7 Issues We Need To Talk About In Our Youth Groups by Aaron Crumbey


Here are a few topics I believe we as youth workers need to speak on in our ministries. I do believe that the increase in the statistics of these areas is largely due to social media. So as you read through think about how is social media affecting these areas and how can you affectively address them in your ministry. Notice that I don’t give solutions, because I believe every youth group is different and you know your students better. I wrote this to hopefully open our eyes a bit to what could potentially be going on in our youth groups.

  1. Bullying: (Source: stageoflife.com) – Bullying is still prevalent as it has always been, but with social media it has increased. Now students can be bullied 24 hours around the clock. 91% admit to being a victim of bullying.
  2. Texting and Social Media: (Source: stageoflife.com) – 57% of teens credit their mobile device with improving their life. They also see it as key to their social life. The average teen spent 31 hours a week online which is like 5 hours a day via a poll done in 2009. I can imagine that number has grown with the infusion of smart phones.
  3. Sex: (Source: diseasecontrolcenter) – 47.4% of the students surveyed had sexual intercourse and out of the 47.4% that had sex 39.8% of those students did not use protection. 15.3% admitted to having sex with 4 or more people during their lifetime.
  4. Drugs and Alcohol: (Source: SADD) – Statistically 72% of all students will have consumed alcohol by the end of high school. 37% have done so before the eighth grade. 6.7% of teens between the ages of 12-17 have smoked marijuana.
  5. Body Image: (source: stageoflife.com) – More than 90% percent of all girls between the ages 15-17 want to change their appearance. Body weight is ranking the highest. 13% admit to having an eating disorder. 7 out of 10 girls believe they don’t measure up or they’re not good enough concerning their looks, performance in school and relationships. 12% of teen boys are using unproven supplements and/or steroids to improve their body image. 44% of teens use skipping meals as a way to lose or control their weight.
  6. Depression: Students are dealing with depression. From the severe to the not so severe, at any rate they are dealing with it. The NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) states that 1 in 5 teens have experienced depression.
  7. The Future: (Source: stageoflife.com) – 66% of teens are afraid of the future or life after graduation.

Now, I’m not a huge statistics type of person, but I do believe it paints somewhat of a picture for you and I to internalize into our own ministries. When I look at the numbers, I think, “how would these numbers fair in my ministry?”

Now, I know that there are more than 7 issues, and I also can tell you that these things are happening in my ministry. And if you were to take an honest look into your ministry you would probably say the same. I hope there isn’t anyone out there thinking that none of this is going on in their ministry.

Praying for students and telling them not to do something is not enough.

So the question is, what are some ways, with a Biblical perspective, that we can educate and open up dialogue about these topics with students and parents?


You Don’t Think You Need To Hear This by Leneita Fix


I still recall the look on my mentor’s face when I first started in ministry. She would get this quiet smile as I would tell her that I already knew everything and I didn’t have much to learn. My opinion was truth and there wasn’t anyone who could tell me anything differently.Years later, I understand that look she used to have. It wasn’t bitterness or even resolve. She understood there comes a point when you realize actually how little you know.

I am thankful for mentors who let me think I knew it all so that I could learn I am actually desperate for help. I do wish however, that I had been shown how to navigate the pitfalls a little better. There are lessons learned along the way, that I wish I had learned long ago. As I walk alongside the next generation, I see there are heartaches they could miss. If they could just “get” these 5 things, I truly believe they would take this world for Christ in ways that would boggle our minds:

1. Only Christ has what you need.

I know it sounds elementary.Yet, I don’t think we teach our youth HOW to have their identity in Him. Why? We don’t really believe that he has everything. I heard Francis Chan say recently that we will look to Jesus as a Savior but will we see Him as our role model for living?

When we are unhappy or the world is unfair we try to find our identity in our work, our looks, our status and even our ministry. We must learn early that we must look at ourselves through the eyes of our Savior and never lose our desperation for Him.The moment we think we can gain control, we have actually lost everything.

2. Take the hurdles head on.

I had a mentor tell me once,”You can choose to run around the hurdles in your life. We all want to do it.The problem is that there will always be another one. At some point you need to learn how to jump them.” We can run away from our challenges, the one catch is that there will be another one.That verse in James says to consider it pure joy WHEN we face trials of MANY kinds. The sooner we can learn hurdles aren’t so scary, the more we can live a full life for the Lord. It may not feel like it in the moment, but with His hand we can get over them.

3. The journey matters.

When you are 10 you want to be 13. At 13 you just want to be 16. Then 18.Then 21.Then married.Then have children. Our focus can always be on that “next thing” there is to attain. We should have goals, that is important. However, the most important lessons learned are in the journey. (It may sound like a Hallmark card, but it’s true.) Where you are right at this moment is part of the shaping process that makes you look more like Jesus.  We need to help students ask the Lord, “What do you want me to learn in the adventure we are on together today?”

4. Scars are just tattoos with better stories.

We get wounded in life and sometimes it is beyond our control. Other times people hurt us. There are moments when those that should have loved stab deep.There are even moments when our decisions are indeed irreversible. The result is always a gaping and oozing sore. What we need to ask is, “Do we want to be healed?” Our attention can be solely on the unfairness of the lesion. Forgiveness is not giving the offense absolution. Instead, it is the understanding that no one can be effective if they are trying to ignore a bullet hole in the leg. Forgiveness recognizes that bitterness causes separation in our relationship with the Lord. Forgiveness is an act of choice that is followed by feeling. Our wounds do leave scars. But, when we let the Lord heal them then we can learn to embrace them. We are no longer the walking wounded, but those who are not afraid of the tale of our scars.

5. Don’t lose your zeal.

We have a tendency to feed this mentality that all teens rebel. You know when they “grow up,” then they will live fully for Christ. The other side of this is that we can teach our youth that at some point they should be less excited and passionate about Christ. Today is the day called for Salvation. Today is the day that the Lord wants you to be fully his to be used fully by him. Does rebellion happen? Yes, we have free will. Should we expect it? No. Let’s teach this generation they don’t have to be complacent. They can be a light that the world is drawn to, no matter the age.

If I could some it all up I would say this to my youth, “Live without regret.” If we can look back with as few cringing moments as possible it will all be worth it. I think most of all I just want this generation to understand that they are more powerful than they know. Now I stand with that same smile of knowing while I remind them, they have the full potential to put my faith to shame.


Why Courage is Difficult to Develop in Teenagers by Tim Elmore


I recently asked a group of outstanding student leaders (all seniors in high school) a simple question. They were all smart — the majority of them carry a 4.0 GPA — and many plan to attend Ivy League schools. If any teen should be confident about their future, it should be them. So I asked:

“Are you afraid of the future?”

Their response reminded me that courage is not merely about believing in yourself or your smarts or your giftedness. Something else is involved. What’s more, it seems that courage is a virtue that appears more rarely today than in the past—and when we see it, we are enraptured. When a young member of ISIS displays it, he may take the lives of innocent people, and we are terrorized by his courage. When a young teen displays it by standing up to a bully at school, we want to give her a prize. We admire her. Courage is so important to cultivate today, because without it, students cannot truly lead. Winston Churchill said, “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the one which guarantees all others.” So why is courage so difficult to build in young people today?

1. We live in a pluralistic world with many options.

Our world is more complex and confusing than ever. Right and wrong are fuzzy. Few situations seem black or white; there is a lot of gray. (Sometimes fifty shades of it). This makes us reluctant to speak out or act.

2. We don’t want to fail.

Failure is a four-letter word today — no one wants to fail. Parents work to prevent failure in their children, while schools have inflated grades since 1970. Sadly, the fear of failure hinders courageous acts.

3. We “baptize” tolerance and blending in.

In a world where we’re told to tolerate everything, kids shrink from taking a stand for fear they might offend someone. While I see the need for tolerance among perspectives, obsession with it can dilute our courage to lead change.

4. We fear social media will haunt us if we’re wrong.

Social media can be a friend and an enemy of courage. We love to broadcast what we do—but because what we say online expands and remains there forever, it can suffocate a student’s courage to do or say something risky.

5. We lack clarity today.

Reflect for a moment. Clarity enables a person to act courageously. When we see a problem and recognize a clear solution, it fosters courage. Without clarity, courage leaks. Resolve gets diluted. We hesitate to take a risk.

Why is Courage so Important?

The truth is, only courage enables a leader to step out. In fact, the only measure of what we believe is what we do. If you want to know what people believe, don’t simply read what they write or ask what they think — just observe what they do. Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.

Too many educators tell me an increasing number of students are afraid to step up and take a leadership position—as a resident advisor, a club leader, a student government officer, or a committee chairperson. For whatever reason, young people are frequently afraid to take a stand or invest the time. I wonder if it has anything to do with the need for a large dose of courage.

In the early part of the 19th century, senator Henry Clay had ambitions to become president. During his campaign, Clay stood in front of his fellow congressmen and made a speech on a very controversial issue. Just before stepping up to the podium, a friend grabbed his arm and stopped him. “Henry Clay, if you try to pass this bill, you’ll ruin your chances to become president.”

Clay looked down at his written speech. After a pause, he asked, “But is this right?”

When his friend responded that he felt it was, Henry Clay gave a classic reply: “Well, then, I’d rather be right than president.”

Wow… if only we used those words today.

This is what courage enables a person to do: to stand for what they believe is right; to risk their reputation, re-election or popularity; to take a risk, even if acting alone.

Join me over the next two days as we address the need for courage. Tomorrow, we will attempt to define just what courage is and what it means for young leaders. On Day Three, we will look at steps students can take to grow their courage “muscle.”

Continue reading


6 Learnings On Being Present by Aaron Crumbey


Growing up I’ve had several people in my life that have made a lasting impact. I am totally the man I am today because of the people who took the time to invest in me.

I feel privileged to have been able to do the same in the lives of the students I get to invest in. And along the way, I’ve learned a ton about being present in the lives of students. I’ve also learned how serious God takes it. So i thought I’d share a few of my learnings with you:

  1. I’ve learned students are listening – They are listening to our every word. Even though they might not do what we say all the time they are still listening. I’ve had students remind me of things that I’ve said that has helped them that I don’t even remember saying. I’ve also had them call me out on things I’ve said that I didn’t think they were paying any attention to. THEY ARE LISTENING and you have the ability to speak words that will build them up in their faith. On the flip side, you also have the ability to speak words that will tear them down or lead them astray. You must know that they are listening and the things you say is affecting them for the better or worse.
  2. I’ve learned students are watching – I believe students watch us more than they listen to us. As a leader/mentor it is important we model what we preach. This is why relational ministry is so important. Because the principle behind relational ministry is that we model Christ and the biblical principles of His kingdom to students doing life together. So it’s great in the sense that they get to hopefully not just hear about a life surrendered to God, but also see one. So if you are living a life surrendered to God that’s what they will see. Likewise, if you are talking the talk, but not walking the walk they will also see that. Remember, they are watching.
  3. I’ve learned to be honest with students – Be honest about where you are in your walk with Christ. And don’t be afraid to get help with the things you don’t know. Also, be lovingly honest in your conversations where you have to speak some tough truth.
  4. I’ve learned to be their leader, not their friend – Be their leader, not their friend as if they are your age or in your stage of life. This gets people into a lot of trouble because there are no clear lines drawn. And you begin to treat them as someone you can dump all of your frustrations/worries/hangups/habits/issues on. I need to use discernment concerning sharing about my life with students; and I need friends outside of ministry that are my age (or older) and are in my stage of life or have been in my stage of life that I can personally relate to and walk my faith journey with.
  5. I’ve learned it’s important that I strive to be trustworthy and lead with integrity – Remember, having integrity is not about being right, it’s about doing what’s right. We need to point students in the right direction. We need to teach them the right direction even when you’re wrong.
  6. I’ve learned that students are vulnerable – My role in their life gives me influence. It’s important that I take it seriously and never take advantage of it. Matthew 18:6 – Sometimes we think this verse means if we cause them to start doing drugs or something terrible, but our hypocriticalness can totally cause a student to stumble, and walk away from their faith. God holds us accountable with the lives He has entrusted us with.

Your presence in the lives of students are needed. Know that it is a responsibility God takes seriously.


The Case for Well-Rounded Kids by Tim Elmore


We live in a day when adults are pushing kids to discover their strengths and focus their lives. Thanks to the Gallup organization and author Marcus Buckingham, we have learned to concentrate on building strengths and to only play in that space. Not surprisingly, this has caused parents to hone our styles and launch our kids into football, ballet, piano, theatre, tennis or gymnastics at five years old. As a result, a lot of our kids today have the notion that they can just sharpen their skill until they go pro. We’ve embraced the idea of mental focus.

While this represents progress in many ways, it’s also had its downside. I’m not so sure we’ve embraced the idea of emotional health. Over the long haul, we’re now seeing the outcomes of our leadership styles. Parents, who are convinced they are raising the next Derek Jeter, or Tiger Woods or Serena Williams, push their children to make the grade, make the team, make the dream.

In our work with students, I’ve seen the problem surface in a handful of ways: Continue reading


U.S. Teens’ Social Media Activity is Diversifying, Says Pew by Natasha Lomas


Anyone in tech can tell you that Actual Teens are hallowed ground. Where teens’ tastes wander, the industry froths itself into a frenzy attempting to follow. For teens are a bellwether of dollar valuations to come. So what are American teens keen on right now? A new report by the Pew Research Center delves into the tech that matters to the kids that matter.

First startling stat: access to mobile devices is enabling a nearly quarter (24%) of teens to be online “almost constantly”. Which does rather underline why Actual Teens are so beloved by the tech industry. These eyeballs are oh-so-hungry for content to consume.

Smartphone penetration (either ownership or access to a device) stands at a not-so-surprising three-quarters (73%) of teens, according to Pew. A further 30% of teens have access to a basic mobile.

Almost all (92%) the polled teens profess to go online daily. A majority (56%) are online several times per day. While those youngsters not getting a daily tech fix are a vanishingly tiny minority: just six per cent of teens report going online only weekly. And but 12% limit their digital activity to a once per day fix.

As you’d expect, access to mobile devices drives increased teen time online, with the vast majority (94%) of teens who access the Internet on a mobile going online daily or more often.

Interestingly the research highlights some differences across different racial and ethnic groups, with African-American and Hispanic teens most likely to report being “online constantly” (34% and 32% respectively), vs 19% of white teens. But again the big driver for being most online looks to be smartphone tech — with African-American teens most likely (85%) to have or have access to a smartphone, ergo they are also more likely to be constantly online.

That said, Hispanic teens and white teens are equally likely (71%) to be able to access a smartphone — despite Hispanic teens being more likely than white teens to report being online constantly.

“American teens, especially African-American youth, have embraced smartphones and the 24/7 access to people and information that they offer,” notes Amanda Lenhart, associate director for Research at the Pew Research Center and the report’s lead author, in a statement.

So what social media services are America’s Actual Teens obsessing about? Facebook first and foremost — which remains the dominant social network for U.S. kids. A majority (71%) of these 13- to 17-year-olds report using Facebook. Next most popular is Facebook-owned photo-sharing service Instagram, used by 52% of teens. Then it’s Snapchat (41%); Twitter(33%) and Google+ (33%); Twitter-owned Vine (24%); and Tumblr (14%).

Pew notes that teens are diversifying their social network site use, with a majority (71%) reporting using more than one social network site out of the seven platform options they were asked about. Among the fifth (22%) of teens who only use one site, most (66%) use Facebook as their sole social fix, while 13% use Google+, 13% use Instagram and 3% use Snapchat.

Facebook also came out on top as the platform teens use most often, with 41% of teens identifying it as their most frequently used social service, followed by Instagram (20%), and Snapchat (11%).


The research identified some gender differences in U.S. teens’ online social activity, with boys more likely to report visiting Facebook more often (45% of boys vs 36% of girls), and girls more likely to report using Instagram than boys (23% vs 17%). Girls are also reported as generally dominating visually oriented social media platforms (including Pinterest), while boys are more likely to report gaming activity, either on a console or their smartphone. (Although it should be noted that a majority of both genders report playing games.)

Meanwhile older teens skew in favor of Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter as their most used platform, vs younger teens being a little more focused on Instagram.

Socio-economic status also influences choice of social media, with the survey finding that wealthier teens, whose families are in middle and upper income brackets, lean a little more towards using Snapchat than those from families in lower income brackets. Twitter also skews to wealthier socio-economic backgrounds teens. Conversely, teens from less well-off households are more likely to say they use Facebook the most.

Pew also investigated teens’ messaging app use. A third (33%) of teens with access to smartphones report having messaging apps such as Kik and WhatsApp — which sounds low when compared to the 90% who report exchanging texts (i.e. cellular SMS).

On the messaging app front, the researchers again found some differences among teens of different races and ethnicities. According to the report, African-American and Hispanic youth are substantially more likely to use messaging apps than white teens, with 47% of African-American teens and 46% of Hispanic using a messaging app vs just a quarter (24%) of white teens.

The report is the first in a series of forthcoming Pew reports examining American 13- to 17-year-olds use of tech. It’s not the first time the research firm has scrutinized this demographic either, although it notes it has changed its methodology for the latest report — using an online only survey method vs telephone interviews it has used in prior teen polls — so is not making like-for-like comparisons with earlier reports. The latest survey polled a nationally representative sample of 1,060 teens over two periods, one last fall, and again in spring.


Why You Need to Teach Your Children Moral Truth by John Stonestreet

Already this year, we’ve seen a lot of evil: suicide bombings, the attacks in Paris, religious persecution, Boko Haram and ISIS. These have all outraged the world—and rightly so. But here’s a question worth pondering: will our kids be able to recognize evil when they see it? Do they even believe in moral facts?
Well, that’s the question one educator asked recently in The New York Times after making a surprising discovery about what his child was learning in school.
Justin McBrayer, an associate professor of ethics at Fort Lewis College, says he couldn’t figure out why the high school graduates showing up in his classroom had no concept of moral truth. The overwhelming majority of freshmen, he says, “view[ed] moral claims as mere opinions that are not true,” or are true only in a relative sense.
McBrayer was puzzled about this until he visited a school open house with his second-grade son. It was there that he encountered a pair of signs hanging prominently in the classroom. The first read, “Fact: Something that is true about a subject and can be tested or proven.” The next one said, “Opinion: What someone thinks, feels, or believes.”
Startled by this oversimplification, McBrayer was sure it must be a fluke. So he went home and Googled “fact vs. opinion.” And sure enough, he found lesson plans from educators around the country that alarmed him.
“…students are taught that claims are either facts or opinions,” McBrayer writes. “They are given quizzes in which they must sort out claims into one camp or the other but not both.”
The problem with this, he explains, is that many claims don’t fit nicely into either category. Many claims are both facts and opinions, because opinions, of course, can be true or false. And he decided to test whether his son understood this.
“I believe that George Washington was the first president,” he said to him. “Is that a fact or an opinion?” And the second-grader’s blank expression when the statement didn’t fit his categories, McBrayer writes, said it all.
But it gets even worse. A little digging reveals that public schools today teach, as a matter of course, that all value claims are opinions, not facts. One grade-school worksheet, for example, categorized the statements “copying homework is wrong,” “cursing in school is inappropriate,” and “all men are created equal,” as opinions—not facts.
“This is repeated ad nauseum,” McBrayer writes. “ny claim with good or right or wrong, etc. is not a fact.”
But if value statements are always opinions, why should anyone believe them? For that matter, why should kids believe a teacher who tells them that hitting is wrong? Or a college ethics professor who tells them murder is wrong?
It’s a problem that’s not restricted to second-grade classrooms. As Jamie Condliff writes at Gizmodo, researchers at Google have reportedly pioneered a new algorithm that ranks Web pages by how well their claims stack up against a library of established so-called “facts.” That library, known as Google’s “Knowledge Vault,” is programmed to sort claims into facts and opinions—just like McBrayer’s son.
“If web pages contain information that contradicts the Vault,” writes Condliff, “they slide down in the ranking.”
Unlike Common Core standards, Google’s system hasn’t been implemented yet. But if it is, our world’s most sought after source of information will be silencing dissent on controversial topics, like origins, climate change, and sexuality.
Now we need to know all of this not so we can panic, but so that we can counteract the false dichotomy so many of our kids are learning. There are moral facts. And if you need some help on how to approach this with your teenager or college age student—send them to a Summit Ministries’ summer worldview conference. It’s simply the best apologetics and worldview training program out there for students. Visit summit.org to learn more. And to see an excellent talk on moral truth by my friend Sean McDowell, come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary. It’s called, “Is There Truth, a Moral Law That We Can All Know?” and it’s terrific.


8 Values of Teamwork That Keep a Church Healthy by Rick Warren


The success of your ministry depends largely on developing a strong team with a deep sense of team spirit. I’ve witnessed the incredible power of a unified team to create growth and have counseled many churches who weren’t growing because their team members worked as individuals and not as a team.

A team spirit is never accidental; it is always intentional. Teamwork is built on three factors:

  • a compelling purpose,
  • crystal clear communication,
  • and a code of commonly held values.

At Saddleback Church, we express the eight values of teamwork in a simple acrostic, T.E.A.M.W.O.R.K.:

T – Trust

Trust among your team is the emotional glue that binds them together; it’s essential to producing true confidence in each other. There are three factors that create trust within a team:

  1. Consistency – People will trust you if, time after time, they see you responding in a consistent and reasonable manner. You also need to be readable, in the sense that they need to know where you are coming from in your decisions and responses.
  2. Loyalty – Defend members of your team when they’re criticized and then check the facts later in private, always assuming the best until there is concrete evidence to the contrary.
  3. Delegation – When you delegate to your team the power to make decisions, you’re essentially telling them: “I trust you!” People trust leaders who trust them.

E – Economy of Energy

Even a thoroughbred horse can’t run at a full gait all the time. The quickest way to burn-out a team is to never let them relax. The book of Proverbs teaches: “A relaxed attitude lengthens a man’s life.” (Proverbs 14:30, LB) If you want the people on your team to last, they must have some down time.

Here are some ways you can promote an economy of energy within your team:

  • Anticipate and compensate for personal and family energy drains, such as illnesses and new babies. Your team has a life outside of their area of ministry.
  • Allow people to work at different energy levels on different days. Some days, everyone must work fast and energetic. Other days, it is important to slow the pace a bit. In the long term, slow and steady always outlasts the fast and furious.
  • Plan your year in energy cycles. At Saddleback, we always build in rest periods for consolidation between major growth campaigns and initiatives.
  • Allow flexibility in schedules when possible.
  • Make the work fun!

A – Affirmation

Everybody is hungry for affirmation. When they don’t get it, they get cranky. It’s amazing how a smile and a simple word of encouragement can change a team member’s entire day. Four practical ways you can affirm your team would be:

  1. valuing their ideas
  2. appreciating their uniqueness
  3. commending their efforts
  4. praising their loyalty

M – Management of Mistakes

The Bible teaches: “Even though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.” (Proverbs 24:16, NIV) I love that saying because it points out that even righteouspeople make mistakes and stumble occasionally. Mistakes are not failures, because you’re never a failure until you give up. Mistakes teach us what doesn’t work. If you’re not making any mistakes, it means you’re playing it safe and not trying anything new. I tell my staff that I want every one of them making at least one new mistake a week – as long as it isn’t the same old one! Mistakes are how we learn and get better.

W – Weekly Staff Meetings

For years, I asked my team to bring me a brief weekly report on a small 3-by-5 card. This kept the reports short and to the point. Then those cards became our weekly meeting agenda. Today we use email. Here are the four things you want to know as a leader:

  • “I’ve made progress in ______________________________________”
  • “I’m having difficulty with ___________________________________”
  • “I need a decision from you on ________________________________”
  • “I’m thankful for ___________________________________________”

O – Open Communication

Open communication is the cornerstone of great teamwork. Proverbs 13:17 (LB) says “Reliable communication permits progress.” There are three common barriers to great communication:

  1. Presumption – How many problems have been caused by the phrase “But I assumed…”? Here are some fatal assumptions: assuming that there’s only one way to see a problem; assuming that everyone else feels just like you; assuming that someone will never change (they do); assuming that you can know someone else’s motives (you can’t).
  2. Impatience ruins open communication because we are more interested in what we are going to say than listening to what others say. Impatience causes you to jump to conclusions.
  3. Pride – When you think you know it all, you are resistant to feedback, and you become defensive instead of really listening to others and learning.

R – Recognition and Reward

The more credit you give to others, the more you develop team spirit. It’s that simple. The Bible says, “Give honor and respect to all those to whom it is due.” (Romans 13:7, LB) 

K – Keep on Learning

All leaders are learners. The moment you stop learning, you stop being a leader. As I consult with churches, I’ve seen that growing churches require growing leaders.

Another proverb says “The intelligent man is always open to new ideas. In fact, he looks for them.” (Proverbs 18:15, LB) Do you do that? Do you encourage your team members to keep on growing, developing, and learning? At Saddleback, our staff is constantly reading books and listening to tapes to sharpen their skills and develop their character.

If you practice these eight T.E.A.M.W.O.R.K. values with your team, you’ll experience a new level of teamwork in your church that will take your ministry to new heights.


What do Americans Believe About Jesus? 5 Popular Beliefs by Barna Group


April 1, 2015—Jesus Christ remains a central figure and perennial person of interest in the American religious landscape—especially in the days leading up to Easter. And 2015 is no exception.

On Sunday, March 29, National Geographic Channel premiered its adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s book Killing Jesus to 3.7 million viewers—the channel’s biggest audience in history. CNN’s Finding Jesus miniseries has also sustained impressive viewership. Google searches of Jesus Christ climbed by 53 percent in the week leading up to Easter—a likely result of both seasonal television programming and the approaching holiday.

But what do Americans believe about Jesus? Who do they say he is? Here are five popular American perceptions of Jesus, based on recent Barna Group research. Continue reading


How Technology is Changing Millennial Faith Infographic


There is no doubt that technology is changing the culture and the way people living out their faith.  The real question is how is it changing our faith?

The barna group has some some excellent research on this topic.  They came up with this infographic called: Top 4 Ways Millennials Are Integrating Technology And Faith.  It’s definitely worth checking out.

Here are some observations that stand out to me:

1. Millennials are spiritually hungry. 31% of all millennials watch online videos about faith and spiritually. 30% of all millennials search for spiritual content online.  These two stats show me that millennials, and the generations below them are hungry.  They are hungry for something more.  They want to live a life that matters, that has meaning.

All you need to do is point them to Jesus.  There is a ton of awesome Christian content out there.  All you have to do is share it.  Share it on your Facebook page, instagram account, and twitter account.  One awesome place to get some great christian content is videos for student ministry.  Millennials are hungry for it, so why not share the content.  They will most likely watch it.

Millennials are hungry for something more.  Something with meaning.  They are searching for spiritual content.

2. Your website matters.  34% of all millennials check out a churches website.  The website is your new front door.  10 years ago people would just show up, but today, people check out the website.  Your website is crucial.  I think your church and youth ministry website might be one of the most important ways to communicate to a broad base.

About 3 months ago, a family showed up at my church.  We welcomed them, and then invited to over to our house for lunch after the service.  While talking over lunch, the dad stated that the website was what lured him to the church.  He said that the graphics resonated with him.  He shared how the images showed we cared about the community, and about not being “old school”.  I forget all the time how important our churches website is.

3. Millennials are giving via text or online.  18% of millennials are giving either by text or online.  Money is out there, all you need to do is cast vision.  I think that sometimes we are afraid to try new ways to give because the church has always struggled with change.

I love the idea of giving via text message, and this is something our team is wrestling with in our student ministry.  We are wondering if once a month we offer a time to text in support in an act of worship.  Tim Keller states, “Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.”  We are all worshipping something, this is a way each month where we could show students how to give.  It could be $5, $10, or $15.  Do you do this?  Have you ever gave via text?  Would this work for students in your youth ministry?

Millennials are not going to give in traditional ways.   We need to adapt and expand the ways we help people worship God with everything.

Those are some observations.  What else stands out from the infographic called, Top 4 Ways Millennials Are Integrating Technology And Faith?