youth ministry

Book Giveaway Trifecta

Ok, so we’ve heard it over and over and over…”tis” the season for giving.  Welp, with that in mind, I’m giving away one of each of my books: Thin Places (I’ll be giving the book & 6 session DVD edition!), Teaching Through the Art of Storytelling and Good News in the Neighborhood.  Click on the BOOKS links above to watch video trailers, read descriptions and endorsements for each.  

Wikipedia defines a trifecta as “a parimutuel bet in which the bettor must predict which horses will finish first, second, and third in exact order.”

Er, umm, that really has nothing to do with this give away, so I’m redefining!

A trifecta “is the opportunity to win one of three LIFE CHANGING (ok, maybe an exaggeration) books with THREE different ways to win.”

Choose one of these three ways to throw your hat in the ring:

1. Follow the link to any of these three book pages and click “like”(right next to the reviews under the title). Thin Places OR Teaching Through the Art of Storytelling OR  Good News in the Neighborhood. Then paste a link to your facebook page in the comments (so I know who to give the book to if you win!).  

2. “Like” my Jon Huckins Writing Facebook page (and post link of your facebook page in Comments below) OR follow me on Twitter and Tweet, “Jump in to win one of @jonhuckins books! http://wp.me/p2vhWw-n7 #BookGiveawayTrifecta”  

3. Write a TRIFECTA Haiku (a Haiku is three phrases -- 5, 7, 5 syllable pattern) in the comments describing your love of egg nog.

I’ll be randomly picking winners on Monday!  Three, Two, One…TRIFECTA!!

Game Time! Good News in the Neighborhood Curriculum

I’m thrilled to introduce the Good News in the Neighborhood curriculum I have been working on alongside my good friend, Adam Mclane.  Exploring the life of Jesus and Paul’s words to the Church of Corinth, this is a resource designed to ignite the hearts and imaginations of teenagers to take seriously they’re call to be good news among their neighborhoods.  We can no longer expect the Good News only to be revealed during church functions within the walls of a church.  Instead, following Jesus and extending his love to all the world requires that we become radically present and intentional in all apects of life; most notably with our neighbors who we are to live life alongside.

We hope this experience will ruin the lives of teenagers for the sake of stepping into radical life with Jesus. 

If you buy it before it comes out… you’ll get it on April 2nd AND you’ll save $15. Here’s the link to buy it now.

 

DESCRIPTION

This 6-week series will deep dive your students into the practical realities of a radical life with Jesus. Built around six core hopes for community life, students will examine Scripture, gain an understanding of their role in their community, and be challenged by a series of simple experiments they can try. More than a series which teaches your students about being Good News in their community– Good News in the Neighborhood offers practical application based on the life of Jesus and the 1st century Church. Our hope is that your students begin to see how God has called them to become good news in their homes, schools, and neighborhoods.

 

CURRICULUM OUTLINE

Week 1: Tuning In (Experiment: Ethnography/Observation)

Week 2: Diving Deep (Experiment: Participating)

Week 3: Crossing Borders (Experiment: Two-fold inviting)

Week 4: Advocating for What Matters (Experiment: Standing up for our neighbors)

Week 5: New Eyes (Experiment: New eyes)

Week 6: Living a New Story (Experiment: Commissioning)

 

WHAT’S INCLUDED

Printable PDF of teachers notes

  • Printable PDF of student worksheets
  • Editable Word version of teachers notes & student worksheets
  • 6 introductory video stories (One for each week)
  • Multiple options for each session to fit the needs of your group (Activity ideas, discussion starters, teaching options)
  • 6 experiments for students to try between sessions

When Dreams Meet Reality: Life in Intentional Community

After years of being a youth pastor, I remember the time I came home from yet another event that required endless administration, energy and resources and asked myself, “Is this what it means to be the Church?  And if so, there have to be better ways to embody the supposed life-giving, relational aspects of Jesus discipleship.”

For me, church had become a place that I drove to and “performed,” not a living organism that involved sharing daily life with fellow disciples seeking participation in the Mission of God…

The full article was featured on Tony Campolo’s Red Letter Christian’s this morning.  Click here to read full version.

 

The Science of Storytelling and Listening

This article was originally posted on Fuller Youth Institute’s website.  For full list of statistic sources, click here. 

Although I’ve spent one semester as a seventh and eighth grade science teacher, I don’t claim to be a scientist.

In fact, in high school and college, it was the subject I avoided the most.  Years later, I started to take seriously my role as a communicator and discovered the significance of science in relation to my understanding of how best to engage listeners with the Story of God.

It turns out that learning more about the science of listening can actually change the way you and I teach kids in our ministries.

Neurologically-Friendly Teaching

Listening is central to the growth and development of everyone who can hear. Studies show that 53% of class time for a U.S. college student is spent listening.1  For the same demographic, nearly 12 hours out of a 24-hour day are spent in some form of listening activity.2  The often unspoken reality is that listening does not necessarily constitute learning, content retention or a willingness to believe information.  In contrast, some studies show that we remember a mere 25% of the content we are presented.3

Why so little? Students tend to listen for facts, but get easily distracted.  Their listening is sidetracked by noise, daydreaming, or chasing another topic altogether.  And often, students listen without being interested in the subject at hand in the first place.4

With all this being said, the task of an effective communicator is not to be taken lightly.  Some argue that offering convincing statistics engages the listener and creates lasting impact, but experts also tell us that people quickly dismiss statistics that are inconsistent with their beliefs.5

On the other hand, fictional stories—which often can be processed very efficiently with minimal effort and high recall—engage a phenomenon called “suspension of disbelief,” which can lead to tangible change.6  Employing the art of storytelling, I once wrote and told a story to my teenagers whose main character, Chloe, dealt with depression, loneliness and cutting.  I shared it over the course of a few weeks at our mid-week gathering, but I could see that one teenager was especially impacted.  During my second week of telling the story, this teenager stood up and quickly walked out of the room in distress.  One of our youth workers followed close behind and found out that this teenager also struggled with cutting and could no longer walk alone in the struggle.

This student suspended disbelief and chose to be engaged by story. This ancient form of storytelling—Jewish Agada (Rabbinical Storytelling)—had become so real to her that she began wrestling with some of the biggest issues she’d ever faced in her young life. She heard Chloe’s story and realized that it was her story.  For this reason, some in the medical field have implemented storytelling as a mode of healthcare communication, bringing attention to issues ranging from suicide to AIDS prevention.

Communication expert Dr. Brian Leggett says, “A story is a narrative which actively engages the listener’s sense-making faculties. It helps the listener to make sense of what is being said and to make the right associations. It helps the listener to think widely by stimulating his or her imagination.”7

We’ve discovered that storytelling can break down walls of cynicism and mental distraction and lead listeners toward engagement. The art, then, is in assimilating fiction into belief. In order to practice that art of assimilation, we need to create intentional dialog and discussion.

Less Preaching, More Conversation

As youth workers who are passionate about inviting our students into the Story of God, it is important that we follow in the footsteps of our Rabbi, Jesus.  Jesus was the master storyteller, and true to Rabbinic tradition, one-third of his teaching was done through the art of storytelling.  Similar to Jesus’ parables, modern day storytelling is a method that might provoke more questions than answers. The story becomes a conversation starter, not a conversation finisher. This isn’t always true, of course. As youth listen and engage in the story, they can process some of the answers because the story meets every teenager in a different spot of their faith experience.

Where the story is the conversation starter, the follow-up discussion and dialogue is the conversation continuer. (I would say “finisher,” but most often that’s not the case.) It’s paramount that we communicators open up times of honest dialogue and questioning. Just like a rousing conversation after a good movie, most of the impact and application will occur after we tell the story. It’s like spending a large amount of time setting the table and displaying a beautiful meal, and now it’s time to call our guests to sit around the table and take it all in. We communicators become not simply the primary medium for communication but hosts of a feast of questions and conversation.

Does this mean we simply offer up our opinions and spiritual insights through our stories and then let them all be cast out into a sea of subjectivity? Absolutely not. It’s very important that we keep the group centered on the topic while still leaving room for honest conversation and questions.8

However, we must keep in mind that our teenagers are told conflicting stories and “truths” all the time, whether they’re at school, on the sports field, at home, or in some form of relationship. Let’s allow our teaching to give way to guided, thoughtful, and Spirit-led conversation in the hopes of inspiring them to begin the process of entering into a living, active, and very real relationship with Jesus.

If Only I Had a Guitar in My Hands

I have a friend named Robbie. He’s been a part of our high school community for the last three years or so. For the most part, he attends our gatherings and is well liked and respected by his peers and adult leaders.

Robbie is a guitar freak. He plays it, listens to others play it, and flat-out lives it. And I have no doubt that he’d be proud of that description. He has the long curly locks of most “good” rockers, a penchant for tie-dyed shirts, and an endless supply of Converse shoes. When I ask Robbie what his favorite activity is at any given point in the day, he puts his index finger over his closed mouth and ponders his response. Fitting to his character, he responds, “I would have to say either listening to guitar riffs of my favorite artists on CD or playing my guitar without distraction.” This kid would eat his guitar if such a feat wouldn’t scratch it.

Robbie also is a very intellectual and thoughtful student of the Christian life. He’s not afraid to ask hard questions, and he’s a model to many regarding how to live a life of honest transparency and openness to accountability. I respect him very much. That said, Robbie has a hard time focusing during any kind of teaching because he self-admittedly drifts off into guitar world within about two minutes of the start of the talk. He recently told me (during a time when I was not teaching through story, incidentally) that he was really interested in what I had to say and would like to know more. But he just couldn’t pull himself away from pondering how to “play that A-minor with a harmonic that the Allman Brothers nail every time” in one of his favorite two hundred songs of theirs. (I felt so affirmed and self-assured in regard to my teaching abilities after hearing that—defeated by an A-minor with a harmonic. Awesome!)

As a result, while Robbie would often come to our weekly gatherings on Thursday nights, during the talk he’d either play his guitar (outside) or do his best to listen for at least a few minutes.

Then we started a new story.

I don’t remember the topic exactly, but there was something about it that caught Robbie’s attention. And not the two-minute span I was used to seeing, but twenty minutes of attention followed by thirty minutes of dialogue attention. At this point I began wrestling with some of the ideas articulated above. Scientifically, what was it about storytelling that allowed an otherwise hard-to-capture mind like Robbie’s to actively participate in what I was saying? There had to be something to it.

And apparently there is.

I’m not proposing you scratch all your future teaching and permanently teach through story.  I don’t!  But teaching through the art of storytelling is a great communication tool to add to our communication toolbox as we seek to engage and invite our teenagers into the dynamic Story of God.

Action Points

 

  • Consider teaching your next topic series through story (i.e. sex & dating, forgiveness, etc…)
  • Instead of preparing a three point propositional teaching, begin to build an outline of your story as a modern day parable, while taking into close consideration your audience and context.  As a 1st century Rabbi in the Roman Empire, Jesus was exceptional at this.
  • Create characters, a setting and plot that integrate Scripture and illuminates your topic.  Try to develop characters and setting that your teenagers can relate to and have fun with it!
  • Prepare follow-up discussion questions that unpack your story, which ground it in the everyday realities of your teenagers.
  • Tell your story with confidence and conviction!  You can tell your whole story in one night or you can tell it over the course of a few weeks and build momentum by ending each session on a cliffhanger.  Your teenagers will hardly be able to wait to come back and hear the rest of the story!
  • Follow up with group conversation, questions and dialog that allow the main points of your story to take root in the hearts and minds of your teenagers.

Book Giveaway: The One Sentence Story Showdown!

Ruby with book

So here is the deal…

 

I’m looking to give away some copies of my book, Teaching Through the Art of Storytelling and in order to pass around the love, we are going to write a shared story one sentence at a time.

How it works:

  • I will start by writing the first sentence of the story in the comments (I may jump in and write another sentence every once in a while!)
  • At that point we ALL become storytellers by writing the NEXT sentence in the story in the comment box. 
  • Let the creative juices flow freely and let’s see where this thing goes!

Rules:

  • You can write as many sentences as you want, BUT they can’t be back to back. 
  • Your sentence MUST feed off the previous sentence.
  • Sentences can be stupid, ridiculous and random, but they can’t be offensive (use your own judgment on that). 
  • Story will conclude at 8am (Pacific Time) on Friday morning. 

How to Win:

  • I will randomly pick a sentence in the story and send a signed copy of Teaching Through the Art of Storytelling to the sentence author!
  • ALSO, I will pick an additional winner for every 50 comments/sentences that are submitted, so make sure to PASS THE WORD by sharing through social media!
  • Or you can guarantee to win/receive a signed copy of the book by ordering it here!! :) 

Ready, set, let’s write a brilliant story!  

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