05.30.17

Hi! I am praying for you right now! 

Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
What matters most is what others think of Jesus. And the world judges Christ by Christians. #denison
Whatever is in first place, if it isn’t Christ alone, it is in the wrong place. #swindoll
God not only sees where you are, He sees where you can be. #jesusgraces
Satan weaves; God reweaves. #lucado
 
FYI:
1. Signs of Drug use is Teens and Tweens…https://www.heartlightministries.org/2017/05/signs-drug-use-teens-tweens/?utm_source=CC+Master+List&utm_campaign=121ace0f61-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_02_22&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5926458580-121ace0f61-126726953
 
 
3. This article is very edgy but worth the read. The Real Reason Liberal Churches are Losing Members… http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/44427-the-real-reason-liberal-churches-are-losing-members
 
4. Welcome to College (Book Q&A Below)
 
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
How the Last Five Generations Have Changed Us by Tim Elmore
Unreal by Marc Bain (Instagram is the most harmful social network for your mental health. Not surprising but now there are studies.)
American Say U.S. Moral Values at a Seven-Year Low by Suzanne Woolley
Netflix, TED and the Future of Preaching by Tiffany Delucca

Here are 2 video links I think you might like to see:

http://www.videosforyouth.com/mini-movies/65079/can-you-see-it?utm_source=vfynl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=resource3&utm_campaign=nl-03/31/2017-2060475
 
Here are 2 just for you:
 
Follow Jesus First 
 
When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Matthew 8:18-19
Good leaders are first good followers. Do you follow the orders of Jesus? When He asks you to do the uncomfortable, do you move out of your comfort zone with confidence? Compelling Christian leadership has focused “followship” on their Master, the Lord Jesus. Where is He asking you to go that requires sacrifice and unconditional commitment? His orders do not always make sense, but they are totally trustworthy and helpful. 
When He directs you to leave the noise of the crowds for the quietness of a few, do not delay. If you are obsessed by activity, you can easily lose your edge on energy and faith. When all my oomph is consumed by serving every request and answering every call, I have no time or concentration to hear from Christ. What is He saying? This is the most important inquiry I can make. What is Jesus telling me to do? So, when I listen, I learn.
You may be in the middle of a monster season of success, so make sure your achievements do not muffle the Lord’s message. It’s when we are fast and furious that our faith becomes perfunctory and predictable. Leadership requires time alone to retool and recalibrate our character. People follow when they know you’ve been with Jesus.
The most difficult part may be the transition from doing less, to listening and thinking more. If you, as the leader, are not planning ahead, who is? Who has the best interests of the enterprise in mind? Who is defending the mission and vision of the organization so there is not a drift into competing strategies? Follow Jesus first; then He frees you to see.
 
Where is the Lord leading you to go? Will you lag behind with excellent excuses, or will you make haste and move forward by faith? Go with God and He will direct you through the storms of change. He may seem silent at times, but remember, He led you to this place, and where He leads, He provides. Follow Jesus first, then go wherever He goes. You will lose people in the process, but you will gain better people for His next phase.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’” (Matthew 16:24).
Prayer: Dear Lord, I commit to follow You first with my whole hearted devotion, in Jesus’ name, amen. 
 

10 REASONS ADULTS DON’T CONNECT WITH STUDENTS

Fear keeps us from lots of things – deeper relationships, meaningful conversations and implementing risky ideas. Fear is also what keeps most adults from volunteering to serve in the youth ministry and connecting with students. When I was I youth pastor, I chose to tackle these fears head on. I made a presentation to name the most common fears of my adult volunteers and then began conversations about each one. Here’s my list:

Top Ten Fears of Adult Volunteers
10. I’m too old.
9. I’m not hip.
8. I don’t speak their language.
7. I’m too smart for this.
6. I don’t know what to say.
5. I don’t look the part.
4. I don’t know enough about the Bible.
3. I don’t want to tell students what I did in the past.
2. I can’t relate.
1. Students won’t like me.

In my presentation, I would always put a funny picture next to each fear; it served to release tension and gave me an easy opening into a somewhat challenging discussion. Remember, these fears are powerful and gripping to youth ministry volunteers, and they won’t find our quick quips or silly stories incredibly helpful. Instead, we need to communicate our own fears and give adults a chance to see themselves as students actually see them. We can do this in four ways:

1. Take volunteers back to their high school days. Ask them to think about an adult who had influence in their lives and remind them of the power of this relationship. Challenge them to think of how it shaped and molded them, whether positively or negatively. Then connect the dots for them and encourage them to be a positive influence in a student’s life.

2. Describe how a student thinks. As adults, we tend to think that students see us as equals, but, for the most part, they don’t. Students see us as larger than life, as people who have all the answers and are worry free. (Little do they know.) But what this means is that a positive and upbeat adult will always attract students. They want to know what they think we know.

“A positive and upbeat adult will always attract students. They want to know what they think we know.” 

3. Bring in a ringer. Invite someone who has had success to tell their story. Consider asking a member of your current team or someone from the congregation to come and share one of their fears and how God helped them overcome it. These personal ministry stories can be powerful for people on the front lines of ministry.

4. Focus on the results. I often find that people who are in a fight to reach a mountain top don’t end up making it because they never look up. They see the problems, but they never see the results. Ask a student to share how a relationship with an adult has made a difference, or challenge a student to communicate how they view their adult leaders. You might even share results based on what you’ve seen and heard.

As you consider going about this process, here’s one final word of caution: people don’t like to talk about their fears. If you think this isn’t a problem for your volunteers because you have never heard them talk about it, think again. Try this model of teaching at your next staff meeting and watch your volunteers’ reactions and the discussion that follows. Don’t let your fear of doing something new or different keep them from confronting their fears about serving in the youth ministry.

Welcome to College (Book Q&A)

I recently had the opportunity to ask Jonathan a few questions about his book:

J. Warner:
“Why is it important to equip young Christians for college? What makes this group different than non-Christians?”

Jonathan:
“The college years are critically important. If you get off course in high school or college, it can have life-altering consequences.

Here are clarifying questions I like to ask students, “What story do you want to tell about the college years? Someday you will walk across the graduation stage and be filled with either satisfaction or regret. Which one do you want? Eventually, you will summarize your college years in a few sentences. Why not go ahead and shape your future now?”

This final question will give students clarity. They also need to decide if they are serious about following Jesus or if they are going to drift into “playing Christian.” If they are serious about following Jesus, then they can set the destination they are pursuing early on, which will make all the difference. As Christians, we are called to more than just surviving—that’s the heart behind Welcome to College.”

J. Warner:
“What are some of the unique challenges facing young Christians when they go to college?”

Jonathan:
“College isn’t what it used to be. And many students raised in the church are not ready. You may have noticed in the news that free speech and historic Christian beliefs and values are not exactly being celebrated on campus or in our culture today.  The tyranny of tolerance is alive and well.

Depending on the survey you look at, about half of Christian students will disengage from their faith / church after they graduate high school and head off to college. If you care about the next generation as I do then this should break your heart and serve as a wakeup call that “business as usual” is not working out so well.

As I have taught and worked with high school and college students over the past 12 years I have seen a lot of different scenarios play themselves out. Here is one of the most common pathways.

A student who has a primarily emotional / sentimental faith will find it wilting very quickly in the heat of real world challenges on campus. When a student moves from one group where their childhood beliefs were the majority view to a new group where they are now in the minority view, they face significant pressure to modify or reject those “outdated” beliefs. When they have left the bubble, will they stand?

That is why we must train our students to know why they believe what they believe. It’s not a matter of if but when the challenges will come.”

J. Warner:
“How does your book help accomplish the task of preparing young people for the university experience? What is unique about your book?”

Jonathan:
Welcome to College is everything I wish I would have known during the college years. Young Christians are growing up in a culture that is deeply confused about what is right and what is true. It’s hard for them to break free from the riptide of relativism, but if you lose truth, then you lose Christianity. Period.

Students need to know how to understand, explain and defend objective truth. Without training, they will simply fall into the default settings of those around them. When the pressure is turned up and the tyranny of tolerance presses in, Christians tend to wilt if they do not have the confidence that only comes from knowing why they believe what they believe.

Essential areas they need to be ready to engage in during college: How do I know God really exists? Is truth relative? Who was Jesus, and did he rise from the dead? Can you trust the Bible in the 21st century? How do I have helpful spiritual conversations? How can Jesus be the only way to God? If God is good, then why is there so much evil? I cover these and other practical questions like dating, sex, dealing with doubt, and how to resolve conflict with roommates as well. Because Christianity is true, it applies to every area of life. So I try to cover all the main questions that students have to engage during college.

So you can read the book straight through or you can pick the topics that you are facing and start there. I have been so encouraged to hear that many youth pastors are buying copies of Welcome to College for all their high school graduates. And parents are buying the book and using the discussion questions in the back of the book to take their students through their junior and senior years of high school to get them ready.”

J. Warner:
“Where can people learn more about your work?”

Jonathan:
“As they read Welcome to College, they can visit me online at JonathanMorrow.org for more resources, podcasts and videos to help them along the way. Also, parents can send their students to spend either 2-weeks during the summer at Immersion or 9-months at our Christian Gap Year building a biblical worldview and being trained to own their faith with us here at Impact 360 Institute where I teach.”

If you’ve got a young Christian who’s getting ready to enter college, or you’re just appropriately concerned about the future of young believers, you need to read Welcome to College: A Christ-Follower’s Guide for the Journey. I cannot recommend it more highly.

05.30.17

How the Last Five Generations Have Changed Us by Tim Elmore

growing leaders.com

Folks talk a lot today about Millennials. For that matter, we’ve talked about younger generations ever since the Baby Boomers introduced the “generation gap” in the 1960s. The unique realities each generation faces as they come of age (shared tragedies, heroes, milestones, music, television shows and economy) shape us into the people we are as we enter adulthood. These realities, in fact, offer a paradigm (or lens) with which we view our world.

Today—I’d like to share some helpful observations on the five generations that are influencing our world. These observations may help you better understand a work colleague or a student with whom you interface each day. As you read the ideas below, reflect on how you might better demonstrate empathy for each generation and how you can better communicate with them. While there are exceptions in every population, I am sharing the bump part of the bell curve in the following comments.

I hope this big picture perspective will spark conversation.

Perspective Is Everything  

As students graduate into adulthood, each generation carries with it a primary lens which informs how they vote, what they buy, and why they believe and act the way they do. Consider the perspective of each new population:

The Builder Generation (1929-1945) These folks endured the Great Depression and World War II. In general, they’re frugal and know how to save money and resources. They tend to value holding on to what is right and good.

The Baby Boomers (1946-1964) These people represent the population “boom” after the war. As the largest generation to date, they felt large and in charge and expected life to be better for them than it was for their parents.

Generation X (1965-1982) This generation started with the birth control pill and Roe vs. Wade. This smaller population grew up in a broken, jaded world of Vietnam and Watergate. As realists, they know life can be hard and want to keep it real.

Millennials (1983-2000) Currently, the largest U.S. generation, they grew up in a time of helicopter parents, participation trophies, college degrees and options. They often see life as a cafeteria from which they pick and choose what they want.

Generation Z (2001-2018) This young population is still forming, but they have grown up in a time of terrorism, recession, under-employment and racial unrest. They tend to be hackers, navigating a tougher world full of social media and angst.

Personal Values as They Came of Age

The Builders – Think long term. We must plan ahead and conserve what we have.
Boomers – Anti-establishment. Don’t trust institutions; make your own way.
Generation X – Unplug and get real. Life is not full of sunshine and rainbows.
Millennials – Change the world, starting with the environment. We can do it.
Generation Z – We are aware, savvy and evolving. We value human equality.

Personal Message as They Came of Age

Builders – I’m Humble.
Boomers – I’m in charge.
Generation X – I’m scrappy.
Millennials – I’m awesome.
Generation Z – I’m fluid.

Personal Style as They Came of Age

Builders – Create the system.
Boomers – Take over the system.
Generation X – Avoid the system.
Millennials – Work within the system.
Generation Z – Work around the system.

Obviously, I am painting with broad brushstrokes.

05.30.17

UNREAL by Marc Bain

qz.com

Instagram is the most harmful social network for your mental health

Our addictive feeds of fitness models, exotic travel, and photo-perfect moments don’t often match with our comparatively humdrum and badly lit lives. The discontent caused by that disconnect is enough that a growing body of research suggests social media is contributing to mental-health problems such as anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, and body-image issues in young people, who are the heaviest users of social media.
And Instagram, which now has 700 million users globally, appears to be the social network having the greatest negative effect, according to a new report by the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), an independent charity focused on health education.
The report combines previously published research on the health impacts of social media with its own UK-wide survey of nearly 1,500 people between the ages of 14-24. To discover how respondents felt different social networks—Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, and Twitter—affected their health, both positively and negatively, it asked them about their feelings of anxiety, connection to a community, sense of identity, sleep, body image, and more.
Only YouTube had a net-positive effect among the respondents. Every other social network came back with a net-negative effect. (In order from least negative to most, they were: Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.) Respondents rated Instagram in particular as having negative effects on anxiety and body image. One of the report’s authors told CNN that girls often compare themselves to unrealistic images that have been manipulated.
The report quotes one respondent as saying, “Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough as people add filters and edit their pictures in order for them to look ‘perfect.’”
Earlier research has found that the unrealistic expectations and “fear of missing out” created across our social feeds can lower self-esteem and fuel issues such as anxiety and depression. These issues are only compounded by cyber-bullying and lack of sleep, another harmful effect linked to social media. The report cites recent research published in the Journal of Youth Studies that found one in five young people say they wake up during the night to check messages, causing them to feel exhausted during the day.
The findings weren’t all bad. Nearly 70% of respondents reported that they received emotional support on social media when times were tough, and many said their accounts offered a forum for positive self-expression. They were also able to create and maintain relationships online.
The problems centered more on forgetting that what we see isn’t always reality, and the RSPH offered some recommendations based on its findings. For one, fashion brands, celebrities, and others should consider disclosing when their photos have been manipulated. It also suggested that social networks give users a pop-up warning if they exceed a certain time spent logged on. Social platforms might even identify users with possible mental health issues based on their usage and send a discreet message on where to get help.
Not least of all, the report said more research is needed into social media’s health effects. Social’s spread among younger generations is only growing. It’s too big a force not to consider the health consequences seriously.

05.30.17

American Say U.S. Moral Values at a Seven-Year Low by Suzanne Woolley

Bloomberg.com

Trump’s election elicits dark views from moderates and liberals about tolerance.

05.30.17

Netflix, TED and the Future of Preaching by Tiffany Delucca

tonymorganlive.com

I recently spoke with a church leader who shared some alarming statistics from research within his denomination. About 50% of all their lead pastors said they felt equipped in seminary to teach but not to lead. Their attrition rate for ministers was even higher, and growing.

I was surprised by one part of the research, and not by the other. That pastors feel like seminary fails to train them in how to practically lead a church towards growth and health… not surprising. But that these pastors felt secure in their teaching/preaching did surprise me a bit. Here’s why: Most churches still teach in decades-old formats that are increasingly abandoned by innovators in teaching methods. For instance,

  • A long lecture by one person on a stage to a crowd of passive listeners.
  • Messages, even when connected topically or by a single Scriptural text, that build one upon another, released one-week at a time at a certain time of day on a certain day of the week.
  • Few or no visuals, technological assets or other creative enhancements.
  • Lack of emphasis on captivating storytelling.

How equipped are pastors, really, to teach in our current culture?

I don’t ask this question to point fingers or assign blame. I just think there’s a lot of room for our churches to innovate, and perhaps, to better spread the message of the Gospel and better equip our people to take steps in their faith.

How do people learn today? A few things that immediately come to mind; you can probably think of others…

  • Podcasts
  • Online courses
  • TED Talks (live events, online videos and TED Radio Hour podcast)
  • YouTube tutorials
  • Netflix series
  • Hands-on lab work
  • Service learning/volunteering

Here are a few questions I’m wrestling with:

  • Is a church’s standard 40-minute sermon once a week the best way to help people gain knowledge or take a next step? If not, why can’t we break the mold?
    For example, what if pastors preached for 18 minutes on a Sunday and released a podcast episode or short video on Monday that offered deeper study into the topic? Could we at once be more compelling for the masses and more effective at offering on-demand ways for people to go deeper?
  • What if we made planning visuals and stories a key component of sermon prep?Jesus used visuals all around Him to teach key truths. What if we put a higher emphasis on telling a great a story every time we communicated? I recently heard Andy Stanley point out the fact that Jesus was constantly answering questions with stories. We have no better model.

    Think back to the best sermons you’ve ever heard. I bet you remember a story before a pithy statement or a specific Scripture verse.

  • What can we learn from popular “lecture-style” events like TED?People sign up in droves and pay money to sit through a full day of talks. (Shocking?) I’ve only been to a few events like this, but the best ones, kept me on my toes. A 10 minute talk followed by a 3 minute video. Then a 3-song set by an interesting musician, or a short comedy act, or another visual art performance of some kind. Then another 8 minute talk, etc.

    The exact format isn’t the point, but we have the ability to think outside our traditions. Jesus taught while walking down the road, hanging out by a lake and from a fishing boat. Why are we so stuck in our routines?

Where Do We Go from Here? 

I’m not saying we throw out Sunday morning teaching. Not in the least. But we can push ourselves to innovate.

I asked a creative lead pastor on The Unstuck Group’s team, Gabe Kolstad, to share some practical thoughts for how pastors could start thinking about the future of teaching and preaching. Here were his suggestions:

  1. Carve out more time to think and pray
    Senior leaders, no one can prioritize this for you. And you know from experience that people will push back and crises will always vie for your time. Great ideas start when you give yourself space to have them.
  2. Reevaluate how you structure your environment and your spaces for creativity.
    Where do you think best? Where do you feel most creative? If being at desk under fluorescent lights drains you, it’s not where you’re going to have your best ideas.
  3. Invite creative people in.
    Most churches have some highly skilled members who would be willing to volunteer to help make church content more engaging, if you cast vision and create the right systems.
  4. Invite wise people in.
    You most likely have people with wisdom who like to study Scripture or like to teach Bible Studies in your church. How could you engage them to support you in digging into topics for extra content and sermon prep?

As Peter McGowan recently wrote,

“Until the Industrial Revolution, the church was a cultural leader for centuries in the arts, technology, and science. The modern printing press that printed the Gutenberg Bible was an invention of the church. But we’ve allowed history to be rewritten. We’ve lost touch with our creativity and individuality. We have stopped intentionally and strategically thinking through our story and how it impacts our brand and culture.”

What if we could get our minds around the cultural implications of how content outside the Church is delivered – and most importantly, received? I think we’d find ourselves more willing to try something new. I look forward to seeing how the Church continues to innovate to advance the Gospel.

05.22.17

Hi! I am praying for you right now!

Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
It happens again and again, never a break, without fail, God’s mercies are fresh and new specifically given for the needs of this day. #tripp
 
We don’t have to have the perfect words to say. We can simply speak sincerely from a heart full of love. #terqeurst
 
Conviction is the place where God doesn’t only show you what needs to change, but He gives you the grace and the power to begin that change. #furtick
 
Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither. #graham
 
 
FYI:
1. 6 Questions to help students exceed expectations… https://growingleaders.com/blog/six-questions-that-help-students-exceed-expecations/?utm_source=Master+List+%28Monthly%2C+Weekly%2C+Daily%2C+Events+%26+Offers%29&utm_campaign=9eb77dc475-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b8af65516c-9eb77dc475-304414745&mc_cid=9eb77dc475&mc_eid=70da1f1f8e
 
2. Athletic options for those that don’t play team sports… https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2017/04/19/athletic-options-for-kids-who-have-no-interest-in-traditional-team-sports/?utm_term=.e6d2468931d4
 
3. Millennials Don’t Consider Themselves Grown Up Until They are 27… 
 
4. 40 YOUTH MINISTRY HACKS (Most probably won’t apply… but you never know… see below)
 
 
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
Two Worlds to Understand When Leading Generation Z by Tim Elmore
‘Adult’ is Not a Verb by John Stonestreet
Teenagers Seeking Purpose by Mark Gregston (Blog post but good!)
Making Discipleship a Priority for Your Church by Jake Mulder (For churches but a good reminder for all of us!)
 
 
Thoroughly Prepared 
 
So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters.  The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me. Nehemiah 2:9
It is very hard to over-prepare, as most people do not struggle with over-preparation. One’s temptation is to neglect the real need of being thoroughly prepared. When you rush ahead of God, you expose yourself to the nagging details you could have intentionally prayed about and thought through. Pride tends to shun preparation, as it assumes too much and prays too little. When you take the time to prod those areas you are unsure of, you discover insights that are invaluable to success. If, on the other hand, you go off half-cocked with a Pollyannaish naïveté, you are an excellent candidate for disappointment, or even worse, failure. Irresponsible assumptions are foreign to faith because faith thoroughly prepares on one hand and humbly prays on the other.
Preparation also includes the involvement of others because you will not accomplish big things for God by yourself. Jesus didn’t. He called the Twelve to join Him. He has also placed people in your life whose hearts have been inexplicably moved to join you in this God-created opportunity. Let them in and do not be intimidated because they possess skills and experiences you don’t. Instead of lamenting the different backgrounds, personalities, and skills that surround you, celebrate them. A well-rounded variety of relationships and resources bring strength to the whole. A true team is diverse, and a secure leader accepts diversity as a key ingredient in the recipe of success.
“Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people” (Isaiah 57:14).
 
So unfetter your team from the fear of failure by giving them the freedom to try new things and to test long-held assumptions and methods. Help others prepare by removing obstacles. A team—thoroughly prepared—produces. Prayer is the most potent part of your preparation. You cannot pray too much about your methods and motives. Pray for God to be glorified and for His will to be done. Pray for His provision and resources. Pray for relationships you have yet to enter into that will become critical alliances in your God-sized project. It is through prayer that you persevere in preparation.
 
Change occurs primarily in the person praying. Their faith expands and so does their patience. Their love elevates, while their vision grows. In a phrase, their character receives an extreme makeover. Prayer is the crowning jewel of thorough preparation. Prayer gives you courage to speak boldly and the wisdom to know what to say and how to say it. Prayer holds you back when you need to wait in silence. Prayer is preparation, as it aligns you with the Almighty’s agenda. Thorough preparation is your friend. God does not waste preparation; He blesses it. Therefore, be thoroughly prepared following through with the plan with abandonment and gusto. Weave prayer throughout your preparation as if it were an intricately woven quilt, and then watch God work. Thorough preparation positions you to be used by God.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray for patience to prepare thoroughly and trust You wholeheartedly, in Jesus’ name, amen. 
Application: What area of my life requires additional preparation, so I am ready for the Lord’s next season of service
 

Good To Great

“Good is the enemy of great.”

That’s the opening sentence from Jim Collins’s best-selling book on corporate management, Good To Great. He writes:

“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”

What does a book on corporate management have to do with our Christian faith?

I’m persuaded that Christians settle for “the good life” when God is calling us to something great.

I don’t know about you, but more times than I would like to admit, I have found myself settling for a “good Christian life” while caring for little else in the Kingdom of God that does not directly relate to me.

Even though we attempt to stay inside of God’s boundaries, we manufacture a life where self is at the center.

We are thankful for our good marriage that we have because of Jesus. And we should be! How amazing is it that two selfish people can live in harmony with one another?

We are thankful for our good family that we have by grace. We are thankful for our good career that we have by God’s sovereignty. We are thankful for our good Christian friends who surround us.

Yes, we should celebrate and enjoy these good blessings that are ours!

But, in ways that we don’t even realize, it’s quite possible for our Christianity to culminate here.

That’s settling for good, when great has been offered.

You see, we have been chosen to transcend the boundaries of our own little plans and purposes, wants and needs. We have been called to participate in the Kingdom of God and his mission to make all things new (Revelation 21:5).

That doesn’t mean you need to abandon the good things that God has blessed you with.

Rather, it means living with a redemptive, ministry mentality in every those situations, locations, and relationships where God has placed you.

What does that look like? Here are a few examples:

  • Don’t just settle for a good marriage. How can God use you in the redemption of other marriages, or engaged couples, or divorcees, or singles?
  • Don’t just settle for a good family. How can God use you to disciple others in the wider family of Christ?
  • Don’t just settle for good career. How can God use your platform, power and influence to make a difference for his name?
  • Don’t just settle for good Christian friends. How can God use you in your neighborhood to spread the life-changing Good News of the Gospel?

Be honest with yourself and with God today: Are there ways in which you have settled for, and Christian-ized, selfish living?

Jesus rescued you from something very bad, not so you could settle for a good life, but to invite you to something eternally great!

40 YOUTH MINISTRY HACKS

  1. Keep a small stack of $5 Starbucks gift cards handy in your desk drawer to give out for encouragement.
  2. Join the Youth Ministry groups on FB & get wisdom, advice, how to’s from 1000’s other youth pastors. (Download Youth MinistryStuff You Can Use)
  3. Students attract students. Let them promote, teach, lead ministries, and host.
  4. Students know what they like better than youth pastors know. Give students input into your youth group’s physical environment.
  5. When making a decision don’t ask “Will my students like this?” ask “Will my students’ parents like this?”.
  6. Find and cling to a network of other youth pastors in your area. Youth Ministry is too hard to do alone.
  7. Always remember, students are a work in progress. When they mess up, it’s ok. You did too.
  8. Use DYM University to train your leader. It’s hard to have an above average youth ministry with only average volunteers.
  9. When with other youth pastors ask more questions about their ministry than you make statements about yours.
  10. Give your custodians a gift card and thank you after a messy night.
  11. Partner with other youth ministry para-church organizations. They are reaching students you can’t/aren’t.
  12. Get a good travel rewards credit card. Pay for your ministry supplies and trips on it. Then, take a vacation with all the points.
  13. Read something every day. If you’re not learning, you’re not leading.
  14. Buy a cheap drone for camp/retreat. Use it as a way to provide surveillance to cover the campground quickly.
  15. Do background checks for all your volunteers every year. It protects you, your students, and gives confidence to parents. Back Check is an online provider that works with most churches insurance providers.
  16. Realize you’re doing the most important and urgent job in the world. Act like it. Don’t waste time on things that don’t matter.
  17. Fully screen all the videos you ever play at youth group. Watch them through an over-protective parents lens.
  18. Use an app like Schedule Once, Doodle, or Calendy to make appts with leaders and parents. You set the times you’re available throughout the week, they choose the times.
  19. Schedule one day every month for yourself. No meetings, no prep work. Use it to pray, read, reflect.
  20. Exercise.
  21. Email parents every week. Tell them what happened last week and what is happening in the coming weeks.
  22. Use plastic cups, not styrofoam cups, when working w/ youth – they aren’t as fun to pick apart & leave the pieces all over the room.
  23. Align your youth ministry vision with the church’s vision. You are on the same team.
  24. Pray for your senior pastor every day.
  25. Just because you don’t like lock-ins doesn’t mean students don’t. You’re a youth pastor, don’t be a grinch.
  26. Post on social media while you’re going to the bathroom. It’s a sure fire way to make sure you are constantly posting on social media. No one will know.
  27. Buy a deep fryer. You can cook mozza sticks and chicken fingers in 2 minutes!
  28. Get a membership to Download Youth Ministry. You have more important things to do than reinventing the wheel each week.
  29. Rig games. There are certain students who really need a win.
  30. Convince your church to adopt certain tech (Wufoo, Dropbox, Mailchimp, Planning Centre, Buffer, EZ texting…etc) and then use it for youth ministry. That way you get the tech but it doesn’t come off your budget.
  31. Sometimes your church can’t give you a raise, but they can give you more holidays. Ask for that.
  32. Put your phone on “do not disturb” for a couple hours every day. You’ll get more done in those two hours than you will the rest of the day.
  33. Don’t run expensive events very often. Keep events over $20 to 5-6 times/year.
  34. Use Planning Centre Registrations for big events/retreats/camps. It so simple and cheap.
  35. Don’t be afraid to take up tithes/offerings at youth group. You might be a lead pastor one day and those teens will be the giving adults in your congregation.
  36. It’s ok to cancel youth group sometimes, especially if it benefits parents.
  37. Realize your youth ministry isn’t as fragile as you’re making it out to be.
  38. Use a program cheat sheet (like this) to make sure you never drop the ball.
  39. Don’t spend much time on merchandise…it almost never works the way you hope it would.
  40. Give your lead pastor the benefit of the doubt.
  41. Use “Do Not Disturb” on your phone from 9:00pm-8:00am every night/morning
Blessings, Kendall

05.22.17

Two Worlds to Understand When Leading Generation Z by Tim Elmore

growing leaders.com

Insead Emerging Markets Research recently released a report on the multiple generations who are now consumers worldwide: Baby Boomers, and Generations X, Y and Z, using the most popular tags the last four generations have been assigned. In the report, Executive Director Vinika Rao writes:

Poised to enter the workplace soon, Generation Z was born into a tumultuous world, demonstrated to them in all its VUCA glory through a wide variety of screens.” Have you heard this term: VUCA? It represents descriptive words for the world our youngest students have grown up in:

  • Volatility
  • Uncertainty
  • Complexity
  • Ambiguity

They fear for the future of the planet, value their education, worry about their future careers and want to make the world a better place. They are completely digitally native in the sense of being quite helpless in a non-digital world.

A VUCA World

VUCA describes the filter in which our middle school and high school students make decisions about their life. For that matter, young college students use this filter too:

  • Their world is volatile—not steady.
  • Their world is uncertain—not secure or guaranteed.
  • Their world is complex—not simple.
  • Their world is ambiguous—not clear or even congruent at times.

Consider if your world was like that as a young teen. How would you have done?

Perhaps it was uncertain and complex. But for most of us from older generations, life was simpler and more secure than it is today. When students look around at our country, they do not see “united” states, they see divided ones. They see older generations pitted against younger ones. They’ve grown up with the constant ping of social media messages, but many have not learned to civilize this technology. We don’t yet know how to live well in the smart world that is emerging. A perfect case in point is a recent event that took place in Argentina. At the first ever “driverless car race” in Buenos Aires, only one car finished the race—and it did so at far lower speeds than human-controlled racers. It’s a picture. We have the technology to do certain things, but we’ve not yet mastered it.

The world is exhilarating yet frighteningly uncertain.

Technology introduces all sorts of ways to expand our world, yet we’re not sure if what it introduces is helpful or harmful morally. Migrating to this moral “edge” can become graphic. In some places in Europe, you can find a café where a robot can serve you a coffee and sexual favors. It’s crazy. Some argue this is a good thing and not immoral at all, because it does not represent cheating on your spouse. Others, of course, argue the opposite. Once again, it’s a VUCA world our kids are growing up in. Are we ready to equip our students to make good decisions in this “smart” world? Are we even ready to host that conversation?

Technology seems to be pushing us, rather than the other way around. In some ways we’ve allowed it to become our master not our servant.

A TGIF World

According to futurist, Dr. Leonard Sweet, TGIF no longer stands for “Thank God It’s Friday” but rather for:

  • Texting
  • Google
  • Instagram
  • Facebook

Social media is here to stay—but have we recognized both the helpful and harmful symptoms it has introduced into our culture? Researcher Dr. Jean Twenge (who will be speaking at our National Leadership Forum in June) says the rise of social media parallels precisely the rise in angst and depression among our nation’s students.

We will soon (in the next five years) be using Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in much of our business training courses, and perhaps, even in our formal education. Almost half of Americans say they’re not even sure what V.R. or A.R. is. Today’s Virtual Reality usually involves wearing goggles and experiencing something with your eyes that augments what you’re actually experiencing physically. In essence, it is a combination of a “virtual” world and a “real” world.

Leading Students in a TGIF and VUCA Culture

So, I am now pondering how I can better lead students in this day of change and uncertainty. So far, my directives are simple yet clear:

  1. Because their life is often VOLATILE, I must labor to offer steady and consistent leadership to them. Many do not have such role models who are solid.
  1. Because their life is often UNCERTAIN, I must enable them to be resilient and resourceful. These skills are the only sure-fire way to combat such a society.
  1. Because their life is often COMPLEX, I must equip them to practice mindfulness. To mono-task (focus on one simple goal) rather than multi-task, all the time.
  1. Because their life is often AMBIGUOUS, I must help them become clear on what they want in life and congruent in who they are. Clarity is a gift we must offer.

Here’s to meeting the needs of your students in a VUCA and TGIF world.

05.22.17

‘Adult’ is Not a Verb by John Stonestreet

breakpoint.org

There’s a new word touted by Webster that exposes a crisis in our culture of generational proportions.

It’s been called a lot of things: “Peter Pan Syndrome” or my favorite, “failure to launch,” but whatever the term, the phenomenon is undeniable. A record number of young people today are getting stuck in the transition between childhood and adulthood.

Despite attending college in record numbers, millennials seem to struggle to move on to the next phase of life. Just a decade ago, a healthy majority of young adults were able to successfully fledge. Now, those who’ve managed to leave the nest are a minority.

Of course, the recession and a sluggish job market are factors. Millennials do have tougher career prospects than their parents did. But the economy isn’t the only explanation, and the language young people use to talk about adulthood makes that obvious.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse announced that Twitter had turned the noun “adult” into a verb. “#Adulting” is what kids post on social media to congratulate themselves for the rather ordinary feats of paying the bills, finishing the laundry, or just getting to work on time.

“I adulted!” goes the saying, as if fulfilling daily responsibilities is somehow above and beyond the call of duty. “Adulting” has become so universally recognized that the American Dialect Society nominated it for the most creative word of 2015.

“To a growing number of Americans,” writes Sasse, “acting like a grown-up seems like a kind of role-playing, a mode of behavior requiring humorous detachment.”

This isn’t just the complaint of a crotchety old man about young whipper-snappers. What we’re witnessing today, insists the senator, is a trend toward “perpetual adolescence,”—a “coming-of-age crisis,” that shows up as a real and measurable reduction in the difference between 10-year-olds and 30-year-olds.

But if our kids don’t know what it means to be adults, parents, we should be asking ourselves, are we teaching them? Isolation in peer groups of the same age, widespread complacency toward history and ethics, unbridled consumerism, and even those infamous participation trophies have all contributed to this crisis.

We’ d do well to remember what C. S. Lewis wrote in “The Abolition of Man” of those who “remove the organ and demand the function,” who “make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise,” who “castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

Senator Sasse offers steps to reverse the trend of perpetual adolescence and to help kids from an early age understand the meaning of adulthood. Teach them the difference, he says, between a “need” and a “want,” embrace hard work together, travel meaningfully, and read widely. These are all important steps to forming mature citizens.

Older generations must start investing in the lives of young adults. Summarizing relevant research in 2013, The Boston Globe reported a staggering statistic: Only a quarter of Americans 60 and older had discussed anything important with anyone under 36 in the previous six months! Exclude relatives and that figure dropped to a mortifying 6 percent. How alien this would have sounded to the Apostle Paul, who in Titus 2 urges older men and older women to teach the younger.

Only by connecting and investing in their lives can we reasonably expect our kids, our grandkids, and their peers to understand that “adult” is not something you do. It’s someone you are.

05.22.17

Teenagers Seeking Purpose by Mark Gregston

heartlighministries.org

You want your kids to fulfill every bit of their unique purpose in life. When you first hold your newborn, the future and its possibilities flash through your mind. Will she be a doctor? Will he be a lawyer? I want her to do well. I hope he is like his dad.

As your children grow, you are able to direct their dreams for a while. Life is good. Then something happens. All of a sudden, seemingly overnight, everything changes. The once amiable child is now a teenager and is no longer following your road map! He seems to have developed his own direction, forsaking what you had imagined for him. How did this happen?

As kids mature in the teen years, they begin searching on their own for meaning in life, a purpose for living, something that makes their life worth living. And that may not at all match what Mommy and Daddy thought it should be.

Why Am I Here?

One of the most important life questions your teen will begin asking and wrestling with is, “Why am I here?” or “What’s my purpose on this Earth?”  Without a purpose, life becomes motion without meaning; trivial, petty, pointless, and founded upon whatever the culture offers up as the latest “must have” material thing or “must do” activity.

“The man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder—a waif, a nothing, a no man.” –Thomas Carlyle

Pastor Rick Warren calls this pursuit for meaning the drive for purpose. In his blockbuster book “The Purpose-Driven Life,” Warren offers the answer; “You were made for a mission. You aren’t here just to wander around lost. And you aren’t here simply to live for yourself.”

I grew up in a time and home where people believed that God had a plan for each of our lives. I was taught that each person is as unique as the fingerprints stamped on their digits, and that God wanted a personal relationship with me.  I learned that I was uniquely created, fearfully and wonderfully made, and that Christ died for “me.” I was told that I was precious in God’s sight.

So, why are kids so lost today? Are parents no longer passing on these same values to their children? I am convinced that if more kids knew their purpose, they’d have fewer struggles in the teen years. They’d feel a sense of meaning; they’d know where they are headed and concentrate on getting there.

When I look back at my own life, my work, and my happiness about fulfilling God’s purpose for my life, I get excited all over again. It all started from a point in my life when I felt hopeless, lost, and not knowing where to turn. At that point I started asking questions about my own purpose in life, and I started listening to the answers God was giving me.

Showing Your Teen How to Find Their Life Purpose

A good place to begin the search for purpose is to understand that purpose is woven into every strand of the fabric of our lives. It has to do with God-given talents, the experiences in our life, and those things which give a person “goose bumps” or a tear to their eye when they think about them. Moreover, purpose has to do with using those talents to serve God and others, not one’s self.

“Between this day and the next you will give your life to something. The decision on what that will be will shape your destiny.” –Rick Warren

So, has your teen ever taken stock of their talents and gifts? Are they a great talker, or a great listener? Are they skilled at building things, or are they good with people? Is their talent more cerebral or more physical? I suggest they make a list of the things and activities that interest them and those in which they excel. There are a number of places on the Web that they can take online Spiritual Gifts Tests. They can also ask themselves, “What’s the one thing that I do better than others?” This can clue them in to their God-given purpose.

The gifts God gives us need to be tested in fertile soil, so it’s important for a teen to get a wide variety of experiences.  As they do so, certain talents will sprout and blossom, others will wilt and die. Through these new experiences, God will reveal more about who they are and how God has called them to serve Him and others. One experience can literally change their life.

Unlike the Field of Dreams premise “If you build it they will come,” teenagers shouldn’t get stuck on developing just one purpose, even if for the moment they are convinced it is their true purpose in life.  It is far better that they continue to experience new things. So, a better plan for finding life purpose is, “As they experience it, it will come to them.”  And keep in mind that they may have difficulty finding their purpose in the classroom or from books. So a parent should provide plenty of “field experiences” for their teenager.

Take a Simple Life Purpose Exercise

For teens (or parents) who have already had many experiences in life, and are still confused about their purpose, here’s a good exercise. Take out a blank sheet of paper and write at the top, “What is My Life Purpose?” Then, have them begin writing answers. They should write any answer that pops into their head. It could be a word or two, or a sentence. Repeat until they write the answer that makes them cry – obviously not a sad cry, but a joyful one. Yup, if it makes a tear come to their eye, then it’s a sure bet that this is their purpose, or at least associated with their purpose. They should do it in private and without any accompanying music or other distractions. It may take 100 or even 200 lines of potential “purposes” to hit the one that makes a tear come to their eye, but encourage them to keep at it until they do.

Helen Keller said it best, “Many people have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”

When God begins revealing their purpose, remind your teen that it may not be reached tomorrow, next month or even in logical steps. Instead, they may need to take some initial steps to get there and there may be detours along the way. But knowing the destination will help them build strength and courage to get there – often much more than we might expect they’ll have.

It’s a Lifelong Journey

Finding purpose is a lifelong journey. God doesn’t give all the details at once, nor does He promise it will be a smooth ride. Instead, He often provides just enough information to help us move another mile down the road. It helps us to trust Him as our Navigator. As you progress along the road of your life’s purpose, pay attention to the road signs He provides along the way and listen to Him speak to you.

Nothing matters more than your teen knowing God’s purpose for their life, and nothing can compensate for not knowing it. Knowing their purpose gives meaning to their life and each step along the way. It motivates them to prepare for their purpose, to save themselves for that purpose, and to avoid anything that might get in the way. Knowing their purpose simplifies their life and removes confusion.

“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.” –Robert Byrne

On the other hand, without a clear purpose, they have no foundation on which to base decisions, allocate their time, and use their resources. Without a clear purpose, they’ll keep changing directions, jobs, relationships, churches, or other externals—hoping each change will settle the confusion or fill the emptiness in their heart.

The Comfort of Knowing God’s Purpose

Isn’t it comforting to know that God has a bigger purpose for each of us? If you believe it, then step in front of a mirror and look for areas in your own life that need to grow. Perhaps you’re not following your own heart in finding God’s purpose in your life.  Aim this year to make some changes – with God’s help.

“A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.”–Proverbs 11:28 (The Message)

As for me, I stand on His promises, I’m assured of His presence, I love His involvement, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am living in the center of His purpose for my life.

“What’s my purpose?” is probably the most important and empowering question you or your teenager will ever ask in this lifetime. So help them uncover their talents, their strengths, their values, and their passion. Help them experience new things and develop a plan – any plan, even if it is just a first step. Find ways for them to live life with intent. This year is a great time to help your teen – and maybe even you – begin a quest for purpose.

05.22.17

Making Discipleship a Priority for Your Church by Jake Mulder

fulleryouthinstitute.org

As you approach the summer season of ministry and begin to plan for the fall, you’re likely going to work on a handful of important questions:

How can we keep our young people connected to the church?
Do I have enough leaders for our mission trip?
What should our fall calendar look like?

But in the midst of the busyness, you might lose sight of your most basic task as a leader: discipleship. Helping people love and follow Jesus in their everyday lives. I recently heard a church leader phrase the problem this way: “Our church has a generic vision of making disciples but no real strategy to make it happen.”

As Dallas Willard writes, “Non-discipleship is the elephant in the church.”[1] In other words, we spend our time focused on a myriad of activities – but we miss the main point.

To sharpen the focus of our ministries on what’s most important, I’d like to suggest three essential realities to keep top of mind this summer. If we do, I believe they will have a game-changing effect on the present and future of our churches.

1) There is a crisis of discipleship in the American church.

Perhaps you’ve been reading Dallas Willard for years. Or maybe the term moralistic therapeutic deism is part of your daily lingo. Or perhaps you have a strong sense that the beliefs of young people in your church feel watered-down, slightly off base, or flat-out incorrect. A growing number of Christian philosophers, theologians, and researchers are making the case that our churches largely miss the main message that Jesus came to live and teach.

Kenda Creasy Dean of Princeton Seminary reflects that we’ve replaced adherence to Jesus’ message with a “do-good, feel-good spirituality that has little to do with the Triune God.”[2] It’s certainly a far cry from what we hope to pass on to a younger generation.

2) Young people are drawn to churches that take discipleship seriously.

In our team’s recent study of 250 churches that are growing young, we found young people are drawn to churches that take Jesus’ message seriously. Approximately 40% of young people specifically mentioned their church is effective with teenagers and young adults because the church challenges them to follow Jesus.

In other words, young people aren’t running from a gospel that requires hard things of them, they are running toward it.

Young people aren’t running from a gospel that requires hard things of them, they are running toward it.

And what type of gospel are they running toward? Nearly 7 out of 10 young people in the churches we studied specifically mentioned Jesus when they were asked to describe the gospel.

These two data points reveal a hunger not only to understand Jesus’ message, but also to put it into practice. This is discipleship at its core—and the heart-cry of young people everywhere.

Terry, a 29-year-old in our study, said, “I think many churches have fallen into a consumer mindset as a default mode. Churches have tried to appeal to people’s desire to feel good. But the problem is, if you’re just trying to make people feel good, church isn’t going to measure up to that.”

Adam, another twentysomething, added, “The goal for our church is not really effectiveness with young people but serving and following Jesus. And young people like me are attracted to churches that want to do that.”

3) There is transformative power in asking the right questions

While the questions that began this post (as well as the dozens of other questions you need to focus on as a church leader) are important, I believe we need to carve out appropriate space for a more focused set of questions.

Dallas Willard suggests the following for those of us who preach from the pulpit, teach a class, select curriculum, or otherwise design aspects of ministry:[3]

Does the gospel I preach and teach have a natural tendency to cause people who hear it to become full-time students of Jesus?
Would those who believe it become his apprentices as a natural “next step”?
What can we reasonably expect would result from people actually believing the substance of my message?

In other words, it is crucial for us to pay attention to the long-term impact of our ministry rather than simply its immediate execution. The questions we ask our team and ourselves allow this to become a habit.

Ready to start? Try this.

As you head into summer, I invite you to carve out space for a regular team meeting (perhaps once per month) where there is only ONE item on the agenda: Making discipleship a priority.

Decide together in advance to keep this meeting free from the urgency, busyness, and competing demands of all those other important realities. Spend time in prayer, asking God to enlarge your vision for ministry. Invite the Holy Spirit to inspire you and lead you to the best decisions.

Perhaps you can reflect on the questions Dallas Willard poses above, or come up with your own set of discipleship-focused questions.

Over the next several months you’ll no doubt be asking lots of other questions and making plenty of other decisions. Create a rhythm where you reflect on those decisions in this meeting. Ask: Do the decisions we’ve made for our fall ministry year feel like they’re helping people become disciples of Jesus? Based on my experience and having walked a number of leaders through this exercise, you may be surprised how it can shape your plans.