Monday, September 15, 2014

Free Krispy Kreme This Friday, Sept 19th: Talk Like A Pirate Day

Friday, Sept 19this International Talk Like A Pirate Day. In honor of the parodic holiday, Krispy Kreme is giving away free doughnuts.

If you show up to any Krispy Kreme on Friday and talk like a pirate, you get a free doughnutAhoy Matey! There she blows! Yo Ho Ho! Shiver me timbers!

If you show up fully dressed like a pirate, you get a FREE DOZEN DOUGHNUTS.


Sounds like I might be picking up a car full of high schoolers after school on Friday. Now I've just got to fill my trunk with eye patches, bandanas, leather boots, and MC Hammer pants. For some reason Krispy Kreme isn't allowing real swords or pistols to be part of the costume.

Here's some help on how to dress like a pirate


Here's the official Facebook Event
Here's the info on Krispy Kreme's website.

Happy contact work.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Ingredients Of A Fun Pre-Club: What Happens From 7:27p-7:47p

As kids arrive for club, there are a few strategic ways to help them feel comfortable and welcomed. Our club officially starts at 7:37p but kids typically arrive around 7:27p. We don't open the doors to club until 7:47...so here's what happens in those first 20 minutes... 

Music

It's vital to have good music bumpin' as they arrive.

Here's a Spotify playlist Sean McGever created for club this year.

Also, recruit a kid to DJ.


Food

Good parties have good food. Recruit a few parents to help bring snacks and drinks before club. If you have access to a kitchen, cooking grilled cheese is cheap and fun.

Parent & Parking People

Ask a few parents or committee members to stand outside and greet parents as they drop off kids. They can help direct traffic and make sure high schoolers don't park in neighbors' yards. Give them clear instructions on what to communicate to parents. 

"Thanks for bring lil Susie tonight. My daughter is a senior and has been involved with YL since she was a freshmen. We'll be done with club tonight at 9 so come around 9:15 to give lil Susie some time to hang out afterwards. Also, we're going to Fall Camp next month and would love for her to come. Here's a flyer with the information. Also, here's another flyer with pictures and contact info for all the YL leaders at Smith High School. Don't hesitate to call any of them with questions or to visit the website."

Activities


Have a few different options for kids to do while they wait for club to start.


Transition To Club

Although our official club start time is 7:37, we actually open the doors to the club room at 7:50. We ask a senior to be in charge of rallying every senior and forming a tunnel to the club room doors. The tunnel starts forming at 7:47 and the entrance happens something like this.


Friday, September 12, 2014

8 Tips For Your Pre-Club Young Life Photo Booth

If you've been to a wedding lately, you might have taken some photo booth pics. It's fun, makes it feel like a party, and everyone loves to see themselves in a photograph. 

As the new semester begins and we meet new middle and high schoolers, a helpful way to remember their names is to do a Pre-Club Photo Booth. 

  • Raid the YL Skit Closet for funny props
  • Hang a solid color sheet for the backdrop
  • Make sure you have good lighting for clearer pics
  • Ask senior leaders or parents to volunteer to run the booth
  • Take 2 pics of each group of kids
    • 1st pic: each person holds a piece of paper below their chin with their name clearly written and their Twitter/Insta handles below their name.
    • 2nd pic- No paper in front of them
  • Post the best pics on Insta and tag the kids in the pics
  • Use the ones with their names to learn names and follow kids on social media
  • If you get any really great ones, blow them up to poster size and use them to decorate your club room. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Young Life Leader Version Of 'Meet The Parents'

I look back at my first year leading Young Life in college and feel sorry for my poor Area Director. God bless you Bart Scarborough. I'm sure he received many phone calls from concerned parents wondering why he allowed me to represent Durham/Chapel Hill Young Life. 

Have You Ever...
  • Got A Speeding Ticket With Kids In The Car?
  • Been Asked To Remove Your Hat By A Vice Principal When Visiting The Lunchroom?
  • Had A Loud Rap Song As Your VoiceMail Greeting When Parents Call?
  • Led A Game Of Silent Football At Camp That Got 'Out of Hand?'
  • Made Kids Throw Up At Club?
I was 5 for 5.

Below are a few things I've learned through years. Hopefully they'll help you earn the trust of the parents of your middle and high school friends. 

HOW TO EARN PARENTS' TRUST AS A YL LEADER

Make It Easy For Parents To Find Information
  • Is there an updated webpage for your club with the semester schedule and camp information?
  • Can parents find your phone number/email easily?
  • Do you update your YL Club's facebook page? Kids might not use fb much anymore, but parents still do.
  • Is there a faculty advisor for YL at the school parents can talk to easily?
Act Like An Adult 
  • When you go to lunch at the school, dress somewhere in-between being a teacher and being a kid. Think through what your clothes communicate to other adults about you and YL. No hats inside the school. 
  • If a parent were to hear your voice-mail greeting would they trust you more or less? 
  • If a parent looks at your Twitter feed or Instagram pics, would they trust you more or less. Be wise in what you post.
Meet The Parents
  • Greet parents outside of club when they drop off their kids. Learn their names, shake their hands, thank them for bringing their sons and daughters!
  • We used to call homes to reach kids, which meant we were able to talk to parents. Now with mobile phones it takes a more intentional effort. Ask kids for their parents' numbers. Call them before you drive their kid somewhere. Over-communicate. Don't just text them, although that feels safer, call and let them hear your voice. They're trusting you with their precious kid.
  • At games, don't just sit in the student section. Sit in the parents section some as well. Get to know them. Allow them to know you.
Know Your Stuff
  • If a parent asks you 'What is Young Life?' are you able to give a good answer?
  • If a parent asks 'What's the fundraising plan for summer camp?' will you be able to give them specifics. 
  • Communicate with your Area Staff folks to learn how to better communicate with parents. 
Serve Them
  • Offering transportation is a huge gift to parents. Drive safely, you have precious cargo on board.
  • Help them fundraise for camp. It's expensive and life is stressful.  Come alongside them and let them know you're here to help.
  • Offer to help tutor, teach guitar lessons, babysit, anything you can do to spend more time with their children.
Thank Them
  • When they bring snacks for club.
  • When they host Campaigners.
  • When they give other kids rides home to help you.
  • Invite them to be adult guests at fall camp!
Pray For Them (& Their Child)
  • Parenting is hard. Ask them how you can pray for them. 
  • Follow up: Write them notes, texts, emails.

Download this to share at your YL leadership.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How To Be An Ineffective Young Life Leader

  • Don't remember kids' names. 
  • Teach your Campaigner group spiritual disciplines you don't personally practice.
  • Always send mass text messages. Never call kids individually.
  • Depend on your own ability to win kids to Christ.
  • Retweet all tweets by your high school friends that could get them grounded if seen by their parents. 
  • Don't ask anyone to pray for you and the ministry of YL.
  • Be inconsistent in when you show up at the school and in your high school friends' lives.
  • Talk more than you listen. Especially focus on talking about yourself.
  • Don't get plugged into a local church body.
  • Only befriend popular kids.
  • Make lots of promises to kids, but don't keep them.
  • Be judgmental, always pointing out the faults of everyone but yourself.
  • Compare yourself with other YL leaders in your area.
  • Whenever talking with kids, never mention Christ. You wouldn't want to be too overbearing.
  • Be undisciplined and last minute in preparing all Club talks and Campaigner lessons.
  • Don't let anyone ever know your weaknesses.
  • Make fun of people, especially awkward high schoolers. It always gets a good laugh.
  • Spend lots of time with kids of the opposite sex. Purple is a pretty color.
  • At all costs avoid personally studying God's Word.
  • Never talk to parents. That's intimidating.
  • Don't become friends with people on your YL team. Don't ever spend time with them outside of YL events.
  • Brag about all your accomplishments. Maybe even break out your high school letter jacket so the kids will know just how much of a stud you truly were.
  • Do whatever it takes to hide your secret sins. Only confess them to God, not anyone else.
  • Lie whenever necessary to protect your image.
  • Don't ever memorize scripture.
  • Always choose being cool over being wise, its more fun to be "one of the kids."
  • Make kids clean up after club while you check your iPhone for ESPN scores and to find out who got eliminated on The Bachelor.
  • Keep 'Young Life' separate from the rest of your life. Don't invite kids into your family, home, or church.
  • Tell kids you'll be there and then show up really late or just don't show up at all.
  • Gossip about other kids and YL leaders.
  • Complain about how much you sacrifice to be a YL leader.
  • Don't ever pray for kids.
  • Always be sarcastic.
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Monday, September 8, 2014

Right In The Middle Of The Student Section

I can't think of anything better to read as we kick off a new school year in Young Life.

My Commitment by Bill Goans 
(Former YL staff and now pastor in my hometown of Greensboro, NC)

As long as high school kids mill around at ball games looking for love in all the wrong places...  

As long as they desperately seek an identity based on the opinions of friends and reputation...

As long as kids limp through the stands broken by family strife, enslaved by drugs, alcohol, and sex...

I want to be found- not in the adult section where it is respectable and controlled... 

but right in the middle...where passions, vulgar and profane, blurt out obscenity...

Where raucous and reckless facades hide wounded hearts filled with torment and fear...

Where the price tags have been changed and darkness confuses...

Right in the middle where God has positioned me to shine forth His grace, His Hope, His love and His truth.

As long as there is an enemy who can convince his victims that tomorrow doesn't matter, that harm will not find them, that chains are like jewelry and cool is free...

As long as his lies leave character, soul, and life in ruins- when thrill goes ill and fun turns fatal...

As long as terminal is only a passage word to an eternity of one's own choosing...
 
As long as God has rendered him a defeated foe using the weakest of us to shine a light that pierces the darkest places, that brings rescue to the lost...

As long as the darkness is blasted away by the light of the world- that Light that lives within all who know, follow, and love Him...
 
As long as there is such darkness...

I'll man my post right in the middle of all that chaos, holding my position until he calls another play, and I steal home. 

As long as we stand in such an important place, we must not forget what it means to be salt and light in this tasteless and dark generation.

In Jesus,
Bill

Friday, September 5, 2014

Advice For Young Life Leaders From A Real High School Principal

This post was written by a real high school principal who wishes to remain anonymous. Special thanks to this friend of Young Life who took the time to share valuable insight with us leaders. Hopefully it will help your Young Life team as you begin the new school year. (Originally posted fall 2011)

As a long-time friend and former leader in Young Life since 1989, who is now a school principal, I have the very interesting perspective of now being on “the other side” of the cafeteria. I was a Young Life leader at several schools in different states, and I remember wondering why some schools made it so difficult to be a YL leader and others were so welcoming.

Then I became a principal of a school and went “Ahhh.” I see things from a different perspective now. And what I have seen over the years is both how to approach a school and how not to. And like always, it’s about relationships and respecting the school personnel—meeting them “where they are.” Having a good relationship with the school is a wonderful thing and can enhance not just your own ministry, but your life as well. Here are my thoughts as both a former Young Life leader for over 20 years and educator/administrator:

Understand The Community Where The School Is Located

Become a student of your school’s culture. Is it fairly homogeneous with Christianity being the community’s main religious identification? Or is it very diverse in religion, race, etc.? How is religion viewed in general?

If the school where you lead has a different religious climate and culture than you are used to, you will have to be especially careful. “Why is this school this way?” you’ll wonder. Great question—figure it out! Many folks in more diverse cities fear folks trying to proselytize them and are suspicious of folks who want to “save” them. On the opposite end of the spectrum, folks in very churched areas often see Young Life as a threat. Both of these fears are valid and you need to respect these folks by making an effort to understand where they are coming from.

Respect The Rules Of The School

When I was a teacher, one of the first things we noticed is when a stranger entered our cafeteria, and none of us knew who he or she was. Is it a parent trying to start something (it happens!), someone trying to snatch one of our kids? Schools are very protective of the kids—we want to know why you are here and what your intentions are with them! But if you have followed the check-in procedures for visitors and the rules of whom can come to lunch/on campus, then you are in great shape. Many schools now require background checks for regular visitors or volunteers. These are typically done at least a week prior to your visit by filling out an online form. Ask your administration what their procedure is and follow it respectfully.

Years ago a college student co-leader of mine rolled right into the high school where he had been assigned to lead Young Life wearing a ball cap and was promptly reprimanded. Not a good way to start out. You might think that’s ridiculous—but you wouldn’t if you had ever worked in a school. So trust those of us who do. If you do respect the school’s rules and regulations, we perceive that as you respecting us, and thus we’ll trust you more.

Be Honest Regarding What Young Life Is About

Back in the day when I was a leader, we sort of hedged about what Young Life was about, not wanting to “scare” them away when they heard “Christianity.” "Just come and see, and you’ll like it." And most of the time kids did. But this ‘tactic’ now strikes me as “Amway-ish.” Amway will not tell you what this free dinner is about, because they fear you might judge them right away and let any preconceived bad notion of them prevail. (These exact words were said to me at a dinner I had been invited to!) This tactic itself does indeed confirm my bad notion! So be honest with your posters and fliers. “A Christian club for anyone” or something like that. I am sure you guys can come up with something better. Just be honest.

Be Careful Of Inside Jokes

We once put on a flier that the “Crocodile Hunter” would be at club. Two freshmen boys showed up, thinking he was really there and left very bitter. Alright I’ll be honest—that still mostly makes me laugh! But freshmen will believe almost anything, and we want to be careful in our advertising!

Volunteer At The School—But Be Sincere

Schools need folks to volunteer to: tutor, proctor end of year tests, substitute teach, help coach, put mailings together, etc. But if you do this, be sincere in your desire to help the school—not as a super-clandestine way to meet kids!

There was recently a pastor at my school (not affiliated with YL thankfully!) who was subbing in a class for several weeks. He was kind and friendly—right up to the point where he let the kids do pretty much whatever they wanted. I gave him specific instructions on how to do the job. And then he went right against that and continued being more of a buddy to the students. This did not go over well with me because it created chaos in my school. I believe this pastor arrogantly did what he thought best so he could build “good” relationships with the students. But this is a school, and our job is to educate kids. His goal does not trump that.

If you are going to volunteer or work with the school, do so with integrity. Remember, you are not just building a relationship with kids, but with the school itself and all the people who work for it.

Respect The Principal's Time
 
While you might want to meet with your principal, know that he or she may not be able to or may not have more than 5 minutes to do so. This is just a reality, not a judgment of Young Life or any other outside resource. Principals are stretched to the core, trust me. So be prepared in your 5 or 10 minutes to tell who you and YL are, why you’ll be around, and confirm that you will follow school policy. Ask questions about that if you are unsure.

In the end, as always, it’s simply about building relationships. And as you already know, that’s what Young Life is pretty much the best at!

What mistakes have you made in regards to school administration and policy that we can learn from? What advice would you give? Please share in the comment section below.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Instagram Tips For Young Life Leaders

When I first became a YL leader we handed out paper flyers to promote club. That was way before everyone had a smart phone. While we still do use paper flyers for special events, word is now typically spread through social media. 

At our high school we use Twitter and Instagram to announce themes for club, where to buy YL shirts, camp details, etc...

Last week one of the leaders on my team Instagrammed a picture of our empty football stadium and made a meme that simply said 'GET FIRED UP.' "Fill the stands tonight! JV Football at home at 7pm. #BeatWestern.' I loved scrolling through my feed and seeing that Kristen was supporting the JV guys team. I imagine the guys on that team felt encouraged as well. 

It's easy to use social media as a billboard to only promote Young Life events. Why not use it to support the school as a whole? Let's not just tweet about Young Life, let's post pics of all kinds of school events. And not just Varsity football, but let's support the chorus, the band, chess club, and JV Lawn Bowling team as well.  It's even better to actually go to the game and take some pics to post. Everyone's favorite thing to see on Instagram is a picture of themselves, unless its a bad picture.  

A simple plan to regularly promote school events on social media is to ask every leader on your team to attend at least one school event each week...and when you're there, Instagram/Tweet a pic. If you have a leader on your team that doesn't love social media, ask them to simply text another leader a picture with a caption and that leader can post it. 

If contact work is 'going where kids are,' social media is quite an effective way to regularly enter their world. 

Other YL Instagram/Twitter Tips

  • If you're confused by how to use social media, ask a high schooler to teach you. They'll love it and it's a great way to model a humble and teachable spirit.
  • Make it a habit to post a #TBT (ThrowBackThursday) every Thursday. The TimeHop App is an easy way to find out what you did a year ago today.
  • Tag people in pictures (now on both Twitter & Instagram).
  • Tweet at the right times. (When kids wake up, when they're are on lunch break, as soon as school gets out, and at 10pm at night.)
  • Follow YoungLifeLeader on Instagram. I post lots of pics you can screen shot and reuse for your school. If you have good generic ones to share, just tag me in the photo. 
  • Create a hashtag for your school. Then go to Tagboard.com and you can find every picture with that hashtag on tons of different social networks. Encourage kids to use the hashtag when posting pics after club and camp.

    Tagboard.com
If you'd like more help getting your area up to speed with using social media in YL, contact me here

Monday, September 1, 2014

Baby, Backpack, Bunkbed: An Easy, No Prep Mixer For Club

Need a fun, easy, no prep mixer for club? 

Explain the game from upfront, then ask folks to stand up and mingle while the music plays, similar to musical chairs. When the music stops, a command will be given. At that point, grab a partner and form whichever command was given. 

BABY: One person standing while cradling another

BACKPACK: One person jumps on another's back

BUNK BED FORMATION
BUNKBED: One person lying on the ground on their back holding the other persons ankles while that person does a pushup holding the ankles of the person lying on the ground. (As pictured here.)

The last kids to form the commanded position are eliminated and the next round begins. 

After 5 rounds start mixing it up with these options below or invent your own. Last 2 folks standing win lunch brought to them at school the next day! 


Twin Babies (4 person group)

Mama Holding Baby Boy

Baby with a Backback (3 person group)

Dancing Backpacks (4 person group, 2 people dancing while wearing backpacks)


If you have other good ideas for mixers, games, skits, run-on characters, etc.. email me here. Your idea could be shared with thousands of Young Life leaders around the world. Thanks to Matt Weatherly for introducing me to this mixer! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stoplight Club: How Wearing A Green Shirt Can Open A Heart

***After talking with quite a few friends about this, I've landed on Stoplight Club not being the wisest choice for us to do in club. You can still use some of the ideas below for a type of 'Love Club' but my final recommendation is to not do this club.***

I posted this 'Stoplight Club' graphic on Twitter/Instagram this week and have received mixed feedback about the idea. Some leaders think it's hilarious. Other leaders don't believe it's such a wise idea. I resonate with both sides and wanted to share a few thoughts. 

First off, all the opinions on this blog are my own and not the 'official stance of Young Life.' I'm just a leader in NC trying, like you, to do whatever it takes to bring kids face to face with Jesus. I know not everyone agrees with me and am so thankful when folks speak up. I got a great message yesterday from a friend who is a leader in another area. It simply said: "Hey Drew, I'm bothered about your tweet about Stoplight Club. I wonder how kids would feel and what message it sends. Thoughts?


I love getting feedback like that. She did it right. She approached me directly and voiced her concern. Now we can have a conversation and sharpen one another. I've been wrong many, many times and am thankful for friends who offer wise counsel and correction.


After that message I called another leader friend and asked his opinion. He said "Honestly bro, if that club would've happened when I was in high school, no way I would have gone. I was way too insecure." I respect him and that statement alone gave me pause as to whether it was a good idea or not. 


My wife, who's the wisest person I know, said "If it has the potential to make kids not want to come, why not choose to do another theme? There are plenty of other fun ones." I told you she was wise. 


Even though these three trusted folks are telling me not to do Stoplight Club, there's still something in me that really wants to try it. Maybe it's my sinful pride and rebellious spirit, but being as impartial as possible, I honestly think it's just my desire to reach the farthest out kid. 


Inviting a kid to 'Love Club' just doesn't have quite the same appeal as 'Stoplight Club.' I feel confident walking up to the hardest to reach kid at the high school and inviting him to club. "Hey Brendan, make sure you wear green on Monday night. We're having Stoplight Club. Everyone in a relationship wears RED, If 'it's complicated, wear YELLOW' and if you're single and ready to mingle, wear GREEN." It's funny. It's a conversation starter. And it's a way to invite kids into a conversation about relationships. 


I know it seems like we're promoting high school dating. 


For the record, I abhor high school dating. A mom told me today about her 8th grade daughter who has already become sexually active. It breaks my heart, especially because I have two daughters of my own. In 16 years as a YL leader I've seen about ZERO healthy high school dating relationships. Maybe one or two, but it's rare.


I don't think us having Stoplight Club is going to be the reason for anyone beginning a high school dating relationship. I think us having the event opens the door for us to discuss sex and dating with our pubescent friends. If not from us, where else will they hear an alternative to the way the world defines dating? 


So say you do have Stoplight Club....


You play silly dating games. Antonio Amore is your host. You do the M&M couch skit, you sing love songs, and then you have a captive audience to listen to a Young Life leader speak truth. 


"Maybe some of you didn't even want to come tonight because wearing green makes you feel even lonelier than usual. We as your YL leaders know how you feel, 5 of the 6 of us are wearing green too. But seriously, even if you're wearing yellow or red, we all know LONELY way too well."


Then you quote the David Wilcox song, "That's What The Lonely Is For."



When I get lonely, that's only my sign
Some room is empty in me 
and that room is there by design
If I feel hollow, 
that's just my proof that there's more
For me to follow
That's what the lonely is for

You ask the question, "Why do we feel lonely all the time? Even if we have a boyfriend or girlfriend, it still doesn't fill the void."


Then you open God's Word and point to the One who we were created to be in relationship with. The One who knows us completely, even when we're at our ugliest, and yet still loves us. Not because we are beautiful, but in order to make us beautiful. 


What we really desire isn't for someone to ask us to Homecoming...or to cuddle with us on a Friday night. What we really want is INTIMACY...to be completely known and yet completely loved, without any fear of being abandoned. Only Jesus offers us that. 


You give a need talk from John 4 and speak of the woman at the well. 


We play silly games and sing silly songs to open a kid's heart to the Gospel. I wonder how wearing a green shirt might open their heart as well? What if they came to club actually 'looking for someone' and left club having found Someone way better than who they thought they were looking for?



That week in Campaigners we follow up on the club talk. 


We read 1 Corinthians 6:16-19


We teach them that 'purity paves the way to intimacy' (Andy Stanley) and that 'they don't make condoms for your heart.'


We let the ladies know that you don't have to shop at Victoria Secret to be a desired woman. (Proverbs 31)


We begin to teach kids how following Jesus daily applies to their love life. 


I know you don't have to do 'Stoplight Club' to be able to speak into kids' lives on this subject. I know doing it is a risk. I can't stand the thought of an insecure teenager not feeling welcomed at club that night.  Before you decide if you should do Stoplight Club or not, make sure you do three things: Seek the Lord, talk to your Area Director, & be on the same page with your team. 


I'd love to hear any feedback you have. Feel free to comment below, or email me here. Peace. -Drew Hill