Hi! I am praying for you right now! 

Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
If Jesus returns tomorrow, then tomorrow I’ll rest from my labor. But today I have work to do. #bonhoeffer
To focus on Jesus as just an example is to reduce him from sovereign Savior to ethical coach and to transform the gospel into law. #keller
Bad evangelism says: I’m right, you’re wrong, and I would love to tell you about it. #keller
The goal in life is not to be in charge, but to depend on and rest in the wisdom, power and grace of the One who is and will be in charge. #tripp
1. Communicating with Teens… https://www.heartlightministries.org/2017/09/communicating-with-teens-2/?utm_source=CC+Master+List&utm_campaign=8fa4ead912-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_07_05&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5926458580-8fa4ead912-126726953
2. Bad Fad Alert: Hot Water Challenge… https://homeword.com/2017/09/07/bad-fad-alert-hot-water-challenge/?mc_cid=9aeff038c4&mc_eid=759fd44a0d#.WbUwWK2ZN0s
Parents your role really matters… https://homeword.com/articles/parents-your-role-really-matters/?mc_cid=2784de0f84&mc_eid=759fd44a0d#.WbCRt62ZN0s
3. Loving your hard to like kid… https://www.reviveourhearts.com/true-woman/blog/loving-your-hard-kid/
4. Crippling Behaviors That Keep Children from Growing into Leaders… https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2014/01/16/7-crippling-parenting-behaviors-that-keep-children-from-growing-into-leaders/#d1eec775957b
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
10 Steps on Giving Your Volunteers Feedback by Dale Hudson
Criticism vs. Feedback: Why You Must Know the Difference as a Leader by Dale Hudson
Understanding Teens and Their Smart Phone Habits (emarketer)
Is the Bible Relevant Today? by J. Warner Wallace

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

Here are 2 just for you:
Bouncing Back

Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket. –Proverbs 25:11 (NLT)

As a junior in high school, I was devastated when I was cut from the top volleyball team and sent to the second team. I felt disappointed, embarrassed and dejected. That evening, I spoke with a friend who passed on these words of wisdom, “It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce back that matters.” I wrote the quote on my mirror and committed to doing my best for this new team, instead of sulking over my personal loss. Instead of continuing to fall and spiral, I committed to bounce back.

What I learned that day is that what happens to me in life doesn’t count as much as how I react to those things. I had a choice the day I was cut from the team: I could wallow in misery and quit the team, or I could choose to fight through my circumstances and work hard to improve. Each day, choices like these present themselves. When people are cruel, I can choose to accept their apology or let my bitterness grow. When I am treated unfairly, I can vengefully plot a way to get even, or I can seek the Lord’s wisdom and demonstrate patience as He shows me what to do. When I am fired from a job, I can learn from why things did not work or I can blame everyone else around me for my misfortune and never learn, grow or change. When I am congratulated for a job well done, I can either pat myself on the back or thank the Lord for providing me with the skills to succeed.

Life throws different circumstances our way every day, both good and bad. Wherever you are in your life, it is important to remember that people are watching and looking to see how you are living your life. You will long be remembered, not only for what happened to you in your life but for how you handled life’s circumstances. When those circumstances cause you to fall, I challenge you to bounce back!

TAKE A MOMENT (Anonymous)

Recently I took a few moments to reflect on Psalm 139.  The following is my personal, devotional paraphrase of the Psalm that I wrote as in response to that reflection.

Here is my Psalm 139 paraphrase …..

You know my heart – You have searched me – You have gone the distance –taken the initiative – and therefore You know me.

You know what I think–You know what motivates me to action and contemplation because You know my every thought.

You know what I do – what my habits are – You are very familiar with my ways – the ways in which I move through life – from my active and social times to my quiet, somber and restful times – You know me well enough to discern my every habit.  You know me better than I know myself!

You know what I will say – all of it – before I even say it – every word of it!

Even though You know me – You love me.  I know this because Your hand of love and protection surrounds and covers me – You know everything about me – heart, mind, body and soul and yet You still love me that much.

I don’t get it.  This concept is impossible for me to grasp.

I don’t know if I can take so close a relationship – it scares me – I want to hide – but there is no place to hide from You. There is nowhere in the highest heavens or the lowest depths to hide – You are everywhere.

I can’t get up early and try to fly away.  It doesn’t matter how far I travel.  It doesn’t matter where or when I go anywhere.  You will still be there with me, guiding me, holding me tightly.

I can’t use darkness as a cloak – the light of Your presence just melts the darkness away.  You will still see all of me – my heart, my thoughts, my actions, my words.  And I will still be the object of Your love.

You made me – I am Your creation – not some random grouping of cells and DNA – I have a soul – an innermost being – that only You could make –  You gave me my mother – I am no one else’s daughter – I came from her because you placed me – heart, mind, body and soul – within her.

I am unique – tenderly planted and watered from conception – created as others, yet different from them all – I am Your wonderful work – from the depths of my soul, I know that.  I know that I am Yours and for that reason alone I am wonderful.  What a wonderful thing You have done!

I am in Your book.  Somewhere in Your book there is a chapter about me – written when I was only a thought in Your mind’s eye.  You knew what I would look like – I was not a surprise or a secret to You – You thought of me, wrote of me, planned my days for me – and then you knit me together like a perfectly fitting garment – exactly matching the vision You had of and for me.

You are always thinking precious thoughts about me.  Not negative thoughts.  Not thoughts of disappointment.  Not thoughts of anger.  Just precious thoughts!

You never stop thinking about me.  You think more about me that I do!  Even when I am sound asleep, resting my mind – You are still thinking about me.  I couldn’t even begin to count the thoughts you have of me.  There are not enough numbers!

You are so grand.  And, You are so good.  You are the creator who knows everything.  You write it all down in Your book. You can do all of this – so why don’t You stop evil?  I am the object of Your love – why don’t You keep evil away from me? Why did You include those stories in the pages of Your book? They are Your enemies.  They intend to harm You.  They lie about You – hate You – speak lies in Your name.

I hate them!  I abhor them!  They are my sworn enemies – all I feel for them is hated.  They hate You so I hate them.

I wonder what You think of them?  You created them too. Are they the objects of Your love?  Do You love them in spite of their failings – as you do me?  Must I love what You love? Must I love an enemy?  This kind of thinking makes me anxious.

I want you to search deeper inside me.  No more trying to run and hide.  I want You to know my heart – I want You to examine every part of me.  Examine these disquieting thoughts I have.  If my way of thinking and being is taking me in the wrong direction, lead me in the right one – always lead me in the right way.  May I live my days – heart, mind, body and spirit according to the vision You had for me – the one You wrote in Your book.

Blessings, Kendall


10 Steps on Giving Your Volunteers Feedback by Dale Hudson


As children’s ministry leaders our calling is to help bring out the best in our volunteers.  It shouldn’t be what you want from them, it should be about what you want for them.

See yourself as a coach, because that’s what you are.  And a big part of coaching your volunteers is providing them with feedback.

There is an art to giving feedback.  Done incorrectly, it will bring more harm than good.  But done correctly, it will challenge, inspire and propel your volunteers to new levels of ministry.

Here are 10 tips on how to effectively give your volunteers feedback.
#1 – Establish a relationship with your volunteers.  When a volunteer knows you care about them and want the best for them, it will open their heart to receive feedback.

#2 – See feedback as going on a journey with your volunteers.  Feedback should be ongoing and be taking them to a destination.

#3 – Give positive feedback when your volunteers do a good job.  If you only give negative feedback, volunteers will perceive you as unappreciative and petty.

#4 – Schedule times to meet with key volunteers individually and provide them with feedback.

#5 – Give feedback when a volunteer’s behavior is negatively affecting the team.  Do this privately.

#6 – Avoid giving feedback when it is something the volunteer has no control over.

#7 – Avoid giving feedback when a volunteer is highly emotional after a difficult event.

#8 – Only give feedback when you can do so in a calm and thorough manner.

#9 – Avoid feedback that is only based on your personal preferences.

#10 – When giving a volunteer feedback about an area he or she is struggling in, come with some possible solutions.  The purpose of the feedback is to help the volunteer move forward.


Criticism vs. Feedback: Why You Must Know the Difference as a Leader by Dale Hudson

As a leader, you are tasked with helping the people on your team grow.  One of the key ways to do this is by providing them with verbal instruction.  But it must be the right kind of verbal instruction.

You see, there is a difference between criticism and feedback.  A big difference.  And it is vital to know the difference.

Let’s compare the two.

Criticism points out what is wrong and leaves the person feeling defeated.  Feedback is a conversation that talks about an issue, discusses how to make it better and leaves the person in good spirits.

Criticism leaves the person knowing what they did wrong.  Feedback leaves the person knowing what they can work on to get better.

Criticism leaves the person feeling alone.  Feedback leaves the person feeling supported.

Criticism means to hurt.  Feedback means to help.

Criticism focuses on misses.  Feedback focuses on how to complete the mission.

Criticism comes from a place of fear and insecurity.  Feedback comes from a place of confidence.

Criticism is only negative.  Feedback points people to the positive.

Criticism says there is only one right way.  Feedback helps people figure out a better way for themselves.

Criticism does all the talking.  Feedback talks and listens.  It’s a two way conversation.

Criticism is emotional.  Feedback is calm and cool.

Criticism only gives answers.  Feedback asks questions.

Criticism is done openly.  Feedback is done privately.

Criticism is rude.  Feedback is respectful.

Criticism chastises.  Feedback challenges.

Criticism focuses on the past.  Feedback points to the future.

Criticism is blame and shame.  Feedback is about knowing and growing.

Criticism is critiquing.  Feedback is coaching.

Criticism only points out what is wrong.  Feedback points out how to improve.

Criticism is self-serving.  Feedback has the other person’s best interests in mind.

Criticism destroys.  Feedback develops.

Giving feedback is an art and can be learned.  Here some articles that will help you become a master at giving feedback.


Understanding Teens and Their Smart Phone Habits


Many say they could not go more than a day without using one

Yes, teens are digital natives. But that’s just half the story of what makes teen life so different now from a generation ago. Coming of age at a time when smartphone ownership is the norm, today’s teens are mobile natives as well. The constant connectedness a smartphone enables—or imposes—is a central fact of life for them.

Though teens still lag behind young adults, a large majority now have smartphones. And for those who have one, it drives their daily digital activity, as explored in eMarketer’s latest report, “US Teens and Their Smartphones: The All-Purpose Device for Liking, Snapping, Ad Avoiding, Shopping and More.” (Subscribers to eMarketer PRO can access the report here. Nonsubscribers can purchase the report here.)

eMarketer estimates that 78.9% of 12- to 17-year-olds in the US will be smartphone users this year. That puts them on par with the total adult population, for which smartphone penetration is expected to be 77.1% this year. But teens still fall short of adult millennials in terms of smartphone penetration.

Older teens are more likely than younger teens and tweens to have a smartphone, so penetration is higher if one excludes 12-year-olds. December 2016 polling by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research identified 89% of 13- to 17-year-olds in the US as smartphone users.

Then again, as feature phones fade from the marketplace—and as hand-me-down phones from parents have become more likely to be smartphones—the age at which youngsters first get a smartphone is declining. In a March 2017 report by Think with Google (based on August 2016 polling of US internet users by Ipsos), respondents ages 13 to 17 who have smartphones reported getting their first one at a median age of 12. “Now they have established habits by age 13,” said Jason Dorsey, co-founder and millennials and Gen Z researcher at The Center for Generational Kinetics.

Once they get a smartphone, teens are true to stereotype in becoming very attached to it. A YouGov survey in May 2017 illustrated this when it asked 13- to 17-year-olds in the US how long they could go without using their smartphone. Nearly four in 10 said they could not make it through a single day.

The smartphone camera has become central to teens’ social interaction, as reflected in the rise of camera-centric platforms like Snapchat and Instagram. Teens have not abandoned Facebook, but the time and emotional energy they spend on it has declined. And Facebook penetration among US teens is on a slightly downward trajectory.

Underlying teens’ extensive use of smartphones for social networking is the scope of their overall engagement with social media. eMarketer estimates that 70.8% of 12- to 17-year-olds in the US will use social networks at least once a month this year.

As with smartphone penetration, the proportion of teens counted as social network users varies depending on the exact age group a survey employs. In Deloitte polling conducted online in November 2016, 93% of 14- to 19-year-olds in the US identified themselves as social network users.


Is the Bible Relevant Today? by J. Warner Wallace


I have a drawer in my desk that’s filled with manuals and instruction guides. Every time I purchase a new device (whether it’s an electric garden tool or a smart phone), I store the original instruction manual in this drawer. I occasionally return to these guides when I have a problem or need an answer. But, about once a year, I sift through these documents and throw many of them away. The discarded manuals are still trueand skillfully written, but they’re now irrelevant; I’ve mastered the devices they describe, and I’m able to overcome any problem I may encounter on my own. But, while my collection of instruction manuals shrinks every year, my collection of Bibles and related study materials increases. Why? Because the Bible continues to answer life’s most important questions. It solves the most pressing problem we face as humans; a problem we simply can’t resolve on our own.

My experience as a cold-case homicide detective is partially to blame for my growing Biblical library. The instruction manuals in my desk drawer would never have become part of my collection if they didn’t correctly describe the devices they claimed to support. Their accuracy is the key to their relevancy. When I first investigated the claims of the New Testament accounts, I knew their relevancy would be similarly dependent upon the degree to which they were true. I was thirty-five years old and a seasoned detective when I first began to evaluate the reliability of the Gospels using the same skill set I applied to my criminal investigations. Were the accounts written early enough to have been produced by eyewitnesses? Could they be corroborated by additional early witnesses, external archaeological or internal linguistic evidence? Were the accounts corrupted or changed over time? Did the authors possess a bias that would motivate them to lie? I investigated these attributes of the gospels and became convinced they were telling me the truth about Jesus of Nazareth. But their reliability and truthfulness were only part of the story. The gospels also accurately described something I observed in murderers.

I’ve arrested my fair share of cold-case killers, and most of them were law-abiding, upstanding citizens by the time I met them, many years after they brutally killed their victims. The more I spoke with these murderers, the more I realized they were just like… me. And you. And everyone else on the planet. Some had become fire captains, some teachers, some businessmen. They were good parents, reliable family members, and trustworthy employees. But they were all protecting a dark secret from their past; striving daily to convince a watching world they were good people, even though they had done something unspeakable. None of these killers committed more than one murder, and none would likely commit another. But each bore the burden of knowing who they really were, despite appearances.

As I investigated each cold-case homicide, I came to realize these murderers weren’t unlike the rest of us. If you think you’re incapable of committing such a crime, you’ve likely underestimated the possible scenarios you might face, and overestimated how you might respond. Even if you don’t think you’re capable of such atrocities, I bet there’s still some secret you don’t want others to discover; we’re all moral law-breakers of one kind or another. The penal code in my state describes crimes that are as old as human history. In fact, many of our statutes still reflect the Biblical language of the Old Testament. Some things change, but our fallen, base desires grudgingly remain. We are moral outlaws to one degree or another.

And that’s why the Bible is still relevant today. The instruction manuals I routinely discard are still true, but they are no longer necessary. The Bible, however, is both true and necessary. The New Testament accurately describes the Savior, and it accurately describes our need for a Savior. It provides the only solution to the most important problem we’ll ever encounter: our separation from a holy, perfect God. We can’t solve this problem on our own; Jesus is still the onlyanswer. That’s why I’m running out of space for my collection of Biblical commentaries, resources and references, but my desk drawer is more than big enough to hold all my manuals. I’ll eventually master every device and make the manuals irrelevant, but I’ll never overcome my need for a Savior. The claims of the Bible are both true and necessary. The Bible is still relevant today.


Hi! Hard day for many…. Dear God may we choose to cling to faith instead of crumbling in fear, may we discover Your presence in every moment, may we trust Your love and faithfulness, may we cling to You as You hold us in Your unrelenting grip of grace! In Christ’s Name Amen.
Sending love and prayers for miracle after miracle to many right now!
I am praying for each one of you right now! 
I know many classes are starting this week… please continue to pray for one another!
Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
The evening news must not dictate our theology. Christ reigns and His kingdom will endure forever. #Helopoulous (Thanks, Debbie!)
The same God that hears you in the sunshine is the same God that will answer you in the storm. # lecrae
Learn to grow your ‘no’ so God can bless your ‘yes’. Saying yes to everything will never lead to success. #lusko
The goal in life is not to be in charge, but to depend on and rest in the wisdom, power and grace of the One who is and will be in charge. #tripp
2. New study debunks friends with benefits… https://acculturated.com/new-study-debunks-friends-benefits-relationships/?utm_content=buffer6090b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer&utm_source=Daily+Briefing&utm_campaign=e6d28a9526-Daily+Briefing+07%2F28%2F17&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ed3d9d5277-e6d28a9526-273669925&mc_cid=e6d28a9526&mc_eid=a5401c43e5
4. Recognizing and Preventing Mean Girls… https://www.heartlightministries.org/2017/07/recognizing-preventing-mean-girls/?utm_source=CC+Master+List&utm_campaign=5667cebe92-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_07_05&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5926458580-5667cebe92-126726953
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
Are Smart Phones Damaging Our Kids by Dale Hudson
How to Reach the Most Exhausted Generation in History by Aaron Helman
Who Are the Unchurched? by Gary D.Foster Consulting
A Confusing Culture for Teens and Parents by Mark Gregston (Good thoughts and reminders.)

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

Here are 2 just for you:

Rejoice in the Lord’s Sovereignty

The next time you fear the future, rejoice in the Lord’s sovereignty. Rejoice in what he has accomplished. Rejoice that he is able to do what you cannot do. Fill your mind with thoughts of God.

“He is the Creator, who is blessed forever” (Romans 1:25).
“He is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
“His years will never end” (Psalm 102:27 NIV).

He is king, supreme ruler, absolute monarch, and overlord of all history. An arch of his eyebrow and a million angels will pivot and salute! Every throne is a footstool to his. Every crown is papier-mache next to his. He consults no advisers. He needs no congress. He reports to no one. He is in charge.

Sovereignty gives the saint the inside track to peace. Others see the problems of the world and wring their hands. We see the problems of the world and bend our knee.

3 Ways the Gospel Shapes Our Definition of Success

How do you measure success?

All of us, I think, have some internal barometer by which we measure ourselves. And we apply that measure to all different kinds of activities. We apply it to everything from our career to our families to our relationships all the way down to our daily diet.

And of course we do. Because we all want to be successful, whatever that means in our particular version of it. But the problem with our version of success is the same problem we have with all of life – because of sin, this definition is misshapen. It’s warped and marred. It’s broken.

As a result of its brokenness, we need to feel successful in order to validate ourselves as people. We need that mark of achievement to make ourselves feel secure and worthwhile and, ultimately, lovable by others.

In other words, we fundamentally look to our definition of “success” to do that which can only truly and lastingly be accomplished in Jesus. But when we believe the gospel, when we become the children of God by faith alone and in Christ alone, we see our definition of success start to change.

How specifically does that happen? I’d suggest at least these three ways that, by God’s grace, I’m seeing in my own life:

1. Success is less about metrics and more about faithfulness.

If success was truly all about achieving some metric, then Jesus was an absolute failure. Abandoned by His friends, having failed to seize the momentum that was His, Jesus completely dropped the ball. But Jesus knew that success was ultimately measured in faithfulness to what God had called Him to do and be, and that’s precisely what He is and did.

In the same respect, there are all kinds of ways we might achieve some kind of metric. We might bend the financial rules in order to meet the required revenue at work, we might take advantage of others in order to climb the ladder, we might sacrifice our integrity on any number of altars to produce the right result. But the gospel reminds us that obedience to the will of God is what we are after.

2. Success is less about what you’re doing than who you’re becoming.

Apart from Christ, we will almost inevitably define success in terms of accomplishment. We have to keep getting promoted, we have to keep making more money, we have to keep moving up in the social circle. But the gospel steps onto this devastating treadmill and simply states, “Enough.”

When we believe the gospel, we come to understand that God is going to shape us into the image of Jesus. And to do that, He’s going to use any and everything at His disposal. One of the most effective tools He uses for this shaping is our failure. For it’s when we fail that we are pushed to remember again and again who we really are – that no matter whether or not we achieve some other measure of success, we are once and always children of God.

If God’s aim for us, then, is to be like Jesus, then the gospel helps us deal with failure by refocusing us not on what we are doing (or failing to do) but instead who God is making us to be.

3. Success is less about what you’re accomplishing than who you’re influencing.

We are people-users. This is one of the ways all our relationships are broken by sin. We will always default to looking at others as tools to be used for our own benefit our pleasure. And when we do that, we often find that people are a great stepping stone for our own goals.

But the gospel reshapes how we see others. No longer do we see them as tools of utility, but fellow image-bearers of God. We begin to understand that we cannot leave a wake of bodies in our pathway, no matter how much doing so might propel us toward some goal we have.

Consider today, friends, how you define success, no matter where you find yourself. Consider it, and then let the gospel speak through the power of the Holy Spirit. When we do that, we will stand apart from a world of people who are clamoring for their own piece of the pie.

Blessings, Kendall


Are Smart Phones Damaging Our Kids by Dale Hudson

Kids are getting their first smartphone at younger and younger ages.  The average age is now 10.3 years old.

Kids spend much of the day glued to their phone.  Here’s what one student had to say.

“I spend most of my summer hanging out alone with my phone.  That’s just the way my generation is.  We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones.  I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.” 

Today’s kids are being shaped by the smartphone and social media. The smartphone has radically changed every aspect of their lives.  They are growing up living on their phones.  This brings both positives and negatives.

Today’s kids are growing up content to spent more time alone with their phone than at a party.  On the positive side, this means they are physically safer.  Not going out as much, they are less likely to get in a car accident, get drunk, engage in sexual activity, try drugs, etc.  Today’s 12th graders are going out less than 8th graders did in 2008.  Kids’ social life has shifted from in person to online.  The skating rink, basketball court, local hangout spot, etc. has been replaced by virtual spaces accessed by social media apps.

But on the flip side, there are negative effects.  There is mounting evidence that the smartphones we place in kids’ hands are having a big effect on their lives.

Disconnect from parents.  You would think since kids are spending more time at home, that they would be spending more time with their parents.  But that is not the case.  Rather than talking with their parents, they are in their room…on their smartphone.  This can even bleed over into meal time, holidays, etc.  Rather than looking at their family, their face is in their smartphone.

Unhappiness.  Spending lots of time online has been connected to being less happy.  Kids who spend 10 or more hours a week on social media are 56% more likely to say they are unhappy.  Those who spend 6 to 9 hours a week on social media are still 47% more likely to say they are unhappy.  And the more time kids spend on social media, the more likely they are to be depressed.  Kids who are heavy users of social media increase their risk of depression by 27%.

Loneliness.  Apps such as Facebook on smartphones promise to connect us to friends.  But data shows that kids who visit social-networking sites every day, but see their friends less often, are more likely to say they are lonely.  Feels of loneliness has spiked since 2013.  Whereas kids used to feel left out by not being invited to parties, hangouts, etc. – today they feel left out when not invited into a social media group.

Cyberbullying.  While boys tend to bully one another physically, girls tend to bully one another socially through online social standing and relationships.

Addiction.  Many kids sleep with their smartphone right beside them.  It’s the first thing they look at in the morning and the last thing they see before going to sleep.  They use their phones so much that they can recognize an emoji expression, but not a real facial expression.

This doesn’t mean we should pry the smartphones out of our children’s hands.  It is a key part of our culture, business dealings and communication in a digital world.  But it does mean that we should help them set parameters and usage guidelines that will bring out the positives and decrease the negatives of having a smartphone.


How to Reach the Most Exhausted Generation in History by Aaron Helman


Let’s start the way all youth ministry blog posts should begin, with a quote from a Greek economist about teenagers:

“They only care about frivolous things. When I was a boy, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly… impatient of restraint.”

If my grandfather read youth ministry blogs (he doesn’t, of course), he’d be happily nodding his head in agreement, but here’s the thing I didn’t yet mention:

That Greek economist is a man named Hesiod who died 650 years before Jesus was born and was a contemporary of the same Homer who wrote The Iliad and The Odyssey.

The idea that teenagers these days are somehow different – or worse – isn’t a new one.

For pretty much as long as we have recorded history, every generation of adults has had those who complained about teenagers.

The truth is, teenagers probably haven’t changed as much as many want to believe. Instead, it’s the world around teenagers that’s changing so radically.

It’s the world that – by any statistical measure – has left today’s teenagers more overworked and under slept than any generation of teenagers in history, and it absolutely changes the way that we have to be in ministry with them.


Here’s a fun statistic.

The average high school student reports doing three hours of homework a night.

That’s near twice as much as teenagers reported doing 15 years ago (back when I was a teenager).

As youth workers, it’s easy to complain when students are too busy to come to youth group, but I think we can all agree that teenagers are not the ones who chose to have three hours of homework a night.

When band camp lasts a full month for eight hours a day, we can agree that teenagers are not the ones who petitioned the band director for more rehearsals.

The largest change we’ve seen in teenagers is directly attributable to the world that adults have built for them.

They practice more, train more, rehearse more, and study more than ever before – almost always at the behest of the adults around them.

The most significant change in the teenage world is that the adults surrounding it expect teenagers to be bigger, stronger, faster, smarter, better rehearsed, and more trained than ever before.

Almost miraculously, teenagers are, for the most part, doing pretty well navigating this difficult, new world.

They’re getting most of their homework done, nailing auditions, and making football teams even though it’s literally harder to do those things than ever before.

And yes, I know it’s frustrating that youth ministry gets the short stick.

I know it’s frustrating that students seem to almost always choose school, then sports, then music and art, ahead of attending our Wednesday night program.

Yes, I wish they would learn to put their relationship with Jesus ahead of their obsession with being the first-chair trombone or the starting goalie or the Valedictorian.

And we’ll get to all that in a little bit, but first, let’s talk about sleep.


Physiologically, adolescents require a lot of sleep.

Depending on how hard puberty hits, it’s not uncommon for a 16-year-old to actually require more sleep than a pre-adolescent 12-year-old. Pubescent teenagers can need 8-10 hours of sleep a night.

They’re not getting it.

What do you suppose happens when teenagers are loaded with historic levels of stress and pressure, are chronically underslept, and turn to caffeine at younger and younger ages to deal with it?

Every expected outcome. Depression. Panic attacks. Anti-social behavior. Cutting. Suicide.

Today’s teenagers are more exhausted – physiologically, mentally, and emotionally – than any generation before them, and even though they’re trying their best, it’s taking a very real toll.


In the middle of all of this teenage stress and commitment is an unbelievable opportunity for youth ministry if we’ll just stop to realize that it’s there.

Every teacher wants teenagers to study more.

Every coach wants teenagers to practice more.

Every director wants teenagers to rehearse more.

Every boss wants teenagers to work more.

And Jesus said this:

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30

Yes, we want our students to be more committed.

Yes, we want their attendance to be more steady.

Yes, we want them to sign up for retreats and missions trips and summer camps and service projects.

But if we look at this generation of teenagers – who are tired and broken and flat-out exhausted – and we don’t tell them that Jesus offers rest, we’ve failed to share the full story and especially the part of it that they so desperately need to hear.

While every other adult voice in a teenager’s life presses for more and more and more and more, the call of Jesus for the weary is to enter into the presence of Jesus and to rest.

It’s remarkable, really, but the kinds of activities that I hated doing as a teenager in youth group are actually the most popular among the teenagers I serve today.

My students would report that their favorite times are the silent, meditative moments we build into our services – not the up-tempo music that I loved when I was a teenager.

They love kneeling at the rail and whispering prayers and confessions to God.

My students want to sleep at overnighters and retreats.

My students aren’t clamoring for high-energy, hyper-programmed gatherings named after energy drinks.

More often than not, they’d rather recline into a comfortable chair with a cup of hot chocolate and talk about life and faith.

And at the end of the day, they are more content than I ever was as a teenager to merely dwell quietly in the presence of God, to experience a moment of stillness and peace, and to pray and breathe.

Now, more than ever, this generation needs the message of Matthew 11:28 to fall back on.

Everything else in the world is trying to wear them out, but the promise of Jesus is rest.


Who Are the Unchurched? by Gary D.Foster Consulting


They aren’t antagonistic. They welcome a conversation with believers. They aren’t staying out of church for the reasons you may think. In one of the most comprehensive studies ever done on the unchurched, LifeWay Research, in partnership with the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, surveyed 2,000 unchurched Americans. They defined “unchurched” as someone who has not attended a worship service in the last 6 months. A third of respondents were non-white. Genders were almost equally represented (53% male), and almost half have a high school diploma or less. Contrary to many perceptions, 62% went to church regularly as a child. A third have plans to go to church in the future. 47% are very open to a gospel conversation. 31% would listen actively without participating. 80% would welcome a gospel conversation. Another 12% would discuss it with some discomfort, and only 11% would change the subject as soon as possible. 55% would attend church if invited by a family member. And 51% would attend church if invited by a friend or neighbor. The opportunities are incredible. (Sermon Central 12/23/16)

The Most Significant Trend in Americans’ religiosity in recent decades has been the growing shift away from formal or official religion. 21% of U.S. adults don’t have a formal religious identity. This represents a major change from the late 40s and 50s when only 2% to 3% of Americans did not report a formal religious identity, according to Gallup. The increase in those claiming no religious identity began in the 70s, with the percentage crossing the 10% threshold in ‛90 and climbing into the teens in the 00s. Americans are also significantly less likely now than they were in the past to claim membership in a church, synagogue or mosque. In 1937, when Gallup first asked about church membership, 73% said they were a member of a church. This dropped into the upper 60% range in the 80s and continued to decrease from that point on. It fell to its lowest point of 54% in ‛15 but increased slightly to 56% this year. Self-reported church attendance is also lower. Gallup’s longest-running religious service attendance question asks, “Did you, yourself, happen to attend church, synagogue or mosque in the last seven days, or not?” In 1939 41% said “yes.” That dropped to 37% in 1940 and rose to 39% in 1950. It continued to climb, reaching as high as 49% in the 50s. Attendance then settled down to around 40% for decades, before dropping to 36% for the past 3 years. (Gallup 12/23/16)

America Remains Largely Christian 74% of Americans identify with a Christian religion, and 5% with a non-Christian religion. The rest of the U.S. adult population, about 21%, either says they don’t have a formal religious identity or don’t give a response. The dominance of Christianity in the U.S. is not new, but it has changed over time. The U.S. has seen an increase in those with no formal religious identity (“nones”) and a related decrease in those identifying with a Christian religion. Since ‛08, the “nones” have increased by 6 percentage points, while those identifying as Christian have decreased by 6. The 5% who identify with a non-Christian religion has stayed constant. In the late 40s and 50s over 90% of American adults identified as Christian (either Protestant or Catholic) with most of the rest identifying as Jewish. (Gallup 12/23/16)

Religion Still Important 53% of Americans say religion is “very important” in their lives. This is down marginally from recent years, but the trend over time has shown less of a decline than have other religious indicators such as religious identification or church membership. In ‛65, 70% said religion was “very important” in their lives, but figures have since ranged from 52% to 61%. The percentage reporting that religion is “very important” hit the low end of this range in the 80s and has done so again in more recent years. The 53% who say religion is “very important” this year is low on a relative basis but is similar to what it was in ‛78 and ‛87. (Gallup 12/23/16)

Top 10 Characteristics Unchurched Families 1. They are a blended home. 2. They are spiritually mismatched. 3. They are financially strapped. 4. They are over-calendared. 5. They are biblically illiterate. 6. They are ethnically diverse. 7. They have a special needs child. 8. 1 in 5 have experienced some form of trauma in the home. 9. They want to be successful. 10. They are spiritually hungry. May churches remove every unnecessary encumbrance and unbiblical distraction and be the place of grace that reaches the ones Christ gave his very life for! (Pastors.com 12/5/16)

Prolonged Marginalization of Young Adulthood Sociologist Christian Smith and colleagues interviewed over 3,000 American adolescents ages 13 to 17. He found most claimed to be religious. However, Smith characterizes their religion as “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” They have faith in a moralistic deity who expects human creatures to behave, to feel good about themselves, and to run their own lives without too much divine intervention. A dark side of emerging adulthood is exposed when the young people face challenges of young adulthood. They are disproportionately subject to substance abuse, consumerism, sexual promiscuity, lack of moral language, withdrawal from civic and political engagement and a host of emotional maladies. 60% of young adults studied believe every individual must be free to act on his or her personal values. They practice a form of banal tolerance– not judging others, being tolerant, and not imposing one’s own values. Half believe “morality is whatever people think it is” and that “there are no definite rights and wrongs for everybody.” Most “think that people’s believing something to be morally true is what makes it morally true” and that “if some cultures believe different things about morality, then there is not a moral truth.” Only one-quarter spoke of wanting to help others or being a positive influence in others’ lives. (Insights into Religion 1/12/17, Young, Emerging, Lost or Arrested?  David F. White)

Faith on The Hill The share of U.S. adults who describe themselves as Christians has been declining for decades, but the U.S. Congress is about as Christian today as it was in the early ‛60s, according to a new Pew Research analysis. Indeed, among members of the new, 115th Congress, 91% describe themselves as Christians similar to the 87th Congress (1961 to 1962) when 95% did so. Like the nation as a whole, Congress has become much less Protestant over time. The total percentage of Protestants in Congress has dropped from 75% in ‛61 to 56% today. During this period, Congress’s share of Catholics has gone from 19% to 31%. The group most notably underrepresented is the religiously unaffiliated or “nones.” 23% of Americans now identify as nones while just 0.2% of members of Congress do so. (Pew Research Center 1/3/17)

What Non-Christians Really Think About Christians  According to LifeWay researcher Thom Rainer, there are 7 common types of comments his years of research have heard when asking non-Christians their thoughts about Christians. Here they in their order frequency: 1. Christians are against more things than they are for.  2. I would like to develop a friendship with a Christian. 3. I would like to learn about the Bible from a Christian. 4. I don’t see much difference in the way Christians live compared to others. 5. I wish I could learn to be a better husband/wife/dad/mom, etc., from a Christian. 6. Some Christians try to act like they have no problems. 7. I wish a Christian would take me to his or her church. Do you see the pattern? Non-Christians want to interact with Christians. They want to see Christians’ actions match their beliefs. They want Christians to be real. (Church Leaders 12/23/16)

U.S. Religion Contributes $1.2 Trillion Religion makes a huge socio-economic contribution to life in the U.S., some $1.2 trillion annually, according to recent research. These dollars range from the basic economic drivers of any business (staff, overhead, utilities) to billions spent on philanthropic programs, educational institutions and health care services. $1.2 trillion in terms of Gross Domestic Product, it would make it the 15th largest national economy in the world. (Leadership Network 12/20/16)

Who Celebrates Christmas? 92% of Americans and nearly all Christians (96%) say they celebrate Christmas, according to a ‛13 Pew Research Center survey. This is no surprise, but what might be more unexpected is that 81% of non-Christians in the U.S. also celebrate Christmas. This includes 87% of people with no religion and even about 76% of Asian-American Buddhists and 73% of Hindus. Also, 32% of U.S. Jews had a Christmas tree in their homes during the most recent holiday season. Among Americans overall, 51% say they celebrate Christmas as more of a religious holiday, while 32% say it is more of a cultural holiday to them personally. (Pew Fact Tank 12/21/16)

Beliefs Matter People who pray every day are 30% more likely to give to a charity than people who do not pray, people who devote time to a spiritual life are 42% more likely to give to charity than those who do not, and interestingly, “people who say that ‘beliefs don’t matter as long as you’re a good person’ are dramatically less likely to give charitably (69% to 86%) and to volunteer (32% to 51%) than people who think that beliefs do matter.  (LifeSite News 12/22/16)

Why We Don’t Tithe Tithing is a spiritual discipline many Christians practice. In its simplest form, it means giving back to God 10% of what you make. Charles Stone, Sr. Pastor and founder of StoneWell Ministries has seen 10 common reasons church people give for not tithing. They are:  1. “It’s all mine anyway. Why should I give?” 2. “I give elsewhere.” 3. “Tithing is not in the New Testament.” 4. “God will provide through other people.” 5. “My gifts don’t really count.” 6. “I don’t trust preachers.” 7. “I only give to projects I like.” 8. “I have no control over my finances. My husband/wife does.” 9. “I will tithe when I can afford it.” 10. “I’m afraid to.” (Outreach.com 1/3/17)

What Influences Us the Most? Among conservative Christians the top 3 personal influences are the Bible (estimated to have “a lot of influence” on their decisions and perspectives by 98%), religious teaching (92%), and the values taught to them by their parents (77%). Other significant influencers are family members (33%); courts and judges (33%); government laws and regulations (30%); books (18%); the policies implemented by businesses (18%); conversations with friends (17%); schools (12%); and the behavior and choices of their friends (10%). Interestingly, 74% claimed the content of entertainment media and 64% believed current music has no influence upon them. (American Culture & Faith Institute 1/4/17)

Bible Stories Losing Relevance When Luther Seminary professor David Lose assigned his students to interview two persons from their home congregations and ask them what Bible stories provide them with comfort or courage when they are struggling with a problem, only one in 100 students reported back that an interviewee could readily identify such a story. That dismal rate points to the low level of influence of the biblical narrative in the everyday life of Christians. (Faith in Leadership 1/13/14)

Growing vs. Declining Churches According to a long-term Wilfrid Laurier Univ. study, 93% of clergy members and 83% of worshipers from growing churches agreed with the statement “Jesus rose from the dead with a real flesh-and-blood body leaving behind an empty tomb.” This compared with 67% of worshipers and 56% of clergy members from declining churches. Furthermore, all growing church clergy members and 90% of their worshipers agreed that “God performs miracles in answer to prayers,” compared with 80% of worshipers and a mere 44% of clergy members from declining churches. (Washington Post 1/4/17)

Fewer Praying for Refugees American Christians are less responsive to the Syrian crisis than they were a year ago, according to a World Vision survey. Fewer “committed Christians” said they had taken action on behalf of refugees in the past 2 years. In ‛16, 38% said they had been involved, down from 44% the year before. The number of committed Christians praying for Syrian refugees dropped by more than a third this year, down to 19%. Americans have become slightly more willing to share news about refugees on social media (14%) and to donate to aid groups (11%) than last year. Syria’s population has scattered as a result of a civil war that began in ‛11; 6.1 million Syrians remain displaced within their country, and 4.8 million have left as refugees. Half of those are children. Over the past year, the U.S. accepted more than 10,000 Syrian refugees. According to a Pew Research Center, 67% of white evangelicals and 65% of mainline Protestants believe America does not have a moral responsibility to accept Syrian refugees. Overall, 40% of American voters agreed. (CT Gleanings12/22/16)

Disruptive Church Trends The culture continues to change rapidly around us. Here are 6 disruptive church trends, trend-watcher Carey Nieuwhof sees coming in ‛17. 1) Consumer Christianity will die faster than ever. That’s because it asks “What’s in it for me?” Christian maturity isn’t marked by how much we know or what we can get, it’s marked by how much we love and how much we give in light of how deeply we’ve been loved and how much we’ve been given. 2) Cool church will morph. Having great preaching, a decent band and an awesome facility or environment is not a bad thing. But unchurched people are increasingly interested in the mission more than the method. They want to meet Jesus. They have enough cool in their lives, but not enough Jesus. 3). Preachers who can’t speak to the unchurched will preach to a shrinking crowd. One day, every church will have to learn how to reach unchurched people because only unchurched people will be left. 4) Preaching will fuse both the head and the heart. Preaching to the head can lead to a changed mind, but not a changed life. Preaching only to the heart creates emotional followers, whose faith rises and falls with their feelings. The goal is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. 5) Anonymity will continue to give way to community. The rise of technology has created a strange paradox; people are more connected than ever but feel more disconnected than ever. Anonymity is slowly giving way to community. 6) Engagement will become the new attendance. For decades, church leaders have used Sunday attendance as a measure of effectiveness in ministry. The challenge these days is that even committed Christians are attending church less often. Engagement will become the new growth engine in the future church. (ChurchLeaders.com, Carey Nieuwhof, 1/8/17)

Most Missionaries are Women Among evangelical faith missions between 80–85% of all single missionaries are women. It is a rare thing, like 2 out of every 10, for a single man to make missions his life’s vocation, which results in the overall statistics being that one-third of those in evangelical world missions are married men, one-third are married women, and 80% of the last third are single women. Which means that something just less than two-thirds of the total missionary force are women. (ChurchLeders.com 12/10/17)

Christian Persecution Continues to Increase For the third year in a row, the modern persecution of Christians worldwide has hit another record high. But the primary cause, Islamic extremism, now has a rival: ethnic nationalism. Thus, Asia increasingly merits concern alongside the Middle East, according to the 2017 World Watch List) by Open Doors. The total number of persecution incidents in the top 50 most dangerous countries increased, revealing the persecution of Christians worldwide as a rising trend. The top 10 nations where it is most dangerous and difficult to practice the Christian faith are: North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Eritrea. Yemen was the only new country in the top 10, replacing Libya. (CT Gleanings 1/11/17)

Assisted Suicide A recent Lifeway Research study revealed a disconcerting belief among Christians generally and Evangelicals in particular. 67% of Americans agree with the statement, “When a person is facing a painful terminal disease, it is morally acceptable to ask for a physician’s aid in taking his or her own life.” This is a shockingly high number. Even more disturbing are the numbers among faith groups; 59% of all Christians agree with the statement, as do 38% of those who claim to be Evangelical. This confirms a ‛13 Pew Research study where they asked a similar question. (The Exchange 12/9/16)

Christians and Pastors Agree & Disagree A new American Culture & Faith Institute survey shows conservative pastors and conservative Christians hold similar views on a number of outlooks. However, there are several critical perspectives where they have significant differences. Expected similarities: Almost all of the people in each group self-described as “pro-life advocates” (99% among SAGE Cons (the spiritually active, governance engaged conservative voters) and 98% among theolocons (theologically conservative Christian pastors). 96% of SAGE Cons and 95% of theolocons identify as evangelicals. 99% of SAGE Cons and 97% of theolocons agree absolute moral truth exists. 99% and 98% respectively, personally possess a biblical world-view. Just 4% and 7%, respectively are comfortable with postmodernism. Noteworthy differences: 58% of theolocons said they would be willing to engage in civil disobedience vs. 43% of SAGE Cons. Yet 77% of SAGE Cons are “angry about the current state of America” vs. 66% of theolocons. 46% of SAGE Cons said they do not trust any politician vs. 34% of theolocons. 30% of SAGE Cons agree “people are basically good” vs. 19% of theolocons. (American Culture & Faith Institute 12/21/16)

Why You Should Attend Church Here are 4 powerful reasons from evangelist and author Matt Brown why you should attend church weekly, and why church attendance can change your life: 1. God says so. God tells us in his Word to “not give up meeting together” (Heb. 10:25). 2. Worshipping Jesus together is powerful. There is something biblically powerful about gathering together with other believers to worship. 3. We need Christian community. It fulfills something inside of us to do life with, encourage and be authentically involved in each other’s lives. 4. We grow more together than alone. We are all human, and no one is perfect. So, it requires effort and intentionality and grace from God to do life together, even as believers. (Outreach 1/5/17)

As Marriage Declines, So Does Religious Engagement Leading scholars conclude that religious disengagement is associated with the trend to postpone marriage and parenthood. For younger (and older) adults, marital rates and religious involvement tend to go hand-in-hand. Almost all the decline in religious attendance has taken place among younger adults who have not married.  Today’s young adults are divided religiously on lines corresponding closely to their marital status. Young adults who are married go to church and often to theologically conservative churches. Unmarried young adults are less likely to attend religious services. Settling down in family usually means settling down to church. Growing strong marriages and thriving families is an important church growth strategy that cannot be ignored. (Focus on the Family Findings 8/13)

Are Parents Taking Their Kids to Church? According to Pew Research, 65% of parents attend worship service with their children at least a few times a year. 83% of evangelical parents are taking their children to church. 78% of Catholic parents are taking their children to church. 67% of mainline Protestant parents are taking their children to church. 69% of parents, who are nones, say they seldom or never take their children to church.  (Church Leaders 12/23/16)

Are Single Parents Passing on Their Faith? Whether one was raised by 2 people who shared the same faith or by a single parent seems to have little effect on whether that person carries the religion of his or her parent or parents into adulthood. Among adults who were raised by 2 Catholic parents, 62% describe themselves as Catholics today, as do 58% of those raised by a single parent who was Catholic. (Pew Research, Church Leaders 12/23/16)

How are Millennial Parents Influencing Their Kids? 75% of parents married to spouses of the same religion say they pray or read Scripture with their children. 70% of parents married to spouses of the same religion say they send their children to religious education programs such as Sunday School. 82% of households where one parent is religious and the other is a none, say their child is being raised in a religion. Among those parents who were raised exclusively by Protestants, roughly 80% now identify with Protestantism, including 80% of those raised by 1 Protestant parent and 75% of those raised by a single parent who was Protestant. Among those raised by one Protestant and one religious “none,” 56% now identify with Protestantism, while 34% are religiously unaffiliated. Those who were raised by a Protestant and a Catholic, are divided among those who now identify with Protestantism (38%), Catholicism (29%) and no religion (26%). (Pew Research, Church Leaders 12/23/16)

How Millennial Parents Were Raised The biggest influence in a child’s life is his or her parents. And this includes spiritual influence as well. Whether positive or negative, parents, by their words and actions, heavily weigh in on the trajectory of their child’s spiritual life. A recent Pew Research report states 27% of Millennial parents were raised with a mixed religious household. 24% of parents were raised by at least one parent who was a religious none. 15% were raised by at least one parent who was religious and one who was a none. 6% of were raised by households where both parents were nones. 3% were raised by a single parent who was a none. Only 24% were raised by 2 Protestant parents, 48% of previous generations. (Church Leaders 12/23/16)

Many Poor Single Mothers have a strong interest in instilling faith in their children, reports College of the Holy Cross’ sociologist Susan Crawford Sullivan. Her research and other studies on the religious practices of low-income mothers reveal a renewed commitment to faith with parenthood. Acting on that faith can provide a number of benefits from better behavioral outcomes for children to reduced parental stress for struggling moms. More than 66% of the mothers increased their religious participation after the birth of a child, according to a study of 2,356 families in which mothers of urban children born between ‛98 and ‛00 were interviewed over a 5-year period. They also maintained a higher rate of involvement through the first few years of the child’s life. And the more active faith life appeared to help both mother and child. On average, mothers who attended services weekly reported lower levels of parenting stress and have children who are less likely to get in fights or bully others and have fewer signs of being withdrawn or depressed. In contrast, non-attenders reported being less involved with their children and greater parenting stress. Their children also displayed more problem behaviors. Yet, the great majority of the mothers interviewed attended church less than once a month or not at all because of logistical problems such as transportation or feeling stigmatized or unwelcome. (The ARDA 10/3/10)

Parental Influence Huge According to Pew Research, 62 % of Millennials, who were raised by a single parent who was a none, now identify as nones. 38% who were raised by one parent who was religious and one who was not, now identify as nones. 26% who were raised by one Protestant and one Catholic parent now identify as nones. 20% who were raised by 2 Catholic parents, now identify as a none. 14% who were raised by 2 Protestant parents, now identify as a none. 25% say their spouse does not share their religion. 40% of those raised in households where both parents shared the same religion, say their mother was far more responsible for their religious upbringing than their father. 46% of those raised by parents who had different religions, say their mother was the biggest influence on their faith. 63% of those raised by one parent who was religious and one who was a none, say their mother was mainly responsible for their religious upbringing. (Church Leaders 12/23/16)

Reading Benefits Your Mind According to various scientific studies, reading has measurable health benefits beyond the transient (or infinite) enjoyment you derive from simply reading stories and experiencing characters. In fact, reading benefits your mind and body in so many ways, and the effects are so vast, it might just be the ultimate way to keep your brain and body healthy as you age. Science shows that when we read, our brain’s neural pathways come to life, causing new synapses to be created. This expands the brain’s elasticity, which decreases mental decline by 32% for the elderly and helps people of all ages improve their memory capacity. (BookBaby.com 12/15/16)

Are Millennials Really That Different? The answer is yes, profoundly so, according to Gallup. Millennials will change the world decisively more than any other generation. They will continue to disrupt how the world communicates; how we read and write and relate. Millennials are disrupting retail, hospitality, real estate and housing, transportation, entertainment and travel, and they will soon radically change higher education. They are altering the very social fabric of America and the world. They’re waiting longer to get married and have children, and they’re less likely than other generations to identify with specific religions or political parties. They are changing the very will of the world. Gallup has identified these 6 functional changes: 1. Millennials don’t just work for a paycheck—they want a purpose. 2. They are not pursuing job satisfaction—they are pursuing development. 3. They don’t want bosses—they want coaches. 4. They don’t want annual reviews—they want ongoing conversations. 5. They don’t want to fix their weaknesses—they want to develop their strengths. 6. It’s not just my job—it’s my life. (Gallup 5/11/16)

Gen Zers New Marchex research on the Gen Z generation, the generation coming up behind Millennials, finds they are impatient and want human contact when it comes to dealing with businesses. They place a premium on connecting in real time over the phone. Gen Zers are 2.6x more likely to click-to-call a business from their smartphone. 30% more likely to curse at a business over the phone. 60% more likely to hang up if a call isn’t answered in 45 seconds. (Biz Report 12/22/16)

Americans are Most Thankful for family (61%), health (13%), personal freedom (9%), memories (3%), safety & security (3%), friends (2%), opportunities (2%), achievements (2%), fun experiences (1%) and wealth (1%). (LifeWay Research, The Exchange 12/6/16)

Drug Overdoses Rise More than 50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, the most ever. The disastrous tally has been pushed to new heights by soaring abuse of heroin and prescription painkillers, a class of drugs known as opioids. Heroin deaths rose 23% in one year, to 12,989. Deaths from synthetic opioids, including illicit fentanyl, rose 73% to 9,580. And prescription painkillers took the highest toll, but posted the smallest increase. Abuse of drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin killed 17,536, an increase of 4%. Overall, overdose deaths rose 11% last year, to 52,404. By comparison, the number of people who died in car crashes was 37,757, an increase of 12%. Gun deaths, including homicides and suicides, totaled 36,252, up 7%. (AP 12/1016)

Foreign Born Workers From ‛12–‛15, 19% of all U.S. workers aged 25 to 64 were foreign-born. From ‛12–‛15, 36% of architects and engineers, 30% of scientists and social scientists and 48% of computer and math workers with graduate degrees in the U.S. were foreign-born. (No Recovery | An Analysis of Long-Term U.S. Productivity Decline, Gallup, 2016)

Fast Facts:

  • Just 24% of Millennials say they were raised by two Protestant parents vs. 48% in the Silent and Greatest Generations.
  • 62% of U.S. adults raised solely by Catholic parents continue to identify as Catholics in adulthood.
  • 80% of U.S. adults raised exclusively within Protestantism continue to identify as Protestants today.
  • 90% of the churches on earth are under 200 people. 80% are under 100.
  • 39% of the youth pastors are in their first 3 years of ministry at their church.
  • 21% of all magazines read by Protestant laity are Christian.
  • 20% of all TV watched by Protestant laity is Christian.
  • The U.S. sends 127,000 mission workers abroad every year; about as many as the next 6 top-sending countries combined.
  • 71% of youth pastors develop their curriculum resources in-house.
  • On average, the typical youth ministry includes 12 adult volunteers, 60 teens, and 1.4 paid youth ministry staff.
  • 90% of U.S. churches have fewer than 200 people. 80% have fewer than 100.
  • 10% of Protestant laity is very informed about celebrities vs. 4% of Protestant pastors.
  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults were raised with a mixed religious background.
  • 8 in 10 U.S. adults say they were raised within a single religion.
  • 24% of Millennials say they were raised by at least one parent who was a religious “none” vs. 11% in the Silent and Greatest generations.
  • The richest 8 people in the world have net wealth of $426 billion — equivalent to the combined wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population.
  • 1 in 6 American adults take at least one psychiatric drug, usually an anti-anxiety medication or antidepressant, and most have been doing so for a year or more.
  • Women speak about 20,000 words a day –13,000 more than the average man.
  • The word “cosmetic” comes from the same root as “cosmos” meaning order or adornment.
  • Contrary to popular belief, alcohol lowers the body’s core temperature.
  • The volcanic rock known as pumice is the only rock that can float in water.
  • 1971 was the peak year for literacy among 17-year olds in the U.S.
  • Math scores for whites in the U.S. peaked in ‛92 and have not changed since then.
  • Health insurance as a share of worker compensation increased from 4.5% to 8.1% from ‛80 to ‛15.
  • The share of U.S. young adults who are self-employed was just over 4% in ‛80 and peaked at near 6% by the early‛ 90s. Since then, it has declined to less than 4%.
  • 43% of all marriages are remarriages and 65% of those involve children from a prior marriage.
  • 36% of total U.S. national spending was on healthcare, housing and education in‛15, up from 25% in ‛80.
  • Almost two-thirds of Americans won’t shell out for a large appliance unless it comes in their preferred color.
  • 28% of a typical American family’s income went to rent in ‛14 vs. just 19% in ‛80.
  • Spam will celebrate its 80th birthday July 5, 2017.
  • Natural redheads are more susceptible to pain and need more anesthesia when they go under the knife than do people with other hair colors.
  • 60% of U.S. working women rate work-life balance as very important.
  • The average man spends 3,350 hours in their lifetime shaving.
  • 1 in 5 people in the U.S. live with some type of disability.
  • ‘Typewriter’ is the longest word that can be made using the letters on only one row of the keyboard.
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first major full-length cartoon film.
  • A decibel is one tenth of a Bel, which was named after Alexander Graham Bell.


A Confusing Culture for Teens and Parents by Mark Gregston


Most teenagers would love for their parents to get a taste of how confusing this culture is for them.  They face a difficult world and have to process an amazing amount of information and conflicting values every day.  They are overwhelmed on many levels.

The cultural pressures teens face today are far worse than we faced when we were that age.  Any given day your teen may be exposed to pornography, perversion, immoral lifestyles, and encouraged by peers to participate in self-destructive behaviors.  They live in a raw culture where what is right, healthy, and nurturing is deemed to be all wrong and what is wrong is thought to be all right.

Teens need to fit in, no matter how bizarre this world has become. So the dilemma Christian parents face is how to train their children to maneuver through their culture without allowing it to control them or to either dilute or counter your spiritual beliefs.

The parenting mistake I see most often today is that instead of giving children the opportunity to practice steering their own rudders when they are younger, some parents withdraw them from potentially rough waters.  So when the teen reaches the older teen years, they don’t know how to navigate on their own.  They are quickly overwhelmed and get off course in life.  Did you know, for instance, that over 80% of teens who attended church before age 18, abandon the church and never darken the doorways of a church again when they become an adult?

The second mistake I see among Christian parents is how they react when their teen makes a mistake.  Many parents tend to withdraw themselves, as though making the relationship a tool of punishment.  It shouldn’t be.  Or, they become overly critical and make their teen feel like a failure by continuing to bring up their past mistakes again and again.  In this they fail to realize that their teen is just learning how to live and will not be perfect.  Teens make mistakes and they need lots of grace — and with grace comes forgetting the failures — just as God shows us grace when we make mistakes.

Even when you don’t like what you see, my advice is to stay involved!  Don’t jump ship when the waters get rough.  You need to be there with them as they ride those rapids.

Make it a habit to ask your teen thought-provoking moral questions and allow them time to answer them in their own way.  They may not get it right, but they’ll at least think about it.  Show an interest in things and activities they are interested in, and spend one-on-one time with them every week.  Talk it out and allow reasonable consequences to be their teacher when they make mistakes, not lecturing, condemnation or brow beating.

I would hasten to add — it is important to know your enemy.  You need to understand and respond to the culture and all it’s pitfalls, not ignore it.  Know the fads and the trends today, so you’ll know how to respond appropriately.  Expecting your teen to avoid participation isn’t helping them at all, because they will participate, only they’ll do it behind your back.  So, find ways for your teen to fit into the culture, without compromising your values.  Help your teen know where you draw the line, and why.

Make sure you know what they are reading, saying and showing on their personal web pages or in Facebook or Instagram.  Monitor their Internet use with a good Internet monitoring program and keep an eye on their cell phone call log.  If you are worried that they may be secretly using drugs, you can now find out through a hair follicle drug test, using just few strands of the teen’s hair.

My prayer for you is to see God’s hand amidst these potentially difficult years.  Continue to have hope and know that God has not ignored or turned His back on you or your teen, even if you are struggling through a difficult and confusing time.   Your kids need you to be there for them, to train them, and to be tough with them as they learn to navigate today’s culture, anchored securely in your love and acceptance of them no matter what they do or don’t do in life.