Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Youth Ministry Artifacts

I am no longer in student ministry, but I still try to stay up-to-date on all the latest trends, techniques and resources.  You don't spend 28 years of your life dedicated to a ministry and then just drop it.  But let's face it- if I was still in youth work,  I would be the proverbial old dog trying to keep up with the new tricks.  I do think there are some "tricks" that are time-tested and worth hanging on to.  Today, as a special service to those of you who may be working with teenagers in churches, I want to share 4 artifacts from the glory days of yester-year that impacted my ministry in a positive way- and still would today.  If you were in any of my groups some of these will sound familiar I am sure.  I still own most of these if you can't find them anywhere else...

The first artifact is a VHS cassette of the great Curt Cloninger performing his legendary one man show, Witnesses.  Travel with Curt through the life of Jesus, seeing our Savior through the eyes of people we know Jesus knew,  and fictional characters who "knew" Jesus.  You will laugh with Abe the Banana Man and Lazurus (played as a funky Italian man);  you will feel the confusion of the Innkeeper and Doubting Thomas; you will feel the pain of Barabbas.  I never had a group react to this tape (or the live show) with anything but passion.  It is actually available in DVD now, and you can order your own by clicking here.  We want Jesus to come alive to our students, and I know of nothing else that will have this kind of impact.

Artifact #2 is the Spontaneous Melodrama.  If you are unaware of this art form (turn in your youth ministry license NOW!) these are short skits that require no rehearsal or skill.  In fact, a total lack of skill and prep is preferable!  A narrator simply reads a script while actors perform the actions and lines as they are narrated.  They are always funny, and a great way to get students who normally sit "on the sidelines" involved in a youth meeting or retreat.  In the early days I got these from the Youth Specialties Ideas Books and some Young Life skits books.  Then I started writing my own.  YS eventually released a couple of books (available on Amazon) entitled Spontaneous Melodramas which featured the format telling bible stories.  I know my Springfield Friends Meeting students will never forget Beulah May, Bessie Will and faithful dog Pup- which spelled backwards is Pup!

Item #3 on my list of old things you need to have is the 4-Way Grinder.  The first benefit of this apparatus are the giggles you get from middle school students just by saying the name.  But once you begin to play with this great toy (see picture) all else is forgotten.  It's great exercise, great competition and fun for everyone.  But the Grinder is really just a symbol of a greater need in modern youth ministry.  Kids need time to play.  Not just an occasional Minute To Win It night (did they steal that whole show from youth pastors or what?) but regular games that involve physical activity.  So many teenagers forget how to play anything but their video games.  They need to learn how to have fun in ways that don't involve kegs and condoms.  Things like 4-Way Grinder, Finger Blasters and Water Cannons help us minister to the whole student- what David Stone called "Wholistic Ministry."  If your group hasn't played Sardines, Hook-Up Tag or the Technicolor Stomp, then we need to talk.  You'll have to Google the Grinder to see where to get one- or you can borrow mine.  It's in the garage...

And finally, one more DVD no student ministry should be without.  Fisheyes, a show featuring the disciples Andrew and Peter as portrayed by the great drama team Ted & Lee, is an amazing discussion starter.  We are forever telling our youth that the disciples were no different than you and me- and here is a great way to show them just that.  They mess up, they don't get it and they bail on Jesus- but in the end they change the world in His name.  It is an amazing show.  Lee Eshleman passed away several years ago, but the DVD is still available from And while there check out their Old Testament show, The Creation Chronicles.  Another amazingly human look at scripture.

So there you have it.  Take some of those gift cards you got for Christmas and invest in a couple of these classics.  Your students will be glad you did!

Because of Jesus,

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