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Tools for a Great Easter Gathering (Student Ministry Edition)

 

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You’re busy and Easter is upon us! I thought I’d give you a few tips to create a great Easter Gathering.  Maybe this will put some time back in the margins for you and give you an opportunity to do some self-care or simply spend some time going to a basketball game at the local high school.

I assume since this is an Easter gathering—you will be talking about the Resurrection of Christ.  I highly recommend picking songs that will lead people to reflecting on past talks about the death of Christ and to ponder the magnitude of the resurrection.  The Resurrection is a topic that gets confusing for students, because of the amount of theology that is often included, so using songs, videos and other objects can be helpful in illuminating the idea.  We will get to the sermon a bit later in this blog post.  However, I wanted to start by giving you an idea first for a mixer, a game, songs and then finally, I’ll leave you with an idea for a talk.

Typically, I plan a service like this (feel free to move the order or add things relative to your context and church culture):

 

Song

Host welcomes and explains the mixer.

Mixer

Song

Host comes back up to explain game.

Game

Song

Song

Talk.

Mixers are great because they get everyone involved.  Let’s be honest with one another, we all have that kid in our student ministries that is picked for everything.  A mixer gets everyone involved and gives you an opportunity to make some kid a hero.  When you have a winner of the mixer, bring her or him on stage, and give your students an opportunity to celebrate the winner.  When a student is celebrated, that is a WIN in student ministry.


Mixer Idea

Where My Peeps?

Create a list of nouns that are pop-culture relevant.  Place those words on stickers or printable labels and pass them out to each student as they walk in the door.  DO NOT LET THEM LOOK AT THE STICKER NOR ASK A FRIEND TO TELL THEM WHAT IT IS.  Once everyone is in the room and has a label on their back, play some music and have them go around and ask “yes” or “no” questions about the word on their back.  The object is to guess what label is on your back before anyone else.  Each student may only ask 2 or 3 questions per person until moving on to someone else.  I have created a list already, keep in mind that this list was created for a church I was working at in Chicago so some of the stuff may not be relevant to your context.  The winner gets a box of peeps (gross), make sure you use this as another opportunity to make a kid feel like a HERO.  Bring the student on stage and have everyone applaud them.


GAME IDEA

Get that Jelly in my Belly.

Call up four people to fish jellybeans out of a bowl of whipped cream.  Have two sitting in a chair doing the fishing and have two lying down on their back in front of them. The person that successfully gets the most jellybeans in their partner’s mouth wins!


SONGS

For the first song, I will have the band play some pop-culture song that is relevant to the talk that evening.  I know for some contexts and church cultures this is a taboo and there is some credence to forgoing the use of secular music in your service, if this is the case.  However, I found that it is a great way to break down walls and barriers that students often associate with Church.  Students that are new to the notion of a faith journey often have dogmatic misconceptions of what a relationship with Jesus entails.  By playing a song from pop-culture you’re allowing space for their misconception (and walls) to crumble, and their heart to soften to a relationship (with both you, the leader, and more importantly Jesus).

So here are some songs and charts I’d use.

foofighters_espg_cover

These lyrics are perfect for a talk on resurrection.  I’m sure you can find TAB somewhere.

Come Alive by Foo Fighters.

Itunes

Spotify

thisisliving(feat.lecrae)141

This song makes me want to boogie and worship, I call it “boworship.”

This Is Living (feat. Lecrae) by Hillsong Young & Free

Itunes

(acoustic version)

Spotify

onthethrone

This song is so emotive and points to Jesus’ empowerment of his people through the resurrection.

On The Throne by Desperation Band

Itunes

Spotify

godwithus

 

This song captures the Easter message so well, “Over everything, our redemption—God with us.”

God With Us by All Sons & Daughters

Itunes

Spotify


Talk

Finally the talk; It’s an obscure concept to explain that Jesus is risen from the dead both physically and spiritually, that then He appeared to His followers (first Mary Magdalene), proceeded to have an entire meal of food and finally ascended to the right hand of God (according to Luke’s account).  The Resurrection is the catalyst of Christian empowerment; it is also all about movement. Matthew’s account leaves us with a lovely cliffhanger at the end while quoting Jesus, saying “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Those words at the end of Matthew are the crux of the resurrection.  While, in verse 18 of Matthew 28, some of the disciples doubted, Jesus continued to draw near to them calling them towards their goal of “making disciples of all nations.” This is the purpose of the resurrection, that we are gifted with the sweet spirit of Jesus that leads us to pursue others, the same way that Jesus continues to pursue us with the Resurrection.  The labels that we bring to the empty tomb–those we place our identity in, “lost, broken, unworthy, failure, too young, ugly, overweight, unloved, child of a single parent, hypocrite, loser” are suddenly replaced with the empowerment of Jesus. For us, as followers we are allowed to be who God has designed us to be, “known, loved, cared for, missional, peacemaker, dweller, justice bringer, alive, and risen.”  To bring this point home, I would hand out nametags and have students write one word describing how they really see themselves and to then place it in their pocket.  At the end of the sermon, have them scratch it out and rename it with an adjective that describes how God sees them.

To bring this point home, I would hand out name tags and have students write one word describing how they really see themselves and to then place it in their pocket.  At the end of the sermon, have them scratch it out and rename it with an adjective that describes how God sees them.  I hope this gives you some ideas for a sermon on the resurrection.  What are some verses you’ve used?  What games help set up an eggcelent (see what I did there?) student ministry gathering?

EDIT:  I love using a bumper video before a talk, I particularly like this one.

 

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PRAISE THE KING Song Story

This post is written by artist, Corey Voss. To download the song and the song chart for FREE visit Christian Song Charts!

PRAISE THE KING was written by Michael Farren, Dustin Smith, Michael Bryce Jr., and myself.  This song is a powerful anthem for the Church to sing.  This lyric and melody speak of the resurrection power of Christ and what He accomplished for us.  I believe there are some moments in this song that will help every believer to receive and proclaim the work of Christ in their life.

This song has had quite a journey in the writing process.  I started working on the song almost two years ago in my office at church.  I had an idea for a chorus, “Hallelujah He is risen, Hallelujah He’s alive” that I was singing and playing on the piano.  I had also written some verses and bridge ideas but still felt like the song was missing something.  Try as I might to push through the writer’s block, I set the idea aside for a few months.  Sometimes I think songs need time to cook before their ready for writing.

Continue Reading →

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The Playlist: 6 Easter Worship Songs

Whether you are reflecting on the cross or celebrating His resurrection, here are 6 songs that will create an atmosphere for your congregation to meet with God this coming Easter.

youfoundmeForever
Passion Worship
victorscrown-1Victor’s Crown
Darlene Zschech
opraisethename-1O Praise The Name (Anástasis)
Hillsong Worship
51g51KDXVeL._SY300_Christ Is Risen
Matt Maher
42Happy Day
Tim Hughes
bethelmusic_tidesliveFor The Cross
Bethel
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5 Ways to Mentor Women

girl blog photo

Society is full of all kinds of crazy images and ideas of what a woman should be and what she should think. Stereotypes of how women think and act also are rampant. Because of the world telling us all these lies, it is difficult being a woman in Christ and also feeling comfortable being open with other people. In talking to other women, I found that feeling alone in our struggles or not knowing where to turn for help is a pretty common problem! We desperately need mature women to step in as mentors!

Where are the mentors?! It is not that female mentors do not exist or that mature women are unwilling to pour into a younger girl’s life. I get the sense that older women in the church yearn to be a good influences on the people around them. These ladies would love to hear from and help a girl who is struggling. Oftentimes, however, younger women feel uncomfortable being vulnerable. Today’s culture offers a rough terrain when it comes to image, purity, identity, lifestyle, and confidence. So what can be done to connect Christian women intergenerationally? Here are five ways that mature women of the Faith can help build that bridge and start mentoring younger women.

Watch your language

As a young woman myself, I have had difficulty building trust with some wiser women because of how they talk. Any words that can erode a girl’s self-confidence makes deepening a relationship difficult. Make sure to use words of love, mercy, and encouragement to connect with girls. Speak positively about other women as well! If you try to “be the mom” with a girl you do not know, she is unlikely to want to hang out with you and be open with you. Not all girls have a good relationship with their moms and may experience a lot of conflict with female authority figures. Establishing yourself as an authority rather than a wiser friend/mentor will probably not go over well. Women in my life who were able to encourage and guide me began by introducing themselves and just being very nice and interested. When I could see that they cared about how I was doing and even remembered things I had told them before, I felt more encouraged to be more and more open with them!

Avoid implications of perfection

No one is perfect, but a common issue in the church is that believers seem to have it all together. When everyone acts like you are perfect, it becomes more and more difficult for you to shatter this image. Women who want to be mentors should encourage other women but also be careful to not build them up as perfect. Older women are so well-intentioned, but comments like “I am so glad you do not deal with [X, Y, or Z]” or “I’m so proud of you! You are such a good example all the time! Your friends must really look up to you” can have the wrong effect. While being encouraging is a good thing, talking about someone in a way as if they are perfect discourages that person to talk about their struggles. What if this woman’s opinion changes once they find out that the girl they are talking to is far from perfect? What if they secretly do deal with X, Y, or Z? Assumptions are dangerous, so it is safer to approach every girl with no assumptions of what they have done, where they have been, and what they have experienced. Show girls that you are loving and accepting no matter what!

The other side of this idea is to be open yourself! One woman in my life who was a great mentor to a lot of girls approached her conversations by being open about her past and her struggles. She would talk about how she would try to combat certain struggles in her own life. Her vulnerability helped girls trust her and believe that she would be understanding. Openness and love are so key to accountability in an intergenerational relationship. There is a reason why James 5:16a says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (NIV). This is why we need more mentorship!

No gossiping

I can’t say this enough: do not gossip. Nothing derails trust and confidence like gossiping. When you gossip about others, you are showing girls that they cannot trust you with their own secrets. When you gossip about girls you are trying to mentor, you help show them that their fears of judgement, lack of confidentiality, and having a bad reputation are well-founded. Some secrets are not safe to be told to everyone. That is why having a special person in your life that you can share any thought, pain, or question with is important. Evil people are in this world that do not have others’ best interest in mind. Would you want someone to share your secrets?

Take the first steps

If you are seriously seeking to be a great female mentor, take the first steps. Be that person of maturity and love and introduce yourself to young women in your life. Get involved in ministries that work with the age group that you would like to reach and be available! I find that more often than not, girls will not approach someone that they would like to be their mentor. Deep down these girls really want a wiser person in their life to look up to, but they don’t know where to begin. When you show that you are genuinely interested in getting to know younger ladies and show them that you don’t have it all together, they will be more likely to jump on the opportunity. Don’t make it a project: girls can tell if you just want to do a good deed or if you actually care about them personally. When you really love God and people, His love will shine through!

Being sharp means visiting the sharpening stone

Make sure you have women in your life that you can turn to as well! Christian sisters all need support just as much as they need to pour into the next generation. You may be at the point where you no longer have women above you, but you at least will have peers. Strive to be continually Godly so that you will be pouring pure water into others’ lives. You will not be perfect – so always seek God’s wisdom!

 

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The Second Essential Tool for Video Production

In the last post, we discussed how important it is to take a passionate approach to your church media work. Without passion, you’re role as a media producer stands less chance of success than a snowman in the Summer. But passion alone will not an effective producer make. The next key ingredient in the formula for success?… PATIENCE!

PATIENCE = PROGRESS

As boring as it may sound, this Essential is the one that will save you the most stress and improve your skills in the long term. Much like painting or shooting hoops, becoming an experienced video producer is unlikely to happen overnight. Polishing your skills and mastering your craft requires a lot of practice, and a lot of practice requires a lot of patience.

So, off the top of your head, who’s the most patient person you can think of? Mr. Miyagi? Master Splinter? This dude? All very patient indeed, but the type of patience I’m thinking of is best personified by a person in the Bible by the name of Job. If you’re not familiar, he has a whole section of the Good Book dedicated to his story – check it out!

Job patiently endured through some of the hardest challenges imaginable. When EVERYTHING in his life seemed to be falling apart- his family, his health, his fortune… Job persisted. While none of us will ever experience the type of frustration in our production work that Job fought through in his life, it’s important to acknowledge that we will MOST CERTAINLY come across issues in our media production. To be successful we must endure through those challenges. Even if you have many years under your belt as a video producer, it’s a healthy practice to remind yourself to be patient and persistent; that God works through us on His own schedule.

If you’re new to media production, I can assure you that there will certainly be mistakes along the way. There’ll be crashed computers and lost files. There’ll be rendering problems and challenging team members and all types of unforeseen stresses. A big part of our jobs as content creators is to learn from those situations, let the non-constructive aspects roll off our backs, and move forward with our development. When we approach our work knowing that challenges will arise, we’re allowing ourselves the patience necessary to overcome those obstacles and refine ourselves as instruments for The Lord.

PAYING IT FORWARD

Many times in my experience, I’ve realized that I was only able to conquer a problem or avoid a huge blunder because I’d previously gone through an experience that taught me how to better handle the situation. Trial and error, learning from mistakes, and always trying to move forward are CRITICAL to becoming a polished video producer, so don’t feel bad for yourself or beat yourself up over the challenges. Be like Job and endure; your reward will be exponentially more fulfilling.

SAVE YOURSELF THE HEADACHE

Looking for some tips and resources to help save you from frustration later on? Here are a few that helped me:

  • Tutsplus.com offers a rundown of 12 common mistakes that motion designers make and how to avoid them. It’s a long read, but definitely worth your time if you’re newer to the field. Shoot, even if you’re a veteran producer, click the link anyway and refresh yourself on these potential pitfalls.
  • For videographers, browse through this checklist and other techniques on videomaker.com. Committing these tips about live action recording to memory before you head to your shoot will save you many-a-headache. It’s much easier to do the work while shooting than in post-production, so get it right the first time and you’ll probably thank yourself later.
  • Check out Crashplan.com, it’s like an insurance policy for your project files and video assets. Their service will automatically back up a copy of all the files you tell it to and can restore the data if your computer ever dies on you. I’ve never had to restore my computer (AMEN!), but if and when I do, I’ll be thankful to have backed my work up on Crashplan.

RECAPPING THIS “ESSENTIAL”

It’s a fact: challenges and mistakes are going to happen. To be successful in video production, or anything else for that matter, you cannot let those difficulties defeat you! Endure through the tough times, like Job did, and you’ll be a stronger instrument for God.

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