Boys Will Be Boys   by Leneita Fix


More than a decade ago The National Education Association for School Psychologists claimed that more than 160,000 students miss school DAILY because of the fear of being bullied. Today this same association says that about 15% of those absent from school daily are because of a fear of being made fun of or to avoid facing those who have been taunting them online.

Statistics also show boys are more likely to bully and be bullied. 

When you dig into the characteristics of kids who are more “likely” to be bullied there seems to be conflicting articles. They can be popular or reclusive. Perhaps they have an “outstanding” physical characteristic, illness or disability. They might be someone others are jealous of. As a boy in particular they could be creative, sensitive and more “friend-centric” than aggressive.

What I am noticing is when you add this all up adolescent boys who see themselves as emotional, compassionate, loyal, and respectful or “not fitting the male stereotype” live in fear of being made fun of. They don’t know where they fit into the current society of guys.The role models they see in our media they want to emulate are athletic, strong, confident, and loud. Continue reading


8 Questions to Ask When Preparing Your Sermons   by Rick Warren


I believe that the best model to follow in the history of preaching is Jesus. It isn’t John the Baptist, Paul, or any contemporary speaker alive today. Jesus was THE Master Communicator. The Bible says in Matthew 7:28 that “the crowds were amazed at Jesus’ sermons.” Why? Because both the content and the delivery came straight from the Father. Jesus said in John 12:49, “The Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.”

When I’m preparing a message, I ask eight questions to help me prepare. The first two are about what to say and the final six are about how to say it. Continue reading


Your Teen’s Need to Fit In  by Mark Gregston


Do you recall some stupid things you did as a teenager? I do, and I’m sure you do, too. I guess that’s why many of us parents work overtime to help our teenagers avoid such embarrassment. But unfortunately, these life lessons cannot be learned any other way. Experiencing and becoming embarrassed by our own immaturity can do far more to help us reach maturity than anything else.

For many teenagers, the need to fit in can lead them to do some of the most immature things they’ll ever do in their entire life. They’ll mimic dress, language, musical preferences, attitudes and even the high-risk activities of their peers just to fit in.

It can be highly confusing and shocking for parents because of the sudden changes in their child’s appearance and demeanor. Overnight it may appear that their child is forsaking everything they’ve ever been taught. Continue reading


The More Women Post On Facebook, The Lonelier They Are  by Chris Matyszcyk


It’s curious how people define themselves by the fact that they love Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” Or the Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”

Is it because they want others to understand just how tasteful they are? Or is it because they’re desperate to find other people who like the same songs?

A study from Charles Sturt University in New South Wales, Australia, paints an extremely sad picture of women who reveal themselves on Facebook.

Titled “Self-disclosure on Facebook among female users and its relationship to feelings of loneliness,” the study offers highlights that are painful for the human social condition.

In examining the Facebook postings of 616 women, the researchers concluded that the more information about themselves they put out there, the lonelier they actually were. Continue reading


Spiritual But Not Religious   by Jim Denison


Have you heard of the “spiritual but not religious” movement?  The name describes it well—people who say they are spiritual but have no commitment to any particular religion or institution.

Their movement is generating national attention after a recent editorial on CNN’s website claimed that it “represents some of the most retrogressive aspects of contemporary society.”  Why?  Because those who are SBNR are not required to do anything with their beliefs.  They can feel connected to their higher power without grappling with sin or applying their spirituality to the world.  The editorial concludes: “Theirs is a world of fence-sitting, not-knowingness, but not-trying-ness either.  Take a stand, I say.” 

I’d go further.  In my view, the SBNR movement is the greatest spiritual threat America faces today.  Consider first its size.  According to Gallup, one in three Americans say they’re “spiritual but not religious.”  That’s more than 100 million people, equivalent to the number of Protestants and Catholics in our nation combined.  If SBNR was a denomination, it would be the largest in America by far.

Next, think about its appeal.  You can dine at a spiritual buffet where you choose what you eat.  If you like the idea of meditating to alleviate stress, put some Buddhism on your plate.  If you want to be one with the universe, add some Hinduism.  Select Jesus’ “love your enemies” teachings alongside Islam’s disciplined prayer schedule and Judaism’s embrace of family and ritual.  Why not take the best of each, eating the fish but leaving the bones?

What’s wrong with SBNR?  First, it violates the religions it claims to embrace.  Buddhism is more than meditation; Islam is more than its prayer schedule; Christianity is more than Jesus’ ethic toward our enemies.  Second, it keeps its followers from knowing the God they claim to accept.  Jesus was blunt: “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).  Peter agreed: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which they must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

I understand the disconnect many feel with religious institutions today.  At the same time, I’m convinced that SBNR is not the answer.  It is spiritual inoculation, giving us enough of the “disease” to keep us from contracting the real thing.  Who is behind it?  “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Every image of the church in the New Testament is collective—a body with many members, a vine with many branches.  There are no solos in the Book of Revelation.  We were built for community and accountability.  And we need a personal, daily, intimate relationship with the One who made us.  You may be spiritual and you may be religious, but here’s the question: are you his?  If you don’t feel close to God, guess who moved?


When Your Teen Is Struggling   by Mark Gregston


Have you ever asked yourself, “What on earth does God have in mind by allowing both me and my teen to struggle so?”

I often see Christians who believe that parenting according to scriptural values, taking their kids to church every time the doors are open, and promoting family togetherness means that all will be well in the teenage years. Like buying an insurance plan, they think that doing the right things will bring about the right result.

Let me tell you, based on years of experience with struggling teens and their parents, that this thinking is just plain wrong. Never assume that applying a continuous moral or religious presence in your child’s life will in itself bring about a perfect transition from childhood to adulthood. It can help and should be encouraged, but it is no guarantee. The often-quoted scripture “train up a child in the way he should go” says nothing about the turbulent teenage years. In fact, you’ll want to remember that some biblical characters with seemingly perfect spiritual upbringings had difficulties themselves in their teenage years. Continue reading


Sense of Urgency  by Boyd Bailey
As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. John 9:4

Jesus had a sense of urgency. Not a frantic pace without purpose, but a focused diligence on doing God’s work. He prayerfully sought to steward each day with an eye on eternity. He did not allow criticism to distract Him in defensiveness, or praise to fuel His pride in superior thinking. Rather, Jesus knew He was on a mission from His heavenly Father. Time was a precious gift from God that deserved doing His will. Yes, our Savior had a sense of urgency around God’s priorities. Continue reading


Great leaders Live By Strong Convictions  by Rick Warren

The real foundation of great leadership is character, not charisma. And one aspect of a leader’s character is the convictions to which he is deeply committed. Great leaders have strongly held beliefs. An opinion is something you’d argue about; a conviction is something you’d die for. Pastors, especially, must define the convictions for which they will endure every kind of hardship, and the only way to stand for those kinds of convictions is to live from a deep sense of God’s calling.

If God has called you to the task of leadership, nothing can stop you. Your identity rests in your relationship with Him, not the approval of the people you are leading or the watching world around you. Instead of living in the comparison trap or the fear of what people will think, you must develop your convictions – theological, ethical, and practical – and stand by them.

Believe in advance that your convictions will be tested from at least eight angles… Continue reading


Digital Self-Harm – A Cry for Help   by HomeWord.com

Digital Self-Harm. Don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard this phrase before. It’s a

recently identified condition. It’s not a particularly widespread phenomenon but one,

nevertheless, that is serious and worth understanding.

We are likely aware of the seriousness of bullying and particularly of cyber-bullying these

days. Online cruelty, put-downs, and threats are the arena for cyber-bullying and we are

aware of the ease at which social media can spread the messages far and wide.

You may have seen horror stories of kids who have been mercilessly bullied via social

media and of tragedies when some kids have chosen to end their own lives as a result.

Media outlets often flock to these types of stories and it’s not uncommon for these to

attack technology as the culprit.

But, what if it actually turns out that the teen is the originator of her or his cyber-bullying?

This is what is known as Digital Self-Harm. It happens more than you might realize.

In 2012, the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center published a report about digital

self-harm. Part of the research included a survey of 617 students on the prevalence of

self-cyber-bullying among them. Ten percent of the students reported they had digitally

self-harmed. Continue reading


Top 5 Reasons I Value My Volunteers’ Input  by Aaron Crumbey
I’ve learned that with every program or event that we do in youth ministry I think one of the areas we can always improve on is the way in which we make things better. The feedback we receive from our leaders is priceless. We use that info to make next year better for them and our students. I’m sure there are a lot of you who do the same. So for some of you, I’m preaching to the choir.
If this hasn’t been something that you’ve been doing, I would humbly advise you to start. It’s a value in our ministry that leaders serve with us and not for us. Also, we have to recognize that we don’t have all the answers. And being in youth ministry doesn’t make you an expert at it. So know that you can also learn from them. Remember, they are focusing on one task, so that already gives them more time to think about it then you. It also gives them the high probability of becoming better at it than you. Which is something you should take advantage of and not fear.
I try to incorparate my volunteers input either during the planning process or by doing a debrief. And it has been super great and has helped me a ton in a lot of areas. So I thought I’d share my top five reasons for doing so, in hopes that it would help someone else value their volunteers the same.

Continue reading