Thursday, April 30, 2009

Good Thoughts

I came across these thoughts on youth ministry on the "More Than Dodgeball" blog I read often. I really enjoyed what he had to say and thought he did a great job explaining youth ministry. Just thought I'd share them here:

-They’re aren’t really any typical weeks - every day is completely different from the last.
- Youth ministry is called on most at both ends of the spectrum - when things are good and when things are really bad.
- We minister in extremes - when marriage is at an extreme, and the kids are about to face their parents’ divorce. When a life is at an extreme, we’re at the emergency room or performing the funeral.
- Youth ministry is focused on essentially an extreme age group - when students are figuring themselves out and parents are at the most challenging point in relating to them.
- Youth ministry is about asking a student to give over total control of their life to Jesus - an absolute extreme.
- We ask students to be baptized, to demonstrate their faith to their friends, family and the world at the time when peer-pressure and image are the most crucial in their life.
- Extreme pressure and expectations - from senior pastors, staff, parents and from yourself.
- Extreme hours, extreme emotions, extreme work. Youth ministry seems to be about pushing everything to the limit.
- So why would anyone want to do it? Seems like a nice, safe, well-paying nine-to-five is more what people look for in life.
Extreme fulfillment. Wouldn’t want to do anything else.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday Monday

- Was able to spend some time with my mom, brother, nephew, and niece this weekend. It was good to have them with us. My mom made her famous macaroni salad ... my belly is full of macaroni salad!

- I spent some time on Saturday being involved in something called NAC (Nurturing Abilities for Christ). Our church hosted the last NAC rally of the year. I grew up being involved in NAC. From 8th grade to 12th grade I was involved in things like Bible quizzing, drama, and puppets. I quizzed on a national level twice and the puppet team I was on came in 1st and 2nd place nationally two separate years. Being involved in NAC had such a strong impact on my life. I still remember much of what I studied through Bible quizzing and the relationships the I built on the drama teams and puppet teams were very strong. It was cool to see another NAC rally on Saturday and hope that the teenagers that were involved will have the same great memories from NAC that I have.

- I read on that a cruise ship fought off pirates. Am I the only one to think that it's crazy that we still have pirates floating around out there!

- I'll be running my half marathon this Saturday. Can't wait! After eating all of that macaroni salad, I think a half marathon is just what I need!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wednesday Wrap Up

Topic: Surviving Your Family
The "Big" Idea: There's hope in the hard times
Student Involvement: We had kids playing on the worship band, greeting, working the cafe, passing out Bibles, taking pictures, and working the lights, computer, and sound equipment.
Attendance: 179 with 3 first time visitors.
Worship Set: One Way, Salvation is Here, and Glory to God.
Fun Stuff: We had the Impossible Shot in the gym, showed a funny video I got from Doug Fields (a voice-over of a cartoon version of David vs. Goliath) and we also used Poll Everywhere again in our lesson.
Bible Verses: Genesis 4:8, Genesis 19:6 - 8, Philippians 4:19
Lesson Review: We spent some time looking at how to get through the difficult times in our family. As much as I know we have kids in our youth ministry who come from great homes, I also know we have kids in our youth ministry who are coming from troubled homes. The "Poll Everywhere" questions revealed that 58% of the ones polled come from divorced homes and 36.5% of the ones polled said that they would describe their homelife as "difficult." I tried to speak hope in to those kids and also give the kids who come from good homes some tools they can use to help friends who may be going through some difficult things in their family. My 4 "offers" of hope were: 1) You're Not Alone. 2) It's Not Your Fault. 3) God Has Not Abandoned You. 4) Take It to God. Our parents were never meant to take the place of God in our life, but they were meant to fulfill a significant role in our lives. Sometimes that role goes unfulfilled which leaves us with some pretty deep longings. I tried to encourage the kids to take those longings to God. Our God knows exactly what we need (Matthew 6:8) and will meet all of our needs through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:19).
Personal Thoughts: First, our worship band ROCKS! As I was listening to them and worshipping with them, my thoughts were "Our teenagers are so fortunate to have a band that loves to lead worship, that have great hearts, and are really, super good at doing it. I am so thankful for Jeremy and all he does to lead our kids.
Secondly, our kids seemed very distracted both in middle and high school. Lots of talking going on and we seemed to have adults walking around everywhere trying to quiet some students down. I, of course, immediately began to feel self-conscious and had to work through some of my own insecurities (Am I boring them to death?!). Nothing like teenagers to bring out your insecurities! :) Going in to the lesson I knew that this would not apply to every teenager and that it could be hard for some of our kids to stay "focused." But, afterwards I had some kids come up to me and talk about some stuff their going through. I KNOW there were some kids that needed to hear what was said on Wednesday. My own insecurities ... well ... that's my own "stuff" to work through and it's not a teenager's fault that they were creeping up in my mind Wednesday. God always seems to provide opportunities for me to find confidence in Him and NOT in my ability to keep a kid's attention. It's a fine line to walk because, as a speaker, I need to use the various tools in my "belt" to keep our kids' attention and to draw them in to the lesson ... but if they pay attention it doesn't make me a "better" person and if they don't pay attention it doesn't make me "less" of a person. Welcome to the insecurities of Rich Yauger. :) lol

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Prayer Today

We are wrapping up our axis series called "Surviving Your Family" and I've really been burdened for the students in our ministry that are struggling at home. Just as I know we have kids that come from awesome homes, I also know that we have kids who come from bad homes. I've been praying for those kids today and asking God that axis would be "home" for every kid that comes. I prayed that our kids would feel safe and secure and loved and accepted. If we are showing them that ... we are showing them God, our perfect Heavenly Father.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday Monday

- I met with my small group of teenagers yesterday afternoon. It was one of the best small groups we've had. We just had a really cool combination of connecting, studying, and praying. We had fun. We joked. We studied the Bible. It was just one of those meetings I left thinking: "Yeah, this is why I'm in youth ministry."

- I learned a few things from the house project that we did last week.

1. I'm not and never will be good at building or construction.
2. My father-in-law and brother-in-law are amazing at building and construction!
3. I had to swallow some "male pride" throughout the week. When there was "man work" to do ... I didn't know how to do it and so my role was reduced to the simple things ... throwing things away, running out to get things, even getting lunch ready for them. It just strikes a blow to the "male ego." But, what I learned is that in a "big picture project" everyone has a role. My role was NOT to build. If it were, the floors would be crooked, uneven, and probably held together with duct tape. My role was to support which meant there were times I'd get lunch ready. There were times I'd be with the kids. There were times I'd run out to get something. There were times when I'd load or unload. In the "big picture" those things needed to be done in order for the project to get done. I could have let my pride get in the way ... my male ego dictate what I would or would not do ... but that would have hurt the project as a whole. I had to be comfortable with what my role was. That's probably a good lesson to apply in life, in church, in work ... whatever it may be. I feel like one of my strengths is being a "role player" ... helping the team in whatever way I can. I hope I never lose that by letting my pride get in the way.

- Two weeks and counting until the half-marathon. My training was definately messed up last week. I only ran once, so I was sure to get up early today and go for a 5 mile run. It felt pretty good, but I could tell I only ran once last week. I'm excited about reaching this goal in just 11 more days!

- My new favorite salad is a salad that Carol has been making lately with dried cranberries, raisins, grapes, and cashews. She uses baby spinach and then puts a low fat sweet and sour dressing on it. If you're looking for a good salad ... that's the way to go!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Youth Ministry in the Summer

One of the difficulties I've had in youth ministry is figuring out what to do in the summer. I've been here for 7 years and EACH year ... whether we had 10 kids or 200 kids our numbers have dropped significantly in the summer. For instance, last year we would typically run 150 between middle and high school. In the summer, and I mean, as soon as school was out, we dropped to 50 kids. I haven't been able to figure out if it's just the nature of the "beast" or if it's something I'm doing.

Right now we drop our normal Wednesday night programming. We still meet, but we combine middle and high school throughout the summer. I've found that we lose a little bit of momentum during the summer months and it's usually a month in to the school year before I don't feel that way about axis any longer. Tentatively, here is an overview of what I'm planning to do this summer:

1. Keep our small groups meeting. I'll definately encourage my small group leaders to meet with their kids twice a month.

2. Have a "typical" axis meeting the first Wednesday of every month, but keep middle and high school combined for the summer.

3. Use the Link once a week for grade specific "community" building activities.

4. Keep in touch with ALL axis students throughout the summer through texting and facebook.

5. Be very intential with our student leaders ... taking them on local outreach events, getting them to serve in various ways, and meeting with them regularly. We'll also use the summer to plan for the fall.

6. Of course, go to the Momentum Conference.

7. Be spontaneous.

What am I missing? If anyone has any thoughts on what you do in your youth ministry, I'd love to know.

Wednesday Wrap Up

Topic - Surviving Your Family
The "Big" Idea - You can choose to win or choose to lose in your family
Student Involvement - We had kids greeting, passing out prizes, doing announcements, working in the tech room, playing in the worship band, working the cafe, taking pictures, running our video camera, passing out Bibles, reading Scripture, and giving testimonies.
Attendance - 177 with 7 first time visitors
Worship Set - Sing, Sing, Sing by Chris Tomlin, Glory to God by Steve Fee, and We Are the Redeemed by Steve Fee.
Fun Stuff - We wanted to help kids overcome the "post spring break blues" so we did a ton of prize give-a-ways ... anything from Lucky Charms to Target gift cards. Surprisingly ... the boxes of cereal we gave away received the loudest rounds of applause! Also, during the lesson, we used "Poll Everywhere" ... a program that allows you to take "text" polls with real time results. Our kids really seemed to get in to that. The website is
Bible Verses - Ephesians 6:1 - 4, Proverbs 12:18, 1 Timothy 5:8, and Ephesians 4:31 - 32
Lesson Review - For some, the word "family" can be a happy word and a sad word. It can bring up so many different memories ... some good and some bad. Statistics still show that our family, in particular our parents, still have one of the largest influences on teenagers. Sometimes that influence is positive and other times it's negative. But, we just wanted to take some time to talk about family life and how students can "Survive Their Family." When I talk with parents, I talk about the responsibilities that parents have in the family. When I talk to teenagers, I talk about the responsibilities that teenagers have in the family. I've heard enough "horror" stories to know that parents often blame teenagers and teenagers often blame parents ... sometimes justifiably, but many times it comes down to personal responsibility ... am I following Biblical guidelines when it comes to my family?
Many of the lesson thoughts came from something on the family that Doug Fields developed. I enjoyed his thoughts and adapted much if it for myself. But, I did use 3 of his ideas: 1. You can tear down and lose or build up and win with your words. 2. You can be ungrateful and lose or be thankful and win. 3. You can be bitter and lose or forgive and win. I basically just tried to challenge our students to look at their own personal responsbility in their families and that the Bible tells them to honor and respect their parents. I gave them certain challenges to follow during the week that would help them to show their parents honor, respect, and thankfulness.
Personal Thoughts - My niece from CT was visiting for the week and so she was able to come to axis with us. As we talked on the way home she told me how much she enjoyed being there. That made me feel good and it, again, made me extremely grateful for our church and our youth ministry.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Top 10's in Teen Culture

Movies 4/10/2009 - 4/12/2009
1. Hannah Montana The Movie, $34 mil
2. Fast & Furious, $28.8 mil
3. Monsters vs. Aliens, $22.6 mil
4. Observe and Report, $11.1 mil
5. Knowing, $6.7 mil
6. I Love You, Man, $6.4 mil
7. The Haunting in Connecticut, $5.7 mil
8. Dragonball Evolution, $4.7 mil
9. Adventureland, $3.4 mil
10. Duplicity, $3 mil
Source: Box Office Mojo

Video Games Week of 4/13/2009
1. Resident Evil 5
2. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
3. Guitar Hero Metallica
4. The Sims 3
5. Batman: Arkham Asylum
6. Bioshock 2
7. Call of Duty: World at War
8. Diablo 3
9. Final Fantasy XIII
10. Ghostbusters: The Video Game

Radio Airplay (Top 40 Category) Issue Date 4/10/2009
1. Flo Rida - Right Round
2. Lady Gaga - Poker Face
3. All-American Rejects - Gives You Hell
4. Kelly Clarkson - My Life Would Suck Without You
5. T.I. w/ Justin Timberlake - Dead and Gone
6. The Fray - You Found Me
7. Soulja Boy Tell'em - Kiss Me Thru The Phone
8. Britney Spears - Circus
9. Pink - Sober
10. Black Eyed Peas - Boom Boom Pow

Source: Radio & Records

Downloaded Songs Week of 4/13/2009
1. Black Eyed Peas - Boom Boom Pow
2. Miley Cyrus - The Climb
3. Lady GaGa - Poker Face
4. Flo Rida - Right Round
5. Miley Cyrus - Hoedown Throwdown
6. Soulja Boy Tell 'Em - Kiss Me Thru the Phone
7. Kid Cudi - Day 'n' Nite
8. The Fray - You Found Me
9. The All-American Rejects - Gives You Hell
10. Taylor Swift - Crazier
Source: iTunes

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Book Review: Refuel

Just finished the newest book by Doug Fields called REFUEL. It was a very easy, but also very profound read on how to 1) Stop 2) Be Quiet 3) Make a Connection. The basic premise is that spiritual emptiness is universal even for the people filling up churches. It can happen very quickly. We often don't notice it until it's too late because we were trying to fill that spiritual emptiness with things other than God ... which will ALWASY leave us empty. The book talks about making connections with God throughout the day ... to stop what you're doing, be quiet and allow the Holy Spirit to talk to you, and then make a connection with God somehow either by reading His word, meditating on a Bible verse, or talking with Him. The more we do that throughout the day, the more we'll be purusing God and allowing Him to work in our lives. That will create a desire for more connections and even extended periods of time connecting with God.
I often fall in to a trap of thinking that the more I read the Bible, the better I am. The problem that I've run in to with that is that, many times, I've read the Bible and went for "quantity" and then totally forgot what I read or didn't really spend time thinking and reflecting on it. I am desiring to meditate more on His word ... to focus more on what I'm reading and not be so worried about how many chapters I read. I want to make connections with God every day and allow those connections to be deep, intimate times.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book and thought that it had some really good principles to apply.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday Monday

- I'm still pretty much blown away by what God did yesterday at our services ... still trying to soak it all in ... still trying to believe it all really happened. I left amazed at God and, once again, thankful to be a part of this church ... a small part of His Church. I believe we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 235 decisions yesterday. Being a pastor here I get a front row seat to the eyes of people. Some were crying, some were smiling from ear to ear. Some, you could tell, were bringing a lot of weight to Jesus to carry. But, 235 people are now on a path to growing in a relationship with God. Jim spoke on the true cost of following Jesus ... what it means to sacrifice, what it means to "take up your cross," what it means to walk the "narrow road." It definately wasn't a cheery "you can go to heaven" message by any means ... but people still responded. And, I remember praying for all of those people that this day would truly be the day they entered in to a growing relationship with God. I can't wait to see how God "grows" them up.

- We started the message with the AC/DC song "Highway to Hell." OK, even as I typed that last sentence, I still had to look at it and laugh. Never thought I'd be saying "We started the message with the AC/DC song 'Highway to Hell.'" But, honestly, it was the perfect song to start this message. When Jim read the words and basically said, "Some of you are on the highway to hell" you could have heard a pin drop in the place. I'm reminded of the verse in Genesis (and, yes, I realize it's taken completely out of context) "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." I don't think AC/DC wrote that song so people would understand that there really is a hell ... but God used that song to make it perfectly clear to people here yesterday.

- We also had our Easter Egg Hunt/Helicopter drop. 25,000 eggs spread out all over our property ... 400 Old Navy flip flops dropped from a helicopter for teenagers ... it was AWESOME! As a church, we realized that an Easter Egg hunt with prize give-a-ways is a good way to reach children, but we also really wanted to do something to reach teenagers as well. So, we thought of dropping things from a helicopter. We had a few hundred teenagers alone jumping, scratching, clawing all in an effort to get some flip flops. We also attached other really cool prize coupons to some of the flip flops ... ipod Touch coupons, cash, gift cards, etc. It was a blast. We probably had over 5000 people on our property ... people from all different nationalities and all different walks of life. Something we really believe as a church is if we, as a church left, would we be missed? We're not planning on leaving, but if we did, we want there to be a HUGE void in the community. That's why we try to do everything we can to reach this town and to be a light to people who need Jesus. On a side note, it was Ezra's first Easter Egg hunt. He loved it! I had so much fun being on the 1-2 year old field and watching him go for eggs. Man, I love being a dad!

- Some personal stuff ... the basement project is well underway right now. We're getting a new floor due to some major water damage we had last month. It definately wasn't something we were planning on doing, but it needed to be done. So, I'm happy we have the opportunity to do it. Carol's dad and brother are out helping ... well, not really helping. They're basically doing all of the work! I'm the "grunt labor" and they're the "skilled labor." :) It should be finished by the end of the week.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tech Stuff

I've recently come across three things that have really helped me in the "technological" world of youth ministry. Well, two things that have really helped me and one I'm still thinking about.

1. Simply Text. Unless you've been away for like the past few years, texting is definately the best way to make a contact with students. I have over 150 student contacts in my phone and when I used to send out group messages, it was quite the process. I had to create different groups. Each group could only have 10 contacts in it. So, with 16 groups, I'd have to forward the same message to each group. It was a process that would take at least 15 minutes. I recently signed up for Simply Text, though, and really enjoy it. It has made texting (especially group texting) so much easier for me. It allows me to do it right from my computer and sending out group messages is as simple as typing the message and then hitting "send." No more forwarding to a bazillion different groups. Here's a link that will tell you more about it:

2. Xobni. This is a program that downloads directly to Microsoft Outlook. Some how, some way, it keeps track of EVERY email in your outlook folders and, if you ever need to search for an email, you simply type in the person you're looking for, and Xobni brings it right up. It also keeps track of emails sent and how many you have sent to different people. It has a handy "facebook" page too. It's been very helpful. Here's a link for more info:

3. Prezi. This is a "new" way to do presentations. It's much more creative than Power Point and has a ton of really cool ways to bring up notes and pictures, etc. that could be pretty cool to use while I'm teaching. I haven't "officially" used it yet, but I'm doing some research and contemplating beginning to use it. Here's a link:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Embarrassing Moment

If you don't like gross stories, you may want to stop reading now. If you don't mind, well, forgive me for being "open." :)

So, as I've mentioned before, I'm training for a half marathon right now. I'll be running it May 2nd. The thing you don't hear much about when you start running for longer distances is ... well ... nipple chaffing. As Andy from The Office has so wisely said: "I'm terrified of nipple chaffing." When you start to run longer distances, your t-shirt just continues to rub and rub and rub against your nipples. After awhile, the "rubbing" starts to have negative effects. Saturday I ran 9 miles and, well, lets just say my nipples were "raw" by the end of the run and bleeding. Oh my word, it is surprisingly painful! Well, I had Sunday to heal up and thought everything was fine UNTIL I go to the gym Monday afternoon and run on the treadmill (because it was really cold outside). I was wearing a white t-shirt. About 10 minutes in to my run, my nipples started to bleed again and so, here I am, in the middle of a crowded gym, running on a treadmill, with two big, red spots of blood RIGHT over my nipples. I had a choice: STOP because of the embarrassment and just go home OR suck it up and finish the run. I'm happy to say I finished the run, bloody nipples and all ... but walked to the locker room as fast as I could NOT making eye contact with anybody.

The video below is not the greatest quality, but will give you some insight as to what I was going through. :)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday Monday

- Had the opportunity to preach yesterday at church. I spent time in Luke 19 looking at Palm Sunday and the things Jesus did on or around that day. With 6 days left He lived out His passions. Bill Hybels describes passion as something that grabs you by the throat and won't let you go until you do something about it. Anyway, we looked at how Jesus was passionate about reaching the outcast ... those no one else is reaching (story of Zaccheus). We lookved at how Jesus was passionate about using US to do His work (story of the talents). And, we looked at how Jesus is passionate about BEING worshipped (triumphal entry). He's the only one truly worthy of our worship and He loves is when we say "Jesus, you're the star of the show." The challenge was to think about if we only had 6 days left to live (like Jesus did at this time) how would we spend those 6 days? If we spent them living out the passions of Jesus, it would probably be the best 6 days of our life! I woke up this morning asking Jesus to give me His passions.

- I also woke up this morning to a couple inches of snow. Yuck! I like snow, but not in April.

- Shop "vac'ed" another 5 or 6 gallons of water from the basement last night. It's getting fixed this weekend and this weekend can't come soon enough for me! I've been becoming WAY too familiar with my Shop Vac.

- Did a 9 mile run this weekend. It was a little more difficult than I was expecting, but was able to finish it. I have a 10 mile run scheduled for Saturday and only 4 weeks left before the half marathon. I'm actually looking forward to it!

- Miscellaneous Information for the Day: I was talking to a friend of my who has some cows. He told me that their cows poop 90 pounds of poop A DAY! Oh my word! That's a lot of poop!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mega Churches

Here are some interesting "stats" on mega churches in the U.S.

Megachurches – Protestant congregations that draw 2,000 or more adults and children in a typical weekend (attendance not membership) – show considerable consistency over the past eight years.

They continue to:
• Grow in size
• Lead the way as America's most multi-ethnic class of church
• Show a strong bias toward contemporary worship
• Remain minimally involved in politics.

However, they also are institutions in transition.

They are now:
• Offering more worship services and expanding to multiple-locations
• Shifting to playing a greater role in community service
• Decreasing their use of radio and television
• Putting greater emphasis on the role of small groups.

These are some of the most salient findings of a national study of America's roughly 1,200 megachurches with approximately one third returning a usable response to an eight-page, 150-question survey that was fielded between February and August, 2008, with comparison given to similar (but non-longitudinal) national studies in 2000 and 2005.

For a full review of the survey, go to

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Little Guy

Here are a few pics of Ezra. He's becoming quite the guitar player, as you'll see.

My Baby Girl

Just thought I'd take a second to share a few pictures of Mercy. I know I'm biased, but she's absolutely the most beautiful baby girl in the world! As you'll notice, she's become a thumb sucker.

Wednesday Wrap Up

Topic: The Last Week of Jesus' Life
The "Big" Idea: Live your life with urgency.
Student Involvement: We had kids running sound, lighting, and media. We also have kids working in our cafe, greeting at the door, passing out information afterwards, playing on the worship team, and had one student give an announcement about a new prayer group we are trying to start up.
Fun Stuff: A game called "Dude, Where's My Chair" (Thanks Dave N. and the CE National meeting). It's like musical chairs except you blindfold students.
Attendance: 182
Bible Verses: Matthew 23:23 - 24, John 13: 1 - 4, and Luke 23:39 - 43.
Lesson Review: We actually had a guest speaker at axis (Darin Holsopple) and he did a great job of communicating how Jesus lived out the last week of His life. He showed that Jesus was passionate about serving, reaching the lost, and caring about justice, mercy, and faithfulness. He challenged us to live our lives with urgency and WHAT would that look like if we only had a week to live.

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