reasons that we feel you should know).
Previous YouthCon’s were in an Urban setting, usually at a hotel or convention center. After much prayer and discussion, the planning team decided to go in a different direction. Here’s why…
ONE – A new vision was given to the planning to expand our scope of ministry. One of the biggest goals was we wanted to be connected between every four-years-conventions. So we started a Youth Worker Network, Project:Serve, and repurposed the National Youth Convention to YouthCon.
TWO – A camp setting provides natural connection opportunities over meals. With an urban setting, everyone was on their own for meals and we saw that as a missed opportunity to foster relationships. By going to Camp Glorietta all meals are provided which allows for new friendships to develop and it is actually cheaper to include meals in the cost!
THREE – Camp Glorietta has over 40+ fun activities already provided! The 3,500-bed campground is designed for high school students with things like multiple gaga pits, baseball fields, 3 different zip lines, glow in the dark dodgeball arena, mud pit, arrow tag, and more. No need for a group to come early for a “fun day” because every day will be one at the camp!
FOUR – We wanted to bring the service project to our local communities back home. One of the biggest reasons was the development of Project:Serve where students can sign up to receive funds and help to meet a need in their local communities. The community serving day in the urban settings of the past has been a struggle to find quality projects for 1,000 people. So we decided to put the funds and work to better use.
FIVE – The rising costs for urban locations. Hotels/convention centers are increasing their prices without any increase of benefits. Camp Glorietta is actually less expensive with way more benefits.