Friday, July 5, 2013

Tips for Including New People in Youth Group

Welcome ... and make sure you mean it. 

During the summer, we sometimes have a different crowd as many youth are traveling plus you might have some youth visiting members of your church & community that normally aren't around during the school year.  Of course, we also welcome new members of the youth group as kids move up from one school/grade to another.  

In my youth group, we treat the summer as the "best of both worlds" with the recent graduates and the incoming 6th graders both eligible to participate in youth group activities.  However, one exception for that is we require that they complete 6th grade before they can participate in the Youth Mission Trip.  However, the risk in that is when the youth come back excited from the trip others feel left out.  Hopefully, it gets them excited about going next summer. However, you have to make sure that any activity can stand alone while having lasting impact AND making sure that those unable to attend don't feel excluded. That can be a touch challenge but it's important. 

Also, be sure to have some activities scheduled soon after the trip as well as having activities before the trip that aren't exclusively about the trip.  This isn't just about summer trip but about other events throughout the year for which some might be unable to attend. 

At times, I've actually had some older youth serve as mentors to new youth to make sure that they feel welcome. That way, it's not just me looking out for them but I have others involved in making it be a youth fellowship group. 

How do you make others feel welcome when they attend your youth ministry?  

Thank you!

Mark R. Whitaker 
Youth & Communications Director and Boy Scout Coordinator @ Avondale UMC
Advisory Board Chairman for youTheology @ Saint Paul School of Theology

www.youtheology.org
www.facebook.com/youtheology
www.vimeo.com/youtheology
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Looking Back and Looking Forward



Image courtesy of  artur84
/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Remember those that made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  And of course, we can thank Jesus Christ for making the ultimate sacrifice for all of us nearly two thousand years ago. 

Within youTheology, especially on the Pilgrimage, our young people learn about those that started the various Pan-Methodist denominations and learn about the mother churches. We are also excited to be celebrating a BIG anniversary with the theme "10 Great Years, What's Next?" at our dinner on June 15th. We will have the Closing Worship for the entire year's Journey the next morning. 

It takes a lot of people to help an organization reach 10 years and we want to say a BIG blanket THANK YOU to all of them including ... the Directors, Staff, Advisory Board members, Hosts, Mentors, and (of course) the Youth/alumni.  We also want to thank those that are helping bring youTheology to the next step in its journey.

Closer to home, we can thank many people that paved the way for our individual congregations.  My home congregation (Avondale United Methodist Church in KC North) will be celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 2014 and plans are already under way.  When you look back over that many years, it's amazing to see how many people have made such a big difference in the success of our church. 

Again, we can't just look back.  We must also look forward. Our congregation is also looking for new ways to share our faith and to minister both to the community in which our church exists and to the world near and far. 

Who is YOUR neighbor?  And how can you reach your neighbor? Mark Whitaker MarkR.Whitaker@yahoo.com mobile/text: 816.522.1023 www.facebook.com/MarkR. Whitaker www.linkedin.com/in/ markrwhitaker www.twitter.com/MarkRWhitaker http://markrwhitaker. wordpress.com/ (blog) Youth & Communications Director and Boy Scout Coordinator @ Avondale UMC AvondaleMethodist.org / http:/ /www.facebook.com/ AvondaleUMCkcmo Advisory Board Chairman for youTheology @ Saint Paul School of Theology youtheology.org / http://www.facebook.com/ youTheology

Thank you!



by Mark Whitaker 
mobile/text: 816.522.1023

Youth & Communications Director and Boy Scout Coordinator @ Avondale UMC
AvondaleMethodist.org / http:/ /www.facebook.com/ AvondaleUMCkcmo

Advisory Board Chairman for youTheology @ Saint Paul School of Theology
youtheology.org / http://www.facebook.com/ youTheology

www.youtheology.org
www.facebook.com/youtheology
www.vimeo.com/youtheology
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Perspectives from the Field: Confirmation and Graduation .... a Beginning or an End?



Around this time of year, many churches are welcoming new members into the church through confirmation and, at the same time, many are also celebrating as their members graduate from high school and college.  But are you celebrating the end of a journey or the beginning of one?

While it's important to celebrate all they've accomplished, we far too often stop there.  When someone joins the church, we need to make sure they see it as the BEGINNING of their faith journey.  And when they graduate from high school, these young people are often ill prepared for how to fit into a church if they're not in a youth group.  It is our responsibility to help prepare them for the NEXT step in their path.  And that is true if you are a pastor, a staff person, a Sunday School teacher, a parent, a youth sponsor or even a member of the congregation that has NO interaction with children or youth.

Wait a minute ... if I don't interact with the youth, why is it MY responsibility?  Remember the oaths that you take when someone is baptized or joins the church?  Well, you made a promise to raise them in the church and you're expected to live up to those promises.

by Mark Whitaker


Youth & Communications Director and Boy Scout Coordinator @ Avondale UMC
AvondaleMethodist.org / http:/ /www.facebook.com/ AvondaleUMCkcmo
 Advisory Board Chairman for youTheology @ Saint Paul School of Theology
  
www.youtheology.org
www.facebook.com/youtheology
www.vimeo.com/youtheology
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Persistence/Don't Give Up


I've been thinking about the themes of "Persistence" and "Don't Give Up" and at the same time thinking about the terrible events that took place at the Boston Marathon.  So, with that in mind, I wanted to share  a scripture verse about running the race: 
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV)

Plus, I wanted to share a video from the 1992 Olympics [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QwNoZMOt_c ] that was about a runner that suffered an injury in the greatest race of his life and decided that, even though he had no change at winning, he had put too much effort into this to just quit.  So, he kept going.  It was a struggle and the security officials were trying to convince him to quit.  Then, out of the stands, a man came running onto the track and towards this runner.  Security initially tried to stop the man that turned out to be the runner's dad.  When he reached his son, he put his arm around him and helped him to finish the race.  However, just before the finish line, he stepped back and let his son finish on his own. 

Well, sometimes we might be frustrated and ready to quit but that's when our heavenly Father puts His loving arms around us and helps us to carry on.  And sometimes our youth and our volunteers need for us to be there to help encourage them to continue the race. 

Switching from sports to the world of entertainment, another story of persistence and not giving up was Sylvester Stallone who kept trying until he finally found success in the movie Rocky which he wrote and starred in. Hear Tony Robbins telling the Sylvester Stallone story @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tknowAM50Y

Oprah tells the story of how Journey (best known for the song "Don't Stop Believin") found their new lead singer Arnel Pineda who had previously been singing for his supper.  The first part is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vORqmUeGTCg  (plus there's more at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dgE90yAuCU and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oTnjk5ZOEY if you're really into Journey) 

Finally, as my friend Vince reminded me, James Dyson famously created 5,126 prototypes for a vacuum cleaner whilst drowning in a sea of debt. But his 5,127th design was the breakthrough he needed and with it came the start of the Dyson company. The Dyson company today earns over 1 billion in sales annually.

Remember....never never never give up.  Success could be one try away.

Thank you!
Youth & Communications Director and Boy Scout Coordinator @ Avondale UMC
AvondaleMethodist.org / http://www.facebook.com/AvondaleUMCkcmo


Advisory Board Chairman for youTheology @ Saint Paul School of Theology



www.youtheology.org
www.facebook.com/youtheology
www.vimeo.com/youtheology
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future