Operation Finish Well

I am about to share with you two of the most important things about good youth ministry, so read all the way to the end.

I know, I know. Probably 90% of you reading this live in places where school has been out for several weeks. But here in New York we find that keeping our kids in school for half of the summer is benef … no, wait, is utterly ridiculous! But, for (I am certain) politically-motivated financial reasons, most of our students are still in school.

Last year my good friend Laurie Bolton sent me an idea that she did with her students that I knew instantly I wanted to do. She delivered “study break” goodie bags to her students while they were in finals week. So, this year I went out and bought lots of junk food and little goodies, wrote a poem; we bagged them up, and divvied them up by zip codes among our team of awesome adult youth leaders who delivered the surprises to unsuspecting students. This, we called Operation Finish Well. It was awesome!

Perhaps you are a healthy food person and you are offended that we would deliver sugary goodness to our students. Someone even told me that the sugar would kill their precious brain cells, and that we should have taken them healthy snacks like fruits and veggies, etc. I get it. I understand. You’re totally right. We should have. But I had two thoughts about this … 1) We wanted our kids to be excited when they received the packages. 2) We are actually trying to help our kids learn humility. I’ve been told that the students in our area are really smart, and we think we are serving them and teaching them that they are no better than anyone else by killing off a few brain cells in order to be more average. I’m kidding, of course. lol! (Seriously, point noted.)

This whole operation highlighted two hallmarks of good youth ministry. 1) Stealing ideas, and 2) Junk food.

Feel free to re-steal (But give Laurie props for the idea!).

And feel free to give your students healthy food … which most students will consider junk food and promptly throw away. lol! (Sorry, I was in a joking-kind-of-mood writing this. I’ve been reading Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan – the funniest book I have ever read. Post about that coming soon.)IMG_3359 IMG_3362

Passing the Leadership Baton

Many of you may remember the excitement we experienced 8 months ago when our youngest daughter Natalia started the first-ever Christian Club in her middle school. All year they averaged almost 30 students in weekly attendance, and it was awesome watching the influence they had in the school and beyond. A few weeks ago, they received a Certificate of Merit from the New York State Assembly for their project of sending Valentines to Veterans which is going to be framed and displayed in the school!

After an amazing school year, yesterday we attended the final club meeting of the year. We have been so proud of our girl for all of her hard work and leadership. She assembled a great team of her peers and led them as together they led the club all year. Perhaps the most impressive part of her leadership is that right from the start she recognized that as an 8th grader this was her final year in the middle school, but she wanted the club to continue long after she was gone, so she was looking for future leaders from day one.

About 3 months ago, she and her team really started praying, watching, and talking with the younger students who had been faithful and active in the club, and who had a desire to be lights in their school. Two months ago she approached two 6th graders and asked them about the possibility of them leading next year. After they accepted, she began training them, giving them opportunities to lead, and giving them leadership feedback. Yesterday, as we celebrated a great inaugural year for the club, Natalia and her team formally handed the baton of leadership to the aforementioned students and prayed over them.

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