09.28.15

The Most Jaded Generation? by Leneita Rix

http://youthministry.com/the-most-jaded-generation/

I came across this quote from leadership guru John Maxwell recently…

“The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”

It got me thinking there should be an addition to the quote…

“Cynics have forgotten what wind can do.”

We live in a cynical era, and it feels like the current generation is more cynical than ever. What are they cynical about? Well, according to whatever statistic or study you read, it’s about everything. They don’t believe in marriage, college, politics or faith any longer. Current articles claim they are leaving the church and never returning. The reasons stated are everything from the collapse of the family, to an over inundation of information in the digital age.

YET, I was at a conference this past weekend with several speakers from all walks of life and position. The only real common thread in the demographics of the keynotes was they all had a relationship with Christ. The undercurrent of every single talk was: Hope. When we lose sight of hope we drown, when we can look to the source of hope we can move forward and conquer.

In light of this thought I would readjust Maxwell’s quote to say, “The pessimist has forgotten what hope looks like, the optimist misplaces their hope, the cynic thinks hope is empty and the leader knows when hope is in the Lord it can move mountains, part seas, and transform the world.”

We probably can’t stop the influx of influencers on the current generation. However, we can stop the cynicism at it’s source by helping them. What can we do? Continue reading

09.28.15

Three Reasons Not to Be Fearful 
wisdomhunters.com

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Fear is a persistent foe. I am unable to live 100% fear free. I can rest in the Lord’s reassurance one minute and the next minute fear making payroll. Friends I love depend on the Lord and on their paycheck to take care of their family. God’s peace floods my soul during an uplifting worship service on Sunday, but Monday morning I can wake up worried about a circumstance or person out of my control. How can I move more toward a life of faith—than a life riddled with fear? Trust in the Lord is the short answer. Here are three reasons why we need not be fearful:

God’s Got It—Whatever It Is

What does it mean…God’s got it? God’s got it means we don’t have to bear our burdens alone. As Jesus aptly describes—because we are yoked with Him we can find rest for our souls. God’s got our health issues, so we can rest in His wellness. God’s got our financial challenges, so we can look to His abundant provision. God’s got a rogue relationship, so we can trust Him with their protection. God’s got our family, finances, career, health and the moral deterioration of our culture. Since the Lord is in control, we can let go of our control in confidence. God’s got it!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

The Holy Spirit is at Work

The Holy Spirit is at work where we are not. In the same way God’s Spirit was broodingover an unseen creation, so He is still at work creating something out of nothing. So, as we pray for lost souls to be saved, the Holy Spirit is at work softening sinful hearts and drawing the unsaved unto Himself. As we wait on the Lord, the Holy Spirit is at work lubricating the door hinges of opportunity to swing open in His timing. We may not like an authority’s decision, but we know the Spirit is at work to reveal His truth. We dismiss fearfulness—trusting God’s Spirit is at work.

“The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it whichever way He wishes” (Proverbs 21:1, Amplified Bible).

Jesus is a Faithful Friend

When we feel alone and misunderstood we have a faithful friend in Jesus. He sticks closest to us when we are emotionally far away from others. When we experience loss—Jesus is there to weep with us, comfort us and give us hope through the grieving process. When we are forsaken by a friend—Jesus walks with us in acceptance as we bear our cross of rejection. When we don’t feel loved—Jesus loves us with empathy and understanding. Best friends have an uncanny way of initiating interest and intimacy during our struggles. Jesus is always with us to calm our fears.

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).

Prayer: Heavenly Father by faith I rest in You and rely on You for guidance and courage.

Application: What do I need to give to God trusting Him with the outcome?

Related Readings: 1 Corinthians 16:10; Hebrews 11:27; 1 Peter 3:6, 14; 1 John 4:18

Post/Tweet this today: Since the Lord is in control, we can let go of our control in confidence. #WisdomHunters #nofear

09.28.15

Memorizing Scripture by Charles R. Swindoll

Psalm 37:30-31; 119:9-16Matthew 4:1-10

I know of no other single practice in the Christian life that’s more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. That’s right. No other single discipline is more useful and rewarding than this. No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your counseling will be in demand. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.

God’s Word is filled with exhortations to implant His truth in our hearts. David says that a young man can keep his life pure by treasuring God’s Word in his heart (Psalm 37:31; 119:9-11). Solomon refers to this in Proverbs 4:4:

“Let your heart hold fast my words;
Keep my commandments and live.”

The words hold fast come from a single Hebrew term, meaning “to grasp, seize, lay hold of.” Scripture memory gives you a firm grasp of the Word—and allows the Word to get a firm grasp of you! Solomon also mentions writing the Word “on the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs 7:3) and having Scriptures kept within you so “they may be ready on your lips” (Proverbs 22:18).

Now, I know you’ve been challenged to do this before. But is it happening? Perhaps you have procrastinated because you have mental blocks against it. Maybe you tried, but you either did not see the value or could not get beyond the method that was demanded by some memory program—little cards, booklets, checkup techniques, hearers, etc. Perhaps that seemed elementary and insulted your intelligence. I understand.

Okay . . . forget the methods . . . but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Take your Bible, turn to a passage that’s been especially helpful . . . and commit that passage to memory—all on your own. Don’t learn just isolated verses here and there. Bite off whole chunks of Scripture. That way you can get the flow of thought God had in mind.

Here are seven things I have found helpful:

1. Choose a time when your mind is free from outside distractions . . . perhaps soon after getting up in the morning.

2. Learn the reference by repeating it every time you say the verse(s). Numbers are more difficult to remember than words.

3. Read each verse through several times—both in a whisper and aloud. Hearing yourself say the words helps cement them into your mind.

4. Break the passage into its natural phrases. Learn the reference and then the first phrase. Then repeat the reference and first phrase as you go to the second phrase. Continue adding phrases one by one.

5. Learn a little bit perfectly rather than a great deal poorly. Do not go on to the next verse until you can say the previous one(s) perfectly, without a glance at your Bible.

6. Review the verse(s) immediately after you have gone through this process. Twenty to thirty minutes later, repeat what you’ve memorized. Before the day has ended, firmly fix the verse(s) in your mind by going over it fifteen to twenty times. (You can do this as you drive or do your job.)

7. Use the verse(s) orally as soon as possible. After all, the purpose of Scripture memory is a practical one, not academic. Use the verses in conversation, in correspondence, in teaching, in counseling, in everyday opportunities. Relate what you’ve learned to your daily situation. You’ll be thrilled with the results.

09.28.15

3 Guaranteed Ways to Make Games Fun Again by Tyson Howell

http://youthministryunleashed.com/3-guaranteed-ways-to-make-games-fun-again/

It’s a youth ministry staple.

We all do it  –Almost weekly.
You’d think we’d  have it down pat by now.  Unfortunately it is a problem for veteran youth workers and rookies alike.
We often fail at choosing and leading games!

  • I am not quite sure why…
    • Do we not put enough effort into it?
    • Is it because games are not spiritual so it is a low priority?
    • Do we think we can “wing it” with games and it will still work?

If you are reading this blog, chances are that you work with students.  Chances are you run games with these students.  And I hope you want them to be effective and good.Well, here are 3 ways guaranteed to make it happen.

  1. Follow the Leader

If you are having fun then your students will have fun.  It is a very simple but true formula.I see it all of the time.  A leader is leading a game and they look board doing it.  Then all of the volunteers are leaning up against the walls on their phones.No student is going to be excited and involved with this kind of leadership.  If you and your team are more excited then the students, watch out.  This is the recipe for an awesome game.

  1. Skill less

You are not training professional athletes!  Keep the games VERY, VERY low skill.  When picking a game to play it should not require high levels of coordination.A 3 on 3 basketball tournament requires large amounts of skill.  A game of tag requires far less skill.The more skill required the more students you alienate.  The less skill required the more students can get involved.  That is a recipe for fun.

  1. A 5 Year Old Can Understand

Here is a simple rule in doing games well.  If it takes you more the 60 seconds to explain then the game is too complicated.When it comes to games for a bunch of students, simple is more fun.You are going to lead games for your students.  So follow these 3 ways guaranteed to make them fun.

09.21.15

7 Characteristics of Highly Effective Youth Communicators by Greg Steir

http://gregstier.dare2share.org/my-lovely-blog-post-goes-here

For the last two and a half decades or so I have been a “youth speaker.” God has blessed me with the privilege of speaking at countless camps, retreats, festivals, Christian school chapels and youth group outreaches honing the tricky craft of inspiring, instructing and, hopefully, impacting twitchy teenagers with the message and mission of Jesus.

In addition I have spoken to somewhere around a half a million teenagers over the last 24 years through the Dare 2 Share conferences alone. These highly programmed weekend events equip thousands of teenagers  in cities all across America every year to share the good news of Jesus with their peers.

The thing about preaching to teenagers is this, unlike adults they will let you know if your sermon stinks. Teens will start texting, talking or just get up and leave if they’re bored. Preaching to teenagers is like walking a tightrope without a net. If you fail it will end up with a loud splat.

I know that sound all too well. There have been countless times I’ve used illustrations that bombed or preached sermons that didn’t have the desired impact. But, over the years, God has helped me learn from my mistakes and “fail forward.” These failures have allowed me to gather a satchel full of lessons that I’ve been able to take with me and fold into my sermon prep and delivery to teenagers and have enabled me to become stronger as a youth communicatior.

Over the years I’ve had the honor of meeting and working with several effective youth speakers. When I say “effective” I don’t necessarily mean the funniest, the loudest or the ones who get the most applause. I mean the ones who, yes, can deliver the goods in an engaging way, but who have something to say which gets behind the exterior and truly penetrates the hearts of the listening teenagers. Although many of these youth speakers are vastly different in many ways, they have a handful of common denominators that make them effective.

Whether you are a youth pastor, professional youth speaker, small group leader or a teenager who wants to get better at speaking/preaching to your peers my prayer is that these characteristics will help you become more effective: Continue reading

09.21.15

3 Tips to Keeping Connected with Your Kids… without Becoming That Creepy Parent by Jonathan McKee

jonathanmckeewrites.com

brand new study asking U.S. teens and their parents about their social media and mobile app use revealed some intriguing insights, not only about teen’s attitudes about tech, but about how connected… er… disconnected parents really are from their kids tech communication. The study discovered:

  • 79 percent of teens indicate they rarely say things online they regret (which one media outlet interpreted as them “not thinking before they post’).
  • 52 percent of parents say their biggest concern is how much time their teen spends on social media.
  • 43 percent of parents admitted they do not monitor their teen’s digital activity.

Interestingly enough, 88% of parents say they are aware of all or most of the social networks or apps their teens engage with, but yet half of that number actually uses the top social media networks their kids are using (Snapchat and Instagram are two of the top five, yet only 49% and 45% of parents use them).

These numbers don’t surprise me at all. It was only a few summers ago that McAfee interviewed teens and parents about teen online behavior, and “the majority of parents (74%) simply admit defeat and claim that they do not have the time or energy to keep up with their children and hope for the best.”

Nice!

So, how can parents interact with their kids about technology without being a helicopter parent?

Here are 3 tips to keeping connected with your kids… without become that creepy parent: Continue reading

09.21.15

The End of Purity Culture by Natalie Floyd

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationships/end-purity-culture#W3v1AxXgRozQUxqh.99

Sign a pledge. Get a purity ring. Save yourself for marriage.

It seemed like a pretty simple formula to follow if you grew up in the Church. There were rallies, talks and Bible studies, all cheering on students simply to wait. Wait for a spouse. The one God has planned for you. The one who is probably waiting just like you. Sign a pledge now, and then meet that awesome guy or girl of your dreams in just a few years.

What the marriage-motivated purity culture of youth group days gone by didn’t account for was the reality that Christian millennials find themselves living in today.

As the average age of marriage has steadily climbed, hovering now just under 30, the overall marriage rate has also continued to decline. According to Pew Research Center, in 2013 only 26 percent of millennials ages 18 to 32 were married.

For Christians in their 20s, this means a dating pool where people with an eye toward marriage feels a little like finding the Loch Ness Monster. For so long, many church leaders kept teens from sexual sin with the promise of a spouse—one who likely was also waiting, too—who wasn’t too far down the road. Pledging to remain pure until marriage is important—it’s a command. But, what happens when marriage doesn’t happen? Continue reading

09.21.15

Urgency vs. Complacency by Dale Hudson
http://www.relevantchildrensministry.com/2015/09/urgency-vs-complacency.html#sthash.FpHAOMC8.dpuf

One of the dangers of serving in ministry for a long period of time is complacency.  The natural bent is to slide toward complacency.

As we look to Paul as a role model in ministry, we see that he maintained a sense of urgency instead of complacency.
Remember his words in Philippians 3?  He said, ” I PRESS ON toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  These are the words of a man on an urgent mission.
How do you keep your sense of urgency?
Here’s 5 keys.
Keep your focus on those who do not yet know Jesus.  Complacency sets in when you get satisfied with the number of people who are attending your church.  That’s not what we must be focused on.  We must stay focused on people in our community who don’t know Jesus.  The issue is not how many people are attending your church.  The issue is how many people in your community are not attending church anywhere.
Stay close to those who are urgent.  Urgency spawns urgency.  Find people either inside or outside of your ministry who have a sense of urgency and spend time with them.  Their passion will rub off on you.
Look at the future instead of the past.  One sign of complacency is talking more about the past than the future.  Honor the past but always be looking to the future.  What happened yesterday is in the past.  God wants to do something fresh and new in your life and ministry.
Set goals.  One practical way to keep a sense of urgency is to set goals.  Setting attendance goals, spiritual steps goals and other measurements will keep stretching you.
Be the thermostat instead of the thermometer.  Everything rises and falls on leadership.  If you, as the leader, are complacent the ministry will be complacent.  It’s your job to keep adding fuel to the fire.
Our calling is urgent.  So much is at stake.  We only have a short window of opportunity to reach kids and families.  Let’s keep pressing for the prize God has for us.

09.14.15

10 Ways to Become a Better Children’s Ministry Leader Right Now by Dale Hudson

http://www.relevantchildrensministry.com/2015/09/10-ways-to-become-better-childrens.html#sthash.0ve9tkj3.dpuf

Want to be a better leader for your children’s ministry?

Here’s 10 ways to become a better leader right now.

1. Apologize when you blow it.  Instead of trying to hide your mistakes or shift blame, be quick to admit your mistakes and ask for forgiveness.

People will respect you more…and people follow those they respect.

2. Admit when you don’t know the answer.  When you admit you don’t know the answer, but are going to find out, people will respect you as a leader.

3. Act – don’t react.  Take time to think through your responses to challenges instead of reacting to them.

4. Give lots of positive feedback and small amounts of criticism.  People respond to encouragement…not criticism.

5. Get to know your team members on a personal level.  Take time in meetings to ask how people’s families are doing, events in their life and other personal interests.

6. Be okay with failure.  There will be times when you fail.  That’s okay…As long as you learn from it and use it as a stepping stone to success.

7. Talk some…listen a lot.  Spend more time listening than you do talking.  Shift from primarily being a communicator to being a facilitator.

8. Celebrate success.  Take time to slow down and celebrate the wins.

9. Address the hard challenges first.  There’s a tendency to do the easy challenges first and procrastinate on the hard ones.   Meet the hard ones head on and it will free your mind up to focus on other tasks.

10.  Read.  Grab a leadership book and read it.  How much you grow as a leader is directly tied to how much you read.

 

09.14.15

When should you talk to your kids about alcohol? by Brady Dennis

washingtonpost.com

Having the “booze talk” with kids before they take their first sip of alcohol is crucial, according to a report released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

That moment comes earlier than adults might expect, the group said, meaning pediatricians and parents alike should warn children by age 9 about the dangers associated with drinking.

“Surveys indicate that children start to think positively about alcohol between ages 9 and 13 years,” a committee of doctors wrote in the report. “The more young people are exposed to alcohol advertising and marketing, the more likely they are to drink, and if they are already drinking, this exposure leads them to drink more. Therefore, it is very important to start talking to children about the dangers of drinking as early as 9 years of age.”

Adolescence is a time marked by testing limits and exploring the unexplored, the authors of Monday’s study note.

“It is no coincidence that this is the chief period for initiating substance use,” they said. “Alcohol is the substance most frequently used by children and adolescents in the United States, and its use in youth is associated with the leading causes of death and serious injury at this age (i.e., motor vehicle accidents, homicides, and suicides).”

Researchers found that 21 percent of young people have tried more than a sip of alcohol by age 13, and nearly 80 percent acknowledged drinking before graduating high school.

In addition, the study noted, 4 out of 5 teenagers said their parents had the biggest influence over when — and whether — they decided to drink. A 2013 study, for example, found that parental communication about alcohol before college helped prevent students who didn’t drink from becoming heavy drinkers. It also greatly reduced drinking patterns among teenagers who already had begun drinking prior to college.

The AAP physicians particularly underscored research about the dangers of binge drinking, which increases the risk of everything from earlier sexual activity to drunk driving to suicide. The group said just as parents need to talk with their kids about alcohol, pediatricians should be screening every adolescent for alcohol use during office visits and offering advice aimed at preventing substance abuse.