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 […]

These 40 Days of Lenten Music

In just over a week we enter into the sacred season of Lent. Forty days of fasting, prayer, almsgiving, and a call in this “Year of Faith” proclaimed by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, to strengthen our faith and to help strengthen the faith of others. So what will change? In our own lives, […]

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?

Watching YouTube “Religiously”

By now, anyone who has, or who works closely with teens has undoubtedly heard about the “Why I hate religion but love Jesus” video that has gone viral on YouTube. Forgive me for not linking to it… my Mom taught me to keep gasoline away from matches (after my brothers and I almost launched our riding mower into outer space in 1982). Incidentally, my mother also taught me not to use the word “hate,” but that’s a different story for another day.

“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 […]

Bambi is a boy deer?!?

I’m not the smartest guy on the block. God, in His mercy, is constantly reminding me of how little I know. He does this through marriage, parenthood, ministry, and, well, just about every facet of my life. I do know movies, however – at least I thought I did. So imagine my surprise several years back when I plopped down on our sofa for our “Family Movie Night” and ten minutes into the Disney classic Bambi I come to find out that Bambi is male.

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.