- Community. What’s going on in our personal lives? How can we be supporting and praying for one another? We want our team to be more than just a group of people coming together to accomplish tasks. We want to foster authentic relationships so that we can work together as friends.
- Coaching. What can we learn to make us better youth workers? What are our students facing that we need to be better equipped to deal with? How can we grow personally to be more effective instruments in God’s hands?
- Celebration. What’s been happening? How have we seen God moving in our ministry? What are the recent “wins” we’ve experienced? This is a time to hear stories from the trenches.
- Communication. What’s coming up? What do we want to see? Where are we going? How are we going to get there? What needs to be clarified? This is a time for brainstorming, calendaring, planning, asking questions, etc.
Nothing fosters family connection like when the power goes out. All of a sudden you find yourself camping in your home. Lanterns and flash lights come out along with board games and cards. Another thing I love pulling out at times like these are discussion-starter books.
Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, we were without power for fourteen days and I was able to put to good use 101 Conversation Starters for Families by Gary Chapman and Ramon Presson. As we went through the questions – some funny, some absurd, some serious – we really had did get a glimpse into one another’s lives. We had many moments of laughter and even many moments of authentic sharing and tears. Having just been through a major life-transition, there were many feelings and thoughts that the book drew out of us that otherwise could have remained buried. The opportunity grow in our ability to share openly and honestly, as well as the chance to grow as listeners was a healthy exercise that strengthened our familial bond.
I would recommend that every family pick up a copy of this book to put on their coffee table. Even after your family has gone through it once it can be utilized again. Over time answers to the same questions will change. You can also use it for conversations with friends when they come over.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
You might also like to pick up a copy of my book What Would You Do? 500 Questions to Get Teens Talking. Click here to order a signed copy directly from me for just $7 (includes shipping and handling).
I’ve been sharing different ways we’ve been trying to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy here on Long Island. I shared about my friend Brian who was working for Young Life in Long Beach. He along with many of the students he worked with lost virtually everything.
I asked Brian what we could do to help. I was expecting him to say they needed people to come down and help cleanup or bring food. While those things certainly need to be done, his answer was, “Can you just have your students write letters of hope and encouragement to our students?” So many of his students were displaced (one had to leave and go all the way to Texas to live with relatives) and they also lost their meeting spaces as they often met in homes of students.
Last Sunday night we took some time out of our regular service to have the kids all write notes to their peers. We collected them and I just put them in the mail for Brian to hand out to his students. As I looked through the letters our students wrote, I was so touched by their care and compassion. I pray the students who receive them will be as well.
If you work with students and would like to have your students write letters, you can send them to me and I will send them on to Brian. Here are a few guidelines as well as my address to send them to:
- Have boys write to boys and girls write to girls. We had our kids address their notes “Hey Dude” or “Hey Guy” or “Hey Girlfriend” or “Dear Girl” … something generic so we could differentiate.
- Invite them to be creative but sensitive. If kids are artistic, invite them to draw or paint pictures.
- Ask students not to use their last names or give personal information.
- Read through the letters before sending them to ensure that no one wrote anything insensitive, inappropriate, too personal, etc.
- Separate the letters into letters for boys and letters for girls.
- Mail to: Shelter Rock Church Attn: Kevin Mahaffy – 626 Plandome Rd., Manhasset, NY 11576
Last weekend my friend and co-pastor at Shelter Rock Church Jerry O’Sullivan and I led a team of students to New York City on an outreach. Jerry shared with the group a helpful little acronym for initiating conversations with people. Just use topics remembering the word: F.O.R.M.U.L.A.
Wednesday our staff from Shelter Rock Church went down to Long Beach to work with Samaritan’s Purse to do hurricane cleanup. We spent the day completely gutting the home of an 80 year-old woman who had no insurance. We also helped another woman load some of her belongings that were no destroyed (because she lived in a second floor apartment) into her car, and started gutting the basement of another home. Words cannot fully describe the extent of the destruction. Every home we entered had at least a 4-foot water line, and we heard stories of people who were in their attics watching as up to 15-feet of water entered their homes when the wave hit. It was overwhelming thinking about these people who in one moment lost virtually everything they owned. Please continue to pray. If you are around Long Island and would like to serve, Samaritan’s Purse offers 1/2 and full-days of volunteering.
Last Friday and Saturday Pastor Jerry and I took a team of 26 into NYC to serve at The Bowery Mission. It was 2 days of hard work including feeding hundreds of people at the Bowery, helping to unload and stock donations, and outreaches in Thompkins Square Park and Staten Island. The crew that went to Thompkins did soup and food lines for those in need, and the crew that went to Staten Island provided meals for the workers who were cleaning up from the hurricane.
The students we took are potential student leaders, and it was great getting to know them (I actually memorized all of their names!) and unpacking our experiences together. It was so refreshing to be back in my favorite city.