The Source for Youth Ministry
Jonathan's Resource Ezine

Weekly Resources, Ideas and Articles from The Source for Youth Ministry
Tuesday, February 19, 2002

In This Issue

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by Jonathan McKee
February 19, 2002

FLATULATION you ask?? How can a volunteer youth worker be like flatulation?? It's the common cure for a common problem.? Hold on . . . I'll explain.?

Ever wish your staff, volunteers, counselors or chaperones would interact with students like they're suppose to?!!? Do they know what they're supposed to do?? Have you ever told them??

You know the phenomena I'm talking about.? Kid's show up at your weekly program - then staff show up.? You pull it together-? the kids are in the middle and the staff have made a horseshoe shape around the back of the room as if they're herding the students toward the stage.? The students talk with one-another and the staff talk with one another . . . and you've successfully segregated your youth ministry by age.? What do you do about this?.
Allow me to quote from my book coming out this Fall (wow- I'm quoting myself!? Is that legal?)? "Hopefully your staff are trained to hang out with kids, not to "chaperone.' Mere "chaperones' are no fun and most students don't want a relationship with one.? Your staff can be so much more than that.? They should be purposefully participating in all your events and hanging out with kids any chance they get.? They should laugh with them, talk with them, cry with them.? Your midweek program- your game time and your "hang out' time- are the perfect opportunity for your staff to break the ice with students."

Many of us have trained our staff over and over again, imploring them to mix with the kids, training them to talk with the kids and "hang" with the kids.?? Yet they don't seem to get it.? How can we explain to our staff what we expect of them.


Tell them to be like flatulation.

Remember in elementary school when everyone sat at their desks quietly working on their math and the kid in the corner of the classroom let out one of those silent but deadly ones.? No sound was made, but one by one the stench reached each kid in the classroom, starting in the corner, working it's way to the utter most parts of the room.? If you watched a diagram of student's reactions from up above you would notice the students react one by one, the closest first, then finally the farthest away.

This process is called dynamic equilibrium.? I can still remember my science teacher Mr. Jenson explaining it to us.? He opened a jar of some stinky chemical in one corner of the room and told us to raise our hands when we smelled it.? One by one you saw dynamic equilibrium take place.? The molecules spread out until they could spread no more.? They were spread completely and evenly throughout the room.

At the beginning of the school year I always took the time to train my staff and volunteers.? At this training, I would let them know clearly that I DID NOT need chaperones- I needed relational staff!? I always explained "dynamic equilibrium" to them and instructed them to be like a molecule seeking dynamic equilibrium.? I should look across the room at any time and see a sea of kids with staff members spread throughout- not in bunches- but mixed throughout the students.

My staff never forget the "flatulation" analogy . . . crude, but effective.? I still teach the "flatulation method" in trainings across the U.S. today.

Read more FREE youth ministry articles
on Jonathan's HOW DO I PAGE:

Jonathan McKee is president of The Source for Youth Ministry and author of the new book "Do They Run When They See You Coming? Reaching Out to Unchurched Teenagers." (CLICK HERE FOR THE BOOK) Jonathan speaks and trains across the country and provides free online resources, training, & ideas for youth workers at

CAN A BIBLE STUDY BE TOO BIG? Deborah asks about her Pizza Bible study: "How do we keep their interest?"

By Jonathan McKee
February 19, 2002

Deborah popped on our web site and clicked on the "ASK JONATHAN" button, asking a very good question:

>>>QUESTION<<<? Jonathan,
?We have had a weekly ministry with our senior high school students where we order pizza from the local pizza shop and bring the pizzas over to the high school music room or gym, inviting our students to join us for 30 minutes. We eat together and then use about 15 minutes for discussion of faith-related topics. Last year we had about 20-22 students participating. It was fairly easy to have a "large group" discussion or break into smaller groups for questions.? This year the group has mushroomed to 40 students every week (out of a high school of 120!). Obviously it is much more challenging to gain and keep the attention of 40 students rather than 20. Because they are on a lunch break and away from class, so there's plenty of talking as they interact with their friends (understandable). It's not easy to focus on a discussion topic or keep their interest.?? We think it is valuable to just "hang out" with these students each week but we also hope to offer some spiritual "nourishment." We've used short video clips, discussion starters, small group types of things (they sit around tables of 6-8 people). Do you have any suggestions for us as to how we can enhance this ministry? Thanks,?? Pastor Deborah

? >>>ANSWER<<<? Deborah,? If you've got thick crust double pepperoni's with extra cheese . . . I'M THERE! When's the next one?? First, I love the format of your pizza and discussion. I'm always thrilled when someone actually goes on campus. When it comes to "outreach" or "reaching the unchurched," the local school is a great place to start. And it sounds like you're doing it right.? AN IMPORTANT UNDERSTANDING Whether planning a weekly study or a week long camp, we need to realize something. I have yet to have a student come up to me, with a retreat permission slip in hand and utter the words, "Jonathan, what will you be speaking on?" They couldn't care less. Their question (and the determining factor concerning their attendance) is always, "Who else is going?" . . .

Read the full answer to this question
and more on the new ASK JONATHAN PAGE:


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God Bless!

Jonathan R. McKee
for Youth Ministry

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