Author: Elle Campbell

Happy Orange Week!

If you know anything about me and Kenny and our approach to ministry, there’s a good chance you know two things: #1 We are obsessed with Middle School Ministry. And #2 we’re all about thinking orange. If you’re not sure what that means exactly, stick around. It’s what we’ll be talking about on the blog all week long.

So why is Stuff You Can Use going orange for the week?

Because The Orange Conference is coming up super soon! And we’re excited. And we’re going. And we think you should come too.

Because it’s Orange Bloggers Week! Yay! (Don’t know what that is? Read this.)

AND because, on Friday, we have a really awesome ORANGEY PRIZE to give away! But more about that in a second.

So here’s the plan for this week…


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Our 13 Favorite Ways to Learn New Things

Yesterday we talked about the fact that the world’s greatest innovators are people who know a lot of things about a wide range of subjects – they are “expert generalists“… people who love and are committed to learning about all kinds of fields – even those unrelated to what they do for a living.

Then we talked about how, as youth workers, it might be time for us to cut back on the ministry-related knowledge we consume, so we can spend more time exploring new fields of study. Business, economics, psychology, marketing, design, history, literature – even different theological perspectives and faith systems. Because, by broadening the scope of our knowledge, we can become better people, better thinkers, better problem-solvers, better leaders, and better innovators.

So today, to get us started, Kenny and I wanted to share with you some of our all-time favorite places to learn new things and get exposed to new ideas. And then we want to hear yours too!


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Sparking Innovation in Ministry

I recently read an article from Art Markman about “the benefits of being an expert generalist.” You should really read it. Markman’s article is the inspiration for today’s blog because, I’m convinced, this “expert generalist” thing is something that we, as youth workers, could really learn from.

First, a quick summary of the original article

The greatest innovators throughout human history have something in common – while they might be known for their contributions to one particular field, the greatest innovators know a lot of things about a wide variety of topics.

They are expert generalists.
People who love and are committed to learning.
People with a wide knowledge base.
People who explore and delve into many different fields of study – even those unrelated to what they do.

These “expert generalists” are often the people who are our best creators and innovators. Because they have expanded their knowledge beyond one single field of study, they are able to see connections, draw parallels, and solve problems that the rest of us simply can’t.

So what does this have to do with youth ministry?


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Refocusing Yourself in the New Year

One of my favorite holidays of the year is New Years Day.

I love to reset.
I love to think about the future.
I love to celebrate the past. 

And…I love to set goals for the next year.

One of my least favorite things to do is to match socks.

Seems random right?

Well…as I was doing my least favorite thing on my favorite day of the year it hit me.

Maybe I need to set a goal for these DANG socks!

As I thought about it I realized some things about our socks…


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Refocusing Your Volunteers in the New Year

This week, now that we’re all back in our offices and kicking off 2013, we’re talking about getting refocused for the new year. Yesterday we looked at refocusing our ministries, and today we’ll keep it going by talking about refocusing our volunteers.

If you’ve been in ministry for any length of time, you’ve probably already discovered that your volunteers are really important. Like, really, really important. So, ministry leaders, as we hit the ground running in 2013 with all of our new ideas, innovative strategies, and fresh vision, remember – we can’t make the mistake of leaving our volunteers behind. 

Fresh ideas, strategies, and vision in the new year are great. And necessary. And awesome. But if we fail to cast that fresh vision to our volunteers – if we fail to lead them well – our fancy new ideas are probably going to fail too.

So what do we do? How do we help our volunteers get refocused on their roles and responsibilities in the new year? How do we help them find fresh motivation for the second half of the school year? Well, here are a few things we’re thinking about…


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