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Rules young people want to add to Social Media.

For a young person social media can be a Crystal Maze of awkwardness and mind games – full of traps and ambushes with a prevailing sense of kill or be killed!

We run training for teachers, youth workers and young people themselves on how to stay safe in social media. Yesterday we shook this this up a bit and asked a bunch of young people what new rules or laws they would add to online behaviour.

This question came from the Youth For Christ, Rock Solid Playing Cards. A great resource available here.

Here are their responses, unchanged and unchallenged. What do you think? Particularly think about what fears these answers reveal and how we could respond to them:

– You should not be allowed to comment on something if you haven’t read or watched it through.

– If you wouldn’t say it to their face in front of a crowd, then don’t comment it on their status.

– Keep your opinions to yourself – no liking or disliking it at all.

– You should only be able to publicly comment on a post with the creator’s permission.

– Fake profiles should always have a ‘this person is fake, don’t trust them’ warning on them.

– When feeling bad, you should be able to ask for help and have people reply properly without trolling or silly jokes – real help.

– All comments should be made by video.

– No comments should be anonymous.

– All ‘offensive’ trolling should be banned.

– You should be able to see who is looking at your photos.

– Can’t tag random people without their permission first – or be allowed to share a photo of them anywhere without their permission first.

– Don’t allow friends to talk to you about social media if you don’t have social media.

– Don’t celebrate something others don’t have (like Christmas) in case it offends them.

– Use your real name .

– Stop correcting people’s English.

– No ALL CAPS!

– Ban all manipulative ‘scroll down to ignore, like or comment if you care’ posts.

– Stop trolling everyone!

– Clamp down on internet slang.

– Ban click bait pages that only make you like them just to give publicity to other pages.

– Limit on what & how much you can share – awful posts should be vetted first.

– Too many selfies!!!

– Don’t allow statuses about an ex .

– Don’t allow statuses about ‘people you know’ without saying their names – especially when it’s obvious!

– Clamp down on the crazy amount of likes people get when they have a baby.

– If you’re not a fan of a thing – don’t go on the page to knock it!

– Don’t allow anyone to change their name to ‘nobody’ – to stop the ‘nobody likes this’ gag.

– Two words: farmville requests

 

So there they are. Again, think about the fears and questions that these ideas reveal. I recommend asking the same question to your youth group, asking them what they think this reveals and asking how they would respond.

Youth Work USP

What is your Youth Work USP? What do you bring to the table that other young people’s activities don’t?

Often completely alien to the compassion and chaos of the youth work world is the cold and competitive rigours of business. The latter is where USP – that’s unique service provision or unique selling point – comes from.

You might believe that business, sales and marketing strategies should have nothing to do with Christ-saturated youth ministry. You may believe that I’m leading you into a callous, sub-biblical and secular world of professionalism. You may also believe that I’ve simply watched too many episodes of The Apprentice – which might possibly be true!

The truth is, however, that you are probably already employing such strategies – albeit under the guise of mission statements, vision casting and prayer meetings. Business uses different language to ask effectively the same question: how can we best steward resources to have the biggest possible effect?

USP is key to this and incredibly important to nail if you want to succeed in youth work.

If you cannot clearly articulate and communicate what it is that your programs uniquely offer to young people that is above all the other trappings of the world, then they have no reason to join you.

If you can’t say loud and proud what makes your offerings so much better than a Friday night on the slosh, or a Sunday morning xbox fest, then it could account for why you only have three people showing up!

Too many youth programs hide their unique services and values under generic activities that are also provided by just about every other competing activity. Live music and entertainment can be gotten from loads of places – it’s called youtube and a sneaky pint.

Your Youth Work USP

What is it you do that other potential activities don’t?

– Do you offer a safe and compassionate community where outcasts are welcome and accepted?
– Is it direction on how to connect to the maker of the universe?
– Are you giving opportunities to feed the poor and help the homeless?
– Do you give help becoming a holistic person?
– Are you offering the key to fulfilment found in Jesus?

What is your USP? Find it, nail it, and clearly communicate it!

The USP of one of my groups is a welcome invitation to be part of a family that takes care of each other and seeks truth together. This means my ‘youth group’ works for ages 11-25, and is full of both fun activities and spiritually searching worship and study.

This USP attracts many young people who feel isolated and rejected in their own family, and it attracts those who are interested in philosophy and spirituality more generally. The USP drives what we do each night and helps form the culture of questioning, mentoring and peer-to-peer care outside the meeting times. We’ve seen many young people saved from this group!

If you want to attract spiritually aware, community producing, open-to-Jesus young people – then ‘market’ that as your USP in all of your publicity materials. That niche will be on the lookout and they will come!

Once you have developed and grown those young people, then you can set your sights broader as young people will always attract more young people. Too many of us do that backwards – start with an impossibly broad club that competes with secular groups and then try to niche it down. We overfeed on hype which seemingly works well for a couple of years (without a lot of commitments to Jesus to show for it), then we crash, burn and close down.

Find your USP! Be proud of it. Market to it and develop those who come. Then you can build a broader mission strategy off the back of that community. Winner.

More info

If you’d like to think about how to find your USP, check out an article I wrote for leadanyone.com here. If you’d like personal help developing your USP, understanding how to more clearly articulate it or building a group off it, then get in touch via the training page. Thanks!

Facing Your Fears as a Youth Leader

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 17.34.22Guest Post By Chloe Perrin. Volunteer Youth Worker, Musical Theatre Tutor and Youth Charity Trustee.

 

About three years ago, I was sat in an office telling my Supervisor that I’d love to do a gap year with the local Youth For Christ centre, provided that I only had to do background stuff like admin. Not, under any circumstance, did I want to come into contact with any actual front of house youth work or young person of any sort.

One year later I was wearing a sumo suit while flinging myself at one of said young people in an attempt to knock them out of the circle in a sumo fight to end all sumo fights.

Granted, I’m a young youth worker (only been in the business three years) but I feel I have a bit of authority on the subject of conquering fears, considering that my fear was one of the biggest and most ridiculous fear that can hinder any other youth worker of any age: I was terrified of teenagers.

Now, before you laugh, I think we can all agree that teenagers can be flipping scary. They decide what (and who) is cool this year, half of them think they’re smarter than they are and the other half are smarter than you so don’t even try. They can be scathing and have the ability to make you question every life choice you have ever made with one sarcastic comment.

All that said, those are also the reasons why we love them so much.

Whatever it is, be it young people themselves or something entirely different, every single youth worker in the world has fears, and those fears, no matter how big or small, have the capacity to block us from doing truly amazing work with young people. Here are some of the simple ways I managed to face my fears as a youth worker:

 1. Don’t pretend you’re not scared.

Look at that massive pile of admin you need to do, all those emails you need to send, all those kids waiting to hear the Bible study masterpiece that you’re presenting. How easy would it be if we could just close our eyes and those things would vanish in a puff of smoke?

You can stare at those emails while your heart plummets and mutter “I love emails so much” over and over all you want, but it’s not true. Acting like you love giving bible studies while you’re shaking with fear won’t work either – young people can smell a rat from a mile away.

Just remember when you’re facing these situations that no one important is expecting you to love every aspect of your job. And if your job is upfront youth ministry, no teenager will ever think less of you for being nervous – quite the opposite! If anything, it makes you human, and they’ll appreciate that more than anything.

Be upfront with your colleagues. Be honest about what scares you. Hidden situations only get worse.

2. Do what you need to do (within reason).

Step back. Take a breath. Ask yourself, what will make this situation less terrifying? For me, it was knowing that I had other more experienced youth workers with me, and I could take a few minutes in the back room if it got too much.

This is easier with some things than others. For example, if you need to take breaks between each email to stuff your face with chocolate then do it! Think you might need to call someone up you trust to help you through some admin? Do it!

If you need to ask for help, do it. Needing help doesn’t make you weak. There’s a reason God created more than one human. We’re not meant to go it alone.

3. JUST DO IT (Shia La Beouf voice)

My last piece of advice would be, NEVER let the fear stop you. There’s a part of me that still fills with fear when a new young person enters the room and I have to go and welcome them, but I never regret it when I do.

Who wants to look back on their time as a youth worker and see a list of things they never tried, or gave up on too early? The Bible isn’t made up of stories of people who would have but didn’t. It is, however, made up of stories of people who were scared but did it anyway, because God was with them.

And that’s the most important part (surprise). God’s with you. Anything good you do hasn’t actually been done by you anyway. God did it through you. It works the other way too; if you have Jesus at the centre of everything you do as a youth worker, then it won’t matter if you mess up; God meant for that, too. God doesn’t just use our triumphs, he does wonders with our failures too.

 

Of course, there is so much more to learn about conquering fears, but hopefully you’ll appreciate these little drops of advice.

Now I’m off to go swing a pair of orange-filled tights around my head around for the entertainment of my truly brilliant young people.

 

About Chloe

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 17.34.22Chloe Perrin is a twenty two year old Christian who’s been doing youth work with Youth For Christ since her Gap Year, which has been going on about three years now!

When not doing youth work, she is a musical theatre tutor for children aged five to eighteen (keeps her fit!), and has lived in North Wales since she was born, and will continue to live here until they kick her out.

She also plays the saxophone but saves that for parties.

You can find her at any Comic-Con in the country, and her life ambition is to dress in cosplay more than in her regular clothes.

How God Could Have Sent The Message

We’re kicking off our advent season tonight looking at Mary – The message comes.

The main thing we want to get across is the shock and the familiarity of God using a teenage girl.

The shock – because it’s weird and surprising! God could have chosen a billion different more secure ways than this adolescent girl!

The familiarity – because it’s what God does! He uses the surprising, the small seeming and the ordinary to do extraordinary things!

We wondered what would happen if God didn’t send a teenage virgin – and explored other options to fix the nonsense in the world.

So we threw this ‘high budget,’ three minute, total cheese intro video together to kick things off – How God Could Have Done It!

How To Help Your Young People Eat The Bible!

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“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.” [Jeremiah 15:16]

We gotta get our young people eating the Word – lapping it up like a McD Big Tasty with extra special sauce!

Here are six important posts that tackle this head on:

  1. www.youthworkhacks.com/opening-up-the-bible/ – Video cast on an easy interpretation & exegesis tool
  2. www.youthworkhacks.com/first-question-youth-bible-studies/ – Nailing the first question every time
  3. www.youthworkhacks.com/6-ways-train-teenagers-read-bibles/ – 6 killer ways to help them read it themselves
  4. www.youthworkhacks.com/youth-bible-study-techniques/ – Easy study techniques that make awesome studies that are out of the box
  5. www.youthworkhacks.com/youthworker-bible-walk-bar/ – Getting their hearts to burn for The Word
  6. www.youthworkhacks.com/bible-young-people-stephen-hale/ – Great quote to end!

 

55 Ways To Love Your Youth Group

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A random collection of 55 Way’s To Love Your Youth Group – many from ‘Your first two years in Youth Ministry’ by Doug Fields. Use your common sense & have fun with them!

  1. Notice them
  2. Smile a lot
  3. Learn their names
  4. Seek them out
  5. Remember their birthdays
  6. Ask them about themselves
  7. Look in their eyes when you talk to them
  8. Listen to them
  9. Play games with them
  10. Laugh with them
  11. Be nice
  12. Reassure them that their feelings are okay
  13. Set boundaries to keep them safe
  14. Be honest
  15. Be yourself
  16. Listen to their stories
  17. Notice when they are acting differently
  18. Present options when they seek your advice
  19. Suggest better options when they act up
  20. Share their excitement
  21. Notice them when they’re absent
  22. Give them space when they need it
  23. Contribute to their collections
  24. Laugh at their (appropriate) jokes
  25. Be relaxed
  26. Kneel, squat, or sit so you are at their eye-level
  27. Answer their questions
  28. Tell them how fab they are
  29. Learn what they have to teach
  30. Make yourself available
  31. Find a common interest
  32. Apologise when you’ve done something wrong
  33. Listen to their fav music with them
  34. Thank them
  35. Give them compliments
  36. Acknowledge their efforts
  37. Meet their parents
  38. Be excited when you see them
  39. Let them act their age
  40. Be consistent
  41. Marvel at what they can do
  42. Ask them to help you
  43. Applaud their successes
  44. Pray with them
  45. Be flexible
  46. Delight in their uniqueness
  47. Let them make mistakes
  48. Give them immediate feedback
  49. Include them in conversations
  50. Respect them
  51. Be silly together
  52. Trust them
  53. Encourage them to help others
  54. Believe what they say
  55. Involve them in decisions

Surviving Camp With A Fully Charged Mobile Phone

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Getting though summer camp with a fully charged mobile phone is like running down the side of a mountain with a dirty martini trying desperately not to spill it – good luck!

From hurrying up the tardy group member, to locating the mini bus, to checking in with concerned parents, every precious little bit of juice matters.

If you’re at something like Soul Survivor, finding a charging port can be the difference between going to the right seminar (you know, the quiet one with the wall sockets) and having to queue in the tool shed for half an hour while feigning interest in a gap year that you’re obviously ten years too old for.

Follow these simple geeky tips to be economic with your juice and stay on top of the battery game this year:

Make your software work for you, not without you.

This is an easy one! Simply make sure you’re not using power-draining apps and background software that you don’t need.

  1. Go to your battery settings and find out what apps are using power. If you don’t need them, close them!
  2. Also check out what background apps are running in your settings – close those too. Always close apps from the background after you use them.
  3. Switch off wi-fi, tethering, bluetooth, data roaming and push email clients. Also switch from 3g or 4g to 2g (or GSM).
  4. Switch off location services and GPS (once you get there!).
  5. f you have a high deff or AMOLED screen, make sure your background and lock screen are set to just black.
  6. Speaking of the screen, manually set the brightness to the lowest you can handle and drop the timeout/standby time to as low as it will go (usually 15 seconds).
  7. Get rid of your phone’s vibrate setting, and put a boring but audible single tone ringtone on instead.
  8. Look into power management apps and widgets like ‘Power Control’ or ‘DU Battery Saver.’

Discover new ways of charging your phone.

A few little tweaks, and maybe a little money will go a long way to recharge your phone without having to stand on a friend’s shoulders to reach the maintenance plugs above the loos!

  1. Turn on aeroplane mode when charging. Aeroplane mode shuts down the processing power usually used to communicate to towers. This can speed up charging time by 10-25% depending on your phone.
  2. Invest in a car charger, and spend 30 mins to yourself in an evening charging your phone. If you’ve got a small petrol engine, then you’ll be wanting to run the car for 20 mins of that time.
  3. If you’ve got the option then go for a leisure battery or electric hook up so you can charge at camp.
  4. Invest in a decent power bar / portable battery with a high capacity. Amazon are selling Anker E6 20800mAh bars right now for about twenty quid!!! These should charge your phone 3-7 times.
  5. Don’t leave your charger anywhere! Not every nice Christian person is a nice Christian person.

Be thrifty with the vanity.

If you’re on camp – be on camp! I’m a big tweeter, instagramer and facebook user, but y’know what? I’m camping!!! so I can use those data-heavy and power-hungry apps when I get home! Bring a digital camera with you instead, or just photobomb everyone else!

A Cantankerous Old Man’s Guide To Youth Work

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When I was 15 one of my best friends was a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, called Cliff.

Being paralysed from the waist down after a bad car accident, Cliff hadn’t left his flat in 10 years. He was old, he was moody, he was racist, he smoked like a chimney (not just tobacco!), he swore like a sailor and drunk like a very thirsty fish.

Why on earth was this cantankerous old man one of my best friends? 2 reasons:

1. He just liked having me around!

Cliff took a genuine interest in the things I cared about. He would just sit and listen to me talk about guitars and computer games. He even bought me a large power kite one day after hearing me rave about them. He didn’t try to be like me, or pretend to be ‘one of the guys,’ he just genuinely cared about me and really did like spending time with me.

When I had major surgery, he got Iceland Home Delivery to send six large crates of junk food to my hospital bed (which fed all three Children’s wards in Blackpool Victoria Hospital). When I turned 16, he paid a taxi driver to bring a magnum bottle of champagne to my front door. What a freaking legend!

2. He gave me responsibility.

Cliff allowed me to rebuild his computers, cook him meals and do his shopping. I would tidy his house, sort his mail and charge the batteries in his wheelchair. I never had any doubt that I was valuable to him.

By the end of his life Social Services would no longer work with him. He would rage and throw things at them. I had the keys to his flat, became his next of kin and his sole carer. When Cliff died I organised his funeral – at 17. His estranged family didn’t come.

Short Safeguarding Note: For those of you with Spidey senses tingling (rightly so), my parents kept up a relationship with Cliff themselves and kept a closer eye than I was aware of.

 

Cliff’s Guide to Youth Work

In terms of healthy boundaries, this might not be the ideal job description for a youth worker. It does however, give us two very clear principles for youth work:

1. Show young people that you genuinely value your time with them.

Don’t fake it, don’t milk it and don’t try to be one of them. Just like them, and like hanging out with them. Show them extravagant acts of love. Don’t know how – here’s 55 ideas!

2. Give them clear genuine responsibility.

Young people don’t want to be consumers, they are wired for producing. Simple entertainment-driven youth work is now going to way of the dodo – and good riddance to bad sugar-fueld nonsense!

Get them to run things, to work on things, to lead things, to learn things, to research things, to design their own programs, to tell you what they want to learn about and to help teach each other. Let them know that they’re valuable because they are valuable, not because they boost your youth group numbers.

Let’s learn from Cliff and take the words value, extravagance and genuineness to their youth work ideals.

Thank you Cliff.

8 easy tips for small group dynamics

8 easy tips for small group dynamics

Part 3 of a 3 part podcast on ‘Small Group Dynamics.’

 

You can find part 1 here: http://wp.me/p4r1vu-Dy

& Part 2 here: http://wp.me/p4r1vu-DH

You can find a transcript and sources on my blog here: http://www.timgough.co/the-awkward-bunch-small-group-dynamics-in-youth-work/