October 23, 2014—Much has been made of the growing post-Christian sentiment among America’s youngest generation of adults. But how has this well-documented turn away from religion affected Millennials’ views of Christianity’s most sacred text?
Has the “brand” of the Bible suffered or significantly shifted among young adults?
In a recent study among Millennials, conducted in partnership with American Bible Society and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Barna Group sought to discover how changing ideas about Christianity might be affecting perceptions of the Bible. This study—the largest Barna Group has ever done on a single generation’s view of the Bible—looked at Millennials’ beliefs, perceptions and practices surrounding Scripture. Three significant—and surprising—insights emerged. 1) Practicing Christian young adults maintain a traditional, high view of Scripture. 2) In contrast, non-Christian Millennials hold ambivalent and sometimes extremely negative perceptions of the Bible and of those who read it. 3) And while the screen age has impacted Bible engagement, print remains Millennials’ favored format for Bible reading. Continue reading →
I’ve been a fan of social media for as long as it’s been around.
There are the voices out there that complain about how it separates us from each other or makes us narcissistic or zombies as we do nothing but stare at our screens. And there are truths to each one of those complaints. Social media, like most things, can be used in a negative way.
But it can also be a tool for some really positive things as well. There are many ways we can use it to expand the Kingdom of God, and I’m constantly trying to learn how to make better use of it.
Something I find so interesting about social media is how it is an accurate reflection of how our flesh-and-blood world works. Things that happen in social media land are not so different from things that happen in our real lives.
Because of that, there are a lot of lessons about life we can apply to social media, and a lot of lessons we can learn from social media that can be applied to our lives!
So here are a few lessons I’ve been collecting about social media and about life. Continue reading →
We are living in amazing times. The fact is, we’ve learned more about teenagers in the last 10 years than in the previous decades combined. We’ve been exposed to challenging and solid research about youth ministry and adolescent faith. Even if it hasn’t all been good news, this research is shaping our thinking and practice in long-overdue ways.
The knowledge we have about teenage brains is similar. There are new findings almost every month, it seems. It’s fascinating stuff that constantly reminds me of God’s creativity and intentionality. And—this is important—I find over and over again that my knowledge about what’s going on in teenage brains informs everything I do in youth ministry.
But there’s a problem that needs to be undressed: Most of what you’ve read or heard about teenage brain development is wrong. Or, at least, most of it has been skewed to infer conclusions that the research is just not saying.
Since children are the future, and no one over 21 really knows what they find “cool” (do the kids even say cool these days…?), researchers have devoted many, many surveys to the exact quantification of what it is #teens do online.
Whether you work in a church, on campus, a drop in center or a camp ministry to teens, you are needed like never before!
You may think that I am being over dramatic but when you consider these three pressings needs of youth, you will be convinced that the work you do is vital and that you need more help to do it well. Continue reading →
God is more concerned with your progress than your perfect performance. The very nature of discipleship is progressive. God’s purpose is that you become more and more like His Son, Jesus, and He will use your entire life to work that process out. As ministry leaders, we are not exceptions. We are examples. If we aren’t growing and challenging ourselves to move to the next level, personally and professionally, we can’t lead a congregation or a team to do so.
Excellence, in and of itself, isn’t a core value at our church. We’d rather launch things imperfectly than wait for perfect conditions, which never really arrive. Having said that, excelling or growing and improving is another matter. While we don’t have to have reached perfection to serve God, we must be willing to grow. Some Pastors and leaders excel and grow, while others don’t. What makes the difference? The Bible mentions at least five factors that cause us to excel… Continue reading →
“The day of the preacher is over; the day of the communicator is here.”
I remember I couldn’t write that phrase down fast enough when I first heard it, afraid that I would not write it out exactly as Haddon Robinson said it. Ever been there? That phrase so gripped me because I so believed it to be true that it became the basis for the title of my book, Stop Preaching & Start Communicating.
I’m often asked what I mean by “stop preaching and start communicating.” Isn’t preaching communicating? The short answer is no, it’s not. The answer Haddon gave me to his quote may help you understand what I mean by my book title. Haddon put it this way, “When I make that comparison, it’s not a put-down. There are people who preach within their tradition, and they do very well. I think the communicator is somebody who is aware of the wider audience and the wider culture, and so therefore he doesn’t really think of himself as preaching a message as much as communicating a message. It’s an attitude as well as a style. I think that communicators are the ones that are needed today to bridge the gap to a secular society.” Not sure how you feel about that answer, but I fully agree with Haddon 100%.
Today’s audiences have absolutely nothing in common with yesterdays. If you think they do, then you may want to take a closer look at what’s going on around you. The fact is it’s a completely different world. If you’re sort of an old-style preacher, the old-fashioned way, that approaches the platform or your pulpit with your famous three points and a poem, if your structures sound like, “My first point is … my second point is … the first reason to do so and so is … the second reason is,” those structures sound like a preacher talking and in this highly technical iPhone carrying, YouTube watching, hyper-texting digital generation that’s not what people are used to. More importantly, it’s not what they’re looking for. They’re driven by a wide variety of social and conventional media. And today’s media doesn’t sound like a preacher talking. Continue reading →
Every youth group has one of two students—or both. The first craves attention. He rolls his eyes at videos you find moving, interrupts your talks with rude jokes, and corrects other student’s answers with his “profound” insight. The other student sits in the back. She avoids eye contact, shrinks off to the bathroom during participatory activities, and refuses to talk in small groups. At first glance, these two students couldn’t be more different. But in truth, they are both dealing with the same issue: lack of confidence.
These days, bold and high-energy individuals appear self-assured, while quieter people are labeled as insecure or incompetent. But this has more to do with personality type than confidence level. As you can see from the students above, lack of confidence can show up as a nonstop need for peer validation or a stubborn refusal to participate.
Confidence is a realistic belief in one’s power and abilities. It is found in quiet assurance, in a peaceful demeanor, and in a listening ear. Truly confident people don’t seek the spotlight—they don’t need to. They’re just as comfortable leading as they are following. A truly confident leader is, above all, humble.
Developmental theorists agree that the most pivotal period of confidence development lasts from birth to around age 12. That’s unfortunate for youth workers—our influence in students’ lives begins towards the end of this formation period or later. So how, after these first 12 years, can we help our students build confidence? Continue reading →
I blurted out the words . My older brothers and sisters were shocked and appalled at my blatant ingratitude directed toward my mother.
I think that I was 8. I am still ashamed of my response. -Maybe that’s why raising grateful teens is so important to me. I was surprised to find study after study that proved that: people who practice gratitude feel considerably happier (25%) than those in a control group; they are more joyful, enthusiastic, interested, and determined.”
Here are 3 effective ways to nurture gratitude and defeat a sense of entitlement in teens.
Before I get into what parents are doing to build gratitude look at the big benefits for our kids!
gained 15 percent more of a sense of meaning in their life;
become 15 percent more satisfied with their life overall (at home, at school, with their neighborhood, with their friends and with themselves);
become 17 percent more happy and more hopeful about their lives;
experienced a 13 percent drop in negative emotions and a 15 percent drop in depressive symptoms.
And in general:
“people who practice gratitude feel considerably happier (25%) than those in a control group; they are more joyful, enthusiastic, interested, and determined.” To look at the study click here. Continue reading →
The Cult of Culture – How to Get Out of This World by Kenny Luck
Watch out for the world. It’s after you. It wants you in its cult following, wooing you with pleasures and power, fame and fortune, the nexus of excess. The cult of our culture provides the perfect distraction from what’s really important, and lures us with empty lusts, beliefs and religions.
It may not seem like an organized cult, but behind the apparent chaos and disorder is an enemy pulling the strings to entangle our mind, body and soul. It’s easy to overlook that we are targeted and marketed with endless desires to capture your time, energy and money. The world wants your worship, so you don’t worship the one who deserves it.
This cult of culture uses tangible ploys to steal our hearts. To get out of this world,God’s men have to acknowledge we are in a battle of unseen forces. It’s a war made of daily, even minute by minute, spiritual battles.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”—Ephesians 6:12
Which side are you on? Are you buying the ticket to the cult of culture, or do you want to get out of this world? We need to be aware of the tug-of-war being played right now. On one end is the world, and on the other is God. Guess who’s in between being tugged? Continue reading →