Draw Near   by Boyd Bailey/Wisdom Hunters

He said to me, “The room facing the south is for the priests who have charge of the temple, and the room facing north is for the priests who have charge of the altar. These are the sons of Zadok, who are the only Levites who may draw near to the LORD to minister before him.   Ezekiel 40:45-46

Draw near to God before you minister on behalf of God. This is the proper sequence for serving the Lord. Otherwise, you serve others in your own strength and limited abilities. Ministry without the Holy Spirit’s empowerment leads to burnout and bewilderment. You are not meant to serve in the flesh, for followers of Jesus have the privilege of drawing near to Him and being freshly filled daily with His Spirit and motivation.

Draw near to Him and you will naturally draw near to others. This is harder for driven people; they are always on the go. Other pending activities persistently arrest their attention. It is hard for their minds to focus because responsibilities flash to the forefront of their thinking. They cannot draw near to God because they fear failure and all its embarrassing ramifications; but this means that fear has the upper hand. Hyperactivity drives them because they fear everything depends on them alone. This is not a burden your heavenly Father desires for you to bear. No one can persevere in ministry or service under this kind of self-imposed pressure.

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Left Out   by Ronald Long


If we’re going to be reaching out to students and showing them we care, then we need to be contacting them when they miss a small group session. We need to show them that it matters to us when they aren’t around. Even if we miss a week or two of contacting them, we can’t let a student go a month without hearing from us.

If a student doesn’t feel missed, they won’t come back. I’ve seen it happen.

Don’t let this important part of leading a small group get away from you. Otherwise you’ll find yourself without a small group to minister to!

Here’s what you can do to make sure students get contacted when they are missed (before you even dismiss from small group!):

  • Arrange for one specific student who is present to contact another specific student who is absent. Keep that up until you’ve covered every student who missed.
  • Send out a text at the end of small group saying you missed the student who isn’t there. That way you don’t get to doing something else and forget later.
  • Have your students write a postcard for each person who missed and address them. Put them in the mail (after you stamp them!) that same day so you don’t lay them down and forget them.
  • Have everyone call an absent student right then to see why they’ve missed (it may be something you need to know about!) and let them know you hope they come back next week.

Show students they matter to you. Contact them when they miss small group.


Students Shaping Each Other’s Faith   by Andy Blanks


As we consider how we disciple our students, I wonder if we sometimes miss an important aspect of spiritual development . . .

Answer this question: Do your students play a role in each other’s spiritual growth?

Now, I think we can look at this in two ways:

  • passive influence, and
  • active influence.

As we consider creating ways for students to increasingly influence each other spiritually, I am really focusing on the active type of influence. Passive influence happens organically when students simply interact with one another in your youth ministry. Students hear other students asking questions and maybe consider an aspect of their faith differently as a result. Certainly students see each other living out their faith and can gain certain lessons from this. This is passive influence. And let’s assume that it happens to a certain extent on its own. But what about active spiritual influence?

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Guys Only – What Girls Need To Hear From You   by Neely McQueen


4 Parts: I get it. You belong. You are not alone. You are needed.

Girls need you to understand their world.

They need you to counter the lies that they believe about themselves and replace it with the truth of who they are in God’s story.

There are 4 messages that girls can’t hear enough from the men in their lives.

The first message girls need to hear from you is: “I get it” 

This starts with a willingness to engage in their world. You have to be willing to admit that you don’t see or feel the world the same way they do and you must make attempts to understand girl world.

How do you do this?

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A Welcoming Environment: Do you have one?   by Justin Herman


How can we seek depth in a real way with students who are disconnected?

Leaders! Not just any leaders, but leaders who understand how to be welcoming to disconnected and unfamiliar students. Arguably, welcoming students has the potential to be one of the most vital parts of ministry.

Recently, I was reading some partial pages on crisis from the Mayo Clinic. Topics that were covered included cutting, eating disorders, and suicide. When focusing on the mitigating factors of the various crisis situations, the common thread seemed to be a lack of belonging. I teared up over that, and prayed over it for a while. However, the church is about belonging. It’s about having a body of believers that you can be a part of. A true sense of belonging for students is also something that can be a big home run in our ministry.

Do you have a welcome team of volunteers as a part of your student ministry? Do you make the first 15 seconds of a student’s arrival at church a great one? Do students walk away with a sense of belonging? This is the easiest thing to pass over and to drop the ball on when it comes to how we train our leaders. Trust me, I have dropped the ball on it.

So with the perspective of having done it well and having neglected it, I learned a few things.

1. Allowing a student to feel like they belong in the first 15 seconds of their arrival at church will say more than any lesson you give.

2. When students feel like they belong with a leader and other students, they will want to be around more often.

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10 Facts Every Parent Should Know About Their Teen’s Brain   by Robin Nixon


10 Critical Period of Development

Loosely defined as the years between 11 and 19, adolescence is considered a critical time of development – and not just in outward appearances.

“The brain continues to change throughout life, but there are huge leaps in development during adolescence,” said Sara Johnson, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who reviewed the neuroscience in The Teen Years Explained: A Guide to Healthy Adolescent Development (Johns Hopkins University, 2009) by Clea McNeely and Jayne Blanchard.

And just as a teen may go through an awkward growth spurt, new cognitive skills and competencies may come in leaps and stutters, said Sheryl Feinstein, author of Inside the Teenage Brain: Parenting a Work in Progress (Rowman and Littlefield, 2009.)

Parents should understand that no matter how tall their son has sprouted or how grown-up their daughter dresses, “they are still in a developmental period that will affect the rest of their life,” Johnson told LiveScience.

9 Blossoming Brain

Scientists used to think only infants have an overabundance of neuronal connections, which are “pruned” into a more efficient arrangement over the first three years of life.

But brain imaging studies, such as one published in 1999 in Nature Neuroscience, have discovered that a second burst of neuronal sprouting happens right before puberty, peaking at about age 11 for girls and 12 for boys.

The adolescent’s experiences – from reading vampire novels to learning to drive – shape this new grey matter, mostly following a “use it or lose it” strategy, Johnson said. The structural reorganization is thought to continue until the age of 25, and smaller changes continue throughout life.

8 New Thinking Skills

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Leading Strength   by Doug Franklin


Leadership starts with “know thyself.”  It’s obvious when you see a great leader in action that they are comfortable in their own skin.  They know who they are and what they do best.  They don’t waste time and energy trying to do those things that are difficult or counterproductive. Instead they focus on developing the team they need to be able to reach their goals.

This sounds easy but in reality almost every leader I know struggles with this concept at some point. Maybe you have felt the pressure being the only one who can do the job even though you don’t like doing it.  Or it’s possible that you have been frustrated with aspects of your job without really knowing why.  So, how do we avoid putting yourself in these situations as a leader?  Here are a couple of key ideas to think through:

#1  Know your strengths

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Infographic on How Popular Are Mobile Phones Today?

Here are a few things that stand out from this infographic on how popular mobile phones are today: 

1. Worldwide there are 2 phones for every 3 people.   Everyone has a phone, and more students are getting smart phones to stay connected to the digital world they live in.  Youth ministries need to use this communication medium, and use it effectively to reach teenagers.

2. 1.5 trillion text messages were sent in 2009.  This is the way people communicate.  I don’t use my phone anymore for talking, it is mainly texting.

3. 63.7% of american mobile phone users receive/send texts.  This stat was from 2010, and my guess is that today it is more like 80%.  I think that the single most effective communicate tool today is the text message.  This isn’t the only way we should communicate, but when I see the 100% sent/received status I know this is one powerful tool to embrace.



Five Trends Kids Aren’t Blinking At. . . But Should.   by Walt Mueller


As we hit the halfway point of the summer and you jump into the fall planning mode, start thinking now about how you will take time during the year to intentionally address, talk about, and pound home (over and over and over again) God’s will and way on these five trends that have become just a normal part of life for your kids. . . .

1. Social Media Narcissism. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. But when using those sites to create, curate, promote, and sell one’s self. . . that’s narcissism. It’s idolatry. We need to teach our kids how to use social media to the glory of God, not self.

2. Relativism. We live in a world where kids are encouraged to develop, figure out, and act on the truth that works for them based on how they feel at any given moment in time. If it works for you, well then go for it. Fact is, that’s a recipe for personal, communal, and societal disaster. Let them know that God has gifted us with His will and way. There is such a thing as transcendent truth.

3. Cohabitation. Continue reading


3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church   by John Neilson


What is it that sets apart the kids who stay in the church? Here are just a few observations I have made about such kids, with a few applications for those of us serving in youth ministry.

1. They are converted.

The Apostle Paul, interestingly enough, doesn’t use phrases like “nominal Christian” or “pretty good kid.” The Bible doesn’t seem to mess around with platitudes like: “Yeah, it’s a shame he did that, but he’s got a good heart.” When we listen to the witness of Scripture, particularly on the topic of conversion, we find that there is very little wiggle room. Listen to these words: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17) We youth pastors need to get back to understanding salvation as what it really is: a miracle that comes from the glorious power of God through the working of the Holy Spirit.

We need to stop talking about “good kids.” We need to stop being pleased with attendance at youth group and fun retreats. We need to start getting on our knees and praying that the Holy Spirit will do miraculous saving work in the hearts of our students as the Word of God speaks to them. In short, we need to get back to a focus on conversion. How many of us are preaching to “unconverted evangelicals”? Youth pastors, we need to preach, teach, and talk—all the while praying fervently for the miraculous work of regeneration to occur in the hearts and souls of our students by the power of the Holy Spirit! When that happens—when the “old goes” and the “new comes”—it will not be iffy. We will not be dealing with a group of “nominal Christians.” We will be ready to teach, disciple, and equip a generation of future church leaders—“new creations”!—who are hungry to know and speak God’s Word. It is converted students who go on to love Jesus and serve the church.

2. They have been equipped, not entertained.

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