04.24.17

Hi! I am praying for you right now! 

Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
 
Many people never get to slay a Goliath because they think taking care of sheep is beneath them. #gray
 
Ships are safest in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.
 
Post-Christian Culture: The culture that emerges as the Christian faith loses coherence within a society that has been definitively shaped by the Christian story and as the institutions that that have been developed to express Christian convictions decline in influence. #murray
 
The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. #keller
 
FYI:
1. How Children and Youth Process Pain… https://youthspecialties.com/blog/children-youth-process-pain/?_cldee=a2hjbGFya0BzYmNnbG9iYWwubmV0&recipientid=contact-61e2ad4d49c1e41181bd000c296f8bc0-187aaa5eade840e68d8eb58f21f79ccc&utm_source=ClickDimensions&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2017%20YS%20Weekly&esid=32f4ee8e-ba1e-e711-8287-000c296f8bc0
 
2. 15 Ways to fill your Ministry with prayer… (For churches but thought there might be something for you!)  http://childrensministry.com/articles/let-us-pray/
 
3. Responding to 13 Reasons Why… (there are so many articles on this and if you want youth group lesson on it someone sent me one) https://theschoolcounselorkind.wordpress.com/2017/04/21/responding-to-13-reasons-why/
 
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
Millennials Differ From Other Generations in Almost Every Regard by William Cummings
Four Paradoxes Today’s Students Experience by Tim Elmore
Eight Action Steps for Managing Team Expectations by Tim Elmore
We Need More Bible in Youth Ministry: Four Reasons to Give Teens God’s Word by Katherine Forster
 

Don’t Wait Another Year Until Easter

I hope that your church pulled out all the stops for a raucous celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Without this historic event, our Christian faith would be worthless. We should absolutely make Easter Sunday the biggest and best on the calendar.

But what are you going to do with Easter for the next 364 days of the year?

What will you do with Easter when a particular area of sin looks attractive to you, and you feel weak and unable?

What will you do with Easter when you’ve been betrayed by someone, and thoughts of vengeance enter your head?

What will you do with Easter when you’re struggling in your marriage, and it seems impossible to love one another as God has designed?

What will you do with Easter when you’re facing another situation with a rebellious child, and you feel as if there’s no patience left?

What will you do with Easter when you lay in bed tonight, wondering how you’ll face tomorrow?

What will you do with Easter now that Easter is gone?

As much as I’m captivated and riveted by the reality of the Empty Tomb, I need to be honest with you: it’s a struggle for me to remember them once the celebration of Easter has died down.

This is where 1 Corinthians 15:58 is so helpful for me:

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

(Just for reference, 1 Corinithans 15 is arguably the New Testament’s longest and most detailed treatise on the Resurrection. In the final verse, the Apostle Paul gives us marching orders for how to live because of Easter.)

There are 3:

1. The Empty Tomb comforts us.

Difficult and unpredictable realities of life in a fallen world are guaranteed, but we can “be steadfast and immovable” even when we don’t understand, because our Risen Savior rules over everything that would confuse us.

2. The Empty Tomb motivates us.

If Christ rose from death, reigns in power, and is coming back again, we should be the most motivated community on earth, “always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Enough of mere survival – we should help others thrive right here, right now, because we believe in victory, redemption, and transformation.

3. The Empty Tomb assures us.

If the Resurrection guarantees eternity, then we believe that our suffering and ministry “is not in vain.” Life will get discouraging – at times, it won’t seem like there is an end in sight, or progress is invisible. But a Second Coming is coming, and we will be rewarded for our faith.

Don’t wait until next Easter to celebrate these realities!

3 Principles That Will Change the Way You’re Followed
 
If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for ways to build and enhance the team you oversee. In order to lead a team that will want to stay with you through good times and bad, you have to lead in a way that truly invokes trust and an ownership mentality in your team.
 
Below are three leadership principles that I’ve found to be essential for building and maintaining a healthy team culture:
 
1. Be Authentic
You have to check ego and pride at the door and not think too highly of yourself. The more “real” you are with your team, the more they will respect you. As generations progress, the lack of trust in leadership continues to grow. It’s important that your team feels like they know you, but that will only happen if you bypass the easy emotional route and instead take the time and get invested in them.
 
2. Let Go
You cannot do everything. God has equipped you with unique gifts and talents, for sure, but He also did that for everyone else. Utilize the team you have around you. Trust them with the responsibilities you’ve given them and let go. Don’t micromanage. Seriously, don’t. You will get so much more out of your team if they believe that you have faith in them to get things done. Plus, they will often surprise you with their ideas and ingenuity.
 
3. Encourage
Encouragement is sometimes the hardest gift to give others, but as a leader it’s essential to validate your team’s efforts. All of us have the desire to be accepted and “valued” in other people’s eyes. Take every opportunity to be an encouragement to those on your team. The great thing is they will not only feel appreciated, but it will also give you a lift.
 
Though these three principles don’t encapsulate everything it takes to be a good leader, if you master these, you’ll be lightyears ahead of most other leaders.

04.24.17

Millennials Differ From Other Generations in Almost Every Regard by William Cummings
usatoday.com
There is nothing new about comments on how “kids these days” are different from the generations that came before them. In the case of Millennials, the U.S. Census Bureau has some data to back those observations up.
“Today’s young adults look different from prior generations in almost every regard: how much education they have, their work experiences, when they start a family, and even who they live with while growing up,” says a report from the Census Bureau released Wednesday.
The report looks at changes in social, economic and demographic trends among young American adults, defined as ages 18 to 34, over the past 40 years.
It found they increasingly live at home and delay starting a family. According to the report, that trend reflects a wider shift in attitudes about the importance of work and education over family. For example, more than half of all Americans think marriage and children are not important steps in becoming an adult, while “more than 9 in 10 Americans believe that finishing school and being gainfully employed are important milestones of adulthood.”
The report’s author, Jonathan Vespa, a demographer at the Census Bureau, looked at four “common milestones of adulthood:” Getting married, having kids, getting a job and living on your own. He found the percentage of Americans achieving all four of those milestones by age 34 dropped from 45% in 1975 to 24% in 2016.
Vespa also found that while living on your own and holding a job was the fourth most common scenario in 1975, being a “single worker” was the second most common scenario by 2016 (a rise from 6% to 23%).
The report also found young women are pulling ahead in employment and wages, while those numbers on are the decline for young men.
Here are some of the report’s highlights:
In 1975, 25% of men between 25 and 34 had incomes of less than $30,000 (adjusted for inflation) per year. By 2016, it was 41%.
The number of young women ages 25 to 34 in the workforce jumped more than 40% between 1975 and 2016.
Those young women saw their median income rise from $23,000 to $29,000 in the same time period, although it remains $11,000 lower than young men.
Between 1975 and 2016, the number of young female “homemakers” dropped from 43% to 14%.
1 in 3 young Americans lives with a parent or parents. Of those, 1 in 4 does not work or go to school.
In 1975, far more young adults lived with a spouse than a parent. By 2016, more young adults lived with their parents than a husband or wife.
41% of young families had a student debt in 2013, up from 17% in 1989 and the amount owed on those loans has almost tripled.
Young adults are increasingly putting off children and marriage.
Vespa cautioned against drawing broad assumptions about young Americans based on this data. For example, living with their parents may now be the most common living arrangement among young adults, “but we want to be careful and not say that one experience describes all of the young adults who are living in their parents’ home.”
Many assume those young Americans are in the basement playing video games, but most of the more than 8.3 million young people living with their parents are either working or in school. Roughly 25% of those young people are not employed or going to school, but out of that group 28% have a disability and another 21% have a child.
It is also important to note these trends fluctuate among different demographic groups. For example, 37% of black Americans between ages 18 and 34 live at home, compared with 26% of young Asians and 21% of young black Americans live with a spouse or unmarried partner, compared with 44% of whites.
There are also dramatic differences depending on where young Americans live. In many Midwestern states, the increase in young adults living at home has grown far more gradually than in other regions. North Dakota actually had 3.5% fewer young adults living with their parents in 2015 than 2005. Florida, on the other hand, saw that group grow 11% in the same time period.
As the report concludes: “If one theme describes how adulthood has changed over the last 40 years, it is growing complexity.”

04.24.17

Four Paradoxes Today’s Students Experience by Tim Elmore

Sophie, a 17-year old junior in high school, said it best: “I think I would have preferred growing up in the 90s.”

Today’s teens are the newest demographic with a label. They’re called Generation Z, the Centennials, The Pivotals, the iGeneration, the Mosaics and the Homelanders. According to British news source The Guardian, “They’ve grown up with social media, a constant proliferation of information on a fully mobile internet, the rise of Islamic State and other forms of terrorism. As these teenagers approach adulthood, against the political backdrop of Brexit and President Trump, how will they shape the future?”

My observation is simple.

They will be OK with irony. They’re a generation of paradox.

Four Paradoxes I See in the Students of Generation Z

Let me outline four specific paradoxes I see in our work with secondary schools and universities that describe the population born since the turn of the century. The Millennials are morphing into the Centennials or Gen. Z. According to historians Howe and Strauss, we must embrace a historical perspective. Every new generation:

  • Breaks with the previous generation.

(Generation Z will break with patterns of Generation Y).

  • Corrects the mistakes of two generations older.

(They will try to correct the mistakes of their parents’ generation.)

  • Replaces what three generations ago achieved.

(They’ll replace what they love about their grandparents’ generation.)

Four Paradoxes We’ve Found in Today’s Students:

1. They Are Connected, yet Lonely

They readily admit they experience shallow friendships. They’re connected to 1,000 friends, but do any of them really feel close? Maybe not. No doubt, all demographics today can experience this shallowness to a degree. We all have access to social media. Humans are social creatures and we generally long for a sense of community. We like to feel connected. However, it doesn’t surface in superficiality. Adolescents today are on a screen for the equivalent of a full-time job. This is good news and bad news. We are over-informed, but not always about ideas or thoughts that matter. And not always with relationships that matter. Often we care more about replying to a follower on Twitter we don’t even know than responding to a friend in the same room.

The Conversation to Have: Can you be comfortable on-line AND off-line, with people in face-to-face relationships? How are you developing your interpersonal skills?

2. They Are Indulged, yet Hyper-Stressed

Many of these students from the middle class and affluent homes are indulged by parents and technology. They are growing up in a world that is quick, convenient, entertaining, and safe, which often furnishes them with a sense of entitlement to a good life. Ironically, these same teens feel stressed out by the very lives they live. Mental health issues are expanding rapidly. TIME magazine felt this was such a vital issue in our culture, they documented this over-exposed generation of teens, saying: “Anxiety and depression in high school kids have been on the rise since 2012 after several years of stability. It’s a phenomenon that cuts across all demographics: suburban, urban and rural; those who are college bound and those who aren’t.”

The Conversation to Have: Can you unplug? Stress levels and anxiety will not decrease with meds alone. Challenge them to “fast” from technology for a day.

3. They Post Happy Selfies, yet Are Overtly Dissatisfied 

Today’s teens are called the “selfie generation.” Social scientists predict the average teen will take 25,000 selfies in their lifetime. They seem to love themselves, their clothes, their vacations, their pets, even their food. At the same time, teens report being generally unhappy and discontented. “What we’re seeing is a generation of children who are expressing much more clearly that they are generally so unhappy with themselves and the situations around them,” says Emily Cherry, head of participation at the NSPCC. “Every time they switch on their phones they’re getting messages about parties they haven’t been invited to, or they’re seeing photos of their friends doing things, or their whole self-worth is based on how many likes they’re getting on Facebook. It absolutely permeates their sense of self-worth.”

The Conversation to Have: Can you replace FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) with FOMO (Fight for One Main Objective)? Challenge them to mono-task, not multi-task. Persuade them to pursue one important goal and not worry about activities they miss.

4. They Are Hopeful, yet Cynical 

This one is probably true for every generation of teens, but is more tangible now than when older Millennials were adolescents. When 18-year olds had their first chance to vote in the November election, many elected…to not bother to vote. Neither candidate inspired most of them. While they still desire to change the world, too many have a “why bother?” attitude when it comes to involvement in civic responsibilities. Unlike the early Millennials, they may choose to work outside the boundaries of the establishment. It feels “corrupt” and some students have told me the “system seems like it’s rigged.” They can be both savvy and naïve at the same time. The phrase that came to my mind as I reviewed our 2016 focus group results was: “Students are coping and hoping.”

The Conversation to Have: Do you take time to play? In order to develop well, their brain needs margins in the day and unsupervised time to pursue their own goals. Self-directed and purposeful activity is almost always a cure for cynicism.

Are these conversation starters helpful? I can hardly wait to release content like this in a brand new book coming out this July, entitled Marching Off the Map: Inspiring Students to Navigate This Brand New World.

04.24.17

Eight Action Steps for Managing Team Expectations by Tim Elmore

growingleaders.org

When we work with athletic departments, under the leadership of J. T. Thoms, we almost always take surveys of both coaches and student athletes. They provide us with data that informs our events and ensures that our partnership is guided by their pain points. These surveys also furnish us with a clear picture of what teams need.

May I unveil a big problem we continue to hear about?

Expectations.

Here’s a common scenario. A student athlete tells me her coach doesn’t communicate expectations clearly. She says, “He thinks he does,” but she and her teammates feel surprised by their coach’s decisions and by how little they know about what he really wants. (This can be both male and female teams).

When I speak with the coaches, they often don’t agree at all with the students’ assessments. They are surprised the student athletes feel “in the dark.” They believe they’ve communicated clearly and frequently about what is expected next week.

Handling Expectations

It has been said, “Life is pretty much about managing expectations.” People can handle lots of adversity and change when they expect to do so. Trouble arises when we expect the path to be easy or fast and it’s not. The most common problems are:
  • Unclear expectations

Every year, student athletes—particularly from football and basketball— complain that they had no idea how much classroom assignments would occupy their time. We all remember former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones tweeting about how he came to “play football, not play school.” He later regretted that tweet and now disavows it, but it describes how players can enter college with unclear assumptions about what’s most important.

  • Unrealistic expectations 

A disproportionate amount of student athletes have unrealistic expectations of playing time, as well as their future careers as professional athletes. According to a 2016 NCAA study, 50 percent of Division 1 male athletes think it’s likely they’ll “go pro.” The probability is actually about 2 percent. Many have been the best athlete in their high school, and they are unprepared to join a team of equally talented students in college. They carry a distorted picture of reality.

  • Unmet expectations

Many student athletes enter college with unspoken expectations—from their parents or themselves—and since they’re unspoken, they’re almost destined to be unmet. Student athletes can become bitter or resentful when what they envisioned does not become a reality. According to the NCAA, about 15 percent of Division 1 athletes are first-generation college students. Few have anyone to offer them guidelines for how to interface with college coaches.

Eight Steps for Managing Team Expectations 

1. Invite them into the goal-setting process and decide how you’ll communicate.

Expectations usually work better when all parties get involved in creating them. I like to say: students support what they help create. So, from the beginning, host a team retreat and collectively determine the targets for the year. Then, invite the team to choose how the regular communication will happen.

2. State it clearly, constantly and creatively.

Once you and your team determine expectations for each other in the upcoming season, say it over and over and over again. Use clear and simple language. (Test it on a middle school student). Find times at every meeting to say it again. Post it in writing in visible places. Then, find new and creative ways to remind them of the stated expectations.

3. What gets rewarded gets repeated.

Remember the key motivator for almost everyone: What gets rewarded gets repeated. Find ways to celebrate or reward the players who practice the team’s expectations. Make them models for their teammates. This doesn’t have to be cheesy or corny; it can be authentic moments where you affirm what you want from everyone.

4. Play a game called: What’s it like to be . . . on the other side of me?

This one is fun. In a candid team time, announce that you plan to meet with them as individuals and play a little game called: “What’s it like to be on the other side of me?” We learned this game from Jeff Henderson and play it at Growing Leaders. It provides time for two parties to interact honestly about how the other comes across. It raises self-awareness on a team and always tends to clarify expectations.

5. Utilize “thermostats” or liaisons for the team.

I know coaches who choose five players to become the key communicators for the team. These are natural influencers on the team and these athletes are the middle-men between coaches and players. They help translate expectations so that no one misses them. Leverage these leaders to sustain your high expectations.

6. Spot the bad eggs.

From the start, you can probably identify the team members who don’t seem to catch your expectations or who tend to be negative influences on their teammates. From the beginning, pull them aside and build a relationship. Earn their trust and then be clear that you’ll call them out if they don’t get on board the “expectations train.”

7. Plan regular “family talk times.”

Aside from practices and prep times before competition, plan regular times for the team to act like family, where they can talk freely, safely and air out any frustrations. These need not be times you fear. They can actually help players bond. But a strong leader must facilitate these “talk times.” You must be secure enough to guide them and make them redemptive in the end. This becomes a good time to clarify expectations.

8. In every interaction—require confirmation.

Effective teams over-communicate. Coaches send messages (digitally or personally) and require players to confirm they got it and they understand it. This increases accountability on everyone’s part. No communiqué goes only one way. Make this clear up front, at the beginning of the season.

04.24.17

We Need More Bible in Youth Ministry: Four Reasons to Give Teens God’s Word by Katherine Forster

desiringgod.org

For me, Bible study started at a young age.

I was blessed to have parents who encouraged my brothers and me to get into the word early, to write things down, to learn for ourselves what it had to teach. I’m sure I thought it was boring at the time; but now that I’m a teenager, I’m starting to realize this personal discipline is essential to my life and future.

It was through personal, inductive Bible study that I learned to really love God’s word. But when I look at the church around me, I don’t see much emphasis on Bible study in youth ministries. We’re encouraged to read our Bible, of course; but what the Christian culture gives us is one lesson after another on “issues,” and very little encouragement to study the Scriptures in depth.

But we teens need Bible study — more than we even realize. Here are four reasons I believe pastors, teachers, youth leaders, and Christian parents need to encourage and exhort us to study the Bible, and teach us how to do it.

1. We desperately need the truth.

No one argues that Christian teens today are facing a massive onslaught of temptation and opposition, perhaps even more so than previous generations. Chances are the youth in your church are dealing with all kinds of issues — from depression to peer pressure to the LGBT agenda to uncertainty about what lies beyond graduation.

Now, more than ever, we need the truth of God’s word as our rock and anchor. Only the Bible gives us what we need to sift through the lies; to stand strong in the face of trials; to live lives that are focused on Christ and his glory, and even to make this goal a priority.

2. We need to see these truths for ourselves.

It’s also no secret that we learn more and remember better when we enter into the process of discovery for ourselves. I’ve benefited hugely from the teaching of my parents, my pastor, and many others — but my greatest joy in God’s word has been in the truths I discovered on my own. There’s something about the process of discovery that makes the thing discovered so much more valuable. You hold it closer, and treasure it more highly.

Teens need this experience of discovery in the Bible. Middle and high school are often a time of searching, of discovery, and of wonder. We don’t just want to be told something; we want to find it for ourselves. So, teach us to search the Scriptures, and give us the tools to do it.

3. We need to be challenged.

Luke 2:52 records that “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” By age twelve, he was learned enough in the Torah that he could hold an educated conversation with the religious leaders of his day.

Teens today are rarely encouraged to engage in deep, life-transforming study of the Bible, or in literate conversations about it. We’re encouraged to read it, and while that’s a great starting place (and a necessary one), it can’t be the end. We are definitely capable of thinking deeply and wrestling with tough topics, so hold us to a higher standard. Challenge us, give us something to reach for.

The teen years are a time of habit development. If we begin now to form the habit of Bible study, we’ll be equipped with a solid foundation when we finally leave the authority of our parents, teachers, and youth leaders.

4. We need the fellowship.

The stereotype is unfortunate, but true. Youth groups can often be breeding grounds for cliques, fights, and all kinds of high school drama. With a little help from social media, little things become big things and a circle of friends turns into an exclusive “group” faster than a relationship can become “Facebook official.”

At the start of his first epistle, the apostle John explained his reason for writing. “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).

The basis of all true fellowship is God’s word. Do you want unity in your youth group? Let your teens come together around the Bible. When there’s something deeper in common than school, sports teams, or music preferences, fellowship becomes much deeper, more lasting, and more impactful for both us and the larger community of faith.

Equipping the Future Church

Teens are the future church. We’re the leaders, teachers, pastors, evangelists, authors, artists, engineers, and stay-at-home moms of twenty years from now. Please, equip us to do what we’ve been called to do. Give us the tools to pursue a dynamic, growing relationship with our Creator.

Entertainment is not necessarily bad, but we can’t survive on or find real joy in that alone. We need the truths of the Bible. Teach us to find them for ourselves, and you will impact the rest of our lives and ministeries.

04.17.17

Hi! I am praying for you right now! 

Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
Leadership is an activity, not a position. #Fritson.
You can’t say you’re not hearing from God if you don’t open your bible. #brown
Choose to follow Jesus today so you can follow him tomorrow. #denison
God never gives us discernment so that we may criticize, but that we may intercede. #chambers
 
FYI:
1. Parent’s Guide to Teen Depression… https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/teen-depression-signs-help.htm?inf_contact_key=e6bddb2d2e5463a28d8f65896cb835368368eb98e90eff40f0288643365c9319
3. White millennials are the most apathetic about the American Dream… https://qz.com/937266/young-white-americans-are-the-most-apathetic-about-the-american-dream-a-new-study-of-millennials-shows/
 
4. Why Developing Your Team Matters (below)
 
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
Did You Know? Jesus Features in Most Religions by Greg West 
Teens Can’t Get Enough of Mobile Video: they watch a lot of Netflix and YouTube daily by Rimma Kats
How to get your students to stop doing the “Christian” life by Darren Sutton 
6 Ways to Craft an Ineffective Sermon by Tony Morgan (Just a few good reminders!)
 

Here are 2 video links I think you might like to see:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffzB_HK9sNU That’s My KING!
 
Here are 2 just for you:
 
A Life of Priorities
“I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” John 17:4

When Peter was a young fisherman in Galilee, no one would have thought he was destined to become the passionate leader of a world movement. After all, he had almost no education and probably would have been happy to live the remainder of his life in obscurity. But God had something else in mind, and when Peter met Jesus, his priorities began to change.

Like many leaders, Peter had to learn how to put first things first. In fact, Scripture reveals a lot about the inconsistencies of his behavior and his many irrational decisions. But the more time Peter spent with Jesus, the more he learned the difference between mere activity and accomplishment.

Like Peter, great leaders sift through the many things that demand their time, and they discern not only what needs to be done first, but also what doesn’t need to be done at all. That starts with a passion to excel. When you focus your passion on what’s most important, your leadership climbs to new heights.

 
 
Team Success Brings Individual Success
“But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:24-26

If your team members believe in the goals of the team and begin to develop genuine trust in one another, they will be in a position to demonstrate true teamwork. Notice that I mention the team members will be in a position to demonstrate true teamwork. That does not necessarily mean that they will do it.

For there to be teamwork, several things must happen. First, team members must genuinely believe that the value of the team’s success is greater than the value of their own individual interests. Second, personal sacrifice must be encouraged and then rewarded-by the team leader and the other members of the team. As this happens, the people will identify themselves more and more with the team, and they will recognize that individualism wins trophies, but teamwork wins pennants.

 

Why Developing Your Team Matters by Jennifer Hooks

childrensministry.com

If you’ve ever thought about giving up on training and developing your team, don’t. Discover why developing your team matters to your ministry’s success.

Great teams translate into great experiences for families in your ministry. Sure, it may be easier to recruit, do background checks, and give volunteers their assignments, then step aside to focus on your next event or simply go in your office and close the door. But great teams aren’t built this way. You must keep work continually to develop and invest in your team. But don’t fret—it really is the small things that make the biggest difference.

  • Use strategic communication. Your volunteers have a lot of information coming at them. Communicate—but don’t overdo it. Too much communication dilutes the important things you need to share.
  • Thank each volunteer every week. Look people in the eye before they leave and personally thank them.
  • Use grace, not pressure. Your volunteers lead busy lives completely outside of ministry. Things will happen. When they can’t serve, be understanding.
  • Train in small bites. Rather than asking your team to show up for long, unnecessary meetings, find creative ways to convey the knowledge you need to so it isn’t a burden.
  • Make yourself accessible. Give volunteers your personal cell phone number. Answer questions on the spot or get back to volunteers within 24 hours.
  • Keep the culture enjoyable. Your attitude is contagious. Stay positive and upbeat.
  • Serve your volunteers when they serve. See yourself as a flight attendant. Spend your mornings moving from room to room to meet your team’s needs.
  • Get to know your volunteers. Know what’s going on in their lives. Call them just to see how they’re doing.
  • Show you care. Give back to your team. Bring cookies and treats for the team on weekends.
  • Listen a lot more than you talk. When people know you really listen, they’ll give you access to their heart.
  • Connect volunteers with each other. Help build relationships among the people volunteers serve alongside. When people develop a relationship with others they serve with, they’ll stay.
  • Keep love as a top priority. Ensure your team knows you love them just as they are. Above all else—love them!

04.17.17

Did You Know? Jesus Features in Most Religions by Greg West

thepoachedegg.net

You’ve probably heard the phrase: “All religions are basically the same”. Regardless of what your answer to this statement is, there is one very interesting aspect that is common across the majority of religions, and that is Jesus. Most religions have something positive to say about Jesus because he is universally highly regarded.  They include him in their religious framework.

Its seems that everybody wants Jesus.

I was fascinated to discover this. It became part of what I covered with our kids this summer as we learned a bit about other religions. Here are some examples of how various religions make a claim on Jesus.

Islam

Jesus is considered one of the major prophets sent by God to tell people that there is only one God (i.e. Allah). Muslims believe that Jesus was born of a virgin and performed miracles; two miraculous signs that Mohammad did not have. Jesus will appear before Mohammad’s second coming to announce Mohammad’s arrival. Jesus did not die on the cross (that would be unthinkable to a Muslim), but ascended into heaven untouched and Judas died in His place.

Buddhism

Jesus is considered to have been a spiritual master similar to the Buddha, or to have been a bodhisattva(someone who attained enlightenment but was compassionate enough toward humanity that he refused to enter nirvana in order to help others toward it).

Hinduism

Jesus is considered a great moral teacher. Gandhi’s teachings, which carry a lot of weight with most Hindus, included the following statement: “I shall say to the Hindus that your lives will be incomplete unless you reverently study the teachings of Jesus.” (Hingorani, 23)

New Age

Jesus was a good moral teacher. New Age adherents particularly point to Jesus’ teachings on tolerance (not judging others) and love.

Judaism

Many Jewish people would claim that Jesus was a good moral teacher, even though the name of Jesus became sullied along with Christianity in the eyes of many Jewish people.

Secularism/Atheism

If he actually existed, Jesus was a good moral teacher.  (Atheists tend to believe that the authors of the New Testament embellished the accounts of Jesus so that we have very little certainty about the actual historical details of his life.)

Shintoism

Jesus is included as one of many deities to be worshiped.

Where do these ideas about Jesus come from?

This list isn’t exhaustive, but isn’t it interesting? There is some sort of agreement that Jesus was an exceptional spiritual leader who should be taken seriously. Clearly many people believe in some way that Jesus represented God or an ‘ultimate reality’ and that his teachings deserve recognition.

Note how all of the ‘versions’ of Jesus in each of the religions cited above reference him as a ‘Good Moral Teacher’ or ‘Miscellaneous Deity’.

What evidence do these religious adherents base their conclusions about Jesus on?

The New Testament has the fullest record about the life and purpose of Jesus.  If you are trying to figure out who Jesus was, doesn’t it make sense to at least start that search with the largest collection of historically sound documentation that describes what he said about himself? If everyone regards Jesus so highly, shouldn’t we look to him first to see who he said he was and what the purpose was behind his coming?

What did Jesus say about Himself?

The New Testament quotes Jesus as claiming to be both God and the Messiah (Mark 14:61-63, Matthew 17:5). He claimed that the only way to God was through Him (John 14:6) and that His death was paying the ransom for many (John 8:24, Matthew 20:27-29). These can’t easily be reconciled with the ‘downgraded’ labels of ‘Good Moral Teacher’ or ‘Miscellaneous Deity’.

When it comes to Jesus, your source matters – and so do your labels. He can’t just be whomever you decide him to be.  He is who he says he was, or he is nothing.

C.S. Lewis provided the best summary to date on this problem:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher [because he claimed to be God]. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg ‑ or else he would be the Devil of Hell [because he would be a liar who is trying to deceive people]. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God: or else a madman or something worse. […] You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” (Mere Christianity (1952) Fount Paperbacks, p.52)

What do you think?  Are you surprised at how many religions make a claim on Jesus?  Could he still be only a ‘good moral teacher’ and make the claims that he did about himself?

04.17.17

Teens Can’t Get Enough of Mobile Video: they watch a lot of Netflix and YouTube daily by Rimma Kats

emarketer.com

US teens spend a lot of time watching video on their phones.

And with so many options out there—like YouTube, Netflix and Hulu—that’s not really surprising.

According to a Think with Google survey conducted by Ipsos, roughly seven in 10 teen smartphone users spend at least three hours per day watching video on their phones.

That’s a higher percentage of respondents than any other smartphone activity mentioned, including social networking.

Over half (51%) of teens said they spend three or more hours a day on social networks, and another 52% said the same about messaging apps.

Meanwhile, roughly four in 10 respondents said they spent 3 or more hours each day playing games.

Smartphone ownership, which often bolsters video viewing, is high among teens.

A December 2016 report from Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization supporting children and media, revealed that nearly eight in 10 respondents ages 13 to 18 owned a smartphone. In fact, teens were more likely to own a smartphone than a tablet, video game console or laptop.

But looking beyond smartphone usage, this demographic generally watches a lot of video content—on mobile, cable TV or streaming services.

Data from Piper Jaffray looked at the different channels used daily by teens to consume video content. The study found that many teens like to watch Netflix: In H2 2016, 37% of teens’ daily time spent viewing video content occurred via the service.

Cable TV accounted for one-quarter of daily viewing, while YouTube made up another 26% of teens’ video time.

04.17.17

How to get your students to stop doing the “Christian” life by Darren Sutton
youthministry.com
Our culture values doing over being. Business cards reveal what we do, not who we are. College applications ask what students have accomplished, not who they’ve become. Even churches and youth groups sometimes unwittingly encourage right actions before faithful hearts.

It’s an easy trap to fall into, for sure. Here are a few ways to recognize the differences…

DO asks: Have you read your Bible today?

BE asks: When you read your Bible, what trait of Jesus do you resonate with most?

DO asks: When is the last time you raised your hands in worship?

BE asks: When was a time you were so captivated by worship that you felt lost in lyrics and emotion? What was that environment like, and how did it influence your response? What was happening inside you at the time, and why?

DO asks: How many service hours have you logged?

BE asks: Who are “the least of these” in your sphere of influence? When you notice them, what do you do, or wish you would do? Is prayer an action or a copout in these situations?

DO says: You know how to behave. Don’t step outside the lines and do something bad.

BE says: Your heart is the wellspring of life and action. When you mess up or fall short, what do you say to yourself? What does Jesus say to you? What would you want him to say?

DO says: Everyone needs a regular quiet time.

BE says: When you pay ridiculous attention to Jesus, every moment becomes your quiet time. He speaks in a myriad of ways, including special, set-aside times for him and everyday, run-of-the-mill times for you. Are you looking for Jesus in all your moments, not just the quiet ones?

Jesus is more intent about who we’re becoming than what we’re doing for him or even how we’re behaving.

Behaviors and actions are dictated and measured by the unseen forces on the inside. Those compel us to notice Jesus and allow him the space to transform us. If we help teenagers get their actions right before we help them engage their hearts, we create shells—whitewashed tombs—capable of regurgitating “water” from an unclean well, laced with toxins that don’t allow for a very long shelf life.But if we help kids embrace the BE of the Jesus-centered life before they embrace the DO? That builds a pure well whose water is life to those who drink it.

04.17.17

6 Ways to Craft an Ineffective Sermon by Tony Morgan
theunstuckgroup.com

You have never tried to make your message irrelevant, boring, or incomprehensible. At least I hope not!

But you find yourself preaching while questioning your effectiveness. You walk up to deliver a sermon lacking confidence in your content. You question your ability. Your capacity. Even your calling.

Of course, this isn’t the case EVERY time you preach, but more times than you’d like to admit.

Option 1:

The easy solution is to become hyper-spiritual. Say you are “trusting” God and the Holy Spirit to speak in spite of you. Not to be irreverent, though. We know at the heart of preaching, spiritual intervention is necessary. But we all know the difference between “I’m ready to go and trusting God to do what only He can do” and “I’m not close to ready, so God perform a miracle.”

Option 2:

You could opt to blame your church. “People just aren’t the same today. They’re not committed! They’re consumers!” Well, yes. Yes they are. People are different today. But that should never be an excuse for ineffectiveness. You can’t change culture, but you can harness it and leverage it’s power.

Luckily, the fundamentals of effective preaching are just that – fundamental. But if you want terrible sermons on a more consistent basis, just follow this list of rules:

1. Don’t connect.

Content comes through credibility. Not the letters you proudly show after your name, but the connection you create with the crowd. Your credentials aren’t enough to connect to your crowd. Preachers and teachers too often mistake their academic credibility for their crowd credibility. Just because you are wearing a microphone doesn’t mean people care what you are saying, especially those who are skeptical of God, the church, and pastors.

If you want to ensure your content is never heard, never connect yourself to the audience. They won’t care, because they won’t know you care.

2. Don’t leverage felt needs.

The Bible is the ultimate source of truth. There is a seemingly unlimited amount of wisdom, life application, and help found in Scripture. But people are inherently selfish. They want to know exactly how what you are about to say is going to help them live better, enjoy life, or solve their problem. If you present the truth of Scripture before you engage their mind, you have a solution searching for a problem.

We call this “identifying the tension.” Every truth has a tension it resolves. You can find the tension by asking this question: What is the problem that needs a solution, the question that needs an answer, the tension that needs a resolution, or the mystery that needs illumination?

If you want your sermon to be ineffective, be sure to leave out any tension to hear the truth. The Christians will listen politely. The non-believers won’t come back.

3. Give tons of information.

For some reason we Christians have been led to believe more information makes for deeper sermons. But more information is the last thing we need. We have MORE than enough information. Christians as a group are the most over-informed, under-applied people I’ve ever seen.What we lack is handles of application.

If your sermon goal is loading up on information, please find a better goal. Or just accept ineffective as your result.

4. Make it boring.

People are consumers. We hate it in the church, but rather than fight against it, we should leverage it. If people are going to be visual, then leverage illustrations. I recently saw a stat claiming people remember only 10 percent of what is said three days later. Add a picture, however, and your recall rate will soar to 65 percent. Don’t fight that, leverage it. Use illustrations and images to help your congregation engage and remember.

We love using “sticky statements” to help make messages memorable. Such as, “Conversations create connections,” “Your growing relationship with Jesus is built on your growing trust in Jesus,” and “Church isn’t somewhere we go, it’s someone we are.”

Of course, you can just read the Bible to them if you prefer. Just make sure you wake them up when it’s over.

5. Make it LONG…

I hate reading the 250-page book that has 100 pages of actual content. The author just repeats themselves over and over to better prove the point – or to get more pages to the publisher. Many sermons feel like that. They go on and on and on. That’s good for batteries, but bad for messages.

Here’s a suggestion: Don’t preach for time; preach for purpose. Don’t preach the time allotment; preach the time necessary to make your point. If you can do it in 28 minutes, do it in 28 minutes. Sitcoms somehow make it happen.

If you want your sermon to be ineffective, preach for length. Your listeners will be sure to tune you out.

6. Make it a “Saturday Night Special.”

When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Somebody important said that.

When it comes to your message, the time your put into preparation will directly correlate to the effectiveness of your preaching. Plan ahead. Decide on topics, series, and passages weeks in advance. Leverage Evernote or other tools to capture ideas, illustrations, and stories.

Or, you can just ramble for a while, say a few Greek words to impress the Christians, and circle around a passage until the time runs out. That’s always an option.

Being ineffective is NEVER a preacher’s goal. But too often preachers don’t consider the simple components of a successful sermon. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way.