02.27.13

Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church   by Marc Solas

For original article click here.                                                                                             (There are over 500 comments on his site which you might find interesting!)

Thank you Suzanne for telling me about this article!

The facts: The statistics are jaw-droppingly horrific: 70% of youth stop attending church when they graduate from High School. Nearly a decade later, about half return to church.

Half. Let that sink in.

The Top 10 Reasons We’re Losing our Youth:

10. The Church is “Relevant”:

You didn’t misread that, I didn’t say irrelevant, I said RELEVANT. We’ve taken a historic, 2,000 year old faith, dressed it in plaid and skinny jeans and tried to sell it as “cool” to our kids. It’s not cool. It’s not modern. What we’re packaging is a cheap knockoff of the world we’re called to evangelize.

As the quote says, “When the ship is in the ocean, everything’s fine. When the ocean gets into the ship, you’re in trouble.”

I’m not ranting about “worldliness” as some pietistic bogeyman, I’m talking about the fact that we yawn at a 5-minute biblical text, but almost trip over ourselves fawning over a minor celebrity or athlete who makes any vague reference to being a Christian.

We’re like a fawning wanna-be just hoping the world will think we’re cool too, you know, just like you guys!

Our kids meet the real world and our “look, we’re cool like you” posing is mocked. In our effort to be “like them” we’ve become less of who we actually are. The middle-aged pastor trying to look like his 20-something audience isn’t relevant. Dress him up in skinny jeans and hand him a latte, it doesn’t matter. It’s not relevant, It’s comically cliché. The minute you aim to be “authentic”, you’re no longer authentic!

9. They never attended church to begin with:

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02.27.13

4 Great Illustrations with Life Lessons by Pete Owen

http://withoutwax.tv

1. Timing and Waves

This morning I stumbled across a picture from a couple summers ago. It was my attempt at teaching my son Jett to surf while we were on vacation in Florida.

In reality I really don’t know how to surf, but I discovered throughout the day it’s all about timing.

If we got too far out in front of a wave it would go over us and we’d fizzle out. If we waited too long to get momentum we might miss out on an incredible wave that could have taken us all the way in. Success for us was completely dependent on watching, being ready, and knowing exactly when to start paddling.

The boys had the most success when I would stand watch for them. They would be ready to start paddling and I would be looking out waiting for the perfect wave for them. When I saw it I would say to them “Go! Start paddling!” and off they’d go.

Sitting out there with the boys waiting on the next wave I couldn’t help but think about all the different waves God has sent along in my life.

So many times God’s sent some incredible opportunities my way and I simply wasn’t ready for them. I wasn’t paying attention. My thoughts and focus were elsewhere.

There have been other times I was ready but too anxious. I got nervous and wasn’t willing to wait on His timing and took things into my own hands and got too far out in front of Him.

I’m learning more and more I need to be ready and willing to wait to hear God’s voice and when He says Go I better start paddling.

David reminds us in Psalm 31:15 “My times are in your hands..”

What wave are you waiting on? Maybe it has to do with…

-a relationship -changing jobs -a major purchase -having children

I pray you’ll continue to be ready, and then wait on His voice. When you sense the timing is right, trust His voice and paddle with everything you’ve got. You just might go on the ride of your life.

2. Getting back up after a failure

“The hardest jump a skater will ever make is the one you take right after you fall.” Scott Hamilton

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02.27.13

The New Narcissists: Young People and Self-Esteem   by Eric Metaxes

We’ve all heard the Greek myth of Narcissus, the proud young man who saw his reflection in a pool and fell in love with it. Narcissus was unable to break away from his own gaze, and eventually died by the side of the pool.

Sad to say, if one survey is correct, we may be raising a generation of young people who are succumbing to the terrible danger of unhealthy, delusional and misdirected self-love.

The recently released American Freshman Survey finds a gaping chasm between students’ perceptions of their giftedness and drive to succeed and the reality. For example, according to lead researcher Jean Twenge, today’s freshmen are much more likely to rate their writing abilities as “gifted” than their predecessors. But their test scores — and often their reading and writing abilities — are far below their 1960s counterparts.

Elisabeth Wilkins of Empowering Parents summarizes, “in the past four decades, students’ opinions of themselves have soared — even though test scores have gone down.”

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02.20.13

2/3 of Americans Say Pro Athletes Have More Influence on Society than Faith Leaders

For original article click here.

A new study from Barna shows most Americans believe sports figures have a greater influence than do professional clergy or other faith leaders.

Athletes Top Pastors. 
There is plenty of research to show the declining sway of clergy, but who are Americans looking to instead? By more than a three-to-one margin, Americans believe professional sports players have more influence on society than do faith leaders. Overall, about two-thirds of Americans (64%) say they think pro athletes have more influence in American society today than do professional faith leaders (19%). Others say both (8%) have equal influence or are not sure (10%).

Sports figures are deemed most influential by those making $60,000-plus, college graduates, whites and parents. Those most likely to select faith leaders were weekly church attenders and those with incomes under $40,000.

Americans Like Sports + Faith. Continue reading

02.20.13

HERE ARE 6 EASY WAYS TO SHOW YOUR TEAM YOU CARE

by Tim Peters (www.timpeters.org)

#1 – RECOGNIZE THEIR WORK VIA SOCIAL MEDIA

Tweet it, Post it, Pin it, Instagram it.  Put it on the Vine if you have to.  But get the word out that you have great people on your team.

#2 – Remember the details of their lives

Know their spouses and kid’s names, remember anniversaries and birthdays and celebrate with them accordingly.

#3 – Randomly send notes

Don’t wait for a special occasion to encourage them.  Handwrite a note telling them why you’re thankful they are on your team.  I had a boss that would periodically leave a sticky note on my keyboard.  Not a big deal, but it was nice to know he took the time to show he cared.

#4 – Regularly Pray

Pray for them, Pray with them, Pray over them

#5 – Reach out in times of crisis

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to remember.  Yes, they might have a big extended family and an army of friends, but you still need to take the time to reach out to them in times of crisis.

#6 – Respectfully challenge and encourage

Take the time to help your staff grow by encouraging them in their strengths and challenging them to live up to their God-given potential.

Do you want to be the kind of leader people will follow?  Be a leader who cares.

02.20.13

The Dangers of ‘Faking It’ in Ministry  by Kathy Keller

For original article click here.

When Tim and I first went into the ministry, a wise person said something shocking to us about the dangers we would be facing: “Being in ministry will either make you a much better Christian, or a much worse Christian.” I could easily understand how it could make you a better Christian—think of all the Bible study and prayer we would be doing, and all the Christian books we would be reading. Surely discussing and using the means of grace every day would only help us to become wise, mature, and godly!

Since this was a person we respected, I felt compelled to consider the possibility he might know something I didn’t about how ministering to others could make you a worse Christian. In the nearly 40 years since hearing those words, I’ve come to believe very strongly that the pull to becoming a worse Christian—cold, distant from God, hypocritical, and even involved in burn-down-your-life scandals—is far stronger when you’re ministering to others than are the benefits that may accrue by daily association with spiritual things.

One explanation that’s almost always suggested is that the Devil takes a greater interest in attacking those who speak for Christ (and I’m including both lay men and women as well as those in “professional ministry”) so as to derail their influence for the gospel. However, what’s done to us by the forces of darkness is nothing compared to what we do to ourselves.

The day will come when you have to deliver a sermon, or counsel someone in need, or listen to a heartsick soul, and you will be in no fit condition to do it. Your prayer life may be lagging, or you have an unreconciled relationship that needs attention, or any number of things may have interrupted your communion with God and your rejoicing in the gospel. (I knew a woman who claimed she’d taken “maternity leave” from her relationship with God!) When that day arrives, you must sit down, at whatever expense of time and ruination to your schedule, and get right with God. Then, and only then, should you attempt to minister in his name.

Don’t Have the Time?

But what you will be tempted to do, and what most of us do actually do, is to say, “I don’t have the time to get back into fellowship with God before this sermon/lesson/counseling session/pastoral appointment. But I know what needs to be said or done, so I’ll just do it (even though my heart is cold) and then straighten things out with God afterward.” And, if you’re unlucky, you’ll get away with it. The talk gets delivered and is even praised. The person you meet with professes gratitude and seems to be helped. The meeting runs smoothly. So you do it again. And again. And again.

And after a while you hardly even admit to yourself you’re faking interest in the other person, faking enthusiasm for Christ and his gospel, faking your entire Christian life, because you don’t even recall what it was like to have a vibrant relationship to God. You have become hollow. You may still look and sound good on the outside, but inside the reality of God’s presence is gone.

Sometimes this hollowness is uncovered when an apparently strong and vibrant Christian is found to be living a double life—addicted to porn or drugs or alcohol, or having an affair, or involved in some other splashy scandal. If you’re spared this public humiliation (which is by no means the worst thing that can happen; it at least wakes you up to your spiritual condition), the emptiness of your heart may reach such a level it can no longer be ignored. Perhaps your faith wavers, or you become cynical about the possibility of genuine connection to God, assuming that those who claim it are deluded.

Or perhaps depression sets in and, with it, a desire to leave ministry altogether. Worst of all, perhaps you merely continue on, mouthing the words, smiling the smile, praying with needy people, and going through all the motions, all the while internally wishing you or they were far, far away. You may be clever enough to hide the hollowness in your heart from those who look to you for spiritual nurture, but those who know you better are aware of the disconnect between your outward persona and your loveless heart. Many adult children raised in the church have bitter memories standing between them and a faith of their own, due to parents who were one thing on the outside and another on the inside.

What is the answer? To run to Christ in repentance, no matter at what level or for how long the disconnect has been operating, and throw yourself on his mercy. He forgives freely. The only ones who find no forgiveness are those who refuse to ask for it.

Further, find a safe spiritual friend or group to whom you can confess what has happened and be accountable for making whatever changes in your life are necessary to return to your first love. The danger is real, and really, really dangerous. Your life may blow up, or it may slowly implode. But “faking it” in order to get through your ministry is like sailing onto the rocks. You make shipwreck of your faith and take a lot of other people down with you.

This article originally appeared in Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s monthly Redeemer Report.

02.20.13

5 Strategies for Tackling Tough Conversations   by Scott McDowell                                   For original article click here.

One of the hardest parts of being a leader is having difficult conversations: firing someone, getting into it with a client, apologizing for a mistake, or delivering bad news. Many of us choose avoidance as often as possible. That uncomfortable feeling (in your gut, your hands, in the back of the throat) is a warning sign: tough conversation ahead.

In the book Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen, the authors write, “Our anxiety results not just from having to face the other person, but from having to face ourselves.”

Whether the source of the conflict stems from circumstance, a challenge to your identity as a leader, or protecting ones turf, stemming the tide of personal emotions and dealing in a direct, measured way can let the air out and diffuse conflict effectively.

Here are some methods to use with your team, your boss, or anyone else in the face of everyday conflict.

1. Draw out possibility. Instead of using a blunt doorstop of a statement like, “This is the problem!” turn it into a question. “What would you say if…?” or “Could it be that…?” are both great disarming phrases.

2. Share the impact. One tactic to disengage harsh feelings is to share the anxiety or tension that you feel about the conversation. Andrew Lightheart, who runs workshops about how to communicate in high-stakes situations and writes the blog, A Peaceful Resolution, says communicating your anxiety about the conversation can help you “step out of automatic roles and become a bit more human.” Just stating your discomfort can soften the prickliness.

3. Use silence. Continue reading

02.13.13

Younger Generation: “I Actually Would Like A Mentor!”  by Doug Fields

Gen Y (18-30-year-olds) has been labeled many things: narcissistic, lazy, materialistic…                        How about “teachable”?

As this younger generation of teenagers is graduating from high school and making life-shaping decisions: picking colleges, careers, even spouses… many of them would actually like a mentor.

In this recent Digiday article, Jack Marshall suggests that millennials value mentorship. They prefer one-on-one interaction and guidance than formalized training. Sadly, the senior staffers of most companies just don’t have time to spend with their junior employees… and it shows.

The Search Agency’s David Carrillo contends, “If you want to get the most out of millennials—or anyone for that matter—you have to take a personal interest in their growth and development.” This young generation wants consistent feedback and dialogue.

I find it funny when the corporate world is beginning to discover what youth ministers and parents have been observing for years: one-on-one time with our kids reaps great rewards!

Yes, some would argue that young people today don’t want to be told what to do. This, like many myths about millennials, seems to be more of a “life-stage” trait than a generational trait. In fact, I find this group to be quite teachable if you invest in them. Author Tony Wagner agrees, proposing we need to put on our coaching hat with this young generation, working collaboratively with them, even holding them accountable. They value the attention because they want to succeed. And when we invest in them, they “produce extraordinary results.”

Here are three ways I find that parents, coaches, youth workers and managers can get the best out of this young generation:

1.    Make face-to-face time a priority.

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02.13.13

7 Steps to Making Great First Impressions  by Justin Douglas                                (Great article!) http://www.youthministry.com/articles/youth-group-leadership/7-steps-great-first-impressions

During my time in youth ministry I have had the privilege of meeting many students. I know there are many wiser than me at getting to know students and building relationships with students. Yet, I believe there are some things that have guided me and helped me successfully make students feel comfortable and cared for. I admit I fail at this, but that is part of it, we learn from our mistakes. Hopefully this post will help you as you interact with students, or even adults for that matter, as you attempt to build relationships.

First thing I need to clarify before we start: There is no perfect formula. I am simply letting you know what has worked for me; if it doesn’t work for you, then that is fine. Feel free to disagree with me or to add different things. I am not saying these steps are like an equation that always leads to a great trusting relationship with a student. There is no silver bullet, these are just tools I have noticed that aid me in reaching students.

Be Yourself.
If you are a parent to a teenager, or have been around teenagers for any length of time, then you know their crap detectors are some of the best out there. If you are faking, they know. Therefore, if you shop at JCPenny and wear khakis and a collared shirt with dress shoes everywhere you go, don’t change that.  PLEASE, do not go to Zumiez and buy a Zoo York shirt and skate shoes to impress the kids (If you don’t know what Zumiez is that is totally fine). Students want to know you care. They are craving an adult that is interested in building a relationship with them, even if they don’t act like that on the exterior. Just be yourself and let the students even make fun of you for the way you dress or whatever differences you may have. You being yourself is the biggest ‘in’ you have with a student, because you being yourself is genuine and it opens the line of communication for a genuine and trusting relationship.

Get a Name…and Remember it.
A students name is their identity.  Our sons name is Beckett and he is just a little over a year old and I can remember when he started turning his head when we would say his name. “Beckett” and he would respond with his attention changed and directed toward us. You need to know the name. Sometimes in the middle of a conversation I am missing bits and pieces of a story because I am saying the name over and over in my head. I do this because I want to remember the name. Obviously you need to create a system for remembering the name after you have disengaged from the conversation, whether that be a note you create in your cellphone or just a mental reminder system that you can recall. We will revisit this again in step seven.

Shake, High-Five, Awkward Side Hug, Etc.
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