Virtual Youth Group 2020

In this article your Cadre Missionaries friends (including Mark, Rachel, Dave and Rennie) are going to frame out a plan to keep youth ministry running during this COVID-19 crisis.

Our world is scrambling to figure out how to convert their business and lifestyle onto a digital platform. A lifestyle that includes the requirement of this new reality—social distancing, isolation, and sheltering in place. This is also true for churches and youth ministries. Regardless of your position on live-streaming youth group or church services, we must think beyond simply re-creating what was and look to what is…

Our role has not changed from what it was two months ago. We are shepherds. We are to live, model, and multiply a disciplemaking way of life. Jesus modeled for his disciples the identity of a servant. The identity we embrace impacts what we multiply.

Live, Model, and Multiply a Disciplemaking Way of Life.

1. Live disciplemaking with those you are sheltering with today.

2. Model for others connected to your ministry. Remember this includes students, youth leaders and parents—help them to lift their eyes above their current circumstances. Help them to see how they can leverage this new reality to become friends who follow Jesus together. Invite them into your disciplemaking way of life and find ways to stay connected.

3. Multiply a disciplemaking way of life as we step out of the spotlight. Encourage, resource and support students and their families to follow Jesus together in the new patterns of their COVID-19 life. This includes both their shelter in place buddies as well as those they can reach out to digitally.

Here are a few ideas for living, modeling and multiplying a disciplemaking way of life even in a season of “shelter-in-place.” Pick one that fits you best—then model and implement this as a disciplemaking strategy. Then pick a second one and repeat the process. Begin spreading your own disciplemaking virus.

Learn from your students: What are they already doing? Let them teach you. A teenager’s drive for community and ingenuity can be an amazing resource. Discover what they are already doing and help them to connect this as a disciplemaking friendship.

Connect with your students: Don’t miss the daily opportunity to reach into a virtual connection with one or more of the students Don’t underestimate the power of a phone call not just a text or message app.

YouVersion Bible App: Start a new reading plan. Listen to it with your shelter in place community. Invite students, volunteer leaders and families to join you. Utilize the comment and prayer features.

Breakfast & Bible Study: Start inviting people to join you for a virtual meal. Use FaceTime groups, zoom, or your favorite video messaging platform. While eating and catching up, share a verse or two that God is using in your life right now. Pray together. Encourage them to invite someone to join them for a future meal.

Pray: “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God” (Philippians 1:3). Pray through your contacts. Message them—tell them you are praying for them. Share with them your prayer. Ask them how you can be praying for them. Encourage them to pray and reach out to their contacts.

Group study sessions: School is hard enough for some students, shifting to online classes has made things even more difficult. What if you were to host a digital study hall. This allows students to get help from each other on assignments. What if your students were to host virtual tutoring sessions? They could FaceTime with families who have middle school or grade school kids, and help them with their assignments. There are parents out there would would appreciate some extra help with teaching.

One Another Secret Missions: Each day take a one another command from the Bible and text it as a secret mission to your contacts. Tell them to be creative, and to come up with ways to overflow with God’s love through this one another command. Ask them to report back. How did it go living this out with their family and digital friends?

Don’t forget to have fun: Years ago, Rachel and I dated long-distance. We played boardgames, watched movies, got McDonald’s ice cream together – over the phone. What could it look like to do this today? Be creative, have fun, and encourage students and families to host long distance gatherings.

What additional ideas has this list sparked? Add them to your list by writing them down and sharing them. More importantly—give them a try.

Remember, your role has not changed. You are a servant-shepherd who is to live, model, and multiply a disciplemaking way of life. Keep following Jesus with your list of contacts and circle of influence. Equip them to see this world through Jesus’ eyes. Send them to follow Jesus together with their shelter in place community and their circle of influence. Yes, we can spread disciplemaking even as we shelter-in-place. Thanks for joining us, as we follow Jesus together. 

Binge Disciplemaking?

Because of the Coronavirus, it looks like we’ll all be a little more sequestered for the time being. And if you’re like most people, you’ll spend much of that time binge-watching Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, etc. (Or, maybe you’re the person who loves watching funny cat videos on YouTube.) When you’re finished binge-watching, consider this: How can you make the most of this situation?

What if I told you that in the middle of this world-wide concern about the Coronavirus, God has given a gift to you—a window of time with your family and closest friends. And right now, none of us know how long this will last. 

Where can you start in making the most of this opportunity? Step #1 of The Disciplemaking Genius of Jesus is Time With (TW) people. Think about it. You can’t make disciples like Jesus if you don’t strategically invest time together with family and friends. Under normal circumstances, we’re all so busy, we don’t have time to be with people. All of a sudden, our various gatherings are being canceled. Many of us now have unexpected time together—at least for the moment. 

As I write this, Stacy and I are at Dave and Rennie Garda’s house for two days enjoying their friendship, sharing Scripture, praying, drinking great coffee, sharing meals, and working together on Cadre stuff. We are having so much fun too. Normally we’re out doing disciplemaking training experiences around the country on weekends. And it’s not just us. We just called home to our three daughters to check in. They are playing a board game. On Saturday morning—what?

How long will this window of opportunity for engaging in disciplemaking friendships with family and friends last? No one really knows. But let’s agree to NOT be like funny man Dustin Nickerson:

All that to ask this: 

How can you seize this window of opportunity for disciplemaking friendships?

To that end, we’d like to do something fun and practical especially for our friends like you who track with Cadre Missionaries. Here’s a FREE four-page PDF download that you can print and share with your family and friends.

Hint: See page 4 of the cadre 2020 corona pdf for your special CV19 discount code.

Who loves you? Jesus and your Cadre Missionaries—that’s who…

Tools to help you make the most of unexpected time together… Click here to get our free 4 page PDF—LINK: cadre 2020 corona

You Have More In Common with Gen Z Than You Think.

There is a lot being said right now about Gen Z (Gen Z: The Hand They Have Been Dealt | Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs, and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation). But we need to be careful as we do a deep dive into what makes this generation tick. Our preoccupation with the uniqueness of this generation, might actually isolate us from them instead of drawing us to them. You probably have more in common with Gen Z than you realize.

I believe each generation must travel along the same path in their engagement with God or estrangement from Him. They are navigating the reality of sin, brokenness, relationships, their own internal wiring and development, and the culture they live in. This is often referred to as the human condition. While each generation will have a unique twist to this journey, I believe there is more in common between the generations than there are distinctions.

About a year ago, I was having a conversation with a group of veteran youth leaders – whom I highly respect. One of them, who does ministry on the west coast, was asked, “You’ve been doing ministry with middle school students for a long time. What new issues / trends are you seeing in this generation?” The question seemed to catch this youth leader off guard a little. He thought for a second and then responded, “Yes, I suppose there are some new issues these kids are facing, but after eighteen years of working with middle school students I’ve realized that the kids today are dealing with the same issues that the kids eighteen years ago were dealing with.”

Last week, I spoke with a science teacher in our public high school. This teacher said to me, “After thirty-four years of teaching, I’ve noticed that they are still the same kids. The only difference is their earbuds. They are lonely. They retreat into their screens.”

What can we can do for this generation? How can we connect with them:

  • Pray through a list of the teenagers in your life. Ask God to give you compassion and empathy toward them. Ask him to help you hear the beat of their heart.
  • Take a genuine interest in these students. What are their passions, talents, and interests. What do they think about? What do they worry about? 
  • Part of being a teenager is navigating a sense of loneliness – help them to realize they are loved and known by God and by you.
  • Use your favorite App to jot down notes about them and remind you to message them.
  • Pray for them and the important things in their life – let them know you are praying for them.

God designed this life around relationships – with him and with each other. Lean into this journey of becoming friends (with your teenagers) who follow Jesus together.

We would love to encourage and equip you in this journey of building Christ centered relationships with teenagers.

Training: Ministry is Relationships | Resources: One Another Living Guide | You can even email me with your questions: mark@cadremissionaries.com

From Sticky-Notes to Friendship

Sticky Notes

As a custodian, it is never fun to walk into a classroom only to see paper and trash littered everywhere. One classroom had sticky notes all over the floor, on the desks, and in the trash cans. These little pieces of paper with adhesive do not like to be sucked up by a vacuum, so I had to go around and pick up each individual piece of paper – not happy.

Not happy, until I read what was on these pieces of paper and noticed what was written on the board at the front of the room. “That’s Gold Jerry! Gold!” I almost yelled to the empty desks. These students were dividing up their lives into different categories and creating questions they could ask others in order to help them know the beat of each other’s heart. This sounded familiar:

How would you or your students title the slices of their lives? Here are a few categories I noticed these kids were using: 

  • School
  • Friends
  • Personal Identity
  • Pets

What questions would you come up with? What would you ask to better understand the beat of your students’ hearts? What questions would the other volunteer youth leaders come up with? How about the students themselves? 

Here are a few of my favorite questions that these students developed:

  • Do you often feel alone?
  • Do you have a pet at home that you sleep with?
  • Do you feel pressure from your peers to perform well?
  • Does spending time with friends relieve stress?
  • Do you feel that school prepares us for the real world?
  • On a scale of 1-10 (hard to easy) how hard is it to find the motivation to do your homework?
  • Do you feel like there are people you fit in with at school?
  • Do you feel comfortable sharing personal thoughts with at least one parent?
  • How many days do you eat breakfast in an average week?
  • How does social media effect your mental health?

Send me an email: mark@cadremissionaries.com to see the full list. I will also share with you how I’ve used questions like these to create activities to help build community within our youth group.

Why your New Year's resolutions were a bust, and what you can do about it.

Are you sick and tired of making New Year’s resolutions you can’t keep? Here are seven we bet you can:

1.  To gain weight-at least 15 pounds.
2.  To stop exercising
3.  To read less.
4.  To watch more TV.
5.  To procrastinate more…starting tomorrow.
6.  To get further into debt.
7.  To spread out priorities beyond your ability to keep track of them.

On second thought, you may want to read the rest of this article before you make any more New Year’s resolutions…even easy ones!

A Prayer for the end of January

For the overwhelming majority of us who will make yet one more New Year’s resolution that starts on January 1st, I offer you the following prayer for the end of January:

Dear God,
I want to thank you for being close to me so far this year.  With your help, I haven’t been impatient, lost my temper, been grumpy, judgmental or envious of anyone.  But I will really need your help soon because I’m about to get out of bed.
Amen

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Resolve Doesn’t Mean Results

We make resolutions on New Year’s Day to become better people. Our hearts are often in the right place, but somehow, our resolve doesn’t quite translate into results. Research on New Year’s resolutions indicates that:

Within the first two months of the new year, 25 % of us will break our promises.

By six months, nearly 40% will have failed.

By the end of the year, approximately 82 % will be unsuccessful.

Think about your own life. Haven’t you ever made a New Year’s resolution to diet…only to gain weight? Okay, I might be projecting my issues onto you with that example, but haven’t you ever done something similar? We all start out so well, but most of us don’t finish well. As the great poet/philosopher Homer Simpson once said: “I used to rock and roll all night and party every day. Then it was every other day. Now I’m lucky if I can find a half an hour a week in which to get funky.”

Resolve Not to Make Any New Year’s Resolutions!  

While there is something in the human psyche that gravitates to new beginnings, if you really want to start this new year right, forget about making New Year’s resolutions. Don’t waste your breath huffing and puffing about how YOU are going to change yourself.  

Instead, here are 5 things that can genuinely help you make a change:

  1. Read the Bible with Cadre friends this year. You can join the community here.
  2. Get ministry leadership coaching with us.
  3. Watch this short but super helpful 3-part video series from Box of Crayons about creating rock-solid habits.
  4. Use Bill Allison’s article on Growing your SMART Plan to help you create life-changing goals.
  5. Use a podcast like Encounter to help you slow down, be still, and listen to God.
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