Youth Ministry Resources Giveaway

Hey, it free, why not?

If you are a supporter of your Youth Pastor/workers, enter this free contest and give them all the goods if you win!  Its full of resources, and who can say no to that.

They say it is $565 worth of stuff.  If you don’t win, I guess you could just donate $565 and buy it outright, too. 😉

Click ministertoyouth.com for the link to enter with just an email address.

ministry-to-youth-giveaway

Parents, Require Obedience of Your Children!

sfdsPrinciple: If we want our children to learn how to obey God when they are older, we must require them to obey us as parents now. I have four children, the oldest of whom is 7. This is not mere philosphizing for me, it is real life.

It is inevitable there will be conflict. Conflict between siblings and conflict between child and parent. This season in life is hard. Any parent can attest to this. Deciding which battles to fight is an ongoing state of being. While this state of being is not fun, it is worth doing right. My wife and I are seeking to raise Godly kids. That is no easy task in today’s culture. So I repeat: If we want our children to learn how to obey God when they are older, we must require them to obey us as parents now.

As a parent I am not perfect. I get things wrong. But the principle remains true that if my children learn to respect and obey me now, they will be better suited to obey future authority figures in life, and ultimately God as the final authority figure. Unfortunately most parents are not requiring obedience from their children. It is easier to pacify their children in the moment than deal with the long term commitment of building obedience.

John Piper writes an excellent article addressing believing parents and how they need to require obedience.

“The defiance and laziness of unbelieving parents I can understand. I have biblical categories of the behavior of the spiritually blind. But the neglect of Christian parents perplexes me. What is behind the failure to require and receive obedience? I’m not sure. But it may be that these nine observations will help rescue some parents from the folly of laissez-faire parenting.”

Please read the full article as Piper unpacks each of these nine points with biblical passages and practical application. If you are a parent, or hope to be one in the future, it is worth your 5+ minutes!  Click it here: Parent, Require Obedience of Your Children.

1. Requiring obedience of children is implicit in the biblical requirement that children obey their parents.

2. Obedience is a new-covenant, gospel category.

3. Requiring obedience of children is possible.

4. Requiring obedience should be practiced at home on inconsequential things so that it is possible in public on consequential things.

5. It takes effort to require obedience, and it is worth it.

6. You can break the multi-generational dysfunction.

7. Gracious parenting leads children from external compliance to joyful willingness.

8. Children whose parents require obedience are happier.

9. Requiring obedience is not the same as requiring perfection.

“Parents, you can do this. It is a hard season. I’ve spent more than sixty percent of my life in it. But there is divine grace for this, and you will be richly rewarded.” – John Piper

 

As a Father of Sons…

A-boy-growing-up

(…Don’t miss the must read link for parents and teens at the bottom of this post…)

I have three sons. They are still young. Their primary interests are hot wheels, ninja turtles, and for one, that yummy bottle of milk. But I know these days will fly by, and so will these interests.

The cost of raising Godly young men is rising in our culture. It is getting harder than ever to monitor the social media scene. I (want to) believe many young teenage girls have no idea the impression they are making on their male peers. With the provocative selfies and pics, do they understand the message they are sending about themselves?

My sons are still young and it is scary to think of the state of our culture in 10+ years when my boys are teenagers. I just read a blog from a mom of three teenage sons. Mrs. Hall lays out a call for the teenage girls connected to their family through social medial to rethink their posts, or be blocked. This mom wants to raise Godly young men and teach them the value of women. But the young women are sending a different message!

Mrs. Hall calls girls to be the one worth waiting for. She asks them to take her advise. She pleads,

“Will you trust me? There are boys out there waiting and hoping for women of character. Some young men are fighting the daily uphill battle to keep their minds pure, and their thoughts praiseworthy. You are growing into a real beauty, inside and out. Act like her, speak like her, post like her..”

Take a minute to read this blog linked below. It has some insights for teenagers and parents of teenagers.

FYI (if you’re a teenage girl) 

Thank you Mrs. Hall for the honesty. And more importantly thank you for the boldness to not allow your boys to be swept away in our culture. I pray that when I am in your shoes I will take the same stand as I raise Godly young men.

-Adambe bold

4 Myths about Teaching Apologetics in Youth Ministry

I saw this article on youthministry360’s blog. Bam. Right on brother. I believe that apologetics needs to be in the regular diet of christian teens. Check out the full article through this link: 4 Myths About Teaching Apologetics in Youth Ministry

(I addressed the need for more curriculum options in a blog around a year ago. Here is the link if you want access to ton of resources and ideas for High School, Middle School, and Elementary School age Apologetics.  Check it out:  Age-Graded Apologetics Resources)

The 4 myths Benjer McVeigh deals with are accurately described. Thank you Mr. McVeigh for the insights!

Myth 1: I’m not smart enough to teach apologetics.

Books on apologetics are intimidating, even before you open them up to start reading. The latest comprehensive tome on apologetics, Doug Groothuis’ Christian Apologetics, weighs in at an impressive (and heavy) 750 pages. Teaching apologetics may take a bit more work. But you don’t have to be an expert to teach apologetics. You only have to be willing to learn. (In addition, there are some great resources out there that let you learn right along with your students.)

Myth 2: Teenagers don’t care about or aren’t ready for apologetics.

Next time you’ve got a small group of teenagers together, simply ask a question such as, “How can we really know that God exists?” and you’ll likely be peppered with several follow-up questions. Teenagers discuss spiritual matters with their friends far more than we realize. They want to know whether what they’re learning at church is trustworthy. Teenagers are already thinking about apologetics, even if they haven’t ever used the word. And if they’re already asking the questions, they are ready for some solid answers, developmentally speaking.

Myth 3: Apologetics is too academic.

Yes, apologetics does involve a bit more brainpower than some youth minister and their students may be used to using. But it’s OK to make your students think. After all, God created us with brains. He designed us to use them in our pursuit to know Him and to make Him known. I understand the danger of having too much of a “heady” approach to one’s walk with Jesus. But your students can handle a few weeks out of the year dedicated to apologetics. You’ll probably be surprised at how many students end up wanting a whole lot more of it!

Myth 4: Faith means not questioning the Bible or asking whether Christianity is true.

If this is what you’re teaching your students, whether it’s said out loud or implied, please stop. Apologetics can’t answer every single question we have about God, faith, or life in general. And at the end of the day, we can only see and know in part (1 Corinthians 13:12). But there is plenty of evidence available that gives us confidence that what we believe is true. Apologetics not only removes intellectual barriers some people have before they decide to follow Jesus, but it also strengthens followers of Jesus in their faith, because they can have confidence that what they believe is true.

 

13 Lies Teenagers Believe

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lies

  1. There is no truth.  John 14:6
  2. If I am good enough I will get to heaven.  Isaiah 64:6
  3. When I am on my own I can do what I want.  Romans 13:1
  4. The things I do now are not important.  I Cor 3:12-13
  5. My past determines my worth.  Philippians 3:13
  6. The easiest way is the best way.  Hebrews 12:4-6
  7. If it feels good do it.  Hebrews 11:25
  8. My friends and family will be with me forever.  II Cor 5:10
  9. I do not have to change friends to follow Christ.  I Cor 15:33
  10. What I listen and watch does not effect the way I think.   Philippians 4:8
  11. There is no consequence for my sins.  Romans 6:23
  12. Premarital sex has no effect on my life.  I Cor 6:15-18
  13. Serving God is boring.  Psalms 34:8

Entertaining, Yet Beneficial Advice for the Graduate

Here is some good advice and a few stupid videos. You can decide which is more beneficial for you at the moment. You might want to forward this on to the graduate in your family or friends for a good dose of both. If you are a college or high school graduate you probably have a lot on your mind right now. It is a crazy time for you. My student ministry and church celebrated our seniors a while ago and now reality is setting in. Here is some good advise from the Gospel Coalition if you are entering the “real world”.

Matt Jenson reflects on things to do after college graduation. Read the full article, 12 Things to Do After Graduation, for full and entertaining descriptions of each category when you can, but in the mean-time here is the synopsis.

  1. Do something else – take a risk
  2. Read a book for fun, not because you have to
  3. Find a less than perfect church
  4. Find a less than perfect job
  5. Find a bizarre-never-do-this-in-your-40s kind of job
  6. Focus on a few friends
  7. Learn to cook 5 meals
  8. Tithe 10% of your paycheck
  9. Save 10% of your paycheck
  10. Explore and Examine
  11. Slow down, keep the Sabbath
  12. Pray and meditate on Scripture

After graduating college you remember how easy life used to be, especially during high school!  Rhett and Link have prepared a special, heart-felt video for the high school grads out there. It is full of great quotes like “do you hear that subtle sound? It is the sound of reality about to slap the taste out your mouth.” and “Do you feel that gentle breeze? It’s the category 5 hurricane of adulthood about to hit you upside the head with a tree.”

Ahh graduation. Its is a great time.  Looking back up to the list of things to do. When fulfilling #5 you can always polish up your dance moves and become the 2nd best dancing cotton candy maker of all time…

All in good fun folks!  – Adam

Can you be “Too Theological” for Teens?

–   NO!  –  You can be too boring. You can be a bad communicator. You can refuse to speak their language. But you cannot waste Truth. Theology is how we understand God. If you think someone is “too theological” you probably are reacting against individual characteristics of that person rather the desire to understand and know God.

Sometimes we think that teenagers don’t care about the things of God or they wont understand theology if they were taught it. Shame on us if we believe or propagate this lie. Teenagers today care deeply about spiritual things, they just have had little exposure to Truth! This generation is seeking something real. Why else is there the hunger for social justice we see in young adults if there was no understanding of right and wrong? Why is this generation so driven for purpose and meaning if there is no fulfillment for that desire in something bigger than ourselves?

I believe this generation is starving for good theology. They are hungry for real convictions. And, by the grace of God, when given the opportunity they will soak it up like a sponge. Yet, they can sniff out insincerity like a shark smells a drop of blood in the water. They refuse to play a game when it comes to matters of faith. They are looking: What will you offer them? What will you live out in front of them?

Don’t sell your teenagers short when it comes to theology. If they can do physics and calculus in their school settings, we know they can handle complicated issues when they put their minds to it. Why should it be any different in church? Teenagers will rise to the level of expectation you place on them. If you expect them to only appreciate pizza parties and 3 minute devotionals, that is probably what you will get. If you challenge them to dive into the richness of scripture you may just see a new side of your teenagers.

supremacy

Last night at our student worship service I tested the limits of theology with teenagers. On the verge of summer break I taught on the “Supremacy of Christ over Your Summer”. We read over Colossians 1 and discussed who Christ truly is and how that applies to us right now. The kicker was this video I showed.

John Piper does a 18:53 minute talk on the doctrine of the Supremacy of Christ posted with a symphonic background by Brent Fischer. It planted new thoughts to grow in their mind. It painted a grand picture of Christ, one larger than we can fully comprehend. If you have not seen this video it will be 18 minutes and 53 seconds of well spent time. It will challenge you and give you perspective on the person of Christ.

Did Piper preach this for teens? Of course not. Can it inform and light a fire for teenagers? Yes! Because good theology provides the foundation for a passionate Christian life at any age.

Christian Teens Bullied by Teacher Ignite a Nation-wide Effort

In our day, Christian teens get bullied for their faith by peers and authority figures on a regular basis. One group of teenagers has taken a stand and made a statement to the nation. It all started when a public school teacher in northern Idaho assigned students an essay titled, “I Believe.” But there was one obvious and blatantly biased rule concerning the assignment – the students were not allowed to write anything about God in their papers.

A group of Christian teenagers began to start asking questions. Primarily “Why?”. Why is it not allowed to talk about God in the public school arena by students? Why can’t personal religious commitments be tolerated anymore? Why has christianity in particular been “frozen” out of contemporary culture?

In the aftermath of that event these teenagers decided to produce a video based on the questions that after the school teacher refused to allow students to mention God in their papers. But the video was just the beginning. These teens in Idaho have launched a nation-wide organization.

Reach America – check out their website.

Reach America Facebook  is the social media page for this group of teenagers.

The Huffington Post even did a write up about this group.

This is the power of teenagers who refuse to accept the low expectations placed on their generation and stand up for Christ! Way to go! This is an example for my student ministry and for teenagers across the world to follow Christ.  All Glory to God!

5 Tools Needed to Reach Teenagers

toolI read today an article by Cameron Cole of the Rooted blog. He posted this article on the Gospel Coalition site, 5 Tools Needed to Reach Today’s Teens.  I must say that I fully agree with these points, but I believe there is an even bigger more essential point that Cameron assumes on the outset. One that cannot be understated or glossed over.

Before I reveal my additional point to his 5 tools needed, let me summarize his article and recommend you read it in full to get a much deeper appreciation for each point.

  1. Knowledge about the canonization of scripture: More often than ever we face questions concerning authority. How can we be sure God’s Word is authoritative for 2013? If teenagers do not trust the bible, they will not have the foundation essential for Christian doctrine or practice. 
  2. Developed Theology of sexuality, especially homosexuality: Teens today are bombarded with competing truth claims. We need a balanced and biblical answer for these questions. If we do not speak boldly with truth and compassion on these topics, the biblical message will be drowned out in a rising tide of unbiblical messages. While homosexuality is a hot topic, we need a balanced view of all aspects of sexuality. Teens need instruction on what a proper biblical heterosexual relationship looks like, as much or more than warnings of improper relationships.
  3. The ability to teach the Bible in the greater context of redemptive history: While telling your own story is important, teens today want to be connected to a bigger story as well. They want to know there is meaning and purpose behind how we got to where we are today. Explaining the grand narrative of redemptive history and then describing our chapter in that story is very powerful.
  4. A Theological, not only moral, understanding of Sin: This is very important. Teens need to understand the eternal weight of actions not just focused on consequences in relativistic society, but in a view of an eternal, unchanging, completely perfect God. Teens today recognize the futility of just slapping sin on the wrist, but need to understand why.
  5. Understand Adoption as an Element of Salvation: In a culture of divorce and superficial relationships the opportunity to be a part of a true community can be life changing. Teens place a huge value on relationships. Since this is true, the biblical concept of “Koinonia” (greek for doing life together, i.e. fellowship) when righty applied in a church should be a significant factor in discipleship and life change. Teens long for meaningful relationships, this need is met first in Christ and then His bride.

Read the full article by Cameron Cole. It reminds us of the inside life that teenagers really are living day to day. To best reach this generation we need to understand how to connect.

Which brings me to my addition. In my 6+ years of full time youth ministry I believe a colossal step is being assumed by Cole, that needs to be clearly articulated constantly to all adults who work with teenagers. This is so important that all the above points completely lose thier meaning when this is absent.

  1. Personal Holiness and Passion Cannot be Faked: If you want to work with teens, prepare for your life to be examined and imitated. Teenagers can detect a fake in a heartbeat and once this is sensed they will turn off. Why do teens leave the church? In many cases it is because they see conflicting examples in their parents on whether or not church is important. As a leader, it doesn’t matter if you can wax on the details of the Canon, refute homosexual marriage, and recite the history of the church. If you are dead spiritually, do you really want mold teenagers in that same pattern? To be open and honest with a growing relationship with Christ is what teens need to see first. Before any other questions come up they have got see something real in your life. This cannot be assumed, it must be intentionally cultivated in the life of any christian, leader or not.

I am so thankful for guys like Cameron Cole who are striving to make youth ministry better. We all benefit from reminders like this. And it is my prayer that I can add to the conversation and push us all one more step toward Jesus.

-Adam