Thursday, February 21, 2019

We Show Up

Written by Charlie Heritage, Greensboro, NC. One of my dearest former Young Life kid's dad suddenly passed away last week. When I found out, I immediately went to be with Jack. We talked for over two hours.

At the service on Saturday, Jack spoke. I imagine it's a difficult thing to do at any funeral, but especially your own father's. 
One thing, in particular, stood out to me as Jack spoke. He shared a story about when he decided to quit playing college football. He told me it was a sport that had connected him and his dad since he was a child. When he told his dad he was quitting, his dad jumped in the car and drove in the middle of the night to his campus to show up at Jack's dorm room. Jack told me that they laughed, cried, and prayed together. When he asked his dad why he came all the way there that night, his dad simply said, "Jack, we're Schultz's, it's what we do. We show up."
Jack's dad began walking with Christ just three years ago, and ever since, he showed up. He showed up in his family's lives, he began tutoring at-risk kids, even taking two of them into his home for over a year while their mother was in prison. He showed up.
It's the same thing we get to do as Young Life leaders. We show up when they lose a game, when they get dumped, when they get hurt, and when life seems to be more than they can bear. And sometimes, years after we've stopped being their high school Young Life leader, we still get the chance to show up in life's major moments, like when a parent dies. It's what we do, we show up.
Thank you for being a Young Life leader. We may never know the impact we have on kids' lives or even on their parents.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

How To Make Hilarious "Good Morning Young Life" Videos

One of my favorite Young Life traditions is waking kids up before school with a video camera.   

Good Morning Young Life” videos seem easy enough to pull off, but there are actually quite a few ways they can go wrong. Hopefully, these tips below will help you avoid the same mistakes that I had to learn the hard way.

PICK THE RIGHT KIDS 

  • Don’t necessarily pick the kids who are always on stage at club. Give some other kids a chance to shine. 
  • But do pick kids who are fairly well known at school. Kids talk and word will spread that “Big Joe” got woken up with a leaf blower by his Young Life leaders this morning and they’re going to show the video at club.
  • Select siblings and get twice the bang for your buck. This only works if they share a room or have rooms far apart in their house. The wakeup is loud and usually will wake up the other sibling while you are waking the first one. If this is probable, get one sibling in on it ahead of time and have them help you wake up their brother or sister.
  • You only have a short window of time before school, so pick kids who live near each other. If you’re going to wake up one kid at 5:30am and then another kid who lives 15 minutes away, you might be too late. Attempt to find multiple kids in the same neighborhood to limit your early mornings.

CONTACT PARENTS

  • Call them when their kids are at school or email them in order to avoid the awkward, “Why did my YL leader just call you?” question to the parents. Most parents will love this and it’s a great way to get them involved. You’d be surprised how many folks are currently on committee who started to get more involved in YL only after their kids were woken up with video cameras. It’s fun and shows parents how committed we are to their kids.
  • Confirm the time of your arrival with parents so they are waiting and not surprised themselves.
  • Make sure that if they have a dog, it won’t bark when you arrive and wake the kids.

USE RUN-ON CHARACTERS

  • Here’s one example video. If you search YouTube for "Good Morning Young Life" you'll find tons of others like this one from GMYL and Dave Wilson in Santa Clarita, CA.
  • If you don’t use your run-on characters, use other characters. Possibly “News Broadcasters” who do the “Morning Show” or a giant hotdog, or Big Bird, or banana suit, or some funny costume.
  • This is a lot to put on the leaders doing the run-on skit for the semester. A lot of early mornings if you do it regularly. Consider taking turns and whoever does the wakeup, that leader wears the Banana suit. That way different leaders can share the load.

SAME GENDER

Make sure you have at least one leader of the same gender of the high schooler or middle schooler you are waking up. It’s not appropriate for 2 female leaders to go wake up a high school guy.

FILM IN THE DRIVEWAY

It's funny to arrive early and do your run-on repeater lines in the driveway of the kid's house. If it is still dark outside, make sure you have some sort of light to shine on the characters so they will be visible.

FUNNY COMMENTARY

When you enter the house, get some video footage of funny childhood pictures on the walls of the kids you are waking up. Plan some funny commentary about the pictures like in this video. If you’re nervous about the kid hearing you, just do this after the wake-up.

USE FUNNY PROPS TO WAKE KIDS UP
  • Leaf blower (electric, not gas. Gas powered blowers make the house wreak of gas.) This is especially funny on kids with long hair that it will blow everywhere and also if you get a close up shot of it blowing in the kids mouth. 
  • Air Horn. Pot and metal spoon.
  • Portable loud Bluetooth speaker using a song that starts loud and fun, possibly your run-on characters theme song. I’ve also used the beginning of “Circle of Life” from the Lion King. It starts loud and abruptly! You could use the theme song from the old school show “Saved By The Bell” and make it the traditional “Good Morning YL” song.
  • Bullhorn. Check with a local church that has a gym. Chances are they will own one and let you borrow it. You can also order one on Amazon for $30.

LIGHT SWITCH

Ask the parents where the light switch is in their kid’s room. I’ve sadly filmed videos where I couldn’t find the light switch and it was too dark to catch the kid’s expression. It’s tough if they use an overhead light that is controlled by a pull string on the ceiling fan or a bright lamp in a corner. Plan ahead. Lighting is essential!

PROPER PJ'S

Ask the parents what their child typically sleeps in. I have accidentally woken up kids only wearing underwear. This can be awkward, but avoidable if you just make sure that the covers stay on them while you are in the room with them. I’d also recommend leaving the room immediately after you get the video of them waking up to give them some time to get ready.

MORNING CALISTHENICS

After the "victim" has had a minute to gather themselves from the surprise, use this time to do some funny morning exercises with them. Potentially use the wake up videos as a way to sell camp.
  • Tell them that “camp is physically demanding, you’re gonna be doing high risk and high energy activities that require you to be in tip-top physical condition!" (name some of the rides at camp)
  • Video the skit characters leading them in morning pushups, jumping jacks, etc… If they have a trampoline or swing set out back, use those as well. You can also video them putting on their makeup, doing their hair, brushing teeth. Lots of possibilities for funny commentary there. 

BREAKFAST TREAT

After you've embarrassed them, give them a chance to shower and get dressed. Make it up to them by taking them with you to wake up the next kid and then take both out to breakfast, your treat. Plan so you have enough time so they're not late for school.

STAGE-IT

If the actual wakeup was just not that funny and they didn’t respond at all, consider staging a funnier wakeup. Ask them to join in on the joke and pretend to be asleep and re-film the video. This is a last resort, but one I’ve had to use on a few occasions, particularly one time when a kid cussed me out during the initial wake-up.

VIDEO EDITING

Ask your middle or high school friends, who are way more tech savvy than you, to help edit the video. It will save you a couple hours and give them ownership and leadership.
  • Instruct them to make the edited video shorter than 5 minutes, 3 minutes is most ideal to keep kids wanting more and not to make it too long. This might mean leaving out some funny footage, but that’s ok, select the funniest, keep it short!
  • Ask them to use appropriate background music in the video. Instruct them on when you need the actual video footage sound and when you need background music or both.
  • Double it up as some great contact work time by asking them to teach you how to edit the video. Sit with them while they do it and show you how. 

MIDNIGHT RUN

If you have early morning jobs that prevent you from doing this, consider doing a “midnight run” where you wake the kids shortly after they have gone to bed. It doesn’t have to be on a school day or night, but those are usually the safest bets to ensure they’ll be asleep and not at a friends house. The viewers will still think its early in the morning. I have also woken a kid up at 9am on a Saturday and set the clock in the living room that we filmed in the video for 4:15am to make it look like it was very early. We filmed the outside scene a different night in front of the house when it was dark and inside it didn’t matter.

TRADITION

Make it a tradition at your school. Do it often, so kids are always living in “fear” that they will be next.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Create suspense on your Instagram account. Post clues as to who might be next or clips from the full video they will see at club. Don't post the full video up on YouTube until after club, it gives kids more incentive to be there.

BIG ENDING

A good way to end the semester is by staging the final wake up where some seniors gather all of the kids who have been woken up during the semester and go and wake up the leaders who have been doing the wake ups. This should be the most brutal wake up. Possibly take the leaders outside, duct tape them to a tree and spray them with the water hose. 

Download a PDF of these tips here.



Monday, February 18, 2019

A 40-Day Experience For Your Campaigners Group



This year Ash Wednesday falls on March 6. It is the beginning of the ancient church season of Lent. 

I didn't start practicing Lent until I was in college and our Young Life Regional Director taught on the spiritual practice at a leadership meeting. With each year, this Lenten season grows more personally significant and is consistently a time of deeper intimacy with the Lord.

The term "Lent" comes from the English word Lenten (lengthen), referring to the season of the lengthening of the days, the spring. Ash Wednesday, the first day in the Lenten season, traditionally has been a day of repentance. 

Ben Witherington writes "The remorse for sin is symbolized by the imposition of ashes on the forehead, but in that imposition is the sign of hope, for the ashes are imposed in the sign of the cross—the means by which our sins were atoned for."

In our Campaigners group, we have been preparing for the season of Lent, 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Understanding a relationship with a God they can't see or touch often feels intangible to a high schooler. Yet, it seems the concept of Lent is something they can wrap their minds around, something they can actually do.

At Campaigners, we discussed the concept of Lent through the metaphor of athletic training, one quite familiar to most the guys. In order for an athlete to excel, they must prepare. When you watch an Olympian break a record, you know they didn't just walk out there and get lucky. Their performance happened because of years of repetitive behavior.

Lent also involves preparation, prepping our hearts to grasp the power of the cross (Good Friday) and the hope of empty tomb (Easter). One way we can prepare is the same way athletes prepare, with repetitive behavior. We can set our mind to do almost anything for 40 days.

Suggestions I Gave To My Campaigners Group


A Nightly Time Of Written Confession 

Create a 'locked' document on your laptops or phones, or in a hidden journal. Three sections of specific confession each night, "Thoughts," "Words," and "Deeds." (based on the Book of Common Prayer general confession)

Give Up A Bad Habit

Pick something hard, but doable. Some guys are attempting to fast from porn, alcohol, drugs, sexual sin, etc... (things that should be given up regardless, but hopefully Lent will be a catalyst to developing some healthier habits following these 40 days.)

Giving Up A Comfort

Some guys are giving up things that aren't necessarily "bad," but things they consistently run to for pleasure instead of God. Ex: desserts, fast-food, social media, soda, Netflix, mindless games, video games, hitting the snooze button, etc.. I also saw that someone was only wearing 1 pair of shoes for all of Lent in order to remember how wealthy they are and how a majority of the world doesn't have "shoe options."

Taking On A New Habit Replacing An Old One

Instead of watching Netflix or checking social media sites before bed, reading a chapter of the Bible on the YouVersion app on their phone. Memorizing a verse of scripture each week. Calling people instead of texting them.


So...is Lent just a behavior modification program? 

Not at all, but it is still important to modify behavior because behavior often influences belief. By choosing to purposefully give up a comfort or habit of pleasure, we take our eyes off of ourselves, our needs and our wants. Before we can fix our eyes on Jesus, we must stop being so preoccupied with the idol of our own flesh.

"Lent...is an intentional season...where we’re challenged to arrange our lives in such a way as to be daily frustrated. As people addicted to comfort and convenience, we’re often unaware of how we live to feel good about ourselves, to gain a bit of affirmation, to exert influence, to maximize our own pleasure, to satisfy our immediate needs. 

Lent invites us to intentionally frustrate ourselves, to engage in a season of deprivation, which actually makes us more aware of the depth of our dependence on any number of things – a substance, our reputation, control, achievement, being right, being comfortable, being secure.

Lent is not about going off chocolate or caffeine or alcohol. It’s about frustrating what Thomas Merton calls our 'false self'....Lent strips us of everything that is not us. In that sense, Lent is not a chore. It is an opportunity for profound grace by a God who longs to love us at our core, not in our false projected self which desire influence and accolades, but in our truest, most humble and dependent self, once lost but now found in the wilderness of Lent.
"

Helpful Resources for Lent
Many of you have read Jim Branch's "Blue Book devotional. Jim also has a book specifically for the season of Lent. Get it here on Amazon.


Jim recently released another new book that is called "Teach Us To Pray: A 40 Day Journey in the Psalms. Get it here.



Justin has recently released his book, "Prayer," along with visual artist Scott Erickson. In it, they combine fresh language and beautiful imagery to help us with the practice of prayer. They wrote and designed the book to be a resource for people who want to reimagine and strengthen their spiritual practice. Get it here.



Ty Saltzgiver's "40 Days of Lent"
Many of you have read Ty's book, "My First 30 Quiet Times." "40 Days of Lent" is the same small size that fits in many Bibles, easy to read in the daily format, and a helpful tool to hand to your Campaigners group. You can get it here for only $1.99 in hard copy or as an e-book.

Henri Nouwen's "Show Me The Way"
Henri Nouwen is one of my favorite authors. You could really pick up any of his books to help prepare you for Easter during the Lenten season, but "Show Me The Way" is specifically designed for that purpose. If you haven't read Nouwen yet, be prepared to encounter Jesus in a fresh way.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Turning Club Announcements Into A Game

Written by Rob Schreiber, Area Director in San Diego, California.

Many of you have played the childhood game of telephone. Here's a way to use an old familiar game to share your announcements in a creative way.

How to Play

  • First, choose the phrases kids whisper by selecting specific announcements or funny things about kids or leaders. Have these written down.
  • If you have enough space, get everyone in a straight line, spaced far enough apart so that others can’t hear what you’re whispering into the next player’s ear. If space is tight, try arranging everyone in a circle instead.
  • The first player starts the game by whispering a single word or phrase into the ear of the next player.
  • If the next player didn’t quite hear it, well, that’s a part of the fun of the game! The next player whispers what they think they heard to the following player, and so on. This continues until the word or phrase reaches the very last person.
  • The last player gets the most important part, announcing what word or phrase they heard! It’s fun to get to see just how much it changed from one person to the next!
  • The first player then goes on to state what the actual word or phrase was.
  • The last player then gets to jump to the first player position so and starts the game over.

Variations

Drawing

  • In this variation, the first player chooses a word and uses pencil and paper to draw a single line to begin the illustration of the word.
  • You cannot lift the pencil, and once you do, it’s time to pass it to the next player.
  • The next player is quietly told the word and must continue the drawing, again with just one line.
  • At the end of the round, the last player is not told the word and must guess the word by looking at the drawing!

Teams

  • This is the best way to play with a large group and fun if you like competition!
  • Even teams are made and one single person whispers the same phrase to the first player on each team.
  • Whichever team is closest to having the correct phrase at the end wins!

Rumor has it

  • In this variation, instruct each person to change just one or two words out of the entire phrase and see just how much words get twisted, just like a rumor that gets spread!


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Thursday, February 14, 2019

What Should I Do After College?




Are you a college senior wondering what's next after graduation? Do you wish you had more time to discern your calling and career? Do you want to build a deeper foundation in Christ so you can transition well into the season after college? Would you like to continue partnering with Young Life?

If so, consider joining us in Greensboro, NC for the Fellows Program. 

The Greensboro Fellows
is a 9-month program (Sept-May) focusing on spiritual and professional development. Dozens of Young Life leaders have gone through the program after college and have loved it!
  • Work a part-time job in a field of your interest.
  • Meet weekly with a Godly mentor.
  • Take seminary classes in Bible, Church History, and Theology.
  • Volunteer with Capernaum Young Life.
  • Learn weekly from world-class leaders.
  • Immerse yourself in a holistic approach to vocational discernment.
  • Live in authentic community with other fellows. 
  • Attend conferences, retreats, and a mission trip to Rwanda.
  • Experience a life-changing year!

Check out this video from three of our current fellows who have come from different Young Life areas around the country.

Find more information on www.GreensboroFellows.com.

If you have questions or interest, email the fellows director, Dodd Drake: dodd@greensborofellows.com.