Stuff Youth Ministers Like #17: Acronyms

Simply put, acronyms make our lives a little bit easier, allow us to seem a little bit cooler, and show teens that we can speak their language. This way teens know that when they tell us they will BRB or that they are JK, we can feel like we too FI (Fit In- Yeah, I made that up. Now try dropping it on your teens). So, much like the river, we just need to let the acronyms flow, unless any of you happen to know a Doctor Emmett Brown, and if so, I need to contact him ASAP.

The Key to Keeping Your Teens Coming Back

Then there were the times when I was really desperate and would make grand promises: “We’ve got a mystery guest tonight. You won’t want to miss this.”And how did the teens respond?“That Life Night was good, but it wasn’t the best ever.”“I thought you said there were going to be some surprises.”“I don’t know if you dressed as Batman really qualifies as a mystery guest.”

Stuff Youth Ministers Like #16: Donations

There is a phone conversation that every youth minister has had; and it generally happens the same way: Youth Minister: Hello, youth ministry office. Benevolent Parishioner: Hi there. I have a (insert name of random item here) that I would like to give to the teen life program. Would the teens like it? Youth Minister: […]

Stuff Youth Ministers Like #15: Exclamation Points

If you ask me, we’ve given in to punctuation discrimination! And that just isn’t right. In the world of youth ministry marketing, one, single exclamation point came in like David and destroyed the period like it was Goliath. In fact it seems that our mindset is that if you’re using periods instead of exclamation points, well, you’re just not passionate enough, and maybe it’s time to talk with your pastor about discerning another ministry for you.

Stuff Youth Ministers Like #14: The 5 People You’ll See in Any Crazy Group Photo

Ahh yes. We do love our retreat weekends. In fact we love them so much that it’s not enough for us to capture this moment with a simple photo. Nope. Somewhere in the history of youth ministry, someone had the bright idea to add a crazy group photo to the mix. And, much like that “Banner Over Me” song, it just won’t go away.

Stuff Youth Ministers Like #13: Marrying Up

I remember the day I knew I wanted to become a youth minister. It was at a Steubenville Catholic Youth Conference in St. Louis. I was going into my sophomore year of high school and was awkward, sunburnt, and commonly referred to by girls as “best friend material.” (For those of you who have never been “best friend material,” it’s a high school girl’s way of saying you will never go on a date.)

Stuff Youth Ministers Like #12: The Jesus Cheer

Regardless of the response, we all want the teens to get excited for any youth ministry event. Why? Because we want them to come to know the unconditional love of Christ that we know in our lives. I mean, after all, we love Jesus, yes we do. We love Jesus, and the teens should too.

Stuff Youth Ministers Like #11: Pizza

So maybe it’s a little clichÈ. Maybe it’s a “cheesy” way to invite teens to Youth Group. But any upper “crust” Youth Minister will tell you that no matter how you “slice” it, free pizza just sounds more appealing than: “Hey teens, join us tonight for our Fall Kickoff as we play hopscotch while eating broccoli trunks wrapped in raw spinach leaves.”

Stuff Youth Ministers Like #10: Caffeine

A few years ago I stumbled out of bed at 5:30 AM during a leadership conference for teenagers. I had risen at such a ridiculous hour because I knew that the teens I had brought with me would all soundly be sleeping until 7:30 AM, which is when the female chaperone and I would wake […]

Stuff Youth Ministers Like #9: Apple Products

In addition to a Bible, Catechism, and well-placed highlights, recent trends suggest that successful youth ministry also includes the incorporation of as much Apple brand technology as possible.While the origin of this principle remains uncertain and is not directly cited in Renewing the Vision, many attribute the idea to Peter Pilaf’s groundbreaking seminar at St. Isidore University in the spring of 2004 where he dazzled undergraduates in attendance with slides from his MacBook. When asked about the content of the presentation, a sophomore theology major explained, “I don’t really remember, it was something about youth ministry or evangelization or whatever—I was just there for extra credit. But the graphics on Keynote were amazing.

Stuff Youth Ministers Like #8: Rudy

One of the greatest dilemmas any Youth Minister faces is what to do during a long bus ride. “I Spy” gets old real quick, sing-a-longs died when the Brady Bunch was canceled, and a game of License Plate Bingo is just not as exciting as it sounds. With options dwindling, there’s always one choice that […]

Stuff Youth Ministers Like #7: Complaining

I knew a youth minister who literally worked inside of a closet. Sure, it had been “renovated,” but it didn’t alter the fact that his ministry was based out of a “former” closet. It was the kind of closet that makes a person long for a cubicle; it still smelled like toilet bowl cleaner and that stuff you use to clean up tile floor when a kid tosses his cookies post-dodgeball game.

Stuff Youth Ministers Like #6: The Dramatic Pause

As a Youth Minister one of the biggest parts of your job description is to teach teens the faith. Now, if the previous statement came as a shock to you . . . umm . . . well . . . you may want to chat with your Pastor. If not, then you know the […]

Stuff Youth Ministers Like #5: Red Vines

You’ve only got a couple hours until youth group starts and you realize you forgot to buy food. With only $20 left in your budget and the need to feed 200 teens, as a youth minister, you know there’s only one item that can save you now: Red Vines.What is it about Red Vines that we as youth ministers love so much?

Stuff Youth Ministers Like #4: Gross Icebreakers

Maybe it’s because these games immediately evoke a reaction – be it laughter or gagging – from a sometimes apathetic and lethargic group of teenagers. Maybe it’s because we are able to relate the caramel onion to the reality of sin; it may look good but it’s actually disgusting. Or maybe it’s just because after a week of parent phone calls, late permission slips, and teens texting through an entire teaching . . . a disgusting icebreaker is our way of saying, “I win.”

Stuff Youth Ministers Like #3: Saying “Awesome”

Ok. Admit it. You’ve used it. You know you have, but perhaps you don’t know to what extent. Perhaps you don’t realize that it’s the one word you use to describe every youth ministry activity that you’ve planned. For some reason, the word “awesome” is always on the tip of your tongue. At some point […]

Stuff Youth Ministers Like #2: Retreat T-Shirts

I remember the day I really became a youth minister. It was a cool, fall morning in Wisconsin, and as I rolled out of bed at 11:45 AM and like a zombie walked toward my closet, my heavy eyes searched for some daily attire. I pulled out a t-shirt. “Come Alive – Retreat 2011.” And […]

Messy Game Ideas: Ketchup, Eggs, and Spam, Oh My!

What do ketchup, spam, ho ho’s, peanut butter, eggs, soap, and pickles have in common? They make awesome games for youth ministry! Spring is fast approaching and for many in youth ministry that means (even more so now) teens will be away on vacation, involved in athletics, preparing for final exams and beginning their summer jobs. As always, families must coordinate schedules and get togethers. By the time it hits Sunday, most people are more likely to be found in bed rather than going to Mass. It is our job to get them there and to be excited about our faith. Why not spice up your life night with some wild and messy activities.

Stuff Youth Ministers Like #1: Shaving Your Head To Get Teens to Youth Group

Whether you’ve been in Youth Ministry since the revolutionary invention of the overhead projector or you’re fresh out of college with a guitar strapped to your back and a Frisbee in hand, there’s a good chance that you’ve asked yourself the question, “How do I get teens to come to youth group?” I remember asking […]

Going Deeper, Part 3: Hand Motion Sickness

Don’t get me wrong, Catholics pray with their body. We lie prostrate, we kneel, we sit, and we fold our hands in a posture of prayer. Sometimes we even extend our hands over our head in an open posture of worship. All of these postures, even the hands over the head, are rooted in Scripture and the Tradition of the Church. They reflect the interior disposition of the soul and it’s receptivity to Christ. So what about hand motions? Why do I say it is not prayer?

“Attitude Reflects Leadership”: What Kind of Leader Are You?

As a Youth Minister, you are the leader, the captain of your Core Team. They look to you for direction, guidance, and inspiration when it comes to leading teens closer to Christ. They want training and clear communication so that they can effectively fulfill their role, and yet, as I talk with Youth Ministers around the country, arguably their biggest frustration is with their Core Team. Perhaps the Core Team isn’t the problem. Maybe it’s the captain.

Are You Tebowing?

Other than illegal hits to the head and questionable calls by referees, the most controversial part of the NFL season is a phenomenon called “Tebowing”. Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow openly proclaims his faith in interviews, post game press conferences, in coffee shops or wherever he is. After touchdowns and during particularly tense moments of […]

Are You Planking?

The past few months people keep sending me planking photos. Planking†is an activity or game consisting of lying face down in an unusual or incongruous location. The hands must touch the sides of the body and having a photograph of the participant taken and posted on the internet is an integral part of the game.†Players […]

10 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a Youth Minister

I recently posed a question on my Twitter and Facebook pages to a variety of youth ministers asking, “What things do you wish someone told you before you became a youth minister?” After receiving a variety of responses, it was evident that there were many recurring themes. For those of you who are thinking of becoming youth ministers, and even for some of you grizzly veterans who have seen one too many high school productions of “Grease,” here are 10 things I wish someone told me before I became a youth minister (with a little help from my friends).

Responding to the Death of a Teen

I minister in a town of about 50,000 drawing on 3 different high schools. In the last 18 months, 8 high school teenagers have died unexpectedly from car accidents, illness, and suicide. In the midst of all of this tragedy, I have learned 4 important lessons about how we should respond to teen death within our communities.

Bringing Lent to Life: Resources for Lent

Each Lent, we have another great opportunity to immerse our teens into the heart of the Church. We have such a gift in the 40 days of Lent. We need to walk with our teens through the desert of Lent and help them meet our Lord there. Our ministry should be a reflection of the changes happening in the Liturgy and be an invitation to fully participate in the mystery of Christ’s Passion, death, and Resurrection. There are a lot of resources that Life Teen has for you to being Lent to Life in your program.

The Role of Music within the Liturgy

Fr. Robert Schreiner, priest for the Diocese of Crookston, shares the role of music within the Liturgy. If you have ever had a question about music, the Liturgy, and Life Teen, this is a must watch video. The video comes from the 2010 Life Teen Liturgy and Music Conference.

16 Great Summer Youth Ministry Activities Close to Home

Once you have got all your big summer trips planned, be sure to add in some other activities to keep up the relational ministry you have begun during the school year. These summer months give us an opportunity to be creative in our efforts to build our relationships with teens, especially because they tend to have more time.

Lent in Your Youth Ministry: Making the Most of the Season

Lent already? How is that possible? One minute we’re celebrating Christmas, we blink, and it is Ash Wednesday. Somewhere in the blur of time we forget to fully enter into this holy season.Often we get so caught up in the day- to-day operations of meetings, phone calls, emails and Life Night planning that we forget to take a second to stop and think about where the Church is leading us.

Are You Making a Small Deal Out of Confirmation?

It continually surprises me when I get asked the question, “Can we just make Life Nights our parish Confirmation program?” Don’t get me wrong, I understand the reason for the question: not enough time to do Life Teen and Confirmation or you don’t have enough catechists or you’re trying to kill two birds with one […]

Finding a Spiritual Director (and what to expect)

I remember one day in seminary hearing the very direct words of one of the faculty– “a priest without a spiritual director is a menace.” It was a bold statement, but the emphasis on spiritual direction was important. The history of the Church has always held the position of spiritual director as vital to the life of any clergy or religious. Today that still holds true, but many lay men and women, especially those in a life of ministry, also find a spiritual director to be a huge benefit.

Advice from a Priest: Finding Your Place on the Parish Staff

Let me set the scene: It’s the parish staff meeting. Its always bright and early… 9am, even if you had Bible study until 9pm last night. Everyone grabs coffee and the conversation begins with the process of going around the table talking about “calendar items”. Then, the topics go to things like who didn’t put the chairs away last night or to the roof leaking again. If it’s a good week, there aren’t any references to your youth being loud or leaving trash around. The meeting goes longer than expected, and at the end, you wonder if anyone on the staff has any idea at all what you do as a youth minister.