Ministry can be a lot of work, no matter what situation you currently find yourself in (for me it's balancing full-time ministry, jr. high drama, being a wife and mother, being pregnant, and taking time to relax and maybe even clean the house every now and then).
So to say I had help this year would be pure craziness because I had a TON of help. And I thought it might be good to share some of these "saves" in ministry that I frequently take for granted. I'll jot these down in rant-like fashion. They aren't in any particular order or inclusive by any means. (There is so much out there!) I'm sure many of these helps will be my friend (and yours) for years to come.
Fun Elements- No matter how much my creative juices are flowing, sometimes, I can't think of a great crowd game or small group experience to go with what we're teaching. My first stop for random and free ideas is Egad Ideas. Be careful though, if you're a little A.D.D. you may get lost in the massiveness of the ideas base.
Text Messaging- We use Simply Text to communicate to our students and leaders. Let's face it, people don't respond to emails like before. It's frustrating and annoying when they get returned. But texting, well, that's a different story! It's been great to communicate so quickly and get feedback in the same way.
A Middle School Ministry Book- This is probably the most helpful book I've read this year. It's good stuff whether you work with middle school students or not.
Other People's Blogs- Josh Griffin, I don't know when you sleep. But you give us so much to work with--I love that you freely share all of the stuff that goes on your ministry. So many churches don't have the staff, the time, or the resources to dream up half of the stuff that your team comes up with, you've certainly helped me out this year. So thanks buddy and happy blogging.
Youth Specialties Website- This organization has kept me going since I started in youth ministry. The stuff they provide is fuel for my ministry tank. Most recently it's been the Real World Parent's newsletter that is pouring into our local ministry where we want to provide more helps for parents. Thank YS for doing what you've always done, love and equip us youth leaders.
CIY (Christ in Youth)- I'm ready to go this spring and summer with an awesome retreat lined up (Jr. High Believe) and a great mission trip (Know Sweat) for our middle school students. I needed something that I didn't have to coordinate on my own since I'll have a newborn to take care of this year. I've previewed some of their events this year and was really impressed with what goes on. I'm looking forward to joining my kids in some amazing experiences this spring and summer.
YouTube- Need I explain?
Igniter and Bluefish- Stuff from these sites keep our worship services fresh, relevant, challenging. Amena Brown's spoken word pieces have been my favorite this year. She is amazing and the student's listen to her voice.
FYI (Fuller Youth Institute)- Kara Powell and her team are killers, in every good sense of the word...seriously, my heroes. I love thinking grown-up thoughts that are researched based and practically motivated about youth ministry. What they provide is awesome and I soak up everything they have to give.
My Crew- There's no link on this one. Having a group of people who get you and get what you do is priceless. My ministry circle has been the most inspiring and encouraging support I've had all year. They keep me laughing, they keep me on my toes asking hard questions, but most of all they are supportive in ways that no one else can be. If you don't have a group, a network, a posse of sorts, find one. You'll be glad you did.
My Family- What would I do without a husband who has been volunteering in my youth ministry for over a decade? Having a guy who understands my "after youth group vents", laughs at me when I'm losing my mind over what to do about the kid to punched his buddy in a dodge ball argument, and supports me when I'm truly frustrated or sad is one of the biggest gifts someone could give me. I thank God every day for family who understand why I love ministry so much.
I hope some of this will be helpful to you in 2010. Merry Christmas youth ministry family. You're the best.