DIY Lent Calendars

Article by Joanna Simmerman

lent calendars

Lent is one of my favorite times of the year. Lent is a 40 day time of preparation, of getting ourselves ready to welcome and receive the resurrected Jesus into our lives on Easter Sunday. Lent is often a time of sacrifice. A time when people chose to give up something that they enjoy or feel entitled to so that they can focus their attention on Christ and share, in their own way, with the sacrifice that he made in going to the cross for us. Lent can also be a time of focus, choosing to give time and attention to developing a better relationship with Christ and with our neighbors.

To help youth get the most out of this season, I like to make scratch-off Lent calendars for my church. These calendars have a daily activity that is designed to help youth get the most out of this season of Lent by bringing them closer to God and their neighbors. I usually give these out to the whole congregation for each family to take one, but most of the activities are specifically designed for youth. These calendars take a bit of work so unless you have a small group, you will need to recruit some volunteers to help or have a special time when the youth make their own calendars and then take them home to use.

First you need to make your calendar. I start with 40 activities that are a mix between a food related fast, a social media or entertainment fast, a Spiritual activity, a way to connect with/show love to your neighbors, and doing good deeds.

Next you print out your calendars and attach them, along with a heading explaining how they are to be used, to scrapbooking paper to give them a sturdy and decorative border. For the scratch-off paint to work you must have a slick surface under it, so I like to cover the calendar with contact paper. You can also use tape on just the activities for each day or a laminating machine if you have access to one.

Now it is time to paint your calendars. To make the scratch off paint you need to mix two parts metallic paint to one part dish soap. Paint over the activity for each day but make sure to leave the date visible. You might have to use more than one coat of paint until you cannot read the activities underneath.

When you hand out your beautiful calendars, make sure to explain to the youth that each day they should scratch-off the paint and then do the activity listed for that day. I like to also use Facebook or some other form of social media to follow up each day with a short explanation of why that day’s activity can help draw youth closer to God or their neighbors and provide a space for the youth to talk about their experiences with that day’s activity.

Below is an example of a calendar made for Lent in 2014

lent calendar example 2014

Online Youth Minister Cohort

Hey everyone this is Nathan. I’m wanting to start up an online youth ministry cohort. My idea is that every week, at a certain time, we (who can) meet up online to support, pray and encourage one another. I’ll let ya know the first time and where we plan to meet up soon.

Comment below or email me nwheeler@cumberland.org if you are interested in the online cohort and what day/time would work best for you.

The Easiest Fundraiser. Ever. Seriously.

Article by Samantha Hassell

I have a love-hate relationship with fundraisers.  They’re necessary. And they can be fun times, but they’re a lot of work.  And I feel like I’ve run the gamut on trying to come up with creative and fruitful ideas.

There’s the Parent’s Night Out – I promise even if you think you have enough activities planned for 4 hours you do not.

There’s the classic:  spaghetti dinner.  You will always have more noodles than sauce; those things multiply in the pot, I swear!

Or the car wash.  At the busy intersection.  While three other groups have one on the other three corners.

There are a ton of great ideas out there full of their own pros and cons.

But I’m gonna tell you a secret – I have found the easiest fundraiser ever – when you try this one you’re gonna want to offer me a cut of the profit – thanks, but you keep it.  We call it “Chili to Go” or “Soup to Go.”

Here’s how it works:  ask parents and youth volunteers to make a huge pot of soup/chili and bring it to the church on Sunday morning.  Put it in jars.  Sell it right after worship – people go nuts over it!  A jar of homemade goodness, jarred up and ready to eat as soon as they get home.  Minimal clean up.  No expense because parents and volunteers have all donated what you’re selling.

Here are a few tips:

-ask any ladies in the church if they have old canning jars to donate OR check your local for sale adds – I bought a huge box full from a lady who was cleaning out her basement

-ask folks to return the jars the following week – that way you’ll have them for next time

-don’t forget a wide-mouth funnel for transferring soup to jars

Here are the cons:

-since it’s soup and chili it only works during Fall/Winter months

-I have done this several times and have NEVER had lunch when we’re done.  We sell it all!  😉

But you know what the best part is about this particular fundraiser (and others for that matter)?  It is seeing the looks on the faces of my young people when someone drops $20, $50 or even $100 in for a jar or two of soup.  It is seeing them feel supported and loved through the giving of generous church family.  It is watching their eyes get huge as we total up donations; their humility, gratitude, and amazement is a gift to see.  Plus, it’s fun to watch teenage boys with plastic spoons scraping soup pots for one little bite.

Got a great fundraising idea? Wanna share it with the world? Send an email to nwheeler@cumberland.org

Youth Ministry Book Club

Hey everyone, this is Nathan Wheeler. I hope you are enjoying the blog. I was thinking of starting a youth ministry book club. We would pick a book, read it and get together online to discuss it.

The schedule would look like this:

Book One: Spring

Read March-April 2015

Discuss May 2015

I figured since it is my idea that I will choose the first book to start us off and as we continue take suggestions and decide as a group on what we would like to read next.

For Spring 2015,

Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker: A Theological Vision For Discipleship and Life Together by Andrew Root

Andy Root is associate professor and Carrie Olson Baalson Chair of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is one of the leading theologians engaged in youth ministry today.

Here is a summary of the book from Amazon

The youth ministry focus of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life is often forgotten or overlooked, even though he did much work with young people and wrote a number of papers, sermons, and addresses about or for the youth of the church. However, youth ministry expert Andrew Root explains that this focus is central to Bonhoeffer’s story and thought. Root presents Bonhoeffer as the forefather and model of the growing theological turn in youth ministry. By linking contemporary youth workers with this epic theologian, the author shows the depth of youth ministry work and underscores its importance in the church. He also shows how Bonhoeffer’s life and thought impact present-day youth ministry practice.

Over the next few months I’ll post a few blogs or quotes from the book.

To those of us reading the book we will set up sometime in May to discuss the book online.

Grab the book from a local bookstore or online and join the youth ministry book club!

If you plan on doing the book club send a comment below or email me nwheeler@cumberland.org

The Greatest Influence

The No. 1 Reason Teens Keeps The Faith As Young Adults

Story Found on Huffington Post

This is just one of  many examples that show the greatest influence on the faith life of most teenagers are their parents.

This article says that, other factors such as youth ministry or clergy or service projects or religious schools pale in comparison.

One way I tried as a youth pastor to help parents is to begin a parent blog. This blog contained articles, ideas, information on parenting youth. Most of the information I used came from a website called parentministry.net

This site costs money but it was well worth it. I noticed a healthy upswing in interaction and participation among the parents who read my parent emails and checked out the blog.

How do you minister to parents?

Leave a comment and if you are interested in writing for the blog send me an email nwheeler@cumberland.org

Playing The Numbers Game

How many youth do you have?

How many were at youth group Sunday night?  Wednesday night?

How many youth went to camp? retreat?

How many youth came to the last event?

If you’re involved leading youth at a church you have probably asked or been asked to play the numbers game.

I’ve been on both sides of the numbers game.

And if we are honest we all struggle with the numbers game. Most of us, at one time or another, have allowed numbers to play a significant role in our ministry with and to youth.

In our mind, numbers can validate or discredit our youth ministries.

To our church it could be the difference in a full-time, part-time, or volunteer youth minister or how large or small your youth budget number will be.

It’s not just a youth ministry problem.

I had someone tell me that when their youth group went on a trip or retreat that their church would count them in attendance on Sunday mornings. The rationale was that these youth would be there if they weren’t off on a trip.

We have to be realistic.

Numbers matter. Whether you have 100 youth or 4 youth showing up to your meetings and events.

But which numbers matter? Recently, I’ve read a few articles that deal with numbers that I hope you will find encouraging as you play the numbers game. Maybe they will help you seek validation in a different way or help you to stop discrediting your ministry and find new ways to view numbers.

Numbers That Count

7 Youth Ministry Numbers You Should Really Know

Let me know what you think by commenting below.

Like to write for the blog send me an email nwheeler@cumberland.org