Fighting The Digital Drain In Your Youth Ministry   by Andy Blanks


Here’s a fact: Our information-rich culture serves as an obstacle to our students learning the discipline of engaging in daily times of prayer and Bible reading. (And maybe us too?) A recent study is attempting to back this up with science.

The barriers presented by our culture are not news to you.

You’ve been watching this happen for some time now. Your students are over-committed and over-involved to begin with, maybe more so than any other generation before them. School, church, sports and other extracurricular activities, jobs, and family obligations have them covered up. Then, we add media to the mix. When they aren’t at school, or practice, or work, your students are constantly being stimulated with media, information, or entertainment. A recent study is shedding light on how this constant stimulation may tax the brain, hindering its ability to process information. The study done by the University of California, San Francisco found the following:

When rats have a new experience, like exploring an unfamiliar area, their brains show new patterns of activity. But only when the rats take a break from their exploration do they process those patterns in a way that seems to create a persistent memory of the experience. The researchers suspect that the findings also apply to how humans learn. “Almost certainly, downtime lets the brain go over experiences it’s had, solidify them and turn them into permanent long-term memories,” said Loren Frank, assistant professor in the department of physiology at the university, where he specializes in learning and memory. He said he believed that when the brain was constantly stimulated, “you prevent this learning process.”

So, take this and apply it to what we know about teenagers and their spiritual habits . . .

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How Serving My Country Prepared Me To Serve My Church                                    by Jonathan Brodhagen


The more I’ve worked in ministry, the more I believe that the reason pastors drop out of ministry and churches plateau and decline is this: the men on mission with the church do not have the endurance and focus of a soldier—and this is exactly what the church needs.


At Basic Training, the drill sergeants hammer into you fairly quickly that you are not an individual—you are a member of a unit. This does not mean that you are not vital, but it means that you need to understand that you are a part of a bigger mission, and that your thoughts, feelings, and wants all are secondary to the mission. It’s the same in the church—it’s not your mission, but Jesus’ mission that you are on.


As Pastor Mark mentioned in his recent sermon “I Am Victorious,” you will never find a soldier in the field who does not have their boots on 24/7. On a mission, we would sleep in full gear with our weapon. You need to be ready for anything the enemy throws at you at every moment, because when you’re in ministry, you don’t work 9–5.


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Instagram Will Kill Your Youth Ministry   by Daniel Beckworth


Social media has swept across this great nation like wildfire. Facebook is on its way out. If you still use Myspace you’re most likely a stalker—or very lonely. Twitter is still rocking along quite steadily and has yet to be completely infiltrated by preteens and stay-at-home moms. Vine represents the latest trend in video social media. And Instagram has firmly captured the market on pics. All of these sites host the massive “no, no” that I would like to delve into for a brief moment, but perhaps Instagram and Twitter host the largest majority of the crimes.

I am, of course, talking about the local male youth pastor taking a “selfie” with one of his female students. Some of you might not think that this is a big deal, but it carries major implications. And quite frankly, it seriously ticks me off. Every time I see this pop up on my timeline I want to throw my iPhone and kick a puppy. Seriously bro, how could you be so dumb? Here are some of the reasons why this is inappropriate.

1. A description of the crime
I’m not talking about posting a group pic of several students or even a group pic of several of your female students and you along side them. I’m talking about the pic that only includes the youth minister and a female student. This crime is only intensified when the two are extremely close. To make matters worse, I often see the youth minister and the female student hugged up on each other. The youth minister further brings criticism against himself if this offense is repeated on a weekly basis. Seriously bro, stop now.

2. It’s straight-up creepy
Every time we see that pic pop up on our timeline we all think, “That dude is a creep.”

3. Rumors spread quickly
If a crazed teenager grows angry at you, it is not uncommon for them to make up horrific stories about you. You can read real-life stories of this on the Internet. Don’t give anyone ammo to use against you.

4. Ministers of the gospel must be above reproach.
First Timothy 3:2 tells us that “an overseer must be above reproach…”

Ephesians 5:3 states, “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”

Posting picks of just you and a female student certainly leaves room for speculation. As a minister and a Christian, we must work to remove any room for criticism in the realm of sexual immorality. Don’t ride alone with a female student. Don’t counsel alone with a female student. And don’t post selfies with female students.


Protect Yourself   by Kurt Johnston & Josh Griffin

As youth workers we are all concerned about our student’s need to create safe-guards in their lives, but we need to do the same thing! Here are a few simple thoughts…just in case you haven’t thought about this stuff in a while:

Protect Your Eyes
  A strong faith isn’t built on a weak foundation – and pornography chips away at the foundation of your marriage, your spiritual depth and your faith. We challenge students regularly to protect their eyes and run from evil, yet sometimes as speakers and leaders we feel exempt from this basic truth. No one is above failing, and if you think you are, you’ve already failed. Got the computer thing figured out? What steps are you taking to protect your eyes concerning movies, television shows, magazines, etc.?

Protect Your Computer
  Get your computer, phones and iPads protected – don’t just buy a case to protect the screen – make sure you protect what comes on the screen as well. There are tons of great options for your devices, they all have different strengths and weaknesses but use one of them to make sure you’re covered. If you don’t know where to start, check out K9 filtering tool which is free and. The X3 accountability isn’t a filter, but does send a report of your internet surfing to a partner, which is a powerful way to protect your computer, too.

Protect Your Heart 
  Often times we protect our computers and our eyes but leave our heart vulnerable to Satan’s attacks.  Protect your heart by making sure there isn’t unconfessed sin, a rift between you and another leader in the church a lingering temptation you continue to flirt with or an unspoken grievance with your spouse. If you aren’t protecting your heart if will eventually cost you everything.

Ask for God’s Protection
  One often overlooked protection is one we can only ask God for and ask Him to provide. Don’t be afraid to ask God to protect your reputation, your heart, your church and your pastor. Spend time in prayer and leave a reminder for yourself to make God’s protection a priority.


Top 3 (really 6) Leadership Mistakes   by Josh Griffin & Kurt Johnston


KURT – We’ve all been told that it is a wise person who can learn from his/her mistakes. I’ll take that one step further: The wisest of people are those who can learn from the mistakes of others. Because we want you to be the wisest of youth workers, over the next two days Josh and I will each share 3 of the biggest leadership mistakes we’ve made. I’ll kick things off:

Being A Ministry Hoarder 
  For much of my ministry career (and even now on occasion), I have thought everything hinged on me. I had to teach in order to ensure good teaching. I had to run camp in order to ensure a good camp. I had to train the volunteers in order to ensure good volunteers. In short, I hoarded ministry thinking it was helping, when it was actually doing long-term damage.

Being Unclear With My Expectations 
    When I finally started empowering others and giving ministry away, I gave it away…but without proper direction, support, and input. I figured, “Hey, if I know how to do ministry stuff then he/she should, too.” I got so excited by my newfound ability to share ministry that I would often give ministry away, and promptly move onto something else, never giving another thought to what I just dropped on somebody else’s plate.

Allowing The Youth Ministry To Be A Silo 
   What for years I thought was the right way to do youth ministry—in a segregated, away-from-the-rest-of-the-church manner—was actually the biggest mistake I’ve made in my career. Certainly there is a need for age-specific ministry, and I believe 100% in the concept of a church-based youth ministry. But when we allow our ministry, and the students within it, to become a silo standing completely separate from the rest of the church, we do harm to the long-term spiritual health of our students, the churches we care so much about, and ultimately, the kingdom.

The truth is this: I’ve made at least 3 leadership blunders today. Part of growing as a leader is making mistakes.

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Guarded Heart: Four Keys to Keeping Focus   by Bob Krulish


That’s a wise and wonderful piece of biblical advice, but how do you guard your heart? Being in vocational ministry and maintaining devotion to Christ is tricky. The lines often bleed over between the two. It’s easy to presume our service IS relationship with Christ. Oswald Chambers said, “Beware of anything that competes with your loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for him.” True service, the kind that can have a lasting effect, must come from our personal devotion to Jesus.

There are a lot of voices in youth ministry: Your own, wanting to provide a healthy, rich environment for students to encounter Christ—and, just for full disclosure, your voice of pride, wanting to look good and be successful. In addition, you’ve got parents’ expectations, volunteer leader expectations, the pastor and church’s expectations, the expectations of your family…all different voices, and that’s just to name a few! These can all be very loud and demanding. So what do we do?

What I want to share isn’t new. But maybe it will encourage, help refocus, or embolden you.

First Things First     

It’s a way of thinking. “For as he thinks in his heart, so ishe” (Proverbs 23:7). How do we think about ministry? I ask our youth staff this question: “What’s the main targetof your ministry? What’s the main focus?” The answer is invariably “teenagers.” Is it a trick question? No. Not really, anyway. If we asked Jesus what the main focus of his ministry was, he wouldn’t have answered “mankind.” In fact, he did answer: “…it is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (John 4:34), and later in John 5:19 “…the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” He himselfis the goal. He’s our first target—NOT teenagers or mankind.

Second Things Second

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Spiritual Journey of Millennials   by Barna

I have only included a segment of the original article. For the complete article click here.

Bright Spots, Opportunities to Learn

Despite the millions of twentysomethings who are conflicted with Christianity and churches, there is still some good news for the future of the American church. That’s because there are millions of Millennial Christians who are concerned for the future of their faith, have a strong desire to connect to the traditions of the church and feel a sense of excitement about church involvement. More than four out of ten Millennials with a Christian background (42%) say they are very concerned about their generation leaving the church, and a similar number (41%) say they desire “a more traditional faith, rather than a hip version of Christianity.” And nearly one-third of young adults with a Christian past say they are “more excited about church than any time in my life.”

While these engaged young adults are good reasons not to despair over the future of American Christianity, the trend of disengagement provides a sobering backdrop. The reality is that more than one-third of Millennials who grew up in the Christian faith say they went through a period when they felt like rejecting their parents’ faith. How they deal with such struggles often defines their spiritual trajectory. They can be the people reconnecting with a vital faith; they can be nomads, claiming vestiges of their previous faith while mostly rejecting the church that fostered that faith; they can be prodigals, leaving Christianity in the rearview mirror; or they can be exiles, struggling to connect their Christianity in a complex, accelerated culture.

Getting a Handle on Millennials

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Infographic on The Epidemic of Cyber Bullying


Here are a few things that stand out to me: 

1. 97% of middle schoolers have been bullied online.  This makes we so sad for a whole generation of awesome young people who are getting put down online.  Recently, a fight broke out on a youth group night.  It was an explosion of emotions, and in the end it all was about bullying.  The student in my youth ministry said, that his “friend” keeps calling him a “faggot”.  That night this guy lost it, and decided to give it to the bully.

If all of your students have been bullied at some point, what are we doing to teach and model a Christ like life.

2. 15% of parents are “in the know” about their child’s online presence.  This is where we need to help.  This is where we have failed, and will continue to fail if we don’t partner with parents more in youth ministry.  Parents need to know what is going on, and how their child’s social relationships are actually effecting them personally.  I think a ton of parents are completely oblivious until it is too late.



Keeping A Small Group “Dialed In”   by Heather Johnson


What are some key approaches for us youth workers to keep your group “dialed in”?

The following suggestions are by no means the only answer, but simply a few of the principles that have helped me rein a group back in.


Never quit praying for your group. So simple, but so effective. My opinion is the more spiritually prepared you are to meet, the more able you will be ready to handle their inattentiveness.


It’s important to have discernment in knowing when to crack down on students and when to exercise patience. This can be a tricky balance. But as you get to know your group, you’ll have a better understanding of where this line is.


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Why Failure Is OK In Discipleship   by Andy Blanks


As I think about the role we play in helping teenagers become followers of Christ, I like to envision a picture of us walking with students on their journey. I intentionally didn’t say our role was to “lead” students in discipleship. Here’s why:

The biblical model of discipleship is grounded in relationship. And if our relationship with students is a real relationship, we won’t always be out front.

As someone who plays a meaningful role in students’ spiritual development, you must engage in real relationship with students if you have any hope to play a role in their discipleship. And this relational aspect of discipleship will dictate the assumption of different roles in the discipleship process.

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