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Instagram and #uthmin

We are seeing a current trend and fad these days, it’s called pictures! Ever seen one? Sure you have. We see them everywhere, and in my ministry we are seeing many of our students hanging out on Instagram. Social networking is big time, and when we talk about being involved and invested in their world – Instagram is part of that.

So… here’s a couple tips and tricks on how you can utilize Instagram for you student ministry.

1. Create a Instagram for you ministry! 
You can promote it, have multiple staff/ volunteers on it taking pictures at the same time. Like and comment on student photos. The whole time in doing this, you are promoting!

2. Utilize Hashtags –  Ask students to take pictures during your event, even carve out time to do it (we do an “Instagram Moment” during our service). Ask them to #yourname. Check up on the hashtag and see all the students posting pics.
*Note: Hashtag is more public, and easier for many people to see what is happening in one place. If they just tag you, then you are the only one seeing that. Make sense? if not, comment below, and I can explain further.

3. Call to action – Like is HUGE! Commenting is better. Take pictures before your events to build anticipation. Get a random box and put something in it… “What’s in the box? Show up tonight to find out!” That will create more anticipation that might help students to invite their friends and be excited about what you have going on.

4. Use Webstagram – – A website where you can sign in with your instagram info. Comment on pictures and keep an eye on what students are saying about your pics. It’s a useful tool to keep up to date with what is happening (also, the pictures will be bigger than a phone!)
*I’m so excited to use this. We have started doing an Instagram Moment and asking them to #hazardousmsm – As students are taking pictures, I’m going to try and Like or Comment as soon as they post pictures, as quick as possible. With this site, I can search for my #hazardousmsm and then refresh the page. Easily Liking and commenting faster with my laptop then typing on my phone.

5. Have Fun – nuff said.

Let me hear how you are using Instagram, anything I missed or need to explain further? I encourage you to meet students where they are at… hang out with them there. These days, it is online.

Haz 9.12.12 – Battle Within – week2

Week number 2 into our Battle Within Series at Hazardous. I shared a deeper temptation that I had to battle in my life. Going through difficulties in life makes it hard to understand what God is doing. But years later looking back, I can see how God worked through the tough parts of my life.

Haz 9.12.12 from hazardousmsm on Vimeo.

Haz 9.5.12 – Battle Within

Hazardous kicked off on September 5, 2012 – I had the privilege of giving the first message setting up the first series called Battle Within, which is a series talking about facing temptation. Check it out, offer any critique to help me become a better communicator. Thanks!

Haz 9.5.12 1 from hazardousmsm on Vimeo.

Power in Asking

If you don’t ask, the answer is 100% of the time NO!

It is a new season of trying to scramble and find volunteers. And as someone who is passionate about students, seeing leaders coming alongside those students, seeing students grow in their relationship with Christ, students showing up and inviting their friends, and pretty much all the messy stuff that deals with students. Whew, that’s a lot of focus on students! You get my drift. Being in student ministry, it is very easy to gravitate to what we are passionate about, students.

In this volunteers season, I’ve taken on a new approach, Ask! My comfort zone is to hang out with students all the time and pray fervently to God, ‘Will You send me all the volunteers I need?’ I feel God has shifted my focus a little bit, well a lot o bit. Christ personally called 12 guys to follow Him, to be deeply involved in His ministry, set the expectations high, which gave these guys something to commit to. But Jesus started it all out by asking. Hmmm… So I think to myself, maybe I need to be a little more proactive in my approach to finding the leaders that I want in my ministry.

Over these past couple of years, I’ve built up a confidence and decided to boldly ask adults to step up to the challenge. I’ve worked with leaders of different ministries to find a possible avenue to speak to their audience. It has been a process of sitting down with key leaders and schedule a time to meet with their people. The leg work in meeting with these key leaders is completely valuable, they will open up their ministry as an opportunity for you to seek new volunteers, they will assist in promoting your need for volunteers after you chat with them, and most importantly, they will understand the vision of reaching students and be able to relate that to their audience.

My prayers are out there with you, as you are doing volunteer fairs, going to small groups, various ministries at your church to seek for volunteers. But remember this, don’t forget to Ask them to join you in ministry. Everyone wants an invitation to be part of something that is effective and changing lives, and my guess there are adults in your church that would love the opportunity to do so… so Ask them.

Hazardous Baptisms Yet again

Baptism is an outward expression of the commitment these students have made with God. Choosing to do this in an atmosphere like Hazardous is not only inspiring but courageous. 18 brave students and 1 leader in front of 400+ witnesses confessed their love and commitment to follow Jesus Christ.

The beginning of the night starts out the same, loud and proud Hazardous. Where we cover songs students hear on the radio, sing some rocking songs in an act of worship and play some messy and loud games to get everyone to smile and enjoy themselves.

It was such an awesome sight witnessing many small group leaders getting the opportunity to baptize their students. To think that our leaders have connected with their students in such a way, that they feel honored by having their small group leader baptize them. This is the church developing disciples and baptizing them, right out of Matthew 28.

The nitty gritty: 17 people stepped forward to share with everyone they made a decision in their heart to follow Christ. Out of those 17, 1 was a small group leader who decided he needed to set the example for his guys, then turned around and baptized one of them. Over all 10 small group leaders baptized a student from their group. A older brother baptized his younger sister. A middle schooler baptized her best friend. 5 High School students represented by baptizing middle school students. Just an awesome site to see, disciples baptizing their students. This is the CHURCH!

If you have a Middle school student or would like to help out with Hazardous, You will be blessed and blown away by the force of Middle schoolers actually wanting to know Christ and learn more about what it means to be a Christian, b/c being one is Hazardous.

Dirty Dog Did What?

Dogs are Awesome! They are so loving! Man’s best friend. They are loyal and friendly. But then they did WHAT? That thing that makes you wonder about what were they thinking. How could they even go there? Do that?

You see the other day, I had an interesting scenario. Sunday, it was a beautiful day to take a walk. Not too sunny, but still pretty. The geese out by the lake. People laughing in the distance, children playing, and a father teaching his son how to fish. Bicycles zooming by and many dogs were enjoying the fresh air with their owner.

Coali was like every other dog that day. Liz, Coali, and I loaded up in the car. It was time to enjoy a walk around Shelly Lake, in Raleigh. We parked and began our adventure. After a brief stop by the geese, we had to feed them you know (I aimed for the ducks), we continued along with our stroll.

A path off the main trail caught my attention. I thought it would be a grand idea to take the adventure before us. While keeping on this narrow way, Coali caught a smell. The kind where she NEEDS to sniff it up. She ventured past some jagger bushes. Then the inevitable happened.

“Coali, What Are You Doing?” I exclaimed. To see that she was rolling around on the ground. My first thought was a dog poop. Then I saw something, eww a dead snake maybe. Thinking to myself, ‘Coali, you are gross.’ Then before my eyes, I saw what was even worse, a decaying body of a fish. There were bugs all over it and left a horrendous smell.

The walk back to the car, car ride, and getting her into the shower was not a pleasant experience. By far one the worst stenches I could ever imagine, but it was real. Eww. Coali, what were you thinking.

After some time to cool down, it made me think about it. What do I do now? Do I show love to my dog? Do I take her on a walk again? Will we ever go back to the dreaded Shelly Lake?

Of course I will. I will love her and take care of her.

When it comes to ministry, we invest so much time into students (or your ministry). We build up so much care, love, & compassion. Then one day, you observe the student make a crazy decision. They go in a direction that is like… “NO, what are you doing?” as you think to yourself.

In this moment, you have a chance to offer Hope, Love, and give them a sense that you still support them. I feel that when people go down a path that is unhealthy for them, that the church or people involved in their lives turn their back on them. When in reality it is a time when they need someone more than ever. We have the opportunity to be the HOPE for someone when they are in a HOPELESS situation.

In thinking about all of this, I am trying to be observant to the people in my ministry and life that I might need to step in a little more to help show them HOPE, instead of standing back and showing them a cold shoulder.

I’m grateful to have a dog that is willing to teach me lessons.

What do you think about this? Agree? Disagree? How do you show HOPE and LOVE, even when it is difficult?

Hazardous Sensory Techniques

Just about every conversation I have with a person who does not know what I do, I get the ‘So, what is Hazardous?’ question. It is common. I have to answer it a lot. But, it is still hard to explain. So let me try to break it down for you a little bit.

Hazardous is a large group outreach service geared to Middle school students. That’s the short answer, but yet still too vague as to what is Hazardous. Hazardous is a special service geared towards an experience package. In the experience, one will find every sense participating in what is happening. To make a connection with your audience, one is effective when they can utilize as many senses as possible to create an environment that is both attractive and experiential. They will remember and not forget what it is all about.

5 Sense Approach:

Smell: Hazardous has a unique smell to it. The smell of several students packed into a room that is too small for them. It is a great smell! (If you have been around middle schoolers for awhile, you know what I’m talking about.) You might catch an aroma from a crazy game that is played, yes we have used frozen fish from the Asian store in a game.

Taste: The pizza (or food that is served). We offer it for free, because it helps to remove excuse for students to attend. Plus at their age, they thrive off having pizza. We have candy available for them to buy, and we toss out candy during our service to get some energy going.

Touch: A high Five! Jumping around. Playing basketball. The opportunity to pick up a bible or pray with someone. Sometimes our response for the night will call for an action for our students to touch something to make it tangible and relatable, for example recently during a message we had students write down someone or something they needed to be forgiven onto a ping pong ball. This allowed for a better experience to forgiveness.

Hearing: They played what? We start the night out with a cover song. It is something they hear on the radio. For some students, they might not understand God, but they heard a song they liked, so they might give us another chance in future weeks. It can also get pretty loud, which goes hand in hand with energy in the room. We all want to be part of something that has energy, that has motion, that is vibrant and bigger than ourselves.

Seeing: Video’s are all about sensory appeal in a media driven generation. We try to break through by showing videos that help to shape the reason and mode of the night. We try to play games that are fun to watch, as to creating an appeal to look at – thus participation. Images and videos used during the message will help to bring a connection, thus relating better to our students. This makes a stronger connection with our students, and they are experiencing God and might not even realize it yet.

+1 Energy: Energy in a room creates a stronger connection with all involved. From my experience, we all have a desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves. When the energy is higher than we can bring on our own, it means that we are participating and a driving force to make that happen. In Middle School ministry, outsiders will see energy as chaos. But I say, if you control the energy and mold it the way you want it, it will be a driving force that is attractive and appropriate for students.

In Middle school, students want to be somewhere that is fun, exciting, and it is the place to be. Sadly, there are not many places that middle school students can go for all of this, so they reach out and try to accomplish this in their own ways. Trouble in my opinion. So, what we have done at Hazardous is to create an environment that creates this atmosphere while also creating ways for our students to experience God in a relevant way.

This is one train of thought for trying to explain Hazardous. In future posts, I will break down some of the secrets that make Hazardous unique and effective. *This is secret number 1.

If you are in ministry, how are you using sensory techniques to minister to students? There are many different ways that people learn, so how can we best utilize senses to create an experience for our students?