Great New YM Resource!!!

December 12, 2014 — Leave a comment

There are millions of youth ministry resources out there.  Some scholarly, some practical and some just … well nuts.  There is a new resource I want to introduce you to just incase you have not heard about it yet.  My friends Elle and Kenny over at StuffYouCanUse have developed an awesome new podcast made by youth ministers for youth ministers.  The beautiful thing about the new Youth Ministry Answers podcast is that it is founded and ingrained in the everyday practice of youth ministry.  These youth ministry pros are giving youth ministers all over the country the opportunity to dial in and get immediate help with some of their most important ministry needs.  I hope you will go and check them out and even “dial” in yourself!

I am from a small town.

One small town in fact, Piedmont, Alabama.

It is a beautiful little place nestled in the foothills of Appalachia.  It has some of the most gorgeous mountains in the fall and some of the best football in the state.  I spent the first 18 years of my life there and am grateful for so many things from that tiny town.

Piedmont is also a troubled place.

Recently an organization from Wisconsin called Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote a letter to the city of Piedmont demanding that they immediately cease prayers over the intercom at their football games.  The organization threatened legal action against the city and the school system if they did not comply. This tiny town, which has only really been in the national news for tornadoes and marijuana dealers, was now thrust into the spotlight.  The board complied and they, like many other schools, now observe a moment of silence before each home game.

That is not the end of the story. Yesterday, Piedmont once again was in the national spotlight.  Fox News did a story on our little town and its newest religious debacle. Piedmont and its leadership, many of whom I know and respect deeply (especially the mayor, whom I have known since I was a child) decided to make the theme of their Christmas parade “Keep Christ in Christmas.”  This was no doubt in reaction to the recent decision to change the format of the prayer at the football games.  So, as I am sure everyone expected, the group from Wisconsin issued another complaint and the city once again had to back off of their stance.

Here is the problem: The very fact that people feel that it is their duty to mandate Christ in Christmas is, in and of itself, an act of heresy. Continue Reading…

I hope you are gearing down and are getting ready for some well deserved time off to spend with family and friends. Thanksgiving, like so many holidays, can seemed packed, rushed, angst filled and even miserable.
Expectations from self and others combined with guilt and anxiety are a toxic cocktail so many Americans abuse over the holidays. I want to give you some hope, encouragement and maybe even a little peace.
You are good enough.
You are loved.
You are loved.
You are loved.
That is all you need.
You do not need a golden turkey, beautiful place settings, a seemingly perfect non anxious family (like that exists) or anything that resembles Normal Rockwell or Pinterest.
Simplicity, community and rest.
These are valuable and these are things you need.
Spend time with the ones you love, put down the devices and the expectations.
Eat good food, whether you cook it or buy it.
Laugh. (I mean this, laugh, laugh until you cry because you let yourself go enough to be overtaken with joy)
Take a nap.
Breathe intentionally, deeply and thank God for the air that fills your lungs.
Really, actually look at that people who fill your home, look deeply at them, not their position or role in the family, but them as people, real people.
Hug your kids tightly, even if they pull away or make a face, I want you to know that it means more to them than they will ever be able to say.
Tell stories and make new ones.
And, finally, be thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving

I am so excited to tell you about my new 365 day student ministry devotional called Extraordinary Time.

365 Ordinary Moments with an Anything But Ordinary God

“I love the heart of this devotional. Stephen provides students with a great tools they can use that won’t make them feel guilty for missing a day or two. Insightful, honest, transparent and real. He nails it with so many relevant topics powerful scripture and action items that line up well with students learning how to engage the world with their faith. It’s also huge which parents will appreciate because they get a lot for their money”.

-Lars Rood, author of Freshman-Senior High School Devotionals (Group publishing) and the just released 7th grade and future Middle School series

“Behind the scenes, a new generation of youth workers has been quietly learning, thinking, growing. They’re not just trying to “keep kids in the church.” They’re trying to form followers of Christ who will be leaders in the church of tomorrow. Stephen Ingram is one of the architects of this new approach to youth ministry, and I’m grateful for his example and voice.”

Brian McLaren, author/speaker (brianmclaren.net)

(Extra)Ordinary isn’t like other year-long devotional journals. Because of its unique design, teens have control over where they jump in each day based on how the feel or what they are going through

(Extra)Ordinary features the following sections:

Ordinary Times: Over 100 image-driven devotions perfect for everyday life.

Crazy Times: 10-days each, issue specific devotions for when life gets crazy.

Holiday Times: Special devotions for Lent, Advent/Christmas, even their Birthday!

(Extra)Ordinary is ideal for:

• Helping teens grow deeper in their faith

• Challenging believers of all levels with daily content

• Gifts for Students

Click Here for a Free Sample

Click Here to order (Extra)ordinary

Read AverageYouthMinistry’s Review HERE

As mentioned on this Blog before, I love Anthony Bourdain. Beyond all of the great writing, incredible food and interesting people his show provides one element that separates it from the rest of the massive food television market: Location.  From Russia, to Peru to the DMZ of the Korean Penensulia, No Reservations took the viewer into some of the most exotic and specialized locales in television.  Viewers are afforded  a certain naiveté that Anthony just happens upon these exotic locations, tribal customs and interesting people who just happen to be making some incredible food.  Oh, the ignorant bliss of television….

The truth of the matter is that shows like “No Reservations” would jump through loads of hoops, have significant advance presence and a team locals who worked diligently to make sure everything was so detailed and perfectly plotted that it appeared completely natural.  One of the most important jobs, especially in the more remote locales was the job of the “fixer”.  The fixer is a local who is well connected and could get Anthony into places and situations that he, otherwise, could not get into or in many cases would not even know existed.  The fixer would go ahead of Anthony “fixing” each situation, setting it up for the most optimal camera ready interactions and experiences.  This is great for television shows, it gives a glimpse into what more intimate and often times closed door situations would look like if you were not an outsider.

Being a “fixer”is great if you are working for a television show, it is terribly detrimental if you are parent.

Continue Reading…

What is the One Thing?

It is about to happen.

Here in the coming weeks there will a mass return from the camps, beaches, lake houses and vacations.

Summer is almost over and your program is in its final stages of gearing up for the Fall bump.

There are a million things probably swirling around in your head today; Do the teachers have their curriculum?, Is the worship ready to go?   I need to do that final run through of the small groups to make sure they are all equally distributed.  Don’t forget to order the pizza for the big kick off party.

The list goes on and on….

There are so many things on your radar screed that it looks like enemies are attacking from all sides!

All of these things are important, really important, but what is the one thing?

What is that one thing you are going to focus on above and beyond the daily “to-do” lists that make up everyday ministry?

What is your overarching goal for the ministry to achieve this year that will be an underpinning or overtone to the student ministry of your churches ministry to students for the next 12 months?

Don’t know?

Take some time over the coming weeks and think about it.  Ask yourself the question, “What big thing does the ministry need to move into its next God called incarnation”?  “What does this ministry need to focus on in everything it does, at least at some level, over the course of this next year”?

Over the past few years some of these grand overarching topics in my ministry have been; Hospitality, Sacred Community, Service and Relationships.  I only pick one a year and focus on it.

I try to hold these topics, just one a year, at the top of my list, always asking, “Is this happening today”? or “How can I infuse this event with this focus”?  I do not do this alone or in secret.  I make this vision known to staff, students, volunteers and though talks and studies.  I try to find practical ways to include it in conversations and empower those around me to practice it in everyday situations.

Each of our ministries have deficits or things that we need to work on.  It is not a weakness to recognize these, it is a strength and will strengthen your community.  So, what is the one thing?  What is that one thing that you are going to undergird your ministry, events, retreats and studies with this year?  Is it Community? Prayer? Accountability? Hospitality? Fun?

What is it?

What is your one thing?