Utilizing Skype in Student Ministries

early computer

Last year I was an interim Freshman Bible Teacher at a local high school. Our students were reading through a book, and I thought it would be awesome to finish out the project by doing a Skype Q&A with the book’s author. The classroom has a smart board in it (which is basically a 6-foot iPad on the wall). That never panned out, but my dream… wouldn’t… die. Are you inspired yet? 😉

Years ago I flew in an incredible apologist to come and speak in my High School Ministry. After paying for the flight, hotel, food and honorarium it got a bit expensive. It was worth it, but it was expensive. I wanted to bring him back right away.

And then it hit me… why not Skype him in?

No flights. No meals. No time away from his family.

We have the technology available (laptop, strong internet connection, mics). SO WHY NOT?

And it’s working out. It looks like we’ll lock him in at about 1/4th the cost! He’ll have to do some prep and do two 30-minute Skype sessions, so I want to honor his time with an honorarium… but he’ll get to speak from his house, with all his resources right there in his lap, his family down the hall, while getting piped into our youth room hundreds of miles away.

Is anyone else utilizing this kind of technology in a ministry setting? It seems like such a win-win!

Couch Races

Here’s an event idea for youth pastors.

Last week we had 14 teams face off for our first-ever High School Ministry Couch Race. We transformed our church’s parking lot into a simple race track. We piled hay bails at the sharp turns, but thankfully nobody crashed into them! We decorated with race flags I found on Amazon for next to nothing, set up some speakers, and I did the color commentary. We got couches from local thrift stores from $6-$20.

We had 14 heats, then the 2 teams with the top times raced to determine the overall champion. I got some fun trophies from a local trophy shop to award our overall champs, 2nd place, last place AND the couch that was “Most Likely to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse”. That team got Chuck Norris bobble-heads.

It was a GREAT way to kick off the school year- giving a handful of our groups something to work on together. The kids are already asking for us to do it again next year.

Take a peek: 

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/50449583″>Couch Race Recap</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/missionhs”>Mission HS</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

My Worst Sermon Ever

They say public speaking is the #1 fear for most people.

That seems silly to me, maybe because I’m comfortable speaking to large groups… but also because I’m much more afraid of guns, sharks and checking my bank account balance.

But on a Wednesday night back in 2008, I stood in front of a large group of teenagers, microphone in hand, and I was petrified.

I have been speaking once or twice to students since the beginning of 2002, not to mention some camps, trips and other events, so I had probably given 700 or 800 sermons before that day. At least a dozen of those sermons were the same topic that I was about to teach through.

It was week #1 of a love/sex/dating series. There were probably a couple hundred kids in the room.

It was absolutely horrible.

  • Problem #1: I was still pretty new on staff, so I didn’t feel like I had much credibility yet. All I had going for me is that I was (usually) funny, and that I looked like Dane Cook.
  • Problem #2: About an hour before we met, another youth group of about 40 said they were going to visit our group that night. They all walked in looking like they wanted to stab me.
  • Problem #3: Our church’s lead pastor decided to come visit us on this night, and this night alone. He stood in the back the entire time, right underneath a light fixture.
  • Problem #4: I titled the sermon, “Taming the Inner Stallion”. I was trying to be funny, but it was a dumb title that didn’t fit. I definitely avoided eye contact with the Lead Pastor while sharing the title.
  • Problem #5: I had no passion whatsoever, and I spoke with no authority. All of the sudden I didn’t even know if I agreed with what I was saying, like, ya know?

At one point I froze up, and I think I made eye contact with every confused kid before I uttered another word…

At that point what I could have (SHOULD HAVE) done is wrapped it up and trusted the Holy Spirit to translate my mess into something helpful.

But no, I am stubborn… and I thought, “I can fix this”.

Thirty minutes later, I wanted to drive to the Huntington Beach pier, cover myself in shark bait, and take a dive. I think I faked a stomach ache and went home immediately.

I say all of this because tomorrow night I’m kicking off a 3-week teaching series on love, sex and dating.

Wish me luck 🙂

My Worst Sermon Ever

They say public speaking is the #1 fear for most people.

That seems silly to me, maybe because I’m comfortable speaking to large groups… but also because I’m much more afraid of guns, sharks and checking my bank account balance.

But on a Wednesday night back in 2008, I stood in front of a large group of teenagers, microphone in hand, and I was petrified.

I have been speaking once or twice to students since the beginning of 2002, not to mention some camps, trips and other events, so I had probably given 700 or 800 sermons before that day. At least a dozen of those sermons were the same topic that I was about to teach through.

It was week #1 of a love/sex/dating series. There were probably a couple hundred kids in the room.

It was absolutely horrible.

  • Problem #1: I was still pretty new on staff, so I didn’t feel like I had much credibility yet. All I had going for me is that I was (usually) funny, and that I looked like Dane Cook.
  • Problem #2: About an hour before we met, another youth group of about 40 said they were going to visit our group that night. They all walked in looking like they wanted to stab me.
  • Problem #3: Our church’s lead pastor decided to come visit us on this night, and this night alone. He stood in the back the entire time, right underneath a light fixture.
  • Problem #4: I titled the sermon, “Taming the Inner Stallion”. I was trying to be funny, but it was a dumb title that didn’t fit. I definitely avoided eye contact with the Lead Pastor while sharing the title.
  • Problem #5: I had no passion whatsoever, and I spoke with no authority. All of the sudden I didn’t even know if I agreed with what I was saying, like, ya know?

At one point I froze up, and I think I made eye contact with every confused kid before I uttered another word…

At that point what I could have (SHOULD HAVE) done is wrapped it up and trusted the Holy Spirit to translate my mess into something helpful.

But no, I am stubborn… and I thought, “I can fix this”.

Thirty minutes later, I wanted to drive to the Huntington Beach pier, cover myself in shark bait, and take a dive. I think I faked a stomach ache and went home immediately.

I say all of this because tomorrow night I’m kicking off a 3-week teaching series on love, sex and dating.

Wish me luck 🙂

This Church Sucks…

One of the risks of having a large church or youth ministry is that people can go unnoticed.

We’ve taken steps to make sure that new and current students are greeted, included, and followed up with after they visit on a Sunday, but apparently our process isn’t perfect.

A student wrote this on the patio outside of our youth room a couple weeks ago:

Every single Sunday we have two small groups scheduled to do all of the greeting and new student check-in. They stand in our hallway, at the doors, and even inside the room. They’re there 15 minutes before service and 15 minutes into the service. It seems like a perfect setup… but we missed one.

For 3 years this kid has been coming, and for 3 years he has felt ignored.

Jesus leaves the 99 to go after the 1 who got disconnected. I love my 99, but this is a pretty clear cry for help.

This story does have a good note. One of my leaders saw this student right after he wrote this. He went up to him to talk to him but the student was angry and brushed him off. I looked for him the next week and saw him in the back of the room, in the farthest corner. He was sitting right next to another one of my students who had no idea about this little graffiti incident. He saw him sitting alone so he went over to talk to him and to sit with him.

I take a lot of pride in my students and our greeting format, so at first I got defensive and wanted to write this kid off. I want to blame him for not doing his part to get connected. I’m not going to do that though. I’m going to use this as inspiration to work even harder on making sure every kid feels like they’re noticed and known in our gatherings.