Monday, May 19, 2014

The Name's the Thing

Many times over the years church members came to me and said something along the lines of the following: "I love reading your articles in the church newsletters and the bulletin, and I love trying to keep up with what our youth are doing. But it's like you people speak speak a foreign language! So many weird titles and abbreviations. I just can't keep up!" They often looked like the man pictured at right, confused and afraid (That man is actually Pat O'Brien, a member of our YMT at WMUMC, and that picture was taken on a Myrtle Beach trip- so he WAS confused and afraid!). So today, for those who read this blog and wonder "What does that mean?" I offer a partial glossary of terms and acronyms I used through the years. As you will see, I LOVE abbreviations. Here's a bit of what our parents and students had to put up with over the years...

YFYF-  Young Friends Youth Fellowship. This was my name for our primary Sunday evening programs at both New Garden Friends Meeting (NGFM) and Springfield Friends Meeting (SFM). We never said each letter individually- it was always pronounced "Yuf-Yuf." Also see UMYF (United Methodist Youth Fellowship).

SCUBA-  Spiritual Concepts and Understanding Biblical Approaches. This was a bible and book (such as The Screwtape Letters) study we did at NGFM on Wednesday nights, trying desperately not to make it sound like a class. It was just much cooler to say "I'm going to SCUBA tonight- wanna' join me? Plus the name was an inside joke to our group at the time.

2nd Heziciah-  A fictional book of the bible, the use of which was taught to me by my pastor at NGFM, David Bills. It served many purposes over the years- to fool people and thus encourage them to learn more about actual scripture; to give emphasis to wise sayings and truths that are not actually from the bible; and to make fun of my own "wise" sayings.  For instance, I might offer my opinion on a song, and then say "Blessed is he who changes the radio station when rap music is heard- 2 Heziciah 4:12." 

Burger Doodle-  Any fast food place within a short driving distance of the church. We used to go eat once a month following YFYF at NGFM and SFM, and we always went to Burger Doodle!

TNT-  That New Thing or The Next Thing or whatever I decided it meant! It was our award winning outreach program at SFM; I also used the name later on at the First United Methodist Church of Kissimmee (FUMC-K) and the Union Church of Hinsdale (UC). 

SHO-Time-  Senior High Only Time. This was a night out at dinner for high school students, begun at SFM and perfected at FUMC-K. This ministry was great for relationship building, and I used it at UC, Wesley Memorial UMC (WMUMC) and Trinity UMC (TUMC) as well.

ICU-  Intensive Care Unit. Based on an idea found in the book Spiritual Growth In Youth Ministry by J. David Stone, this was a leadership team of students who were charged with taking the pulse of our youth ministries and serving the students who attended- or in some cases, no longer attended. I began trying this as far back as NGFM, and tried it at many other stops along the way. It worked for a while a SFM & WMUMC, and worked best at FUMC-K. It never quite became what I wanted it to be, but when it functioned properly it was an awesome ministry!

YSOP-  Youth Service Opportunity Project. This was a youth-led service project we started at FUMC-K. The youth took over the nursery during the 8:30 AM Sunday worship service, providing lesson plans, teachers and helpers. Cyndi Reep and Jill Souther were the first youth to direct the program; others followed. Then name was "stolen" from a New York City Quaker ministry I once worked with. That just proves the old saying:  "A youth pastor is only as good as the people they steal from..."

Blizzard Run-  Any trip to Dairy Queen. We started doing these as official events on Sunday evenings after UMYF in Kissimmee. Fifty or so of us would storm the local DQ and eat many blizzards. In Tampa, we went to Baskin-Robbins instead because it was much closer. In Waycross, it was back to the DQ. Free blizzards made very popular prizes in my various contests, and you could always claim your prize at a Blizzard Run!

Rec Around the Clock-  An all-night "Lock-In." Another stolen title (thank you, Tom Klaus!) that is still is use at various churches I served, this was a totally different type of church lock-in. Mostly because for the majority of the night you were actually locked OUT! A few of my favorite things we ever did at RAC include seeing Laser Led Zeppelin at the Orlando Planetarium; 3 AM picnic in a Krispy Kreme parking lot in High Point; 4 AM Laser Tag in Kissimmee, joined by half of the local area drug dealers; 4 AM ice skating (sleepy ice skaters are hilarious!) and early morning shopping cart races in the K-Mart parking lot. We also often finished with breakfast at Shoney's or Denny's- and once at an IHOP in Tampa, where they took 3 hours to feed us all. Strangely enough, I really miss this event...

Happy Hour-  An afternoon of fellowship at the local Sonic Drive-In.  Sonic began advertising an afternoon special called Happy Hour in Tampa, where drinks and milk shakes were half priced. I co-opted the idea and the name for our program, and during the summer we would gather from 2-4 PM at the local Sonic and just hang out. We would play cards, eat, drink and be merry! Some youth would drop by; others came and stayed. It was another great relationship builder in both Tampa and Waycross. 

Radical Sabbatical-  An overnight spiritual growth adventure. A small group would gather on a Friday night and spend the next 24 hours together exploring the scriptures and other spiritual disciplines. We did this several times at FUMC-K, including one very memorable experience with a guided meditation where the students walked with Jesus in their mind's eye. We had a number of excellent experiences, including one on sharing your faith called Live the Life and one where we took a road trip to Jerry Hanbery's apartment in Gainesville. We also did a couple of weekends at WMUMC.  I would love to do these for adults some day, if that is somewhere God leads me.

One On OneI would meet with a student- 1 on 1! Several days each summer, from 1987 through 2006, I would set aside a whole day to meet with students one at a time for an hour at a time. We would usually go grab a milk shake and just talk about whatever was on their minds. The 9 AM appointment got breakfast and the 12 noon got lunch, so those were highly coveted time slots! There were some youth who made an appointment every time I offered it. This was always a very valuable ministry.

So there you have it- just a few examples of ways I tried to create a unique culture for our students at the various churches I served. And there are more- but I think you get the idea.  If not, then you can sign-up for the Disney Dash Ice Cream Bash, the Timothy Club or Super Service Saturday (SSS) by visiting the Super Summer Sign-Up Center in the youth room or on the website. Sorry- old habits die hard! 

Because of Jesus,

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