02.23.14

5 Ways To Lose Credibility With Students   by Chris Schaffner

We all know youth workers who have lost credibility with their students. We often pass judgment on them and know personally what we would have done differently. However, what makes a youth worker credible in an teenager’s eyes may be different from what a youth worker thinks will make them credible.  Credibility is often confused with trustworthiness and likability, or the youth worker is more concerned with being liked than respected. But teens are smart consumers, and they know the difference between authentic adults and those just trying to sell a product.

We cannot transmit something we don’t have. When we minister to youth and don’t take care of ourselves first, we end up taking shortcuts, overcompensating, or looking for the easiest ways to do the bare minimum. Usually the intentions are good, but sometimes the outcomes of our ministry efforts are not. Adults in general can try too hard, control too much, or pretend something is working when it clearly in not, and this is typically because they don’t know what else to do. When the glass is empty, it’s empty and there’s nothing left to give to others.

1. Craving Student’s Approval Continue reading

02.23.14

4 Characteristics of Biblical Discipleship   by Andy Blanks

I we think there are some unique characteristics of Jesus’ model of discipleship that need to appear in our own processes.

Let’s call these characteristics of biblical discipleship. If we look at Jesus and how He lead the 12 on their discipleship journey, we can see at least these four characteristics:

#1: A Call To Something

When Jesus called the disciples, He gave called them to a purpose, a goal of sorts.

Luke 5:10-11–Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” 11So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Matthew 9:9–As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

Matthew 16:24–Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

I think this is actually a characteristic that’s missing in a lot of our discipleship efforts. I think we too often take this characteristic for granted. Do your teenagers see their faith as sa movement? Do they see themselves as part of a mission? Or do they see their faith as little more than a moralistic framework to live as good people? How many of your students are you “discipling” simply because their mom and/or dad just keep dropping them off?

Jesus called His disciples to be part of a world-changing movement. The call is still the same today. We just have to make sure we’re not underselling or misrepresenting it. How many of your students, if you asked them right now, could articulate a purpose or vision behind the disciple making process they are in the midst of? We need to be sure that our students understand the call and accept the task.

#2: Faithful Teaching of The Bible Continue reading

02.23.14

Five Lies About Your Body   by Jen Wilken

The time for New Year’s resolutions has come and gone, but many of us still have plans to fix this or that. And if you’re a woman, there’s a good chance making changes to your body is at the top of your to-do list.

How we view our bodies will determine whether our plans to change them are God-honoring or self-elevating. Do we see our bodies the way our Maker does?

With that in mind, here are five lies our culture tells us about how we should perceive our bodies—and five truths from Scripture to help shift our perspective. Continue reading

02.23.14

STRENGTH FROM JOY  by Wisdom Hunters

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10
Believers in Jesus find joy and strength in their Savior. Joy begins with God, because we are created for His enjoyment, and He for our enjoyment. Just as a husband and wife find great pleasure in a marriage of growing commitment and love, so an overflow of joy comes to a committed Bride of Christ. Strength is the fruit of this quality of relationship. Security and peace support a cheerful heart. Joy is the attitude of all who bow to Almighty God in worshipful awe.

Any cynical soul can focus on a cow patty in a luscious green pasture. Ironically, it’s the cow patties that grow the green grass. In the same way, we can count it all joy for the trials that grow our faith. We find strength in the Lord during severe circumstances. He brings a smile to our heavy hearts. The drought of grief is for a season, followed by heaven’s rain of happiness. A joyful disposition awaits us, when we wait on Christ. His enjoyment creates internal energy.

“I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:4-5).

Furthermore, the memories of meaningful experiences with other Christ followers bring joy and strengthen our faith. We celebrate answered prayers for our children to grow in God’s grace and make wise choices. We thank the Lord for the rich community of honesty, shared emotions, love, forgiveness and laughter. We muse on hard truths like hell and the joylessness that accompanies disobedience to Jesus. Sustaining strength comes from the joy of an intimate faith fellowship.

Lastly, we put our hope in the Lord, who richly provides us everything we need for our enjoyment. We need not feel guilty for the blessings of good health, a loving family, a solid job, fun friends, financial freedom or a dynamic church. We gratefully enjoy Christ’s favor. However, what keeps us grounded in God’s strength is not putting our hope in anything but Him. He is our generous Heavenly Father who gives good gifts. Hope is heaven’s strategy for strength and joy!

“Put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, may my strength and joy come from Your Spirit, not from my stuff.

Related Readings: Psalm 19:8; Isaiah 35:10; Luke 10:21; 2 Corinthians 1:24; Philemon 1:7

02.18.14

Connecting With Your Teen   by Mark Gregston

Every parent of a teenager wants to build a strong line of communication with his or her teen. But sadly, the opposite is most often true. I’d like to share with you some simple tips to improve your communications with your teen.

You may wonder what the best timing is for building good lines of communication with your teen or pre-teen. That’s simple.  Do it NOW, before problems, struggles and difficulties begin. And never stop working at it, even when there is conflict.

As your children move from the elementary years into early adolescence, it’s essential that you adapt your style of communication to the changes taking place with your child. What was non-hormonal now becomes laced with hormones. Total dependence moves closer to independence, and that affects how your teen interacts with you.  Unless you change with them, there will be conflict and broken communications.

There is a scripture that I believe accurately reflects the condition of most teens, and the “should-be” role of most parents. It’s when Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden (the condition of the teens part), and I will give you rest for your soul” (the parent’s part). Continue reading

02.18.14

Online Etiquette for Parents   by Brian Housman

One of the greatest fears for a teenager is that they would be embarrassed by a parent in public. I remember not wanting to walk with my mom through the mall for fear that one of my friends would walk up and hear words tumble out of my mom’s mouth that would make my eyes roll back in my head. With Facebook’s 1.2 billion members and Instagram’s 200 million members, social networks are the malls of the new millennium. This also means they are the new places where typical teens break out in beads of sweat when they see that their parents have joined.

There is nothing wrong with parents being on Facebook. I think we should be there. It’s a public forum and a great way to keep up with what is happening in society. There’s also nothing wrong with parents liking, poking, or being friends with their teens on Facebook. As a matter of personal opinion, I think you absolutely should. But being your teen’s friend online is much like being a carpool parent.

You hear conversations and comments without responding to every giggle or punch. You know that the knowledge you gain by observing far outweighs the benefit of jumping in yourself. The same principle applies when living online with your teen.

Here are four destructive actions to stay away from. Continue reading

02.18.14

Three Trends on Faith, Work and Calling   by Barna Group

“So, what do you do?” America’s quintessential get-to-know-you question is a lot harder to answer these days, between the realities of the new freelance economy, the ever-shifting lines between work and home life, and a revived quest for meaning that often manifests itself in unconventional ways.

Barna Group’s new research shows that three-quarters of U.S. adults (75%) say they are looking for ways to live a more meaningful life. Whether such meaning is found in family, career, church, side projects or elsewhere, these are all questions of vocation—that is, the way in which people feel “called” to certain types of work and life choices. And in 2014, these questions remain as strong as ever for millions of Americans

Among Christians, there is an additional question: “What does God want me to do with my life?” According to Barna Group’s study, only 40% of practicing Christians say they have a clear sense of God’s calling on their lives. Christian Millennials are especially sensitive to this divine prompting—nearly half (48%) say they believe God is calling them to different work, yet they haven’t yet made such a change. Continue reading

02.11.14

7 Things Teens Needs To Know About Purity  by Gretchen Williams

Don’t have sex. It’s a message teens have heard over and over again — especially teens who have grown up in church. And not without good reason. But teenagers need — and deserve — more than a command that can seem impossible to them. They need real, honest conversations with adults about purity in relationships.

Approximately one-half of all high school students have had sex, and 15 percent of high school students have had sex with four or more partners. However, of those teens who delay sex, the primary reason they give is religion or morals. So if you are teaching biblical principles in your home, you are on the right track. Sometimes, though, it can feel like an overwhelming topic to broach. Remembering the unique needs of teenagers in this area can help. Continue reading

02.11.14

Helping Parents Talk About Music   by thesource4parents.com

Young people love their music, and now they carry it around with them 24/7 in a nice little mobile device that fits neatly in their pocket. Sure, when we were kids we liked music too. We had boom boxes and even Walkmans. But now kids can carry their entire music library around with them, access to an online music store, and the ability to stream custom playlists from the newest online sources… all just a click away.

Do you know what your kids are listening to each day?

Continue reading