08.14.17

Hi! I am praying for you right now! 

Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
raying is not about getting God to give us what we want; it is about learning to want what God wants to give. #deSilva
If we hope to mentor our kids and foster their leadership gifts-we must understand how they think and the world they live in. #elmore
The best way world views are shaped is in the context of relationships. #McDowell
Believe that change is possible. Believe that grace works. Don’t give up — just give everything up to Him. #voskamp
 
 
FYI:
1. Has the Smart Phone Ruined a Generation… https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/?inf_contact_key=5fce34c0c9ddadab40399a40ae6ac0515ab199b1fb7f5ed71ae437d2d05b8873
2. Gen Z Research from UK… https://www.bpi.co.uk/assets/files/MIDiA%20Research%20Gen%20Z%20Report.pdf?inf_contact_key=c9b48c18e86f894990c221a4fc8d883ef339a1312e1907a97bf0afd3a3e6d80e
3. Broken Trust with Teenagers… https://www.heartlightministries.org/2017/08/picking-broken-pieces-shattered-trust/?utm_source=CC+Master+List&utm_campaign=3b2a85d0c0-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_07_05&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5926458580-3b2a85d0c0-126726953
 
4. FAN Favorite Youth Ministry Books… by youthspecialties.com (below)
 
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
The One Thing That is More Important Than Your Reputation by Tim Elmore
Are You in Charge of Your Kids or Are They in Charge of You? by Tim Elmore
How to Teach Kids Who Respect – NOT! by Carmen Kamrath
“I don’t believe in anything anymore”: How to respond when young people doubt God by Brad Griffin
 

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

Ideas on using social media.. 3.5 minutes
https://youthministry.com/using-social-medias-stories/?utm_source=bm23&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Watch+Now&utm_content=YM_20170807_Content&utm_campaign=08/07/2017&_bta_tid=41331316245476417335822032074687714161699307345621509658686028812822610397407609900005661492759565867525
 
Here are 2 just for you:
 
The Enemies of Patience

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against these things. –Galatians 5:22-23

We all have things that trigger our impatience. Maybe for you it’s traffic, or kids, or being late, or parents, or your spouse. But, what is it that actually fuels impatience in our lives? I think there are three big enemies of patience:

1. Overload. We try to cram too much activity into our schedules and this results in a lifestyle that has no margin. It leaves no breathing room. So when we find ourselves running behind, it breeds impatience. When you live a life with no margin, any little mismanagement or unforeseen circumstance can result in losing your patience.

2. Unrealistic Expectations. Many of us place high expectations on those closest to us. Typically, these people are our spouse, kids, and closest friends. Then, when they don’t live up to our expectations, we grow impatient. But, the truth is that people cannot possibly live up to every expectation (many of which are unspoken) that we place on them. People aren’t perfect and sooner or later, they won’t live up to our expectations.

3. Pride. Impatience rears its ugly head whenever pride is challenged. When we selfishly think we deserve better treatment than we receive, our egos puff up and our impatience blows out.

I wish there were some easy answers for resolving these enemies to patience. But, these are issues that most Christians continue to wrestle with throughout their lives. I know that I do.

The bottom line is that we need to continually pursue the reign of God’s kingdom in our lives, where we say, “Not my will Lord, but Yours.” When we do this, we begin to see new options for how we can respond. We see that we don’t have to walk hand-in-hand with the enemies of patience. When someone smacks our face, we can turn and give her the other cheek. When someone wants our shirt, we can offer him our coat as well. When someone forces us to walk a mile on his behalf, we can walk a second mile voluntarily.

Each day we face choices where we either embrace the enemies of patience or embrace God’s kingdom. As we seek His kingdom, patience grows. Our patience changes us, and it changes others as well. Today, choose to allow God to reign in you and grow the fruit of patience in your life.

How to get where you don’t know you are going by Kurt Johnston

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we knew where we were headed?  Sure, like many people, you’ve probably made some long term goals and have a path of sorts you hope your life journey takes you. Maybe you’ve even gone the extra mile and met with a life coach who has helped you learn more about yourself than you know what to do with.

Because I’ve been in youth ministry for quite a while, I’m often asked what it takes to last in ministry…how did I get where I am?   Honest answer: I don’t know! I had no idea when I began ministry as a junior high pastor back in 1988 that I’d still be doing it….and enjoying it!

The reality is none of us really know where we’re headed. Sure, we make our plans, but God often times has plans of His own that you could have never predicted (P.S. They are ALWAYS better than your plans).  I try not to make promises because I’ve been guilty of breaking far too many in the past, but I’d like to make one here: Your life will not turn out the way you’ve planned. I promise. Money-back guarantee.

Discouraged?  Don’t be!  Remember this: When you don’t know where you’re headed, Remember…God knows where he’s taking you!  Your future is in His very capable hands, and he has amazing plans for it.

But what do you do in the meantime?  What do you do on your road to where you don’t know you’re headed? How do you get to where you don’t even know you’re going?

THREE THOUGHTS:

EMBRACE THE AMBIGUITY

I’ve discovered something over the years. Humans seem to crave clarity and God seems incredibly comfortable not providing it.  Pick your favorite person in Scripture and reread their story. Odds are it is chuck full of ambiguity and uncertainty. Embrace the ambiguity of life.  Hug it out with the uncertainty you encounter on a daily basis. Might as well, because it’s here to stay.

PERSEVERE THROUGH ADVERSITY

Think about your favorite bible character again.  Not only was their life marked with ambiguity, but I’d be willing to bet there was a fair amount of adversity, too!  Ministry is tough. There’s adversity with parents, with students, with volunteers, with other staff members and with the church janitor….and that’s all just on Sunday!

When I’m asked how I’ve lasted in youth ministry, my typical answer is a fairly simple one: I refuse to quit.   When ministry has felt brutally tough, I’ve refused to quit.  I’m not an awesome youth pastor, but I’m a stubborn one!  On your way to where you don’t know you’re going there will be times you have to dig in your heels and simply persevere through the adversity of the moment, minute, month or year.

REST IN HIS AUTHORITY

I love this verse from Job’s life; a life marked by a season of tremendous ambiguity and adversity.

“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”  Job 42:2

God is the ultimate authority for where your life and ministry are headed. The creator of the universe; the one who knit you together in your mother’s womb, spoke calm to a raging sea and raised Himself from the dead has a plan and purpose for your life, and nothing can thwart it.  Like Job, it may be valuable to simply rest in your heavenly Father’s authority from time to time.

Life is a journey. Throw youth ministry into the mix and things get bonkers in a hurry.  There’s simply no way to accurately chart your course.

You, my friends, are on a road to God knows where!  But remember….God knows where!

 
FAN Favorite Youth Ministry Books… by youthspecialties.com

So in no particular order, here were some of the fan favorites and why they were chosen.

DIVIDED BY FAITH, by Smith and Emerson—great resource if you’re building towards a multicultural church/youth ministry.

YOUR FIRST 2 YEARS OF YOUTH MINISTRY, by Doug Fields—comprehensive book to help you not only survive, but thrive during the beginning phases of your youth ministry career and prepare for the long haul in ministry.

SUSTAINABLE YOUTH MINISTRY, by Mark Devries—in this book Devries pinpoints problems that cause division and burnout in addition to dispelling strongly held myths. He does all of this while providing practical tools and structures that church leaders need to lay a strong foundation for a youth ministry not built around personality or trend.

THE MINISTRY OF NURTURE by Duffy Robbins—a practical, in depth look at leading your kids into discipleship.

ADOPTIVE YOUTH MINISTRY by Chap Clark—the focus of this book is to help you learn how to integrate emerging generations into the family of faith, helping young adults become active participants in God’s redemptive community.

TAKING THEOLOGY TO YOUTH MINISTRY by Andrew Root—focuses on addressing key theological ideas in a modern youth context.

THE MASTER PLAN OF EVANGELISM by Robert Coleman—this book reminds disciple makers to teach to the masses, model to large groups, mentor a few, and multiply yourself through 1 or 2 people.

SEARCHING FOR GOD KNOWS WHAT by Donald Miller—this book reminds us that relationship is God’s way of leading us to redemption.

YOUTH MINISTRY MANAGEMENT TOOLS 2.0: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO SUCCESSFULLY MANAGE YOUR MINISTRY by Mike A. Work and Ginny Olson—it honestly simplifies all of the practical essentials, gives you sample forms and provides a quick primer on background checks, medical releases, etc.

THE THEOLOGICAL TURN IN YOUTH MINISTRY by Kenda Dean and Andrew Root—the book helps you to reflect on your own practice of theology, and learn how to share that theology through rich, compassionate conversation and purposeful experience.

LETTERS TO A YOUTH WORKER by Mark Devries—this book allows you to have some of the best youth ministers in the country ride shotgun on your journey by providing wisdom and insight into practical and effective youth ministry.

PRESENCE-CENTERED YOUTH MINISTRY by Mike King—this book gives shape to what it means to develop a ministry where kids learn what it is to love and follow Christ through the classic disciplines and potent symbols and practices that have sustained the church over the centuries.

LOVE DOES by Bob Goff—this book is a light and fun, unique and profound read with the lessons drawn from Bob’s life and attitude and just might inspire you to be secretly incredible, too.

GOSPEL-CENTERED YOUTH MINISTRY—both practical and theological, the authors work to explore how each ministry activity serves to teach, form and equip our teens with the gospel.

GOSPEL-CENTERED DISCIPLESHIP—outlines a spiritual transformation through the work of the gospel in an intentional relationship between shepherd and sheep.

CHOOSING TO CHEAT by Andy Stanley—a great book for setting healthy boundaries around your team so that you can effectively serve your family and serve in your ministry.

BECOMING A COACHING LEADER by Daniel Harkavy—this book shows how coaching makes developing people a high-payoff activity. It allows you to equip tomorrow’s leaders today. And it gives you the ability to improve performance while raising the quality of life inside and outside of the ministry.

GETTING TO YES AND CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS—this book is useful for learning to navigate the important church staff and parenting issues that go with student ministry.

DON’T DO THIS by Len Kegler and Jonathan Hobbs—helps rookie youth leaders to know some things that may be more advantageous to stay away from in their youth ministry journey.

PRACTICING PASSION by Kenda Creasy Dean—does a great job of placing youth ministry in the context of the local church, and the responsibilities that each has for the other.

THE YOUTH BUILDER by Jim Burns—this book can help you to make a life-changing impact in the lives of your young people.

PLAYING GOD by Andy Crouch—this book looks at the concept of power and how we’ve made it a dirty word and how the misuse of power causes many different problems in the world.

YOUTH MINISTRY 3.0: A MANIFESTO OF WHERE WE’VE BEEN, WHERE WE ARE AND WHERE WE NEED TO GO by Mark Oestreicher—in this book youth workers will explore the voices of other youth workers, why we need change in youth ministry, from a ministry moving away from dependence on programs, to one that is focused on communion and mission.

MY FIRST 90 DAYS IN MINISTRY by Group—practical, from the trenches advice to keep you on safe ground as you navigate a new church culture, settle into a ministry role, and sort through a pile of priorities.

THIS WAY TO YOUTH MINISTRY by Duffy Robbins—in this book thirty-year youth ministry veteran Duffy Robbins explores the theology, theory and practice of youth ministry to serve as a field guild to helping you navigate this unique calling.

THE GODBEARING LIFE by Kenda Dean and Ron Foster—in this book the authors offer a spiritual primer and practical guide for those who pastor young people.

REVISITING RELATIONAL YOUTH MINISTRY by Andy Root—this book shows that true relational youth ministry shaped by the incarnation is a commitment to enter into the suffering of all, to offer all those in high school or junior high the solidarity of the church and gives us guidance for how to effectively enter in.

Blessings, Kendall

08.14.17

The One Thing That is More Important Than Your Reputation by Tim Elmore

growingleaders.com

For years, educators, employers and parents have told our young adults to build their personal brand. Now that folks can do this on-line, it’s become the pursuit of millions of 20-something Millennials and teens from Generation Z. Every young person wants people to recognize and follow their “brand.”

However, because our personal brand can be constructed through an inaccurate persona we post on social media platforms, I am concerned our students have received the wrong message. They are in a hunt to build a “reputation,” but they are building it on an insecure foundation.

This is a subtle shift from the past, but an important one.

While I believe our reputation is vital in a community (a school campus, a club, a company or with our social media followers), it is an outcome that can be achieved artificially with little or no substance. I have never seen so many young people pursue “image management” as I do today. Unfortunately, our young people have learned this from their elders. After all, most of the outcomes we’ve put on them are external (like grades, behavior, or athletic performance), not internal.

Our Culture’s Push to Create a Reputation

Coach John Wooden always said, “Your reputation is who people think you are; your character is who you really are.”

I have seen this quote illustrated countless times. It takes the form of a college student who works tirelessly on his or her reputation but has very questionable character. When people discover who they really are (which eventually happens in time), the truth is a letdown and their social media reputation eventually catches up to reality. The resume they padded, the Instagram account they set up, the website they built, the social media messages they sent—all lose meaning. In short, people discover our true integrity via intimacy. When our integrity is sketchy, intimacy is lost and reputation sinks.

Once again, it’s a let down.

Author Donald Miller echoes this when he says, “People don’t judge who we are, they judge who we’ve led them to believe we are. The more time and effort we put into making ourselves look great, the longer and harder the fall when the truth comes out. And eventually the truth comes out.”

My Resolve to Change Pursuits

Over the years, I have decided to ditch working on my “reputation” and work on my “reality.” In other words, my integrity is the key to solidify how others view me. Remember, the term “integrity” simply means “one” or “whole.” In math, an integer is a single digit. When I have integrity it doesn’t mean I’m a perfect leader. It means what I say and what I do are the same. I am transparent about who I am. It’s the opposite of hypocrisy. As I work on my character my reputation takes care of itself, because I am not pretending to be anyone other than who I really am.

At Growing Leaders, I air much of my dirty laundry to my team and we laugh at my humanity. As a Type 1 diabetic, they’ve all seen my vulnerabilities, when my blood sugars go low and I can’t think straight for a bit. They’ve seen my weaknesses because I disclose them. I ask for help. I don’t merely hide behind my strengths. We talk through the glaring mistakes we all make so there are no “elephants in the room.” The phrase I often use with our team is: Let’s take our mission seriously, but let’s not take ourselves too seriously. This doesn’t mean I am not serious about building my character, it simply means I am authentic in the process.

Integrity beats image. Character beats reputation.

So, let’s allow our reputation be an outcome, not a pursuit. Let’s work on our character and not on our image. When others judge us, let’s not react, but stay steady, developing a robust character that will cause others to not believe any gossip about us and hence, maintain our solid reputation.

Consider this statement Donald Miller makes: “People only judge those who claim to be better than others…more righteous, more moral. When I’m ethical, I just look good. When somebody who works on their reputation isn’t ethical, they find themselves in social court. Working on our reputation is just a dumb move.”

Axioms to Live By:

1. To the degree I pretend, I lose a proportionate amount of intimacy. I can’t be close to someone if there is pretense. Intimacy demands transparency.

2. When I focus on reputation, I turn life into a game or contest and keep others at arm’s length. I wear myself out keeping score on both me and others.

3. When I’m caught up in my image, I must remember all the white lies I’ve told, which becomes laborious in relationships. We can forget who we really are.

4. When my pursuit is an amazing reputation, I can be prone to distort, deceive, or exaggerate my stories or descriptions. The end justifies the means.

5. When I am proactive about my lifestyle, and live by principles, most of my reputation and image issues take care of themselves.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Character is like a tree and reputation is like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it, the tree is the real thing.”

08.14.17

Are You in Charge of Your Kids or Are They in Charge of You? by Tim Elmore

growingleaders.com 

Four months ago, our family bought a puppy. We named her Sadie, short for Mercedes. She is a Morkie, a hybrid of a Maltese and a Yorkshire terrier. At this point, she is the life of our family—very cute, cuddly, confident and full of energy.

And right now, she’s the “alpha dog” of our family.

I know, I know. It’s not supposed to be that way. She’s a puppy for Pete’s sake. But I am traveling quite a bit and my wife has been far more responsive than directive with Sadie. Because we’ve given to her every desire, our puppy thinks she’s in charge. In our busyness, we’ve not taken Sadie to a trainer or exposed her to much training at all from anyone. Outside of her mealtime regiment, Sadie pretty much requests what she wants, and someone gets it for her—be it a toy or a treat. After all, she’s adorable.

I am not trying to throw anyone under the bus. Because I am at the office during the day or gone on a trip, my wife finds herself in survival mode with this cute little critter. Sadie can be a handful. Cleaning up after her can be exhausting. But this also explains, however, why Sadie assumes she’s the alpha dog.

When we give her everything she wants, she begins to believe that she must be in charge. Does this situation sound familiar?

Students or Adults: Who’s Leading Who?

Our experience with Sadie illustrates what I frequently see as I speak on campuses of schools across the country. Over the last three decades, a growing number of schools and families have migrated into a new leadership style. Aware of the psychological needs of adolescents, we want to be responsive to them, meeting their every requirement for self-esteem, safety, security—you name it. And because so many students come from single parent homes or from a lower socio-economic-status (free or reduced lunches), we want to lead with empathy. I believe that’s a good thing. Sadly, however, many of us have not figured out how to be empathetic while still remain directive or demanding. We lower our standards. We let down our guard. We grade on a curve. We upgrade our language to hyperbole, in an effort to praise our kids and help them feel good about themselves. We become reactive, not proactive . . . and it’s had a sinister effect on millions of students.

The result? Much like our puppy, many of these teens feel like they’re in charge. At times it happens subconsciously and unintentionally. And sometimes, the students know it’s happening. I’ve watched them brag on social media about how they’ve manipulated their teacher, how they’ve negotiated a grade, how they’ve persuaded their parent to get them the latest Apple product, and how they’ve threatened to “quit” if their coach or leader doesn’t give in to their requests.

When we show a pattern of giving in, even in the name of compassion or empathy, we actually begin to confuse students. They become fuzzy about what rules will be enforced and which ones will be adjusted. Just like Sadie. Our puppy is confused right now because we’ve not offered clear parameters to her. We say something, but she figures out we really don’t mean it. We cave. We’ve unwittingly conditioned her to keep barking or continue pushing for what she wants, knowing that her will may just be stronger than her owner’s will. At least she’s figured out that it’s worth trying.

Both our students and our cuddly pets need a wise alpha dog. Unless we’re proactive (rather than reactive) in our leadership—we can send the wrong signals.

Six Steps We Can Take

1. Be clear. Lack of clarity breeds insecurity.

Kids often learn that if they argue long enough, they can wear us down and eventually get their way. As our leadership vacillates, our kids feel uncertain about their boundaries. In short, a lot of little uncertainties produce a few big insecurities. Our fuzzy-ness usually results in our kids’ insecurity. The greatest gift leaders can offer students is the gift of clarity. It fosters security and energy in them.

2. Be consistent. Lack of consistency breeds confusion.

Parent psychologists Jayne Rutherford and Kathleen Nickerson, write, “No matter how well you’ve selected your rules, how much you praise your kids, or how effectively you discipline them, you must be consistent, or your efforts will be in vain and your household will still be in crisis. Kids need consistency to get the message because your actions speak louder than your words—it’s part of how they’re wired.”

3. Don’t cave. Lack of strength breeds instability. 

When adults give in to the requests and demands of our children, we begin to send mixed signals to them. At first, they like it. After all, they just won the argument. They got what they wanted. In time, however, our constant “caving” begins to foster a constant “craving” in them for strength. With boundaries unclear, they need more direct attention. Unwittingly, we actually breed instability in our young.

4. Stay committed. Lack of commitment reduces growth.

Dr. Kathleen Nickerson says: “Sticking with a new endeavor is what makes it become a habit, and the sooner you start, the easier it will be for both you and your child. What’s going on around children strongly impacts the development of their brain. In order for your child’s brain cells to learn healthier rewards, rules, and consequences, and to behave accordingly in a way that becomes automatic, you must remain consistent while his brain develops.”

5. Determine your compass. Lack of direction breeds anxiety.

As a parent or teacher, if I am fuzzy on what should happen next, I tend to be fuzzy in my direction and in my behavior as well. I may waver back and forth, trying to figure out my dilemma as I go. It’s like building a bridge as you cross it. It’s very difficult. Up front, write down the non-negotiables and make them known to everyone. Be both supportive and demanding. This actually can lower the level of angst a kid feels.

6. Stay accountable. Lack of accountability diminishes grit.

In the end, decisions only have weight if people are held accountable. We’ve all heard the phrase: “You can only expect what you inspect.” If you’ve made a decision, find ways to hold students or children accountable to their part. We can be friendly but firm. Model this yourself. Everyone performs better when they are “watched.” If a student fails to come through, talk about it, don’t ignore it because you’re tired.

In the end, I wonder if we need just as much training as Sadie does.

08.14.17

How to Teach Kids Who Respect – NOT! by Carmen Kamrath

childrensministry.com

Do you ever feel like respect is disappearing from kids’ vocabulary these days? If so, read on.

As I passed by a Sunday morning kindergarten classroom a few weeks ago, I overheard a frustrated volunteer negotiating with a 5-year-old boy to join the rest of the class for the Bible story. As the boy ran in circles around the other children, the volunteer kindly asked him again to please join the group. I stopped to watch his response as he walked over to his classroom leader, stared her directly in the face, and shouted, “You can’t make me! You’re not the boss of me!”

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” the song made famous by Aretha Franklin, has become a favorite tune for many — and a battle cry for many adults who work with today’s children. From the school classroom to the local athletic field to the weekend children’s ministry program — today’s kids have gained the unpleasant reputation of being disrespectful. And adults aren’t the only targets of disrespect — kids lack respect for property, each other, even themselves. Why is a lack of respect one of the biggest problems among kids today?

What They See Is What You Get

Flip the channels of your television and you’ll get a glimpse of how respect is modeled via the media. Whether it’s prime-time sitcoms, cartoons, or a movie on the big screen — kids are viewing programming that encourages them to be less respectful of others. Music and video games can also lay a foundation of disrespect and hostile behavior, especially when there’s a lack of guidance and discussion about appropriate behaviors at home.

Good Intentions Out of Control

In an eagerness to raise independent children — those who think for themselves rather than bow to the demands of others — many adults have stopped disciplining children for being disrespectful.

Resistance to exercise authority for fear of stifling a child’s independent nature has bred children who display a lack of honor to individuals in a position of authority. Today’s kids often believe they’re on the same level as adults and have a right to know the reason behind adult decisions; they argue against every decision made that doesn’t meet their expectations. In a desperate attempt to be liked by their children, many parents compromise their parental role to be their child’s “buddy.”

Children Learn What They Live

This poem displayed in many schools and physician’s offices is all too true when it comes to the virtue of respect. Attend a youth soccer game and watch parents who yell at the referees or chew out the coach when their child doesn’t get enough time on the field. Or listen to the mom who intimidates a teacher in front of others regarding her son’s reading progress or the dad who explodes at his daughter in front of her friends for being late. Despite the outside influences, the bottom line is that many kids today lack a positive model for respect at home. The “Do as I say, not as I do” method may sound good in theory, but the reality is that kids are watching their parents carefully as they model the behavior of the people who have the most influence in their lives.

Cultivating Respect in a Field of Rudeness

Can the church plant seeds of respect in children and expect those seeds to grow when they aren’t being properly tended at home? The question is one of faith. Will God honor the values we teach? Will God instill those values on the hearts of the kids — that one day they may be a positive model of respect for others? Learning respect is an integral part of healthy child development, and it’s never too late to start instilling this virtue in the children who walk through your doors each week. Here’s how.

  • Be a role model. Many kids in your ministry may not have a healthy model of respect at home. But if you treat children with respect, you’re teaching them to respect others. Facilitate respect by having kids make cards for others who are sick, saying “thank you” when someone offers help in class, or acknowledging people when they show kindness to another. Talk to kids in a kind tone — even when disciplining a child, your tone can be confident without yelling. Kids will learn more from our behavior than from our lectures.
  • Set the ground rules. Kids need boundaries to feel safe and secure in their environments. Boundaries and simple rules lay the foundation for what will and won’t be tolerated. Kids respect adults with rules that are fair, and it often helps to let kids have a say in what rules they’re expected to follow. Kids who have no limits at home will have trouble with limits at church. But limits will inevitably bring comfort to children, especially when the rules are consistent and are followed through with love.
  • Create immediate consequences. Kids need to know the consequence for disrespect and that you’ll follow through. If possible, make the consequence logical to the offense. For example, if a child makes a rude comment about another child, have him write an apology and include at least two positive comments about the child he offended. Sometimes a reminder of the Golden Rule followed by discussion is consequence enough — “Sally, would you appreciate it if I made that rude comment to you?” Or have a child who’s been disrespectful to you explain his actions to his parents when they arrive to pick him up. This will not only acknowledge to them that there was a problem, but it can also be a teachable moment in assisting families with communication. When a child displays disrespect for property, such as deliberately smashing crackers into the floor, have the child clean and vacuum the room at the end of class.
  • Name rude behavior. With the vast array of messages children receive, they may genuinely be unaware that their words or behavior are inappropriate. Respond to inappropriate behavior with comments such as, “Jacob, the tone you just used was disrespectful and is not acceptable in this room.” In the same manner, give praise when kids display respect to others: “Ashley, thank you for waiting to talk until I was finished. That was respectful of you!”
  • Help kids look in God’s mirror. It’s amazing how many young children display behaviors that are disrespectful to themselves. Even preteens are experimenting with behaviors such as cutting themselves, binge eating or anorexia, and inappropriate Internet chatting. If children can’t show respect to themselves, they’ll definitely have difficulty showing respect to others. Tell kids that they’re created in God’s image and that God loves them unconditionally. Helping kids respect themselves is the first step toward respecting others.
  • Help respect bloom at home. Children’s ministers have an hour, sometimes two, to influence a child’s behavior each week. Parents have a greater amount of time to model respect for their children during the week. Remind parents of the important role they play in developing positive behavior traits in children. Help parents learn how to instill values in their children that’ll last a lifetime. Provide materials with activities and devotions that families can do together. Offer parenting classes that teach parents the importance of being a respectful role model for their children. Lead a worship service designed for families that teaches kids and parents together the importance of respect, as well as other positive values that are important to a child’s development.

Respect is a character trait that should be foundational for children as they grow and mature. Letting kids get away with inappropriate behavior will only breed more of the same, but kids will typically demonstrate as much respect as we ask of them. In a world where respect is rarely modeled for kids today, it’s essential that we do all we can to instill this value in the lives of the children we minister to each week.

08.14.17

“I don’t believe in anything anymore”: How to respond when young people doubt God by Brad Griffin

Fulleryouthinstitute.com

“I don’t believe in anything anymore. Christians are all such fakes.” 

These were the words her 17-year-old son yelled just before she walked out the door for our meeting. Even for a mom who can handle a fair amount of conflict and pushback from her kids, this was a heavy blow. It was meant to be.

Teenagers can be like that. They know just how to press on our sensitive spots and trigger our reactive emotions. What they don’t know is how much fear and uncertainty these moments evoke in us. They aren’t yet sophisticated enough to realize that our first responses, like theirs, can unhelpfully shut down the conversations we really need to have.

Adolescents and emerging adults need parents and trusted adults in their lives who will receive these moments perceptively. To see what may be under the harsh words, sarcastic questions, or searing critique about faith, Scripture, or the church. Because often what’s underneath those outbursts are really important questions.

Is God real? 

Why are Christians so messed up?

Can I trust the Bible? 

Is it wrong to doubt God? 

Through our research at the Fuller Youth Institute, we’ve learned in our Sticky Faith and Growing Young studies that it’s not doubt that’s toxic to faith—it’s silence. Young people who have safe relationships in which to share their questions and struggles tend to have stronger faith, to carry that faith into young adulthood, and to share their faith with others more often. When articulated, young people’s questions open up exploration of both doubt and faith.

The problem tends to be that as parents and leaders, we typically get caught off guard by these questions. Like my friend, we’re on our way out the door to a meeting. We’re wrapping up an already-over-time small group session. We’re exhausted and have very little capacity to give a “Jesus-answer” worthy of a decent Christian, let alone one who is supposed to be a spiritual leader to their children or to others’. We feel outmatched and underprepared.

In these moments, we want to remind you—and ourselves—of a few powerful phrases. Our team has created a set of wallpapers for your computer and phone this month to help you remember, share, and use these two responses:

1. Yes, you can ask that

2. I don’t know, but…

First, every young person needs to know that all of their questions, complaints, doubts, and struggles have a hearing. They need to know that you—and God—are going to hear and hold the questions without pushing the young person away. They need to know that God is big enough to receive these questions and is not afraid of them (just read the psalms or Job for examples!) They need to know that they are not somehow deficient, unfaithful, or unworthy, and that their questions won’t cause God to love them any less.

Second, young people need to know that we don’t have the answer to every question. It isn’t the goal of mature Christian adulthood to be “answer-people” or to have everything figured out. In fact, the more we lean into faith, the more we realize it is marked at every turn by mystery, unseeing, complexity, and paradox. As most of the biblical witness portrays, these features deepen our awe, wonder, and humility before God; not our certainty, arrogance, or pride.

It may push against everything we’ve been conditioned to say, but often a helpful first response to a tough question can start with the words, “I don’t know, but …”

This isn’t just a stall tactic, but a way to both affirm the question and create a holding space for it. We might say, “I don’t know, but that’s an important question,” or “… I wonder that, too,” or “… let’s work on that together. Who could help us find out more?”

If you’re like me, you hear pithy, helpful phrases all the time but can never remember them at just the right time you need them. This month we are helping you out with these wallpaper reminders. Use them, and share them with parents, ministry leaders, and any adult who cares about young people.

Together we can become safe spaces—safe relationships—in which teenagers feel invited to bring their real selves, their hard questions, and their deep frustrations, and truly be heard.

Yes, it’s okay to ask that. Even if I don’t know the answer.

08.07.17

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

Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
Complaining is like throwing up. Afterwards, you feel better but then everyone around you feels sick. #gordon
 
A happy person is not a person with a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes. #Downs
 
When the enemy points to everything I’m not, I point to everything God is. #furtick
 
God’s grace is not just an addition to our life. It’s a contradiction to our life. #keller
 
As leaders, we are never responsible for filling anyone else’s cup. Our responsibility is to empty ours. #Stanley
 
 
FYI:
 
1. Top Questions to ask college students before they head to school… https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/questions-college-students?utm_source=E-Journal+%2F+Parent+Update&utm_campaign=67215008f2-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_07_27&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e88a54a953-67215008f2-312895925&mc_cid=67215008f2&mc_eid=4cf06de2c7
 
2. Gen Z most diverse media users… http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2017/youth-movement-gen-z-boasts-the-largest-most-diverse-media-users-yet.html

3. How Living Counter-Culturally Can Lead to Your Kids’ Resentment of Christianity… http://christianmomthoughts.com/how-living-counter-culturally-can-lead-to-your-kids-resentment-of-christianity/

Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
Addressing Sexuality With Teenagers by Michael Guyer
6 Tech Habits Changing the American Home  by Barca Group  
Do Christian Teens Really Believe in Jesus? by Group Magazine
One Act That Improves Kids’ Emotional Health by Tim Elmore
 

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

I may have posted this years ago but it is absolutely awesome! Totally worth your time!!
 
 
 
Here are 2 just for you:
 
God’s Timing 
 
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.  Ecclesiastes 3:1
God’s timing can be frustrating, but it eventually leads to freedom. Perhaps you strongly desire something or someone. It is right at your fingertips but you can’t have it now and that frustrates you. The timing is not right, for whatever reason. It may not be right for you and/or it may not be right for the other person. However, you can allow this frustration to lead you to freedom.  
God may be protecting you from failure because you are not ready for the grueling responsibility that lies ahead. There are still valuable lessons to learn where you are. It’s like your last semester of school. You are way past ready for graduation, but there are still final exams to study for and pass. You need to do your best where you are before moving on to God’s next assignment.  
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days”  (John 11:5-6).
Timing is everything. Your son really needs you right now during this challenging stage of his life. The insecurities of his teenage years are eating him alive. He needs extra attention and time from you to navigate through this uncertainty. This is a season, a season that will not be repeated. Your career can wait; children can’t. Yes, children are resilient and may not even say anything during difficult times, but you can rest assured that they will never forget that you were there for them. The security and confidence you sow into your children will stay with them for a lifetime. Your absence will stick with them as well. Fearful and insecure adults were once fearful and insecure children. So, allow this season of life to build bridges rather than barriers between you and your children. It is just for a moment in time. In the blink of an eye, they will be gone. 
 
Learn to celebrate various seasons of life. Do not resist them; embrace them. Join the wonder of their realities. The marriage of your adult child is imminent, so celebrate the occasion. Do not let the stress of the details and the outlay of cash rob you of the joy connected to this momentous occasion. You can rest in the fact that He has brought these two together. This is what you have prayed for concerning your child. You have prayed for a marriage into a God-fearing and Christ-honoring family. You have prepared them the best way you know how.
Ultimately it is in God’s hands. As the father and the mother of the bride or groom, learn how to let go and allow them to become one flesh. Your relationship will look different going forward. This is a new stage of life. So, do not try to control them. Let go of them and leave them in God’s hands. Your ability to adapt and adjust to new seasons of life has a direct correlation to your joy and happiness. God’s timing can be a surprise.  It is rarely early and never late.
Jesus understood this when He said to His mother, “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come” (John 2:4).
 
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the patience to wait on Your best and the humility to glorify You in the process, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
 

Why It’s Worth It

Ministry–let’s be real shall we–it isn’t always glorious. It isn’t always rewarding. It isn’t always easy.

You don’t usually hear that right out of Bible college or seminary. You hear just the opposite: You’re equipped! Thousands like you have gone before. Take the world by storm. Be Jesus to the masses.

Ministry is Hard

The reality is this: ministry is difficult, messy, full of broken people, and not about you. This can lead us to some very hard places. Places of doubt and anxiety. Feelings of am I good enough? We may question our calling and if it’s time to move on. 

I’ve been there. In fact, if I were completely honest, I’ve been there more times than I care to admit. I just walked through a period exactly like I described. Feelings of doubt. Questions of calling. Hurt. Depression. Worthlessness. Asking God why…

The truth is I questioned if I was to be in ministry after a very, very hard season. A season that saw much pain and grief. A season marked by a lack of affirmation, being moved without understanding why and wondering why we were leaving good students who we loved and cared for.

“God,” I cried out, “Why does it hurt?! Did You not call me to this? Why is there so much pain? Such heartache? Do you have a plan? Am I washed up?”

Many of you are or have been there. You question why. You wonder if you’re called. You take a break from ministry to heal and consider not going back. You cry…for hours, days, months…you’ve been there. I have too. 

But It’s Worth It

But in walking through this I have seen that it is worth it. That God has a plan. That ministry can and will get better. That there is light at the end of the very long tunnel. That we are called. That the enemy will try to use doubt, inadequacies, hurtful comments, critical natures, and rough patches to try to turn you from being God’s faithful servant.

Brothers and sisters hear me: we are CALLED according to God’s purpose, by the One who foreknew us, and is using us to accomplish His WORKMANSHIP! Ministry was never meant to be easy. We are called to a life of difficulty in ministering to a world that has turned its back on its Savior. There will be moments of SUFFERING, moments of FRACTURING, but also moments of GREAT JOY!

We do not do this for our own affirmation. We do not do this for notoriety. We do not do this to be the best friend of students or to be the most popular youth pastor. We do not do this to be liked or given gifts. We do not do this to be the center. We do this to point to the Center: our Savior.

My friends. My co-laborers. Know that ministry is hard, but it is worth it! We may not always see it on this side of eternity, but know that you can continue to serve because our rest and OUR REWARD IS IN HIM AND HIM ALONE. The author and perfecter of all things! It will get better, God will use you, lives will be changed, and God will say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” Ministry is worth it!

08.07.17

Addressing Sexuality With Teenagers by Michael Guyer

youthspecialties.com

In our families and in our churches, we are far too often late to the conversation about sexuality with our teenagers and reactionary once we speak up.

This should not be the case. The kitchen table and living room are perhaps the best places for this discussion. And the church is called to equip its people to follow Christ and make disciples within our culture. To overcome this we must talk about the issues—homosexuality, same-sex attraction, gender fluidity, pornography, and sexual immorality—and we must do so clearly and compassionately.

Within our cultural climate we cannot retreat out of fear or remain silent out of ignorance in either the home or the church. Now is the time to engage. Now is the time for honest answers to hard questions. Now is the time to listen well and speak truth in love. Now is the time to address the issues of sexuality with our teenagers.

1. WE MUST HELP TEENAGERS SEE THE BIBLE AS THEIR AUTHORITY AND GUIDE

The issue of sexuality is closely connected to the trustworthiness of the Bible for many teenagers. Too many teenagers are not grounded in the Bible enough to discuss a biblical response to the issue and when pressed the Bible does not function in an authoritative way in their life.

Kevin DeYoung is right:

“The challenge before the church is to convince ourselves as much as anyone that believing the Bible does not make us bigots, just as reflecting the times does not make us relevant.” (143)

This challenge means two things:

DON’T SHY AWAY FROM TEACHING WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT SEXUALITY, BUT DO IT WITH GRACE AND LOVE.

Teach what the Bible says about gender, sexuality and purity with clarity. Don’t neglect, dismiss or deny what God has clearly said. However, while what you say is important, how you say it has never been more important. Don’t highlight the issues of sexuality as if it is all the Bible speaks against. Rather, teach what the Bible says about sexuality in light of its bigger picture—the goodness of God’s design for human beings and the good news of God’s redemption. The Bible invites us into something much bigger and better than our broken sexual desires—it invites us to know and enjoy the God who made and redeems us.

DON’T NEGLECT TO TEACH WHY THE BIBLE IS TRUSTWORTHY AND WHY IT FUNCTIONS AS OUR ULTIMATE AUTHORITY. 

Students need to know what the Bible says but they also need to know why they can trust it. This begins with demonstrating a high view of God’s Word and its authority in our teaching. It will also involve showing students what the Bible says about itself and how it is historically reliable. This cannot be taken for granted or only given lip service. It must evident in our practices and explicit in our teaching.

2. WE MUST LISTEN TO TEENAGERS

While there are many important and essential things we need to teach teenagers about gender and sexuality, it is imperative that we learn to listen well. We must be invested and involved in the lives of students so that we have the opportunity to listen. We must also create spaces where students are not only receiving God’s Word but discussing their lives and applying God’s Word to specific areas of it. When it comes to discussing issues of sexuality—especially homosexuality and gender issues—make sure to learn the stories of students who are struggling with these issues or have friends who are.

Many teenagers fear being labeled judgmental or intolerant, especially when they have friends who identify as homosexual or as transgender. We need to hear this struggle and speak directly to it with grace and truth.

3. WE MUST BE PATIENT WITH TEENAGERS

This topic cannot be addressed in a sermon series and then put on the shelf. It must be addressed faithfully as we teach through the Bible in our ministries. It must also be addressed personally through discipleship relationships. In the home, parents must be equipped with resources to discuss these issues with their children around the dinner table. In light of our current cultural climate, many teenagers will likely take a soft stance on these issues and maybe even disagree with the clear teaching of God’s Word, especially when it comes to its political aspects (i.e. same-sex marriage). Please don’t misunderstand, this is not an agreeing to disagree position.

While we cannot compromise the consistent biblical witness about God’s design for gender or sexuality, we must also not cut off conversations with students the first time they push back against it. Like all areas of discipleship, we must commit to patiently walk with teenagers as they come to know and grow up into Christ.

4. WE MUST KEEP OUR FOCUS ON THE GOOD NEWS OF THE GOSPEL

Whatever we do, regardless of the issue we are addressing, we cannot shift our focus from the hope of the gospel. Following Christ is hard and it will entail holding unpopular positions within our culture. We should not only make the gospel clear in our teaching, we should show why the gospel is really good news. We should be showing the worth of Jesus in the way we live and what we teach. We should highlight the joy of knowing and being known by our Redeemer. We should show how the gospel really is good news to the lives of teenagers in our culture.

THE GOSPEL IS GOOD NEWS FOR ALL PEOPLE REGARDLESS OF AGE, GENDER, RACE OR SEXUALITY.

  • It is good news about God coming to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10)
  • It is good news that our old self is gone and that we now have a new identity in Christ (Col. 3:1-11; Eph. 4:17-32)
  • It is good news that our past does not define us nor do our present circumstance limit the work God wants to do in and through us (Phil. 3:12-14)
  • It is good news about God coming to set us free from the bondage and shame of sin (Luke 4:18-19; 1 John 1:9).
  • It is good news about God forgiving the guilt of our sin (Mark 2:1-12; 1 John 1:9)
  • It is good news about God bearing the full wrath of God in our place (Rom. 3:24-26; 5:1)
  • It is good news about God bringing us out from the rule of sin into his glorious kingdom (Mark 1:15; Col. 1:13-14)
  • It is good news about God making us a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17)
  • It is good news about God bringing us from death to new, abundant life (Eph. 2:1-10; John 3:3-5; John 10:10)
  • It is good news about God beginning the restoration of all things (Rom. 8:19-20), including our broken sexual desires

The gospel holds out a better way for teenagers in the midst of our hyper-sexualized world. Now is the time to press into God’s Word, draw near to our neighbors, and speak and live with compassion and without compromise as we address the issues of sexuality with our teenagers.

08.07.17

6 Tech Habits Changing the American Home  by Barca Group

barna.org

Parents today believe it is harder than ever to raise children. The number-one reason? Technology.

That’s a key finding at the heart of The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place, a new book by Andy Crouch. Two years ago, as we dreamed of partners for upcoming book and research projects, Crouch was at the top of our list. Crouch—a leading cultural commentator, one-of-a-kind speaker, senior communication strategist at John Templeton Foundation and former executive editor of Christianity Today—shares a different side of himself in this book: a dad who, alongside his wife, Catherine, has learned firsthand the challenges and rewards of engaging with technology intentionally (or sparingly) as a family. This book combines Crouch’s clear and incisive thinking with original Barna research among parents, who are feeling the tensions of parenting in a digital age.

In this sneak peek of The Tech-Wise Familywe look at some of the top revelations about how parents and kids relate to their devices and to each other.

Monitoring Technology Makes Parenting Even More Difficult
It’s a complex, rapidly changing world, and parents today are feeling it. Nearly eight in 10 parents (78%) believe that they have a more complicated job in raising their kids today than their parents did raising them. Technology is the number one reason parents believe it is harder than ever to raise children. Beyond that, parents seem to most often identify issues that feel beyond their control and that are global in scope: a more dangerous world or a lack of a common morality. The consequences of these difficulties feel dire and so, perhaps, scare parents more than local or personal factors such as finances, bullying at school or high academic pressures.

Life Truly Happens in the Living Room
Most families do almost everything together in their family or living room. Two-thirds of parents (65%) say they spend the most time as a family in this space, with the kitchen coming in as the preferred second space. Entertainment, leisure and creativity all overlap in this space—likely contributing to a presence of technology within all of these activities. Families are most often participating in leisure or entertainment activities in the family room (79%), but it’s also the place where families say their creative activities happen (51%).

“Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep … with My Smartphone”
When they do go to bed, most people take their phones with them. A full seven in 10 parents say they sleep with their phone next to them. Alarmingly, parents say their kids are even more likely to take their phones to bed: More than eight in 10 parents of teens (82%) say their child takes their phone to bed and more than seven in ten parents of preteens (72%) say the same. And when that phone is right next to you, it’s tempting to reach for it when you wake up: 62 percent of parents say checking their phone is the first thing they do in the morning. What are they doing on their phone while they rub away the cobwebs of sleep? Most check their email (74%). Social media (48%), news (36%) and calendar organization (24%) also vie for their attention. Less than one in five (17%) are using a Bible or devotional app.

Parents Might Limit Kids’ Device Usage—But Don’t Eliminate It
Children are spending an average of five hours on an electronic device (tablet, phone, computer, etc.) every day. Even at this amount, most parents say they are limiting the amount of time their kids spend on electronic devices (60%). Millennial parents—perhaps because they have younger children or perhaps because they are more likely to be immersed in and therefore experiencing their own angst around electronic usage—are more likely (73%) than Gen-Xer (57%) or Boomer parents (57%) to limit their children’s time on electronic devices. Limiting time seems more popular than eliminating the devices: Most kids have phones. Nearly nine in 10 parents with teenagers (88%) say their teen has a phone and just under half of parents with preteens (48%) say their child does.

Video Games and Family Time Dominate After School Hours
Aside from television watching, technology occupies a central place in many of the after-school activities of children: Four in 10 parents (42%) say their children regularly play video games after school, three in 10 (27%) are on social media or texting with friends, and a quarter (25%) are online other than for homework. Of course, there’s plenty of offline activity too: Nearly six in 10 (56%) spend time engaging with family members, four in 10 (39%) are playing informally, one-third (32%) are reading other than for homework, a quarter (23%) are playing organized sports, and more than one-fifth (22%) are hanging out with friends.

Parents Say Tech Disrupts the Dinner Table
When it comes to family meal time (which parents, on average, say happens at least six times a week), parents are apt to admit this space has been disrupted by electronic devices: One-quarter (24%) say they strongly agree that electronic devices are a significant disruption to their family meals, with an additional nearly one-fifth (18%) saying they somewhat agree. However, about one-third of parents (32%) say devices are not allowed at the table, and another one in five (22%) say family members rarely bring their devices to the table. Only one in five (19%) say their family members always bring their devices to the table.

What The Research Means
“Technology is literally everywhere in our homes—not only the devices in our pockets but the invisible electromagnetic waves that flood our homes,” writes Andy Crouch in his new book The Tech-Wise Family, written in partnership with original Barna research. “This change has come about overnight, in the blink of an eye in terms of human history and culture. When previous generations confronted the perplexing challenges of parenting and family life, they could fall back on wisdom, or at least old wives’ tales, that had been handed down for generations. But the pace of technological change has surpassed anyone’s capacity to develop enough wisdom to handle it. We are stuffing our lives with technology’s new promises, with no clear sense of whether technology will help us keep the promises we’ve already made.

“If we don’t learn to put technology, in all its forms, in its proper place, we will miss out on many of the best parts of life in a family,” continues Crouch. “Figuring out the proper place for technology in our particular family and stage of life requires discernment rather than a simple formula. But almost anything is better than letting technology overwhelm us with its default settings, taking over our lives and stunting our growth in the ways that really matter. And I think there are some things that are true at every stage of life:

“Technology is in its proper place when it helps us bond with the real people we have been given to love,” insists Crouch. “Technology is in its proper place when it starts great conversations; when it helps us take care of the fragile bodies we inhabit; when it helps us acquire skills and mastery of domains that are the glory of human culture (sports, music, the arts, cooking, writing, accounting; the list could go on and on). Technology is in its proper place when it helps us cultivate awe for the created world we are part of and responsible for stewarding. Technology is in its proper place only when we use it with intention and care.”

08.07.17

Do Christian Teens Really Believe in Jesus? by Group Magazine

youthministry.com

Charlie Chaplin, the legendary silent-film actor, once entered a Charlie Chaplin look-a-like contest at a crowded vaudeville theater in San Francisco. Apparently, the competition was fierce, because the real Chaplin lost. In fact, he didn’t even place among the finalists. Charlie’s own fans didn’t recognize him in their midst—even those who were trying to imitate him.

And my research with more than 800 Christian teenagers shows that if Jesus himself walked through your youth-room door today, most of his “fans” in your group wouldn’t recognize him, either. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, really—I explore, in-depth, a wide range of Jesus-focused questions with Christian teenagers in my book The Jesus Survey (Baker Books). I’ve plucked six of the most surprising things I learned out of the pile:

MOST CHRISTIAN TEENAGERS DON’T BELIEVE IN CHRIST

The Jesus Survey gauged the beliefs of Christian teenagers in four essential “Jesus-focused” areas: • The Bible is trustworthy in what it says about Jesus (Luke 1:1-2; John 21:24; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21). • Jesus is God (John 1:1, 14; 10:22-33; Philippians 2:5-7). • Jesus physically lived, died, and came back to life (Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-7, 23:26-24:12). • Jesus is the only way to heaven. (John 14:6; Acts 4:10-12; 1 John 5:12; Revelation 7:9-10).

Results from the survey show that nine out of 10 (91 percent) Christian teenagers say they have significant doubt and sometimes outright disbelief, in one or more of these essentials of their faith. Unfortunately, these results reinforce the findings of a similar study conducted by Thom and Jess Ranier (titled Millennials) and also undergird a number of ongoing trends reported by the Barna Research Group in recent years.

From a denominational perspective, the picture is equally bleak. Four out of five (83 percent) of Baptist teenagers say they have doubts about these basic tenets of their Christian faith. Among Methodist teenagers, that number jumps to 95 percent. In Catholic youth groups, almost all (99 percent) struggle to embrace basic beliefs about Christ. And for Lutherans, Episcopalians, and United Church of Christ students, the number is 100 percent.

The Jesus Survey reveals that only a third of Christian teenagers (31 percent) confidently believe the Bible is trustworthy in what it says about Jesus. This is true even though all they know of Christ is rooted in the biblical account of his life and ministry. Additionally, about two-thirds (60 percent) are either uncertain or unsettled about the issue of the Bible’s trustworthiness. Even more alarming, one out of 10 teenagers in your youth group actually strongly rejects the trustworthiness of the Bible.

Similarly, less than half of Christian teenagers (39 percent) express strong confidence that Jesus is the only way to heaven. On the other side, about one Christian out of eight in our youth groups (13 percent) is fully committed to the opposite: They believe strongly that Jesus is not the only way to heaven. In all, almost two-thirds of Christian teenagers (61 percent) are either unsure or unwilling to commit to the belief that “Jesus saves.”

So what is the truth about the path to eternal life, according to a quarter of Christian teenagers? “Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, and other great religious leaders all have equal standing in leading people to heaven.”

RIGHT BELIEF TRANSLATES INTO REAL EXPERIENCE

“Confident Christian Teenagers”—the “tithe” (9 percent) of our youth group kids who buck the trend and express confident, consistent faith in four essential beliefs about Christ—are living a markedly different experience with God than their peers. Consider:

• Eighty-six percent (nearly nine out of 10) of Confident Christian Teenagers strongly agree with this statement: “I’m 100 percent certain that the Holy Spirit of Jesus is present and active in my life today—and I have proof that this is true.” Among all other Christian teenagers, barely half (52 percent) make the same claim. Put that statistical variance of 34 percentage points in the context of a presidential election, and you can quickly see how significant that difference is.

• Likewise, nearly all (94 percent) of Confident Christian Teenagers strongly agree with this statement: “I’m 100 percent certain Jesus has answered one or more of my prayers—and I can prove it.” Again, only about half of all other Christian teens (55 percent) say the same thing.

YOUTH GROUP KIDS ARE SMARTER THAN WE THINK

Over the past several years, fantastical “Christ Conspiracies” have found traction in the media. In the cottage industry of Christian response books, the familiar warning is that conspiracy theories like The Da Vinci Code are corrupting our youth and leading faithful teenagers away from Christ.

Well, here’s some good news from The Jesus Survey: Your kids are smarter than they get credit for being.

For starters, Christian kids are near-unanimous in their rejection of the silly Da Vinci Code premise that Jesus ditched the cross and married Mary Magdalene instead. More than nine out of 10 (92 percent) reject that theory outright. What’s more, in a remarkable show of consistency, Christian teenagers treat hoax theories in general as hooey. Nine out of 10 (92 percent) reject the idea that “Jesus’ death on a cross was some kind of hoax,” and almost all (95 percent) scoff at the idea that Jesus was actually just a myth.

THE BIBLE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WE THINK

We’ve already seen that Confident Christian Teenagers who adhere to the four core beliefs about Christ report a markedly stronger daily experience with God. No surprise, then, that Christian kids who believe the Bible is trustworthy are most likely to also believe all four of the core beliefs I’ve listed at the start of this article. For instance:

Among Bible-believing teenagers, four out of five (80 percent) express a consistently strong conviction that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead after his execution. Among kids who are uncertain or unsettled about the Bible, that number drops to less than half (48 percent and 37 percent, respectively). And, among Christian teenagers who simply don’t believe the Bible can be trusted, only one in seven (16 percent) fully believes the story of Easter is true.

Further, within the group of Christian teenagers that strongly affirms “Jesus is the only way to heaven,” virtually all (99 percent) also believe the Bible to be trustworthy. Additionally, roughly four out of five (82 percent) Bible-believers strongly claim that the Holy Spirit is active in their lives, and a similar number (83 percent) confidently claim indisputable proof that Christ has answered their prayers.

This data appears to reinforce the idea that right belief translates into real experience, and suggests that confidence in the Bible’s trustworthiness is the first step toward right belief.

THE BIBLE IS MOSTLY A NON-FACTOR FOR CHRISTIAN TEENAGERS

In 1536, William Tyndale was choked, impaled, and burned on a stake as punishment for translating the Bible into the language of the common man, thereby making Scripture accessible to anyone who could read English. For many Christian kids, that incredible sacrifice was made, mostly, in vain.

Although three-quarters (73 percent) of Christian teenagers say that daily Bible study is important for followers of Christ, a surprising number of our kids (26 percent—about one in four) actually reject that idea. For them, daily Bible study is either optional or completely unnecessary. This seems an unusually large number considering that all the students who took The Jesus Survey were involved in a church youth group at the time of the survey.

Regardless of the perceived value (or lack of value) they place on daily Bible study, practically no Christian teenager reports consistent interaction with Scripture outside of church. Barely 5 percent (about one in 20 youth group members) say they open the Bible on a daily basis. And fully two-thirds of Christian teenagers (67 percent) say they seldom or never study the Bible on a daily basis. Even among Confident Christian Teenagers, only about one in five (19 percent) makes Scripture-reading a daily habit.

Why do Christian kids who attend youth group dismiss daily Bible study in such large numbers? That’s a question that deserves a thoughtful, and personal, exploration.

CHRISTIAN TEENAGERS ARE NOT SHY ABOUT SHARING THEIR FAITH

An overwhelming majority of Christian teenagers (84 percent) believe it is their responsibility to “tell others about Jesus with the intent of leading them to be Christian, too.” Given their earlier hesitation in affirming that Jesus is the only way to heaven, this number pleasantly surprised me. And, in fact, even among teenagers who believe Jesus is not the only way to heaven, more than half (55 percent) still endorse the call of the Great Commission.

What’s more, your kids are actually following up their belief with action when it comes to evangelism. More than half (56 percent) report that “I shared about my faith in Jesus with a non-Christian during the past month.” That’s an encouraging finding—until you begin to think about exactly what these kids are actually preaching.

If the evangelistic content shared by Christian teenagers reflects what they say they believe about Christ, then three out of four (74 percent) are actually spreading untruths about Jesus to their friends, neighbors, coworkers, and more. And that begs one final question: At what point does the sincere, mistaken faith of our teenagers actually become a false religion instead of authentic Christianity?

Again, I have no real answers, but with eternity in the balance, it’s time to take that question seriously and evaluate our own youth groups.

07.31.17

34 Ways for Youth Leaders to be Present by Brant Cole

youthspecialties.com

One of the high priorities in our youth ministry is that each student has a caring adult in their life who loves God and has a heart for them, even on their bad days.

As Josh Shipp has stated,

“Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story.”

We want to put caring adults – youth leaders – into the lives of each student in our ministry so that they will have someone who is not only caring but actively present in their lives. So, to ensure that each of our youth leaders knows how to do this, we have set before them a few simple ways that they can be present in the lives of our students.

There are a million ways students need us be present in their lives. Not all of them are easy. And we can’t be there for every student every day. But we can do for a few what we wish we could do for everyone. Because they need a leader who celebrates them on their best days, and who loves them their worst days. And they need a leader who does this on his or her best days and worst days, too.

Being present in a student’s life can look like a lot of different things. Each one means something different but is equally important to a student. It can look like…

  1. Praying for them. Lots of praying for them.
  2. Showing up to small group consistently. Even if you’re dead tired and no one seems to care that you’re there.
  3. Continuing to call and text them, even when they reply only with “yes,” “no” and “OK,” trusting that one day the dam will break and another vocabulary will come rushing through. (Especially when dealing with middle schoolers, people!)
  4. Keeping up with a 12-messages-per-second group text when it does happen.
  5. Having a hard conversation about what you’re seeing them post on Instagram.
  6. Sitting with them long after group time has ended, when words fail both of you and there are only tears.
  7. Answering your phone at midnight.
  8. Answering your phone at work.
  9. Sending a card just because.
  10. Calling their parents when you need to, even if they don’t want you to.
  11. Driving over an hour in traffic, to run full speed through a parking lot, to throw $10 at the ticket man, to wave your homemade sign during a 2-minute cheer routine.
  12. Sliding into a side hallway to pray with them during a morning service.
  13. Being willing to disagree with them and challenge them to look at things from a less comfortable angle, even if it means they get frustrated with you.
  14. Being willing to make a fool of yourself to entertain them or get a point across.
  15. Sticking up for them.
  16. Digging deeper with them into the Bible to find answers to questions you had to honestly answer with, “I don’t know.”
  17. Apologizing to them when you used a tone you shouldn’t have used or said something you shouldn’t have said.
  18. Loving on their parents and families.
  19. Being crazy outwardly excited about their decision to be baptized.
  20. Knowing what their “outside of church” world looks like and asking specific questions about it often.
  21. Staying up until 3 am on retreat weekends listening intently to heart after heart pour out. Then crawling into a sleeping bag on the floor for four hours of sleep. (Or two hours of silent prayer and processing, and two hours of sleep.)
  22. Modeling your own relationship with Jesus as a priority.
  23. Practicing what you preach.
  24. Letting go of the Monday morning blues until after small group ends at 7:30 pm on Sunday night.
  25. Making an Instagram account and liking their posts.
  26. Sitting in the cold rain, watching an entire game in which they only play for the last 30 seconds. (And cheering as loud as you can for all 30 seconds.)
  27. Hugging or high fiving them every Sunday morning.
  28. Following up on things they told you they’re struggling with.
  29. Sharing your personal stories of struggles.
  30. Putting your phone away.
  31. Encouraging them to serve others and doing it alongside them.
  32. Helping them find their unique gifts and encouraging them to use them.
  33. Believing they can change the world around them by doing so.
  34. Telling them you’ll never give up on them. And following through on that promise.