06.05.17

Hi! Happy June!! I am praying for you right now! 

Daily Prayer Email: Please send any prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
Preaching is not only explaining the text but also using it to engage the heart. #keller
 
God put you here to glorify Him. That is why you’re here. And there will come a point in your life when you will realize that life is more about significance than it is about success. #laurie
 
Someone will always have better coffee, music, facilities, and speaking. Showcase Christ and his gospel. No one can improve on that. #wilson
 
FYI:

1. Connecting with college students over break: they’re bringing home more than their laundry…. https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/connecting-with-college-students?utm_source=E-Journal+%2F+Parent+Update&utm_campaign=19db082c32-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_05_26&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e88a54a953-19db082c32-312895925

2. Your kids actually want you to talk to them about sex… http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/24/health/sex-parents-talking-to-kids/index.html

3. What Screen Time and Screen Media Do To Your Child’s Brain and Sensory Processing Ability… https://handsonotrehab.com/screen-time-brain-sensory-processing/

4. 45 AWESOME DROP OF THE HAT ACTIVITIES (Below)
 
 
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
How to Teach Junior Highers Without Losing Your Mind by Kurt Johnston
Social Media Making Millennials Less Social by Uptin Saiidi
How We Got Here: Spiritual and Political Profiles of America by David Kinnaman
7 Deadly Sins of Student Ministry Volunteers by Chase Snyder
 

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

http://www.videosforyouth.com/mini-movies/65332/searching-for-truth
 
Here are 2 just for you:
 
Courage by Chuck Swindoll
 
Someone once wrote, “Sow a thought, reap an act. Sow an act, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap your character. Sow your character, reap your destiny.”

Standing tall when tested takes courage—constant, relentless, never-give-up courage! You can be sure that the old flesh will fight for its arousal and satisfaction. All it takes is a little rationalization—just a little. Just look the other way. Just shrug it off. Don’t sweat it. And before long you have a rattlesnake in your sleeping bag. 

First: Standing tall starts with the way we think. It has to do with the mind. As I’ve said so often, being a person of inner strength is really a mental factor. It has to do with the way we think about God, ourselves, and others. Then it grows into the way we think about business, the way we think about dating, the way we think about marriage and the family, the way we think about the system that is designed to destroy faith and bring us down to a lower standard. 

Second: Standing tall calls for strong discipline. This has to do with the will. Disciplining the eyes, the ears, the hands, the feet. Keeping moral tabs on ourselves, refusing to let down the standards. People of strength know how to turn right thinking into action—even when insistent feelings don’t agree. 

Third: Standing tall limits your choice of personal friends. This has to do with relationships. What appears harmless can prove to be dangerous. Perhaps this is as important as the other two factors combined. Cultivate wrong friendships and you’re a goner. This is why we are warned not to be deceived regarding the danger of wrong associations. Without realizing it, we could be playing with fire. 

Sow the wind and, for sure, you’ll reap the whirlwind. Eagles may be strong birds, but when the wind velocity gets fierce enough, it takes an enormous amount of strength to survive. Only the ultrapowerful can make it through the whirlwind.

 

The Five RE’s to Remembering names:

1. Repeat Names

Repetition builds memory. This is why your math teacher assigned you 50 of the same math problems for homework every night. The more you repeat a person’s name, the better chance you will have of remembering it later.

When you meet a person for the first time, say their name as much as possible. “Cool, Austin. Glad you are here, Austin. It was nice meeting you, Austin. Hope to see you next week, Austin.” The more you say it, the more it will stick.

2. Read Names

Read a person’s name in your mind. Visualize it. Spell it in your head. If you meet someone with an interesting name or a name that could be spelled multiple ways, ask them how they spell it. Then spell it in your head along with them. This may seem weird, but it works.

I can remember the names of hundreds of NFL athletes even though I have never met them or seen most of their faces without a helmet on. Why? Because I read their names every day on my favorite NFL news site.

3. Record Names

Keep a church database, or an app with people’s names on it. After the service, write new names down as soon as possible. Add little notes like “Natalie – married, two kids, husband Jeff, works at…”

Quickly review your notes once a week and picture the people in your mind. If you have a church database with people’s pictures, that is even better!

4. Relate Names

This is the most powerful memory tip on the list. When you hear a person’s name, find an image to relate it to.

In the fascinating book, Moonwalking With Einstein, Joshua Foer writes about his experience transforming in one year from an average guy who was bad at remembering names to winning the US Memory Championship. This is a competition where you have to do things like look at a list of hundreds of names and faces, then remember all the names of each face.

“The secret to success in the names-and-faces event—and to remembering people’s names in the real world—is simply to turn Bakers into bakers—or Foers into fours. Or Reagans into ray guns. It’s a simple trick, but highly effective.” ~Joshua Foer, Moonwalking With Einstein

Our brains remember images, not words. So turning a person’s name into an image is the best way to instantly recall it. The more vivid and bizarre the image, the better.

5. Remember to Remember Names

I know, “Thank you captain obvious!” Just hear me out.

Most often, the reason that we don’t remember names is simply because we do not consciously make an effort. We hear the name, but we are too busy thinking about what we are going to say next. Maybe we are preoccupied with the stress of the service or what we have to do later. Whatever the reason, we don’t intentionally listen to the name and make a conscious effort to store it away.

If you are intentional about remembering people’s names, you will remember them.

Hope these tips are helpful for you.

 

HERE ARE 45 AWESOME DROP OF THE HAT ACTIVITIES THAT YOU CAN EASILY ADD TO YOUR YOUTH WORKER TOOL-BELT.

RANDOM FUN

  • Beanboozled. Russian Roulette with candy. Maybe you will enjoy a peach-flavored jelly bean or maybe it will taste like barf. Yum.
  • KAP IT. Water bottle flipping game, but with objectives and boundaries!
  • HEADS OR TAILS. A coin flipping game where kids guess by putting their hands on the head or tail. Guess right and stay in, guess wrong and you’re out!
  • HEAD, SHOULDERS, KNEES, CUP! Follow the instructions and be the first person to grab the cup.
  • Minute to win it! Sixty seconds to complete takes using random items from around the house. HERE ARE 30 EXAMPLES.
  • Giant cup stack. Play the cup stack game but consider giant cups or buckets. Fastest stacker wins.
  • Mannequin challenge. Have the children freeze in place while you play a worship song and capture the video.

TEACHING OR REVIEW

  • TRUE/FALSE CHAIR. Think musical chairs but with true and false questions!
  • Books of the Bible team challenge. Books are listed on craft sticks in baggies. one for OT one for NT. Challenge each team to put one set in order the fastest.
  • Globe beach balls. Pass the ball around and wherever your thumb lands, pray for them.
  • Tic tac toe review. Divide the class into 2 teams. Ask questions, team 1 tries to answer. If they are correct, they get the x, if wrong, the question goes to team 2. The first team to get 3 in a row wins.
  • Family feud. Play with whatever you were talking about in large group.
  • Review game or Bible trivia. Get bean bags that you toss and the kids race to pick up the bag and bring it back to you in order to answer the question.
  • Share missionary stories. Update the kids on what the church is doing overseas.
  • Bible drill.

GET THEM MOVING

  • Freeze dance. Play music while the kids dance and when the music pauses all the kids must freeze in place. If they take too long then they have to do 10 jumping jacks.
  • CHICKEN IN THE HEN HOUSE. Partners will make shapes using their body. Last to complete are out!
  • Impossible shot. Create a very challenging challenge for students to take turns trying.
  • SHIP SHORE. Very similar to Simon says but directionally focused.
  • Musical chairs.
  • Four corners. Use a mega dice or colors to switch things up!
  • Simon says / Jesus says. Follow the directions and the more the leader laughs the more fun this game will be for the kids.
  • Red light/green light or wax museum. Don’t let the game leader see you moving! 
  • Crows & cranes. The leader calls out either “Crows” or “Cranes.” This lets you know if you are the tagger or the person being tagged.
  • Indoor snowball fight. Either buy fake snowballs or wrinkle up paper and throw them at each other. Consider adding a twist like capture the flag or protect the president.
  • Hip hop to it! Have all the kids hop on one leg while playing Christian hip-hop. If they stop they are out, if they switch feet they are out. The winner is the last one hopping.

GET THEM QUIET

  • SILENT BALL. Leader counts down, “3, 2, 1, silent” and passes the ball to another person in the play area. Drop the ball, make a bad pass or make a sound and you’re out.
  • Guess the time. Choose a time like 60 seconds and everyone tries to guess how long that is. Start the timer and kids hop up when they think 60 seconds is over. Time doesn’t stop till last kid stands. Note time when first kid stands just to get reactions.
  • SLEEPING LIONS. The room of kids go to sleep and the lions try to get them to wake up by telling jokes or being silly. Anyone who wakes up becomes the lion.
  • DOGGIE, DOGGIE, WHO STOLE YOUR BONE. Similar to heads up seven up but with an object that the kids go get.
  • The Quiet Game. Teams have to sit absolutely still and quiet for a timed period. Anywhere from a minute to five minutes.

COMMUNITY BUILDING

EASY CLASSROOM GAMES

  • Pictionary.
  • Hangman.
  • Parachute games.
  • I spy.
  • Rock, paper, scissors and creative variations. Egg, chicken, eagle.
  • Relay Games.
  • Feather blowing competition. Kids try to blow one another’s feathers off a table using a straw.
  • Juggling contest.
  • Keep the balloon up.

Consider using lesson review words or phrases in these games.

06.05.17

How to Teach Junior Highers Without Losing Your Mind by Kurt Johnston

Youthministry.com

Junior highers are my people.

For most of  ministry career I’ve had the privilege (did I really just say junior high ministry is a PRIVILEGE?) of focusing exclusively on this age group, and even as my role has changed this wonderful little tribe has remained the closest to my heart!

So you’d think that after 26 years of teaching junior highers in virtually every setting imaginable I’d be an expert; that I’d be the Peyton Manning of teaching young teens. Hardly. But I have learned a few things over the years, and this month I’m going to share some of what I’ve discovered.  I don’t have a formula…just a boat load of tips, tricks and tidbits that you may find helpful in your efforts to teach junior highers without losing your mind, or your salvation, in the process.  Each week I’ll share three somewhat related thoughts.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.

One of the most important things any communicator can do is have a thorough understanding of his/her audience, and never is that principle more important than when preparing to teach a group of junior highers.  You need to know the stuff that is true for EVERY junior high audience such as having a good understanding of adolescent development and the universal junior high journey as well as a good understanding of YOUR junior high audience because it is unique and your students are different than mine.  Remember, junior highers are twelve to fourteen years old, and as such have completely different needs in a teaching setting than a room full of thirty year olds.

Practical Tip:  Knowing your audience starts with approaching your lesson prep with “what they want to hear”, not “what you want to say”.

KNOW YOUR POINT.

What do you want your audience to walk away with? You don’t need a 5-point sermon. You don’t need creative nuance and elaborate illustrations. What you do need is a point! The best junior high lessons are those with a clearly articulate point or “goal” of the lesson; a “takeaway” that every student in the circle will understand. Don’t be so creative that you are no longer clear. Don’t worry about being impressive, concentrate on lessons that make an impression! Keep It Simple, Stupid. Tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them…and then tell them what you just told them!

Practical Tip: Start with the end in mind, then build every piece of your learning experience in a way that points toward that ending.

KNOW YOUR CHURCH.

How well do you know your church’s theology? Do you have a firm grasp on your Senior Pastor’s take on various subjects, social issues etc.? What subjects would be considered taboo or inappropriate for church? What type of jokes and language is “off limits” in your setting? A little understanding of your context will help prevent big headaches.

Practical Tip: Better safe than sorry. If you don’t know…ask!

Last week I had the joy to “preach” in our church’s weekly staff meeting. Somebody teaches every week; I hadn’t in a very long time. Afterwards, no fewer than a dozen people pulled me aside to share how much they appreciated what I had to say. But the truth is they didn’t really appreciate what I had to say as much as how I said it. My “delivery” helped make a message full of mediocre content memorable. All I did was utilize two of my favorite junior high teaching tips. You won’t think this stuff is profound until you make it part of your teaching routine.

KEEP IT SHORT

I have an old saying when it comes to teaching: “It doesn’t have to be long to be good, but if it’s going to be long it has to be good!”  My staff meeting sermon was thirteen minutes long, and you’d be shocked at what I crammed into those thirteen minutes. Here are a few benefits of a short lesson:

  • Less opportunity for the audience to lose focus.
  • Forces me to cut out unnecessary content, stories, etc. I only include what’s most impactful.
  • Leaves the audience wanting more!

I’ve never heard anybody complain about a short sermon. Never. Anybody. Yet far too many youth workers (and junior high youth workers are no different) write lessons that are far too long for their young audiences.

Practical Tip: Put a time limit on your lessons (our limit is 20-minutes) and aim to always be 2-3 minutes short of that limit.

KEEP IT ACTIVE

As part of my relationship with Group Publishing/Simply Youth Ministry I have attended many of their workshops and training events over the years. Something that they are famous for is an insistence on active learning. An insistence that used to bug the heck out of me has now become routine almost every time I teach. In my staff meeting sermon I spent about three of the thirteen minutes working the crowd through a very simple activity; so simple, in fact, that I almost scratched it beforehand. I’m glad I didn’t. People loved it and mentioned it over and over again. Here are a few benefits of including some sort of active learning in your lessons:

  • Keeps the audience engaged.
  • Makes the lesson tactile and memorable.
  • Provides an opportunity for movement.

Like I said earlier, there’s nothing profound here. The idea of keeping things short and active when teaching a room full of young teens is as old as the hills. Yet most junior high youth workers break the very same rules they say are so important! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lamented at the end of a weekend over the fact that my lesson seemed “too long and boring”.  Because it was both!

But I’ve never regretted providing a short and active lesson….and neither will you. More importantly: Neither will they!

Teaching junior highers; I’m not sure a higher calling exists! Churches often make the mistake of seeing junior high ministry as a place for young, or spiritually immature, leaders to cut their teeth and learn the ropes of ministry. This is a massive mistake, largely due to the fact that young teens are in an enormous season of  developmental change and it takes a mature leader to help junior highers navigate these changes well.

And one place immature leaders routinely mess up is in the teaching context.  While there’s no way to ensure a perfect lesson, I’ve developed a habit over the years that has helped me, and it may help you, too, whether you are a rookie or a seasoned pro.

When I’m done preparing a lesson, I like to run it through the following filter and make any adjustments necessary. I like to ask myself, “Does this lesson T.E.A.C.H.?”

IS IT TRUE?

Have I used scripture in context?
Have I considered the “whole of scripture”?|
Is God’s truth speaking more loudly than my opinions?

IS IT ENCOURAGING?

Does it motivate the audience toward some sort of action?
Does it do so in an encouraging manner?
Does it rely on the Holy Spirit to convict, not my delivery?

IS IT ACTIVE?

Does it involve some aspect of active learning?
Does it allow movement?

IS IT CLEAR?

Does it make a clear, understandable, point?
Will my audience remember it tomorrow?
Could a junior higher recount some of it to mom and dad in car ride home?
Will they know what the heck I was talking about?

IS IT HUMOROUS?

Is there an element of fun in the lesson?
Laughter helps the medicine go down; do I provide that opportunity?
Is the humor edifying and age-appropriate?
I’m not a comedian, but don’t take myself too seriously!

06.05.17

Social Media Making Millennials Less Social by Uptin Saiidi

CNBC.com

It’s something everyone suspected, but now it’s official: The under-30 crowd is addicted to their cell phones.

Those are the findings of a new survey, which showed that as millennials spend more time engaged on social media platforms, it’s causing them to be less social in real life. The study, conducted by Flashgap, a photo-sharing application with more than 150,000 users, found that 87 percent of millennials admitted to missing out on a conversation because they were distracted by their phone. Meanwhile, 54 percent said they experience a fear of missing out if not checking social networks.

Nearly 3,000 participants were asked about how they felt about social media in social settings, and found that the guiltiest culprits are often females. The study found 76 percent of females check social media platforms at least 10 times when out with friends, compared with 54 percent of males.

The most commonly used apps mentioned in social settings among millennials were Snapchat, Tinder, Facebook, Messenger and Instagram.

Julian Kabab, co-founder of FlashGap said that people are too focused on looking at social media when they’re out at events, and it may be costing them in social interaction. “People miss out on parties because they want to see what’s going on, on social networks, take beautiful selfies and add filters to their pictures,” he told CNBC.

It especially becomes a problem when there is alcohol involved and regrets the next morning. The survey found that 71 percent of users regret posting a picture on a social network after more than three drinks.

FlashGap’s findings echo a similar study conducted in 2014, where research suggested that cell phones were increasingly undermining personal interactions. The widely circulated Virginia Tech University <http://www.psmag.com/books-and-culture/presence-smart-phone-lowers-quality-person-conversations-85805>report said that “the presence of mobile technologies has the potential to divert individuals from face-to-face exchanges, thereby undermining the character and depth of these connections.”

Concerns are growing that the practical impact of mobile device use is making humans more interested in their online lives, and less interested in each other. Yet Kebab told CNBC his intent for FlashGap was to help millenials make their experiences more relevant in real life.

In college, Kabab said he and his friends had strapped on GoPro cameras during parties and would gather the next day to watch one another’s footage. “The experience was so fun that I said that we had to scale this emotion with an app,” Kebab, whose company has 14 employees and is based in Paris.

“Discovering parts of your nights out you didn’t see at the same time as your friends felt exactly like the end scene of ‘The Hangover’ movie, and that’s when it clicked,” he said.

FlashGap is entering a hotly competitive space where any of the big players vying for millennials’ eyes already have a head start. The app was launched in France and recently raised $1.5 million in seed round funding to branch out to the United States.

The dominance of Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, all owned by Facebook, and Snapchat, valued <http://www.cnbc.com/2015/05/29/snapchat-in-process-of-raising-new-money-values-company-at-up-to-16b-sources.html> at $16 billion by some estimates, raising questions as to how easy it might be for new entrants to get into the space.

“Shifting behaviors in a core audience are certainly factors as we consider investments,” Ellie Wheeler, a venture capitalist at Greycroft, told CNBC. “We’re seeing a lot of interesting ways to deliver mobile-first content and how that content needs to change in order to be right for mobile behavior.”

Wheeler acknowledges that social sharing is still an increasingly important piece of a person’s online identity.

“It is something that a generation that has grown up with social from day one has to learn in a way that past generations have not,” Wheeler said.

06.05.17

How We Got Here: Spiritual and Political Profiles of America by David Kinnaman
barna.org

A recent national survey by Barna reveals how America’s five dominant faith segments think—and, importantly, how they differ in meaningful ways when it comes to their views on some of the most contentious political and spiritual issues of the day.

Understanding these five “faith tribes” is important because most reported research relies upon a description of the population’s central tendencies—that is, an average belief or behavior. But sometimes these percentages mask a jumble of perspectives which, though they are outliers compared to the average Americans’, can ultimately have an impact on elections. The cultural gridlock and angst that have characterized the past few years, and particularly the unconventional nature of the 2016 presidential election, may well be the result of the nation’s tribes becoming even more divided and incapable of conversing across those differences.

Barna’s work continues to demonstrate that core religious beliefs and practices are among the primary elements that influence people’s political activities and beliefs. Here’s what Barna has learned about the will of our nation’s core faith segments. (For definitions of each segment, please refer to About the Research at the end of this article.)

1. Evangelical Christians
One of the most talked-about faith segments in the 2016 election was evangelicals. While they are distinct in their political habits, there are multiple nuanced interpretations of what it means to be evangelical, including Barna’s own narrow definition of this group (read more about this criteria). Despite the prolific media coverage they receive, evangelicals are merely 6 percent of the adult population, according to Barna’s definition. They tend to be older than the other four faith tribes and have been for the past two decades. Ethnically, a little over half of evangelicals (52%) are white, with 16 percent being black, 11 percent Hispanic and 2 percent Asian.

Most evangelicals describe themselves as conservative, fiscally (69%) and socially (79%). Seven out of 10 (71%) take a conservative view of the optimal size and reach of government. Given those views, it is not surprising that more than eight out of 10 (84%) say they are pro-life advocates. Seven out of 10 (69%) admit they are angry about the current state of America. Half (50%) support the Tea Party movement—at least double the proportion of supporters found in any of the other faith tribes.

Less than two out of 10 (18%) say they could be described as an environmentalist. The same proportion are supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement (18%). Only one out of every 25 says that they are an advocate of LGBT rights (4%). Less than one out of 10 (9%) are willing to engage in civil disobedience. All of these stances are perhaps to be expected, but evangelicals do refute one stereotype: that of being part of a heavily armed “radical right.” In fact, seven out of 10 (69%) do not own a gun.

An obvious lean to the right is consistent with their spiritual moorings. Evangelicals are the only faith segment for which a majority (70%) consider themselves to be theologically conservative. Nearly nine out of 10 (86%) believe in the existence of absolute moral truth, and almost all (98%) support traditional moral values. By definition, they strongly affirm that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches, contend that they have a responsibility to share their religious beliefs with others and believe that God is the all-knowing, all-powerful ruler of the world that he created. They also universally reject the idea that Jesus Christ sinned during his time on earth and believe that Satan is a living being, not merely a symbol of evil.

2. Non-Evangelical Born Again Christians
Non-evangelical born again Christians outnumber evangelicals by almost a four-to-one ratio. They currently represent about one-quarter of the adult population (23%), but their numbers have been declining rapidly over the past decade. Two-thirds (66%) of this segment is white, while black (15%) or Hispanic (14%) individuals comprise about one-seventh each. Four percent of this segment is Asian.

This segment is less conservative and less traditional than evangelicals. Slight majorities of the non-evangelical born again Christians describe themselves as conservative on fiscal issues (56%) and social issues (59%). A mere plurality holds a conservative point-of-view on governance issues (41%).

Evangelicals and the non-evangelical born again groups have one critical faith element in common: the confession of their sins and asking Christ to forgive and save them. Even so, the latter group is closer to an ideological mid-point. Twice as many in this segment call themselves environmentalists (37%), twice as many say they support the Black Lives Matter community (36%), and seven times as many claim to be advocates for LGBT rights (27%).

However, they are not exactly political progressives. Nearly two-thirds (63%) identify as pro-life advocates. They also have the highest percentage of gun owners (37%) of all five faith tribes. More than six out of 10 (62%) note that they are angry about the current state of America. A huge majority (87%) says they support traditional moral values.

Their religious views also bear out this more moderate perspective, even though a majority of non-evangelical born agains claim to be theologically conservative. While seven out of 10 believe that absolute moral truth exists, just over half (55%) firmly believe that the Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches. And despite the fact that nine out of 10 believe that God is the all-knowing, all-powerful ruler of the world that he created, a minority rejects the idea that Jesus Christ sinned during his time on earth (43%) or believes that Satan is not a symbol but truly lives today (35%). Fewer than one-third of this group (31%) contends they have a responsibility to share their religious beliefs with those who think differently.

3. Notional Christians
The largest portion of Christians in America falls into the notional segment. Unlike either evangelicals or the non-evangelical born again Christians, these adults have not made a commitment to Christ that they believe will guarantee their eternal salvation. Notionals represent the largest of these five faith segments—four out of 10 U.S. adults (42%)—equating to about six out of every 10 Americans who claim to be Christian, and about 45 percent more numerous than the other two Christian niches combined. Fully seven out of 10 notional Christians (70%) are white. Black and Hispanic notionals make up 13 percent each, and Asians 3 percent.

Notionals have some standout characteristics, in that they:

  • Are the only Christian-oriented faith segment from which a plurality aligns with the Democratic Party
  • Are the only Christian-oriented faith segment that does not have a majority who claim to be conservative on fiscal and social issues
  • Are the only Christian-oriented faith segment that does not have a majority who claim to be pro-life advocates, although a large minority (46%) classify themselves as such
  • Have the highest percentage of any faith segment of people who have served in the military (21%)

Some progressive leanings are evident in this segment, as about four out of 10 say they support the Black Lives Matter movement (38%), claim to be an environmentalist (39%) and advocate for LGBT rights (39%).

Just three out of 10 notional Christians (30%) think of themselves as theologically conservative. This is supported by the fact that just slightly more than half of them (57%) maintain a biblically orthodox view of God; only one out of four (24%) strongly agrees that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches, just one-seventh of them (14%) insist Satan is real, and fewer than one out of every five (17%) defend the sinless nature of Jesus Christ. Fittingly, less than one out of every 10 (8%) firmly believes in salvation by grace alone. Their idea of salvation is based on earning God’s favor through good works and personal goodness.

4. Adherents of Non-Christian Faiths
This spiritually diverse faith segment includes all faith groups not associated with Christianity. Altogether, these various faiths represent 6 percent of the adult population, the same size as the evangelical Christian segment. This group also shares a similar ethnic profile with evangelicals (52% white, 16% black, 10% Hispanic), with the exception of a much larger Asian community (13%). The largest faith groups in this segment are Jews, Buddhists, Mormons and Muslims, constituting about 80 percent of Americans belonging to faiths outside biblical Christianity.

Even though 57 percent say they support traditional moral values and half say they believe in the existence of absolute moral truth (53%), they stand out from the religious crowd. They are the group least likely to own a gun (10%), and few support the Tea Party movement (13%). Just one-third (34%) are pro-life advocates.

About half of them (51%) say they support the Black Lives Matter coalition and (47%) are advocates of LGBT rights. More than four out of 10 (43%) accept the label “environmentalist.” They are the segment most prone to engage in civil disobedience (31%).

Half of this group describe themselves as liberal on social issues, and they are the only faith tribe primarily aligned with the Democratic Party (58%).

Essentially a mixture of any non-Christian faith that exists in the nation, their spiritual profile is an interesting amalgam. While some of their views are expected—such as rejecting the reliability of the Bible or refuting salvation by grace alone—their beliefs about Satan and Jesus are more in line with the non-evangelical born agains than with the more theologically middle-of-the-road notionals. (This is largely attributable to the views of Mormons and Jews.) In the end, though, one of the most telling findings is that less than half of them (43%) say that their religious faith is very important to them today, in line with the spiritually complacent notionals (39%). In other words, most of these adults admit their life is not driven or precisely defined by their set of religious beliefs.

5. Religious Skeptics
The political antithesis of evangelical Christians is the religious skeptics, who make up nearly a quarter (23%) of the population. A majority of this group is white (56%), 14 percent are Hispanic and 5 percent are Asian. Of these five faith segments, skeptics have the smallest percentage of black adults (8%).

Few of these adults describe themselves as fiscally or socially conservative. In fact, a substantial majority of them claim to be liberal on social issues (62%). Accordingly, few of these adults support causes generally associated with the conservative universe. For instance, only 9 percent of skeptics back the Tea Party, just 13 percent are pro-life advocates, and less than four out of 10 (38%) say they support traditional moral values.

What do they support? Half claim to be environmentalists (48%), and a majority are advocates of the Black Lives Matter (53%) and LGBT rights movements (66%). About six out of 10 (58%) describe themselves as angry about the current state of America (though presumably they disagree with evangelicals on the root causes of the nation’s problems).

A mere 6 percent claim to be theologically conservative. As support for that stance, the survey found that only one-quarter of them (27%) believes in absolute moral truth, and less than one out of five (18%) believe that, if there is a deity who exists, it can be described as an omnipotent, omniscient creator or ruler of the universe. Not surprisingly, less than one out of every 20 skeptics (4%) say their religious faith is very important to them today, while just one out of every 25 (2%) accepts the principles of the Bible as true.

What the Research Means
Despite some surprise over the election results, George Barna, special analyst for the 2016 election, reasons that the votes were consistent with these faith profiles. “Evangelicals were overwhelmingly behind Trump, giving him a 79 percent to 18 percent margin over Clinton. Given their political views, that makes sense. The non-evangelical born agains were solidly behind Trump, 56 percent to 35 percent, which also aligns with their views. The notionals, who tend to be more middle-of-the-road, basically split their vote between Trump and Clinton. (Read more about how notionals impacted the election.) The two non-Christian segments overwhelmingly favored Clinton. Given the liberal leanings of those two segments, and the platform of the Clinton candidacy, that also is not a surprise,” comments Barna. “Since the two Bible-driven segments represent about 30 percent of the population, as do the two non-Christian segments, that provided notionals with more influence than they normally have in an election.”

Barna points out a pattern that may affect future elections: “If the born-again constituency continues to decline, and the skeptic tribe continues its rapid growth, it will become increasingly difficult for conservative candidates to win elections. The 2016 contest may have been the last in which conservative candidates were not entering as ideological underdogs.”

About the Research
This research was conducted by the Barna Group using an online survey with a nationally representative sample of adults 18 and older. A total of 1,281 adults were interviewed, resulting in an estimated maximum sampling error for the aggregate sample of plus or minus 4 percentage points at the 95-percent confidence level. (The sampling error estimate is higher for subgroups within the total sample.) The survey was completed online in two waves, fielded from November 4 through 6, 2016, and then from November 9 through 16, 2016.

The study divided respondents into five unique faith segments based on their religious beliefs. The segments were defined as follows:

Evangelicals met nine specific theological criteria. They say they have made “a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today,” that their faith is very important in their life today; believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior; strongly believe they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; firmly believe that Satan exists; strongly believe that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works; strong agree that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; strong assert that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches; and describing God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today. Being classified as an evangelical is not dependent on church attendance, the denominational affiliation of the church attended or self-identification. Respondents were not asked to describe themselves as “evangelical.” They represent 6% of the adult population.

Non-evangelical born again Christians say they have made “a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today” and believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. However, they do not accept all of the remaining seven conditions that categorize someone as an evangelical. They constitute about one-quarter of the adult population.

Notional Christians are people who consider themselves to be Christian but they have not made “a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today” or believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. Slightly more than four out of ten adults are part of the notional Christian segment.

The Other faith segment refers to individuals who associate with a faith other than Christianity. Among the most common of those faith groups included within that segment were Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. This segment represents 6% of the US adult public.

Skeptics are individuals who describe themselves as atheist or agnostic, or who indicate that they do not believe in the existence of God or have no faith-related ties or interests. The fastest-growing of the faith segments, skeptics are currently approaching one-fifth of the adult population.

06.05.17

7 Deadly Sins of Student Ministry Volunteers by Chase Snyder
youthspecialties.com

For student ministries, volunteer engagement is essential.

The days of a student ministry being led by a charismatic leader with adult chaperones is as far behind us as bellbottom jeans.

Every church ministry must be aligned around relational discipleship for the flourishing of the Gospel. Student ministries will fail to develop disciples when the student pastor is the only person investing into the lives of the students. When we fail to develop disciples, we fail to fulfill the Great Commission.

Leaders are the key to student ministry discipleship. You can say goodbye to discipleship if multiple adult leaders are not connected to students.

That’s a big deal! The discipleship process must involve every adult volunteer. If we want to ensure every adult is on mission we need to identify what is getting in the way of our discipleship efforts.

Are you committing any of these deadly sins? Be honest with yourself, then take the necessary steps to get back on track with God’s mission.

7 DEADLY SINS OF STUDENT VOLUNTEERS

1. SHOWING UP LATE AND/OR LEAVING EARLY

Nothing communicates a lack of investment more than showing up late or leaving early. A large portion of discipleship is proximity. Those who are inconsistent at Bible studies and worship gatherings are not developing disciples. The Great Commission doesn’t say “Sit in a youth room to fulfill a student-to-leader ratio.” Jesus commissions every disciple to create disciples.

2. ONLY TALKING WITH THE ADULTS

Why are you volunteering with the student ministry? Is it to invest in students? Great. Investment doesn’t end once you step into the room; that is when investment begins!  Don’t fall into the temptation of sitting in the back of the student room and chatting with the other adult leaders. You are serving to make a Gospel difference in a teenager’s life. So pull up a chair and get to know some students.

3. FAILING TO FOLLOW UP WITH STUDENTS

One hour of communication per week does not sustain a friendship. Discipling students involves following up with students throughout the week. This may look different each week (attending ball games, texting students Bible verses, inviting students to events), but the key is to show up in the life of a student. When you show up outside of “church time” students will begin to see that God cares for them outside of “church time.”

4. NEVER TALKING ABOUT JESUS OR THE BIBLE

Student ministry isn’t all fun and games. Who am I kidding? Student ministry is awesome! The presence of games shouldn’t lead to an absence of Biblical instruction. Each student ministry volunteer has a responsibility to share about the grace, love and goodness of Jesus. Don’t let the student pastor be the only voice the students hear.

5. PRETENDING THAT YOU HAVE FIGURED LIFE OUT

You know that being an adult doesn’t bring clarity to life and an uncanny ability to live perfectly! Be careful not to project a “holier than thou” persona in front of your students. Jesus has saved you, and the students, by grace alone. Sure you have some wisdom to share, but be sure that you are communicating that you still need Jesus.

6. FAILING TO GROW SPIRITUALLY

The number one role of a student ministry volunteer is to be a spiritual leader. It doesn’t matter what area you serve in, you must be growing spiritually. The church’s mission is to create disciples. Only disciples can create disciples. An excellent book to gauge your spiritual health is TEN QUESTIONS TO DIAGNOSE YOUR SPIRITUAL HEALTH by Donald S. Whitney.

7. INVESTING IN THE PROGRAM WHILE NEGLECTING PEOPLE

How many hours have you spent working on the worship set list this week? Or how much time have you spent looking at your small group lesson for Sunday? How about this one: How many hours have you spent encouraging and communicating with students this week? Preparation and study are essentials to be a great leader, but when we drift away from the people and only invest in the program, lesson or worship gathering, our students will leave the church.

NOW WHAT?

After taking an honest look at this list, how many of these sins are you struggling with? Being able to diagnose our current level of engagement will allow us to dive deeper into our discipleship efforts!

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.