Why study with the Institute for Children Youth and Mission (CYM)? – By Sally Nash

This is the first in a new youthworkhacks series called ‘why study…’ Inspired by this – each post will be written by an experienced youth ministry trainer who will us you their thoughts while sharing about their particular institution.

Rev Dr Sally Nash is the director of Midlands Institute for Children Youth and Mission (CYM), the director for Undergraduate Studies Institute for CYM and Chaplaincy Centre Researcher for Paediatric Spiritual Care.

 

Watch this – learning to be me by Ria Taylor a CYM student

Ria Taylor – Learning to be me…

My first response to this question which Tim asked me is to say talk to our students! That is why there is a five-minute video to watch, a piece of spoken word from Ria one of our students.  It was part of her final assessment at the end of a three-year full time undergraduate degree in Youth and Community Work and Practical Theology with a nationally recognized JNC professional youth work qualification.

CYM – a partnership organization

I was one of a team of people who helped to set up CYM back in the 1990s and the word team is important. We have always been a partnership organization wanting to show how youth work and academic organizations can work together to deliver good training rooted in great practice.  I was working for Youth for Christ at the time and joined with colleagues from Frontier Youth Trust and Oxford Youth Works, national denominational leaders and others to create a new sort of opportunity for people with a passion for ministry who wanted to become even better in their role.  CYM offers training at Further Education levels 1, 2 and 3 across England and at undergraduate level in Nottingham and Belfast and postgraduate level study blocks are in Nottingham and Belfast.  We can also deliver specialist continuing professional development training validated at levels 4 or 7 in a wide variety of topics which come with a University Certificate of Credit.

Why train?

I believe that training is vital for everyone who works with young people. I can think of no other field where people would be allowed to do this without the appropriate training first. As Ria says in the film, she has a qualification which gives her equal status to other people who work with young people – social workers, teachers etc. She doesn’t have to go into an encounter in an apologetic way, she is there by right of having a professional role in a young person’s life.

One of the key decisions you need to make in terms of training to work with young people is if you want this JNC professional qualification as part of it. It gives you a wider range of options post-graduation as it is recognized by people like the NHS as an appropriate qualification for work in a hospital, for example. You still get to study theology and include theological reflection in all your academic work but you also get the opportunity to do a significant alternative placement in a secular context as well as a community focused one alongside your main placement. You get to explore and test out vocational choices as you go along.

What’s involved?

On the undergraduate course with CYM in England you live in the area your placement is and travel fortnightly to St John’s College Nottingham for a two-day teaching block in term time (In Ireland you travel weekly to Belfast).  You do 14 hours a week in your placement and the rest of the time is for study.  If you want to do our postgraduate JNC option you would travel to two 3-4 day study blocks and some optional study days.  If you are looking at a career change then the postgraduate option could be for you and you can study that part time if you are doing at least 2 sessions a week of youth work so you can train alongside a job.

We have a wide range of students studying with us, our undergraduates range from 18 to 50 something and are from all sorts of different backgrounds and church traditions.  Some may have 3 good A levels, others will not have studied formally for 20 or more years.  For everyone that joins us we are committed to helping you fulfil your potential.  Every student has a personal tutor they relate to and become part of a supportive community who learn, worship and have fun together!

Both our undergraduate and postgraduate courses are eligible for student loans (undergraduate fees are £6000 a year and postgraduate £6000 for the whole Masters degree) and some placements will offer financial support too.

We also specialize in running chaplaincy courses and you can join us for anything between a week and a three-year undergraduate or postgraduate degree!  We recently published a Grove Youth Series booklet on Chaplaincy with Children and Young People and have set up a Centre to support work in that area – see www. Stjohns-nottm.ac.uk for more details.

If you want a more ministry focused degree then we offer a BA in contextual ministry where you can choose placements that support you learning in that context.  We also offer a very flexible postgraduate course where we work with you 1-1 to help you put together options which enhance your professional development as well as some core modules.

Want to know more?

If you want to find out more check out our website www.cym.ac.uk or book in for an open day.

If you are interested in reading something on our approach to youth work and youth ministry read Christian Youth Work in Theory and Practice edited by Sally Nash and Jo Whitehead published by SCM (You can order one from mcym@stjohns-nottm.ac.uk for £15 including postage quoting youthworkhacks to get this price – cheaper than Amazon!).  We also established the Grove Youth Series at MCYM and can recommend those for an accessible introduction to a wide range of topics!  https://grovebooks.co.uk/collections/youth

 

Rev Dr Sally Nash

Director, Midlands Institute for Children Youth and Mission

Director for Undergraduate Studies Institute for Children, Youth and Mission

Researcher in Chaplaincy Centre for Paediatric Spiritual Care

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Photo by Jenny Hill on Unsplash

Why we need Sync – a new resource from Youth For Christ – by Grace Wheeler

Grace Wheeler is the National Evangelist at Youth for Christ. You can explore the free Sync resources here and see the Youtube channel here.

 

As a communicator, one of the things I’ve always used to connect with people is stories. I tell stories about dogs, about inspiring people, but mostly about me! This is not because I love myself, it’s because I know me best and when I share something of my life it connects with my audience.

Stories are powerful.

I don’t know about you, but I can remember the stories I read as a child, curled up with my mum on the sofa or fighting sleep as I settled down for the night. And I do so for a very good scientific reason. When we hear stories, our brain secretes powerful chemicals: cortisol, which makes us pay attention, oxytocin (the same hormone that bonds mother and baby), which makes us feel empathy for the story’s characters, and dopamine (the chemical abused by ‘fun enhancing’ substances), which makes us feel good when there is a happy ending. Moreover, brain scans during storytelling reveal that the same chemical patterns are observed in both teller’s and hearer’s brains. It’s as if you sync your mind to the other person’s using the power of story. It’s as if Jesus knew what he was doing when he used parables to communicate the deep truths of the cosmos.

And in youth culture stories resonate even more. When you use Snapchat or Insta these days you are not just invited to capture a moment in time but to tell a story. Our music videos and computer games have evolved. The story is central to them.

‘It’s as if you sync your mind to the other person’s using the power of story.’

What does this have to do with evangelism?

Recently I have been captivated by the idea that in evangelism, three stories collide. We have a story, God has a story, and our friend who does not yet know Jesus also has a story. Great evangelism is about bringing these stories together through the power of relationship. One of the first steps here is to know your own story.

Purpose, forgiveness, friendship, belonging, change, hope, life, love, adventure, guidance, mission. All these words help young people tell a story of the difference Jesus makes in their life. St Peter writes, ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have’ (1 Peter 3:15). One of the best things we can do for our young people is to prepare them to tell their story.

As an evangelist, I am compelled by the idea that if every Christian young person knew their story, God’s story, was praying for a few mates, and was committed to intentional relationships with those around them – then the viral potential for the Gospel could be unleashed in a new way. That’s why at Youth for Christ we have created Sync, a Youtube channel to help young people know their story and be inspired to share it. I would love you to check it out and run it for free with your young people.

A different way to evangelise – Guest post by Jonny Price

Another quality and thoughtful piece by guest blogger, Jonny Price. Jonny is an experienced youth worker with keen insights and clear vision for the future of Christian youth work in the UK.

I remember clearly when my faith became an exciting prospect for me.
I had been a Christian for about 5 years, and was travelling in Australia for a few months. Someone had very kindly given me an audiobook on CD (I know, I’m old) of Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis. This was at the height of Rob’s influence in the Christian world, back before the cliff edge that Love Wins became.

I was on a train from Sydney to Newcastle, a journey of around 3 hours, and was listening, when something Rob said jumped out and grabbed me;

“I’m convinced being generous is a better way to live. I’m convinced forgiving people and not carrying around bitterness is a better way to live. I’m convinced having compassion is a better way to live. I’m convinced pursuing peace in every situation is a better way to live. I’m convinced listening to the wisdom of others is a better way to live. I’m convinced being honest with people is a better way to live.”

During all the time I had been a Christian I had never heard anyone speak about Christianity like this. It was all about personal salvation, it was all to do with the cross and forgiveness. It was about what happened after death, I couldn’t recall anyone saying that it was about living before that.

This feeling has come back to me recently as I have been thinking about the way that we evangelise, and more generally, about how we talk about faith in the Church.

It seems that we are obsessed with the death of Jesus, but can take or leave His life.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus are absolutely non-negotiable in any understanding of orthodox Christianity, but in focusing so clearly on the end of Jesus’ life, I believe that we have missed something significant. If we can redress this balance, I think there are three significant impacts we could see:

1. It shows us the best way to be Human

Through His life Jesus shows us the best way to be human, the best way to be an image bearer of God. He shows us a better way to live.

For a while now Christianity has been plagued by a version of humanism, the idea that human reason and logic are all that is needed for a better world. Some parts of Christianity have taken this idea, and said that because we are image bearers, we are able to make this a better world in our own strength.

The problem with this is that it is untrue, it is not our idea of image bearing that matters, but what Jesus shows us about being image bearers.

2. It reminds us we are called to build God’s Kingdom

If we can call young people to a better way to live, as well as to salvation beyond, then we can help to grow excitement in them for building God’s Kingdom on Earth.

This ties into an ancient tradition in the Jewish faith, of tzedekah and mishpat. These literally mean righteousness and justice, but in their Jewish forms, evoke ideas of righteousness as something given by God, and of going from retributive justice to restorative justice.

If a young person makes a commitment to Christianity at age forteen, there is a lot of life still to live between their commitment and the results of their salvation. But if that same young person is taught about tzedekah and mishpat, then they can see how their life can tie into this incredible, rich tapestry of people building the Kingdom of God. They can live for a purpose greater than any other.

3. We can make our evangelism more effective.

Millennials and post-millennials are keen to make the world a better place. They want to see equality in wealth, health, education, standards of living, and gender. They want to see peace.

And Christianity has an umbrella for all of these ideas to come under. If we can show people hungry for change that all of these causes can fit into the Kingdom, then think what a different picture that paints of the Church.

It ceases to be an institution desperate to serve and save itself, and becomes a movement that seeks to serve others. It becomes something people want to be a part of.

Final thoughts

Jesus died for the sins of the world, but let’s not forget that He lived a life as well. His life was more than a way to get to the cross, it was to show us how to live as image bearers, how to be Kingdom builders, and how to seek after His righteousness and justice, putting others before ourselves.

Jesus did die for us, but he also lived for us. Let’s not sit around waiting for heaven, but live fully alive just like Jesus did.

 

Jonny Price is the Youth and Children’s Ministry Leader for a Clifton Parish Churches in the North of beautiful York, where he lives with his wife, Carly, and son, Ethan.

When time allows he can be found cycling, either road or mountain, cooking or reading.

He holds a BA (Hons) in Mission and Ministry with a specialism in Youth from Cliff College, and is currently studying for an MA.

He loves Jesus and the Church, and wants to see the Church work to help young people live transformed lives by experiencing the redeeming love of Jesus.

New Website For Youth Workers – www.myyouthworklife.org

Check out this press release from a fabulous new youth work website! For more information and a full look at the site, see www.myyouthworklife.org  or email hello@myyouthworklife.org

(Full text below the press release image)

New Online Training website for Youth Workers  – written by Practitioners for Practitioners

 

The all-new website www.myyouthworklife.org seeks to serve Youthworkers and those involved in Youth ministry across the country with practical advice, well-honed examples, and top tips to all aspects of Youth work and ministry amongst older children and young people. Providing a plethora of articles written by over 30 passionate and experienced Youthworkers- many with decades of experience of working with teenagers, Myyouthworklife.org provides insight and guidance on key themes such as The World of a Young person, How to engage with Secondary Schools, Effectively discipling young people, Working with Volunteers, Mapping your community, and Young people and Social Media and many more relevant and significant themes within Youth ministry today.

 

Borne out of a partnership between The Department of Lay Ministry at Ridley Hall Cambridge, The Diocese of Ely, and the Eastern Baptist Association, the website seeks to provide an entry-point for many Youthwork Practitioners to be further equipped in their youth work by means of using the website as a flexible training tool, to dip in and out of, or read through with a more structured approach.

 

The Editing team of www.myyouthworklife.org suggest that ‘the richness and the USP of this website is that it brings through the voice of one passionate Youthworker talking as if person-to-person to those that will read their articles. This no-nonsense training tool is already equipping many Youthworkers around the country to inspire and engage them in their learning, and pointing them to new ideas, ways of thinking, and further training if needed.’

 

The website, which is constantly being added to with new training material in response to aspects of Youth culture and prevalent issues within Youth ministry, is free to access and all material can be downloaded as printable PDF’s for the benefit of Youth teams who may wish to engage with programmes of learning together.

 

For more information and a full look at the site, see www.myyouthworklife.org  or email hello@myyouthworklife.org

 

Video Bible Talks – An incredible new free resource coming soon!

An old college buddy of mine, Alan, is creating an epic digital video resource that will massively equip the church and serve our youth groups. I’m very excited for this resource, here’s Alan explaining it in his own words:

Hi, I’m Alan Witchalls and I’ve been serving in youth ministry in one way or another for over 20 years, pretty much ever since I became a Christian aged 16 years old, and I have had the joy of serving in a full-time capacity since 2007. At present, I am involved in setting up and producing a new ministry called Video Bible Talks.

Video Bible Talks is a Bible teaching ministry that is intended to equip, resource and support church leaders with faithful Bible teaching using the medium of digital video.

The idea for Video Bible Talks came about through speaking with volunteer leaders serving in church youth groups in the UK and in other parts of the world. Many churches are simply not in a position to have a full-time member of staff for the youth and children’s ministry groups. In these churches, volunteer leaders with full-time ‘day’ jobs and families of their own have either precious little time available, or feel they lack the skills and experience to adequately prepare Bible talks for their groups (maybe even both). The leaders I spoke with often expressed how under resourced they felt. While there are a number of Bible study resources available, and a number of evangelistic video courses available, there is not much by way of book-by-book, passage-by-passage Bible teaching resources out there.

That’s why we started making Video Bible Talks. The idea is that we can provide Bible teaching via digital video, while the youth group leaders can focus on what only they can do best: the personal work of applying God’s word to the young people’s hearts and minds and lives.

Below is a video introducing you to Video Bible Talks, and at the bottom you’ll find the full press release. I’d really urge you to get on board, and help support Alan and the team to make Video Bible Talks a reality.

 

 

How to use your Bible in youth meetings – Comics by Chloe

A new set by our In House Comic,
Chloe Perrin. Check out her work
at chloescomics.wordpress.com

 

 

Why Fivefold Ministry matters to youth ministry – Guest Post by Jonny Price

Another quality and thoughtful piece by guest blogger, Jonny Price. Jonny is an experienced youth worker with keen insights and clear vision for the future of Christian youth work in the UK.

‘Fivefold Ministry’ is a concept that can be found in Ephesians 4:11. In it Paul outlines five roles Jesus has given the Body of Christ to help it to mature, these are:

  • Apostles – Pioneers of new work
  • Evangelists – Fresh communicators of the gospel
  • Prophets – Those who speak out about spirituality and the realities of life
  • Pastors – Nurturers, carers and protectors of the people
  • Teachers – Communicators of the wisdom of God

Each of these roles are responsible for a different aspect of the growth of the Body of Christ. Often this idea is applied to leadership of our Churches, but rarely are those same principles carried across to our youth ministry. I believe that they should be, and that if they are, they can have a great impact upon our work.

Here are four important lessons for youth workers to take from the ‘Fivefold Ministry’ concept.

1. It reminds us that not all youth ministry is evangelism.

Often, the stereotypical youth worker’s gifts are primarily the same as an evangelist, with a lesser emphasis on the pastor role. There is nothing wrong with this, as long as the ministry these youth workers build is not based solely on their gifts alone.

A youth ministry based on evangelism may be great for reaching out, but how do we then build up the faith of the young people we work with beyond their initial commitment to Jesus? A youth ministry based on teaching may be great for developing faith, and teaching the Bible, but how do we then make sure that our young people are being taken care of?

If we build a team of people with a variety of gifts, then our ministries will be able to evangelise, develop faith, care for young people, and equip them to do likewise all at the same time.

2. It helps stop our ministries becoming stagnant.

If we have a team of people who all have the same gifts, play the same role, or place their emphasis and passions in the same place, then it won’t be long until that ministry becomes stagnant, relative and misweighted.

If, however, we have a balanced team made up of different roles and gifts, then there will be a constant, healthy tension between the different emphases of the ministry. This means that the team will always be pushing towards new ideas, exploring blind spots, and growing deeper in what they are doing.

3. It opens the door to new types of youth worker

If we build our teams of people who think and act the same as us, then how are we showing the diversity of the Body of Christ? We risk inadvertently closing the ministry door to people who don’t act the same way as us, or who see things a bit differently.

If we are able to show the diversity inherent in Fivefold Ministry, then we will demonstrate a far more holistic ministry to our young people, and allow them to step into it themselves.

4. It allows our young people to take ownership.

One of the common misunderstandings about Fivefold Ministry is that it only applies to leaders. If instead we approach it as being applicable to the whole Body of Christ, then we will allow our young people to take ownership of our ministry too, and of their own faith development. We will start talking about faith more, inviting our young people to be a part of it. As a result, this will help them to see how they can live out different aspects of faith, because they will see these different aspects in us.

This is exciting! Imagine a youth ministry where you don’t need to meet up with young people week in and week out to see how they are doing because you know that through the relationships they have with each other, they are being taken care of. Or imagine that you know that the teaching you give at youth group is less essential because they are teaching each other from the Bible.

Bringing it all together

Yes, the Fivefold Ministry comes with problems, like all good and new concepts do. Working with people who have different visions of ministry to us causes conflict and strain. But with proper communication, even the conflict can be an amazing tool for development.

Let’s diversify our leaders and volunteers, so that they represent the diversity of the Body of Christ, and so through that diversity, our young people can experience and know more of the love of God, and the plan that He has for their lives. Surely this is the point of everything we do.

 

Jonny Price is the Youth and Children’s Ministry Leader for a Clifton Parish Churches in the North of beautiful York, where he lives with his wife, Carly, and son, Ethan.

When time allows he can be found cycling, either road or mountain, cooking or reading.

He holds a BA (Hons) in Mission and Ministry with a specialism in Youth from Cliff College, and is currently studying for an MA.

He loves Jesus and the Church, and wants to see the Church work to help young people live transformed lives by experiencing the redeeming love of Jesus.

Are our employment practices driving youth workers away? (Research writeup)

This is a great piece of research, conducted and summarised for us here by Jonny Price, a quality and thoughtful youthworker from York.

 

I am deeply passionate about youth ministry. I believe that through Christian youth ministry, we can see lives transformed, chains broken, and bring people to fulfil what they were created to be through the redeeming love of Jesus.

To do this, I believe that relationships are key. The relationships we build during our teenage years can shape the beliefs and values that we hold for the rest of our lives. Youth and children’s workers are essential in leading ministries which allow relationships to flourish.

These relationships, however, take time to build. If our approach to the employment of youth workers doesn’t support this, then the relationships won’t get built, and the lasting impact with be negligible.

The Research

While studying theology, I spent some time researching the employment practices of Youth and Children’s workers by churches. I did this to discover if we are, in fact, negatively affecting the long-term relationships needed for healthy young people.

I have been working in youth ministry for a while and during that time I have seen several skilled and talented youth and children’s workers walk away from ministry, and some the church altogether, because of the way they were treated while employed by churches.

I got in touch with 17 Anglican Diocese (the ones who replied to me), the Methodist Connexional Offices, and Baptist’s Together. I had an online questionnaire, which gathered nearly 100 responses, and I interviewed 12 people who were either youth and/or children’s workers, had been youth and/or children’s workers, or who had managed youth and/or children’s workers.

There were many interesting things that came up in the research. With all the usual disclaimers about sample size, researcher bias etc, here are the six things that stood out most to me that we should all be aware of.

The Results

1.    Too much/not enough freedom

This is a two sided coin, and boils down to the way we are managed. Many of us will be placed under the supervision of the minister of the church/es we work for, and this can be an awful arrangement. For one thing, many ministers have no formal training or experience of supervising staff, which often means they do one of two things:

  1. They have no idea what they or we should be doing, and so go completely hands off.

    This can mean that the worker has no clear idea what their role entails, particularly if this is their first experience of employment, and so can drift from one thing to another with no plan. This can lead to disillusionment, purposelessness, and very little to do. Add to this that churches will pay for a worker out of their giving, it can lead to serious guilt.
  2. The minister goes to their only experience of supervision: training.

    I spoke to several youth workers who had been managed in the same way a trainee minister would, despite being experienced workers. This led to overly specific aims and goals, micro-management, and a sense of being patronised with no creative freedom to approach ministry in their own way.

2. Working to different goals

Generally, church ministers work to a bounded-set model, where membership is based on certain pre-set commitments. For example, church ministers would see attendance on Sunday as a sign of membership. Youth workers, however, often to work to a centred-set model, where membership is defined more by closeness to the centre (Jesus), than attendance at certain events. This can mean that there will be a communication breakdown between church ministers and youth workers, which will inevitably lead to frustration as they will be pulling in different directions.

3. The move to “proper” ministry

Many youth workers go on to make very good church leaders, but that doesn’t mean we all want to do it! There is an assumption, which I am sure we have all experienced, that we will move on to church leadership.

This came out in my interviews with diocese youth advisors, and some ex-youth workers (though interestingly, not children’s workers). Even in church literature about lay ministry, youth or children’s ministry is rarely mentioned. All of this serves to undermine youth and children’s work as valid ministries, and leads to workers in these areas feeling undervalued.

4. Lack of spiritual support

Church ministers, particularly in established denominations, have access to support from wider bodies, as well as having things like sabbaticals and retreats built into their working agreements. These are rarely, if ever, thought about for youth or children’s workers. One interviewee mentioned that they had asked if, as they were entering their seventh year in post, they would be entitled to a sabbatical, as clergy are. They were laughed at.

If we are to avoid burnout, we have to build spiritual care into our employment practice in the same way we do for church leaders

5. The longer we are in post, the longer we are likely to stay

As part of the research I looked at the amount of time people stayed in posts, the number of posts held, and their attitude changes over time. This was fascinating.

There was a definite trend that showed the longer a person stayed in ministry, the more problems they saw with the approach of churches to it, but the longer they saw themselves staying in it, and the fewer roles they averaged. Of those who had been in this ministry 7-10 years, just under half had done this in just 1 role. The average time in any one role was 2 years.

I believe this points to parts of the workforce with a strong vocational calling to this specific work, who will continue in it despite the problems they see, because they see the value of this work.

6. Continued professional development, or the lack of it.

Across all the research there was a repeating theme that Churches are unwilling to spend either the time or money on proper training for youth and children’s workers.

In some ways this is understandable if short sighted. If youth workers are only going to stick around for a couple of years, then why train them? The simple answer: if you train them, they may well stay around longer! They will feel empowered in their ministry, more capable and confident in what they are doing, and will know how to take more care of themselves and their young people.

In short, we will develop a workforce that is more motivated, more capable, and with greater longevity.

Conclusions

Let’s really work this problem together! There is a clear correlation between poor youth and children’s workers management and poor youth and children’s work. Our employment practices (or lack thereof) are driving quality people away who might otherwise have been totally committed to the long haul.

  1. Youth and children’s workers need to be treated as independent workers, not trainees. They need clear goals and accountability, with the freedom to creatively pursue the best in their work.
  2. There needs to be clarifying conversations between minister and youth/children’s worker about what constitutes success and what models they are working to together.
  3. Youth and children’s workers are genuine lay ministers and need to be referred to, celebrated and supported as such.
  4. Further to this, youth and children’s workers need the same levels of spiritual support built into their contracts including training, sabbaticals, and retreats.
  5. Youth and children’s workers need to be encouraged and supported to stick to single posts, rather than moving around every two years.
  6. Proper training and professional development is essential for youth and children’s workers. This should be generously budgeted for and expected.

 

Jonny Price is the Youth and Children’s Ministry Leader for a Clifton Parish Churches in the North of beautiful York, where he lives with his wife, Carly, and son, Ethan.

When time allows he can be found cycling, either road or mountain, cooking or reading.

He holds a BA (Hons) in Mission and Ministry with a specialism in Youth from Cliff College, and is currently studying for an MA.

He loves Jesus and the Church, and wants to see the Church work to help young people live transformed lives by experiencing the redeeming love of Jesus.

6 Announcement Slide Mistakes & How To Fix Them – by Lindsey Moss

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 09.28.21Great post from  Lindsey Moss of ChurchMediaTech.com. Re-posted with her permission. Check out the original here and have a browse through their other great articles here.

 

There are many studies published online confirming that visual cues help us retain information which is what I love so much about announcement slides! When you add visual cues to your announcement segment, it helps the congregation commit the information to memory.  I’ve also found from experience that engagement is higher when there is viewable information involved.

That being said, it can be easy to go overboard! I want to give you a few tips on how you can get the most out of your announcement slides by examining some common mistakes.

Let me first preface this by saying these are all optional changes. This is just an article written by your friendly neighborhood Designer who understands the frustrations that come along with creating announcement slides that will impact your congregation. I want to make things easier for you. So let’s get started!

To help you see the difference it can make, I’m going to show you how I took the slide on the left and transformed it into the slide on the right by fixing these six announcement slide missteps.

BaA.jpg

1. Wrong Image Size or Resolution

ConnectionCafeSlide2.jpg

As you can see in the first image, there are black bars on either side of the image. These typically happens when the slide isn’t the same size as your screen. You should reference your screen and projector manual to see what the best image size and pixel ratio is for your setup to avoid stretching, black bars, and pixelation. For reference, for a typical HD slide I set the image size to 1920 x 1080 px, resolution to 72, the color palette to RGB and I export as a jpg. This will usually give you the best color profile and size for your projector without the file size being out of control.

So, let’s fix the image size…

ConnectionCafeSlide3.jpg

2. Misuse of Photos

Okay, now that our black bars are gone we have another issue here; there’s a watermark on the photo. I understand that many church budgets for announcement slide elements is minimal or non existent so I’m going to replace it with a photo from pexels.com. This website provides a wide variety of photos you can use for anything! You want to avoid using photos from Google, Pinterest, or images that include watermarks.

Now, you don’t have to use a photo! You can easily use a graphic. Do whatever you like best. I personally find images easier to work with for those that don’t have much design experience but they still want their slides to look professional. Also, I want to change the photo to something that implies a sense of community and conversation. Let’s try something like this…

ConnectionCafeSlide4.jpg

 

3. Mismatched Fonts

Awesome! We’re definitely getting somewhere. Now, let’s address the use of font here. The text has a slight drop shadow, which is always a great way to enhance the legibility, but the words don’t seem to flow with the image. You definitely want your slide to have character, but using too many fonts can be overwhelming. Here’s an awesome article on pairing fonts by Brady Shearer. For this slide, we’re going to only use two fonts.

I’m going to use Bebas Neue for the Title and Information because it’s bold and easy to read, and I’m going to use RachelHand Medium for the Subtitle to give it the feeling of a hand written note that fits the feel of connection like the photo.

Here it is… 

ConnectionCafeSlide5.jpg

 

4. Misuse of Logos

Now, we have to address what I think is the most serious offense in this slide; the misuse of the church logo. Even if your church doesn’t have branding guidelines, it’s never a good idea to change the color, shape, proportions, or elements of the logo.

Your logo is a visual representation of your church and the last thing you want to do is give the impression that you don’t take the identity of your church seriously. I know that seems a bit harsh, but it’s true. It’s important to be consistent with your branding so you can be easily identified.

Now, let’s say that my church logo is neon pink. Neon pink isn’t going to fit so well on a slide about a chill session over some lattes. So what do you do? The best option in this case is to simply use a watermark. By using a white version of your logo and lowering the opacity to somewhere around 60% you’ll still get the visual of your logo without the overpowering look of neon pink.

Let’s see the slide with the watermark version of the logo in the correct size, and proportions… 

ConnectionCafeSlide6.jpg

5. Too Many Colors

Now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s take a look at the colors. First of all, I don’t necessarily have a problem with mixing colors. Sometimes it can take a bland slide and make it much more intriguing! However, when you’re working with a background image as bold as this photo, it’s important that we aren’t distracting viewers from the overall feel of the image by our color choices.

For this slide, I’m going to make all the font the same color. There is already some visual diversity with the mixing of fonts so it won’t seem bland, and the consistency of color will help the entire slide come together.

Check it out…

ConnectionCafeSlide7.jpg

6. Too Much, or Too Little, Information

Okay ladies and gentlemen we’re almost home! Last, but certainly not least, is information! This is especially important if you’re planning to have a slideshow of your announcements playing pre-service. If there isn’t enough information on the slide, the viewer doesn’t have much to go on and will soon lose interest, if there’s too much information they may not have time to read all of it before it progresses to the next slide.

Let’s condense our information into a single line. Something that can be read quickly and retained easily.

You want to answer the following questions in as few words as possible:

What? When? Where? and SOMETIMES Why? (see what I did there?) You don’t always have to include the why because sometimes it’s obvious. Other times, like for a fundraiser, you may want to add why this event is important.

In the case of this slide the answers to these questions are: Connection Cafe, before and after the service, in the Welcome Area, to drink some coffee and create community.

We’re going to highlight this information by adding a dark brown rectangle behind it and lowering the opacity of that rectangle to 80%. If certain elements of a slide start to look too separate or overpowering, lowering the opacity is a great way to blend everything together.

Here it is folks! Our finished slide!

ConnectionCafeSlide.jpg

 

You can download this background image for free here: https://www.pexels.com/photo/restaurant-hands-people-coffee-5362/

You can download Bebas Neue for free here: http://www.dafont.com/bebas-neue.font

You can download RachelHand Medium for free here: http://www.dafont.com/rachelhand.font

Check out this years’ Youth Work Awards

logo--youthscapeGuest post sent from Youthscape – a quality resource and research organisation dedicated to “working for the good of young people of all faiths and none.” Check them out at www.youthscape.co.uk

 

Youthscape launched the Christian Youth Work Awards in 2011 and recently opened nominations for the sixth year running.

The awards are intended to celebrate the very best of Christian youth work in churches and organisations across the UK, inviting nominations across six categories.

They also seek to encourage youth workers everywhere by sharing stories of the great things youth workers are doing and inspiring others to do the same. One of last year’s shortlisted nominees confirmed for us just how important it is to recognise and encourage our youth workers, saying,

“I have been involved in youth work for 15 years now, in many guises. I came back from the summer feeling pretty close to burnout and receiving the nomination and then hearing that I had been shortlisted, was an amazing boost and exactly what I needed.”

YWA15 YWOTY Lee Kirkby2015’s Youth Worker of the Year was Lee Kirkby from St Michael Le Belfry in York. Receiving the award, Lee thanked his wife and team, his church for their committed investment into youth work and said that he was “blown away by the honour shown to youth workers by the awards.”

Categories this year include Youth Worker of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Young Leader of the Year, Best Youth Work Resource, Best Youth Work Employer and Most Innovative Youth Work. All nominees receive a postcard to encourage them in their work and shortlisted candidates are invited to a prestigious award presentation event in November.

You can nominate someone for an award at youthworkawards.co.uk. Nominations close on 31st August 2016.ywa16 ywoty