10.30.17

Updated: Are Young People Really Leaving the Church by J. Warner Wallace

coldcasechristianity.com

Much has been written about both the Biblical illiteracy of teenage believers and the flight of young people from the Church. Many have observed this trend, and I too have witnessed it anecdotally as a youth pastor (and shamefully, I contributed to the trend for some time before I changed course). Some writers and Christian observers deny the flight of young people altogether, but the growing statistics should alarm us enough as Church leaders to do something about the dilemma. My hope in this post is to simply consolidate some of the research (many of the summaries are directly quoted) so you can decide for yourself. I’m going to organize the recent findings in a way that illuminates the problem:

Research Related to Spiritual Life of Teenagers:

Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers
Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, Oxford University Press, 2005

Book Findings: The majority of teenagers are incredibly inarticulate about their faith, religious beliefs and practices, and its place in their lives. The de facto dominant religion among contemporary U.S. teenagers is what they call ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’: A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth; God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions; the central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself; God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem; and good people go to heaven when they die.

Book Findings: Dean affirms what Soul Searching called ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’ “If teenagers lack an articulate faith, it may be because the faith we show them is too spineless to merit much in the way of conversation.”

Book Findings: More teens are embracing a nebulous belief in God. Yet there’s been an “explosion” in youth service since 1995 that Lewis attributes to more schools emphasizing community service.

The State of Theology
Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research (2015)

Study Findings: In this survey of theological beliefs, researchers asked self-professing Christians to respond to a series of statements related to classic, historic Christian doctrine. In every answer offered related to these theological beliefs, young people between the ages of 18 and 34 consistently held heretical views at a higher percentage than older respondents. Young people who identify themselves as Christians, are far more likely to hold views that aren’t Christian.

Research Related to the Attitude of College Professors:

Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty
Stanley Rothman, S. Robert Lichter, Neil Nevitte (2005)

Study Findings: “Nearly three-quarters” (72%) of faculty members describe themselves as politically liberal, according to 1999 data from the North American Academic Study Survey (NAASS), up from 39 percent in a 1984 survey by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Study Findings: About 25% of college professors are professing atheists or agnostics (5-7% of the general population is atheistic or agnostic). Only 6% of college professors said the Bible is “the actual word of God”. 51% described it as “an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts.” 75% believe religion does not belong in public schools.

The Religious Beliefs and Behavior of College Faculty
The Institute for Jewish & Community Research Review – Staff (2007)

Study Findings: The study revealed several findings related to the political and religious views of professors, including the following key discoveries:

Most Faculty Believe in God, but Atheism Is Significantly More Prevalent among Faculty Than the General Public
The proportion of faculty who self-identified as atheist is over five times the proportion of people who self-identified as atheist in the general public.

Faculty Are Much Less Religious Than the General Public
The American public is much more likely to say that religion is very important in their everyday lives and to attend religious services more frequently than faculty.

Faculty Feel Warmly about Most Religious Groups, but Feel Coldly about Evangelicals and Mormons
Faculty have positive feelings toward Jews, Buddhists, Catholics, and Atheists.

Faculty Feel Most Unfavorably about Evangelical Christians
This is the only religious group about which a majority of non-Evangelical faculty have negative feelings.

Faculty Are Almost Unanimous in Their Belief That Evangelical Christians (Fundamentalists) Should Keep Their Religious Beliefs Out of American Politics
Faculty who are secular/liberal are more likely to favor separation of religion and government, and those who are religious and conservative are more likely to advocate a closer connection between religion and government.

Although Faculty Generally Oppose Religion in the Public Sphere, Many Endorse the Idea That Muslims Should Express Their Religious Beliefs in American Politics
Faculty are far less likely to endorse Evangelical Christians expressing their beliefs in American politics.”

Compromising Scholarship; Religious and Political Bias in American Higher Education
George Yancey (2011)

Book Findings: “Religiously conservative academics are at a distinct disadvantage in our institutions of learning, threatening the free exchange of ideas to which our institutions aspire and leaving many scientific inquiries unexplored.”

Research Related to the Decreasing Christian Population in General

American Religious Identification Survey
Barry A. Kosmin, Egon Mayer, and Ariela Keysar (2001)

Study Findings: The number of people who identify themselves as Christian has dropped from 85% in 1990 to 76% in 2008. About 52% of American adults identify themselves as Protestant or other non-Catholic Christian denominations, according to the. That’s down from 60% in 1990.

America’s Changing Religious Landscape
Pew Research Center (2015)

Study Findings: “The percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – has jumped more than six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%.”

Gallop Religious Identification Poll
Gallop Daily Tracking, Frank Newport (2015)

Study Findings: While the number of Americans identifying as Christians is still high (75%), it has dropped 5% since 2008

Five Key Findings on Religion in the U.S.
Gallop National Poll (2016)

Study Findings: This national poll about the religious affiliation of Americans revealed the following (among other findings):

1. America remains a largely Christian nation, although less so than in the past. 74% of Americans identify as some form a Christian, only 5% identify as affiliated with a non-Christian religion. when last polled in 2008, 80% of Americans identified themselves as Christian.
2. The trend away from formal religion continues. Approximately 21% of Americans say they are either atheist, agnostic, or have no religious affiliation. This is up 6% since 2008.
3. Americans continue to say that religion is losing its influence in American society. 72% of Americans say that religion is losing its influence on American life.

Research Related to the Flight of Young People from the Church

Why Christian Kids Leave the Faith
Tom Bisset, Discovery House Publishers (1997)

Book Findings: In this very early study, Tom Bisset interviewed people and asked them when, why, and how they abandoned their faith. He identified four prominent reasons:

1. They left because they had troubling, unanswered questions about the faith.
2. They left because their faith was not “working” for them.
3. They left because they allowed other things to take priority.
4. They left because they never personally owned their faith.

Southern Baptist Convention Data
Pinkney, T.C., Remarks to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, Nashville, Tennessee (2001)

Study Findings: Data from the Southern Baptist Convention indicates that they are currently losing 70-88% of their youth after their freshman year in college. 70% of teenagers involved in church youth groups stop attending church within two years of their high school graduation.

“The Religiosity Cycle”
Gallop Poll Study (2002)

Study Findings: The results indicate that teens are more religious during their early teen years, and that religiosity begins to decline as teens near adulthood. When asked, “How important are your religious beliefs?”, 63% of 13- to 15-year-olds answered “very important,” compared to 52% of 16- to 17-year-olds. Church attendance also drops during the teen and young adult years and begins to climb as adults age. Fifty-four percent of teens aged 13 to 15 reported having attended church in the past seven days, as did 51% of 16- to 17-year-old teens. The figure drops to 32% among 18- to 29- year-olds but rises again to 44% among 50- to 64-year-olds and 60% among those aged 75 and older. 69% percent of 13- to 15-year-olds report being members of a church or synagogue, compared to 59% of 16- to 17-year-olds, 60% of 18- to 29-year-olds, 72% of 50- to 64-year-olds, and 80% of those aged 75 and older.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Family Life Council
Southern Baptist Council on Family Life report to Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (2002)

Study Findings:  88% of the children in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18

Revolution
George Barna, Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, IL (2005)

Book Findings: If current trends in the belief systems and practices of the younger generation continue, in ten years, church attendance will be half the size it is today.

Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers
Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, Oxford University Press (2005)

Book Findings: Students leave faith behind primarily because of intellectual doubt and skepticism (page 89). “Why did they fall away from the faith in which they were raised?” This was an open-ended question there were no multiple-choice answers. 32% said they left faith behind because of intellectual skepticism or doubt. (“It didn’t make any sense anymore.” “Some stuff is too far-fetched for me to believe.” “I think scientifically and there is no real proof.” “Too many questions that can’t be answered.”)

Study Findings: A majority of twenty-somethings – 61% of today’s young adults – had been churched at one point during their teen years but they are now spiritually disengaged.

The Last Christian Generation
Josh McDowell,  David H. Bellis, Green Key Books (2006)

Book Findings: 63% of teenaged Christians don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of the one true God. 51% don’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead. 68% don’t believe that the Holy Spirit is a real entity. Only 33% of churched youth have said that the church will play a part in their lives when they leave home.

Assemblies of God Study
Dayton A. Kingsriter (2007)

Study Findings: At least half and possibly over two-thirds of Christian young people will step away from the Christian faith while attending a non-Christian college or university. Between 50% and 66.7% of Assemblies of God young 
people who attend a non-Christian public or private university will have left the faith 
four years after entering college.

LifeWay Research Study
LifeWay Research and Ministry Development (2007)

Study Findings: 70% will leave the faith in college. Only 35% eventually return. 7 in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30 – both evangelical and mainline – who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23. 34% of those said they had not returned, even sporadically, by age 30. That means about one in four Protestant young people have left the church. “The most frequent reason for leaving church is, in fact, a self-imposed change, ‘I simply wanted a break from church’ (27%).” “The path toward college and the workforce are also strong reasons for young people to leave church: ‘I moved to college and stopped attending church’ (25%) and ‘work responsibilities prevented me from attending’ (23%).”

Unchristian
Barna Research Group director David Kinnaman, Baker Books; (2007)

Book Findings: Christians in their 20s are “significantly less likely to believe a person’s faith in God is meant to be developed by involvement in a local church. This life stage of spiritual disengagement is not going to fade away.”

Rethink: Is Student Ministry Working?
Steve Wright, InQuest Ministries, Inc. (2007)

Book Findings: 63% don’t believe Jesus is the Son of the one true God. 58% believe all faiths teach equally valid truths. 51% don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead. 65% don’t believe Satan is a real entity. 68% don’t believe the Holy Spirit is a real entity

Religious and Political Self-Identification, 1990-2008
Barry A. Kosmin & Juhem Navarro-Rivera (2008)

Study Findings: This research, based on the American Religious Identification Survey 2008, addresses the religious beliefs and behaviors of those born from the early to mid-1960s to the late 1970s to early 1980s:

1. Generation X has weakened its ties to Christianity (85% in 1990 v. 75% in 2008)
2. Generation X has secularized over time. In 1990 11% were Nones compared to16% in 2008; 13% of Generation X did not identify with a religion (including Don’t Know and refusals) in 1990, compared to 21% in 2008
3. Generation X Christian groups became more female dominated over time (with the exception of the Protestant Sects) while the Nones and Other Religions became more male dominated.

Book Findings: Among American adults, emerging adults are significantly less religious.
Generally speaking, the importance and practice of religion declines among young adults. No more than 15% of the total emerging adult population, embrace a strong religious faith. 30% tend to customize their faith to fit the rest of their lives. They often have strong religious upbringing but tend to be more discriminating about what they will adopt. A smaller group, about 15%, believe in some higher power but are not sure what that is or means. About 25% of the emerging adult population may claim to be religious or even appreciate religion—but it simply does not matter. 5% of all emerging adults have had little to no exposure to religious people, ideas, or organizations. 10% of emerging adults are  skeptical of religion and reject the idea of personal faith. They tend to hold critical, derogatory, and antagonistic attitudes towards religion.

Book Findings: 90% of youth active in high school church programs drop out of church by the time they are sophomores on college.

Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it
Ken Ham, Britt Beemer, with Todd Hillard, New Leaf Publishing Group/Master Books (2009)

Book Findings: Church youth already are “lost” in their hearts and minds in elementary, middle and high school – not in college as many assume.

Book Findings: “Unless religious leaders take younger adults more seriously, the future of American religion is in doubt.” The proportion of young adults identifying with mainline churches, is “about half the size it was a generation ago. Evangelical Protestants have barely held their own.”

“Spirituality in Higher Education”: The Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA
Alexander W. Astin, Helen S. Astin, and Jennifer A. Lindholm (2010)

Study Findings: 52% of college students reported frequent church attendance the year before they entered college but only 29% continued frequent church attendance by their junior year.

College Transition Project
The Fuller Youth Institute (2010)

Study Findings: Current data seems “to suggest that about 40-50% of students in youth groups struggle in their faith after graduation.”

Book Findings: The departure of young people from the Church is acknowledged and several categories of “leavers” are identified, including “Post Modern Leavers”, “Recoilers”, “Modern Leavers”, “Neo Pagans”, “Rebels” and “Drifters.

You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith
David Kinnaman, Baker Books (2011)

Book Findings: Nearly three out of every five young Christians disconnect from their churches after the age of 15.

Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood
Christian Smith with Kari Christoffersen, Hilary Davidson and Patricia Snell Herzog, Oxford University Press (2011)

Book Findings: Young adults are unable to think coherently about moral beliefs and problems. Young adults have an excessive focus on consumption and materialism as the good life. The prevalent lifestyle of young adults includes routine intoxication and drug usage. The sexual encounters of young adults are not practiced in an environment of physical, mental, or emotional health. Young adults appear to have an inability to care about, invest in, and hope for the larger world through civic and political participation.

Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity
Larry Taunton, Fixed Point Foundation (2013)

Study Findings: Taunton interviewed members of atheist college groups (the Secular Student Alliance and Freethought Societies). “These college groups are the atheist equivalents to Campus Crusade: They meet regularly for fellowship, encourage one another in their (un)belief, and even proselytize. They are people who are not merely irreligious; they are actively, determinedly irreligious.” Taunton eventually recognized an emerging pattern in those he interviewed, and he identified several characteristics of young “determinedly irreligious” college students:

1. They had attended church at one time
2. The mission and message of their churches was vague
3. They felt their churches offered superficial answers to life’s difficult questions
4. They expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously
5. Ages 14-17 were decisive
6. The decision to embrace unbelief was often an emotional one
7. The internet factored heavily into their conversion to atheism

Churchless: Understanding Today’s Unchurched and How to Connect With Them
George Barna and David Kinnaman, Tyndale Momentum (2014)

Book Findings: Barna Group conducted tens of thousands of interviews with unchurched people and discovered the following:

1. The number of churchless Americans has jumped by nearly one-third in just 20 years
2. If unchurched Americans were their own nation, they’d be the eighth largest on Earth
3. The younger you are, the more likely you are to never have been to church
4. The younger the generation, the more post-Christian it is

America’s Changing Religious Landscape
Pew Research Center (2015)

Study Findings: “While many U.S. religious groups are aging, the unaffiliated are comparatively young – and getting younger, on average, over time… One of the most important factors in the declining share of Christians and the growth of the “nones” is generational replacement. As the Millennial generation enters adulthood, its members display much lower levels of religious affiliation, including less connection with Christian churches, than older generations. Fully 36% of young Millennials (those between the ages of 18 and 24) are religiously unaffiliated, as are 34% of older Millennials (ages 25-33)… As a rising cohort of highly unaffiliated Millennials reaches adulthood, the median age of unaffiliated adults has dropped to 36, down from 38 in 2007 and far lower than the general (adult) population’s median age of 46.4 By contrast, the median age of mainline Protestant adults in the new survey is 52 (up from 50 in 2007), and the median age of Catholic adults is 49 (up from 45 seven years earlier).”

Choosing a New Church or House of Worship
Pew Research Center (2015)

Study Findings: In this seemingly unrelated study, researchers surveyed religious “nones” (78%) who said they were raised as a member of a particular religion before shedding their religious identity in adulthood, and asked them to explain, in their own words, whythey no longer identified with a religious group. They discovered the following themes:

About 50% said a “lack of belief led them to move away from religion. This includes many respondents who mention ‘science’ as the reason they do not believe in religious teachings, including one who said ‘I’m a scientist now, and I don’t believe in miracles.’ Others reference ‘common sense,’ ‘logic’ or a ‘lack of evidence’ – or simply say they do not believe in God.”

About 20% said they were in “opposition to organized religion in general. This share includes some who do not like the hierarchical nature of religious groups, several people who think religion is too much like a business and others who mention clergy sexual abuse scandals as reasons for their stance.”

About 18% said they were “religiously unsure. This include(d) people who (said) they (were) religious in some way despite being unaffiliated (e.g., ‘I believe in God, but in my own way’), others who describe(d) themselves as ‘seeking enlightenment’ or ‘open-minded,’ and several who (said) they are ‘spiritual’ if not religious.”

About 10% said they “may hold certain religious beliefs, but they (were) not currently taking part in religious practices. And most of them simply (said) they (didn’t) go to church or engage in other religious rituals, while others (said) they (were) too busy for religion.”

Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion—and Why They’re Unlikely to Come Back
Betsy Cooper, Ph.D., Daniel Cox, Ph.D., Rachel Lienesch, Robert P. Jones, Ph.D., Public Religious Research Institute (2016)

Study Findings: “Today, nearly four in ten (39%) young adults (ages 18-29) are religiously unaffiliated—three times the unaffiliated rate (13%) among seniors (ages 65 and older). While previous generations were also more likely to be religiously unaffiliated in their twenties, young adults today are nearly four times as likely as young adults a generation ago to identify as religiously unaffiliated. In 1986, for example, only 10% of young adults claimed no religious affiliation. Among young adults, the religiously unaffiliated dwarf the percentages of other religious identifications: Catholic (15%), white evangelical Protestant (9%), white mainline Protestant (8%), black Protestant (7%), other non-white Protestants (11%), and affiliation with a non-Christian religion (7%).”

“In the 1970s, only about one-third (34%) of Americans who were raised in religiously unaffiliated households were still unaffiliated as adults. By the 1990s, slightly more than half (53%) of Americans who were unaffiliated in childhood retained their religious identity in adulthood. Today, about two-thirds (66%) of Americans who report being raised outside a formal religious tradition remain unaffiliated as adults.”

More importantly, the study found that most Americans who leave their childhood religion do so before reaching adulthood. 79% percent of young adults age 18 to 29 who become religiously unaffiliated report making this decision during their adolescent and teen years. In years prior, those who abandon religious belief reported doing so much later. Only 38% of people over the age of 65, for example, reported leaving their religion during their childhood years.

CARA National Study
Mark M. Gray, Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (2016)

Study Findings: (While CARA only surveys young Catholic believers, their results parallel the findings of Christian surveys as reported in this article). “The first CARA study, commissioned by Saint Mary’s Press, involved a survey with a random, national sample of young people, ages 15 to 25, who had been raised Catholic but no longer self-identified as such. The second CARA study, made possible through funding from the John Templeton Foundation, involved a survey of a random sample of self-identified Catholics, ages 18 and older, and focused on matters of religion and science.” Most young people said they left the Church by the age of 13: 63 percent said they left between the ages of 10 and 17. 23 percent say they left before the age of 10. Those who left cited the following reasons:

“Because I grew up realized it was a story like Santa or the Easter Bunny.”

“As I learn more about the world around me and understand things that I once did not, I find that the thought of an all-powerful being to be less and less believable.”

“Catholic beliefs aren’t based on fact. Everything is hearsay from back before anything could be documented, so nothing can be disproved, but it certainly shouldn’t be taken seriously.”

“I realized that religion is in complete contradiction with the rational and scientific world, and to continue to subscribe to a religion would be hypocritical.”

“Need proof of something.”

“It no longer fits into what I understand of the universe.”

NextGen Research
Larry Barnett, Next Generation Project (2016)

Study Findings: The NextGen research revealed the following key points:

1. Christianity’s decline in the U.S. spans every population segment – young and old, male and female, within every race, at all income and educational levels, and in every geographic region.
2. The presence or absence of doubt was found to be the single best predictor of Christian affiliation and spiritual health, compared to several hundred other factors.
3. Adults (and teens) who are younger, highly educated, knowledgeable, high-achieving, technologically engaged individuals who may have religiously diverse friends are the most likely to leave the faith.

CIRP Freshman Survey
The Cooperative Institutional Research Program (2017)

Study Findings: The CIRP Freshmen Survey of first-time students at 184 U.S. colleges and universities collects data on incoming college students’ background characteristics, high school experiences, attitudes, behaviors, and expectations for college. This survey revealed the following key points:

31 percent of incoming freshmen are religiously unaffiliated, a threefold increase since 1986, when just 10 percent identified this way. Because the survey is administered to students before they arrive on campus, the decline of religious identity noted in these cross-sectional studies cannot be attributed to college experience. Religious attendance is also falling precipitously among incoming students.

While this survey of books and studies is less than complete, it does provide us with powerful cumulative, circumstantial evidence supporting the claim that young people are leaving the Church in large numbers. More importantly, it appears that most of these young people are leaving prior to their experiences in college. But, while universities may not be the chief cause of the youth exodus, they certainly play a role in affirming and strengthening a secular worldview in the minds of young people who have already left the faith. Some studies have attempted to isolate potential responses that can be employed by parents and Church leaders:

Research Related to Potential Responses to the Flight of Young People from the Church

Book Findings: There appears to be no shortage of teenagers who want to be inspired and make the world better. But the version of Christianity some are taught doesn’t inspire them “to change anything that’s broken in the world.” Teens want to be challenged; they want their tough questions taken on. “We think that they want cake, but they actually want steak and potatoes, and we keep giving them cake,” Churches, not just parents, share some of the blame for teens’ religious apathy. “…The gospel of niceness can’t teach teens how to confront tragedy. It can’t bear the weight of deeper questions: Why are my parents getting a divorce? Why did my best friend commit suicide? Why, in this economy, can’t I get the good job I was promised if I was a good kid?”

Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults
Christian Smith, Patricia Snell, Oxford University Press (2009)

Book Findings: Parents are the most crucial and powerful socializers in the lives of their adolescents. The adolescent years are not the time to disengage as a parent. Growing adolescent independence often necessitates negotiation. If adolescents experience parents who are religiously withdrawn and functionally absent, then the faith of an emerging adult likely will also be vacuous, directionless, and empty. The more adults involved in the lives of adolescents, the better off they will be. This will mean that ministries to youth and families must find ways to incorporate loving, agenda-free adults into the lives of the ministry. Ministries to youth matter now more than ever. With the breakdown of the family and the systemic erosion of adult support, congregational youth ministers are more necessary than ever before.

Book Findings: Parents of students who did not leave the church emphasized religion twice as much as those who students who left the church. Students who stayed in church through college said that the first thing they do when they have doubts or questions was to talk to their parents and then read their Bibles.

Book Findings: Nearly 25% of the 18- to 29-year-olds interviewed said “Christians demonize everything outside of the church” most of the time. 22% also said the church ignores real-world problems and 18% said that their church was too concerned about the negative impact of movies, music and video games. 33% of survey participants felt that “church is boring.” 20% of those who attended as a teenager said that God appeared to be missing from their experience of church. Many young adults do not like the way churches appear to be against science. Over 33% of young adults said that “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” and 25% of them said that “Christianity is anti-science.” 17% percent of young Christians say they’ve “made mistakes and feel judged in church because of them.” Two out of five young adult Catholics said that the church’s teachings on birth control and sex are “out of date.” 29% of young Christians said “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths” and feel they have to choose between their friends and their faith. Over 33% of young adults said they feel like they can’t ask life’s most pressing questions in church and 23% said they had “significant intellectual doubts” about their faith.

Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations
Vern L. Bengtson. Norella M. Putney, Susan Harris, Oxford University Press (2013)

Book Findings: Several key findings were discovered in this 35-year study of families, focusing on the question of how religion is passed across generations:

1. Parents continue to be the single greatest influence on their children’s faith.
2. When a child sees and hears that faith actually makes a difference in Mom and Dad’s lives, they’re much more likely to follow suit.
3. Young adults are more likely to share their parents’ religious beliefs and participation if they feel that they have a close relationship with those parents.
4. Young Christians who leave the faith are far more likely to return when parents have been patient and supportive – and perhaps more tolerant and open than they had been before the prodigal’s departure.

5 Reasons Millennials Stay Connected to Church
Barna Study (2013)

Study Findings: This research included a series of national public opinion surveys conducted by Barna Group to find the most effective ways to keep millennials connected to the church. The listed the following strategies:

1. Develop meaningful relationships with millennials
2. Teach millennials to study and discern what’s happening in the culture
3. Help millennials discover their own mission in the world, rather than ask them to wait their turn
4. Teach millennials a more potent theology of vocation, or calling.
5. Help millennials develop a lasting faith by facilitating a deeper sense of intimacy with God

There you have it; a short summary of some of the research being done on the exodus of young people from the Church and some of the reasons they give for their departure. Can a case be made that young Christians are leaving the Church in record numbers? Yes. Can a case be made that many of these young people are leaving because the culture around them has impacted them deeply and caused them to question the truth claims of Christianity? Yes, again. So, what are we going to do about it? What can be done? Visit our Youth section to get a few ideas.

10.16.17

Hi! I am praying for you right now! Monica, Nancy, Michael and I are headed to LA today and would love your prayers!
Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
WWJP: “What would Jesus Post?” (Bracelets coming soon) #johnston (Haha!)
Your praise is contagious – So is your complaint. What are you carrying today? #furtick
God isn’t nearly as concerned about what we’re doing for Christ as He is committed to forming Christ inside us. #voskamp
“If your life does not worship God, your lips do not worship God either.” #Tozer
 
 
FYI:
 
 
 
 
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
The Scary Truth About What is Hurting Our Children by Becky Mansfield (Blog post but some good data.)
Genius Ways Companies get Kid to Do Their Marketing for Them by Caroline Moore (Interesting!)
3 Vital Tips for Leading Discussion in Small Groups by Trey Gilmore (You know this but still good!)
What the Future of Leadership Looks Like by Tim Elmore

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

http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/70470/the-one-who-died-for-all?utm_source=WorshipHouse%20Media%20–%20Around%20the%20House%20(CD%20Update)&utm_medium=email&utm_content=spot1-2249484&utm_campaign=nl-10/11/2017-2249484
(I’m playing this at training! Zo and Jon… start learning your moves!!
 
 
Here are 2 just for you:
 

Alarm Bells for Leaders

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”  (Galatians 6:7-10)

We can’t pull a fast one on God. He sees all and cannot be deceived. He notices our shortcuts and also our efforts when we do well. To ensure that we live by this truth, seek others to hold you accountable and act as your “alarm bells.” Invite others to ask you tough questions, such as the following:

  • Is my personal walk with God up-to-date?
  • Am I keeping my priorities straight?
  • Am I asking myself the hard questions?
  • Am I accountable to someone in authority?
  • Am I sensitive to what God is saying to the whole body of Christ?
  • Am I over-concerned with building my image?
  • Do I put more stock in “events” rather than “process”?
  • Am I a loner in my leadership and personal life?
  • Am I aware and honest about my weaknesses?
  • Is my calling constantly before me?
Learning to Lead Like Jesus
 
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. Luke 2:52
Learning to lead like Jesus is a lifetime journey that begins with humility. “Better to say I am learning, than to say, I have learned,” wise and humble words indeed from Dr. Charles Stanley spoken to me and several staff members at First Baptist of Atlanta in the late 1980’s. As a young pastor, this seasoned leader helped me understand to first follow the Lord Jesus by continuing to learn and grow. For example, don’t say “I’ve learned to be a patient leader”, rather, “I’m learning to be a patient leader”. This reminded me to be a humble, teachable and ever-growing leader who is desperately in need of God’s grace to carry out my responsibilities.
Learning to lead like Jesus is for leaders who desperately need the Holy Spirit’s direction, the Father’s wisdom and the Son’s encouragement. Leaders who are learning to first follow Jesus, learn well. Learning to lead is a lifelong education. We never graduate from Christ leadership school, but we do advance as we become wiser students through our own struggles, failures and successes.
“Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister, and call understanding your kinsman” (Proverbs 7:4).
Wise leaders are learners, but if they stop learning they cease to lead wisely. Leaders who learn ask the right questions, get the most accurate answers, and are able to make the wisest decisions. “How can I get out of the way as the leader, and support the team to be successful?” “How can our organization go from good to great by integrating and sustaining best practices?” The Lord can’t wait to pour out wisdom on earnest and humble hearts seeking to gain what only He gives.
James, the brother—who experienced first hand Jesus’ wise words and actions— defined wisdom in this way: “But the wisdom from above is first pure [morally and spiritually undefiled], then peace-loving [courteous, considerate], gentle, reasonable [and willing to listen], full of compassion and good fruits. It is unwavering, without [self-righteous] hypocrisy [and self-serving guile” (James 3:17, Amplified Bible).
Before Steve Jobs died, wouldn’t it have been wonderfully insightful and inspiring to ask him about the pinnacle of his creation: the Apple iPhone? Seriously, if we wanted understanding into the motivation for and the purpose of his world-changing invention, Steve would be the logical starting point. What was he thinking? What motivated his perfectionism? What was his vision?
In the same way, why not first seek wisdom from the Lord of creation whose majestic exclamation point was humanity—you and me? Doesn’t it make sense to learn how to think from the Divine who molded our mind? Understand how to care for our bodies from the One who perfectly meshed billions of unique cells into a living being? Or engage the heart of God to feel and express the emotions He embedded into our heart, soul and spirit? Wisdom from our Maker makes us more like Him and less like foolish inferior idols. We learn to lead like Jesus by looking to Jesus!
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me wisdom to learn to lead like Your son, in Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Application: What specific area of my leadership needs to grow more into the likeness of Jesus?
Blessings, Kendall

10.09.17

Hi! I am praying for you right now! 
 
Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
We can only hope for what we desire. #cslewis
 
Your view about how the world will end affects how you live today. #furtick
 
The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances. #Elliot
 
If you are not entertaining God’s truth, you will be entertaining Satan’s lies. You do not have the option of a neutral mind. #Willard
 
 
FYI:
1. Videos that are free to download… https://thebibleproject.com (Thank you, Annie!)
 
 
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
What Do You Do When Your Self-Worth is Challenged? by Alex McElroy (Interesting thoughts on helping students with self esteem.)
Greater Leadership in Children’s Ministry by Dale Hudson
Biggest Changes Generation Z Brings to the Adult World by Tim Elmore
Every Kid is One Caring Adult Away From Being a Success Story by Josh Shipp
 

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

A new youtube site with some great videos… https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmO1sDtd5024JJ7rBY7nWMg
Check out two of them…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBJFiMPTzM4
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtoevOdB7m0
 
 
Here are 2 just for you:
 
Growing a Greater Faith 

For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Luke 7:8-9

To the degree, I submit to authority is the extent to which my faith grows. For example, I may not agree with or even like the decision-making process at work, but I can still trust those who have authority over me. Trust is the highest form of relational health, with it I am able to gladly follow my superior’s lead, without it I struggle to stay loyal. Most of all, I can trust the Lord’s authority and by grace remain submitted to Him and His will with a spirit of humble, grateful faith. Pride bows up against being told what to do, but humility willingly submits, trusts and obeys. 

Remarkably, a Roman soldier who commanded 100 men found great favor in the eyes of the Lord. A non-Jewish protector of the people, with the full support of the Jewish elders– in the past this military leader leveraged his influence, resources, and man-power to construct the local synagogue. In today’s terms, the centurion helped build the local church, though he did not attend church. This man’s goodwill was not forgotten when his most valuable servant fell deathly ill. Motivated by gratitude, the religious leaders and friends asked Jesus to heal him. 

Jesus did. Why? Because of the great faith of the humble leader, “Say the word,” knowing a word from Christ can heal. This military man was familiar with giving commands and being under command. Since the centurion trusted and followed the authorities over him, so his subordinates had faith in his leadership. Jesus compliments the Roman leader’s faith and character as a model of what being under God’s sovereign power looks like. Great faith is the result of humble submission to authority with the fruit of obedience, gratitude, and generosity.

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority” (1 Peter 2:13).

Have you totally surrendered your life to the authority of Almighty God? The truth of His Word trumps other contemporary opinions. One indicator of submission to the Lord is submission to the authorities He has over your life: government, church, a work supervisor or your spouse. Even when you experience an unfair authority, you are called to carry yourself with the spirit of Christ. Your faith grows to the degree you trust that the Holy Spirit is at work–knowing your part is to remain faithful, especially in the small things. Humble submission grows great faith.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16:10).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, grow my faith to trust Your authority and the authorities You have placed over my life, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Application: To what authority do I need to totally surrender, trusting the Holy Spirit is at work?

 
Attitude Adjustment

For seven days they celebrated with joy the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because the Lord had filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria, so that he assisted them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel.   Ezra 6:22

 

Attitude is everything; it can lift you up or bring you down. It is a barometer of your heart. If your heart is not right, your attitude will suffer. Attitude is critical because it influences your course of action. If your attitude is negative, your words and behavior will be too. There is a difference in being a realist about negative circumstances, and living with a chronic bad attitude. Naïve are those who ignore warning signs of trouble, and carry on oblivious to the storm clouds of sin.

However, your attitude is rooted in who you are in Christ, so there is no need to be fearful, guilty, or insecure. The attitude that Jesus exhibited was one of humility and servant leadership. His attitude reflected submission to His heavenly Father, which resulted in service, generosity, and love for people. Jesus was joyful and hopeful, because He rested in the will of God. Do not allow another’s bad attitude to influence yours. Be the attitude influencer instead. Greet a frown with a smile, crush criticism with affirmation, and listen patiently until fury loses its steam. A positive attitude will eventually outlast and overpower a negative one. Most of all, pray for those who thrive on negativity. Pray for them to be set free from their hurt, anger, guilt, and insecurity. God has you in their lives to reflect the Almighty and to encourage an attitude adjustment through Him.

God is the genesis of a right attitude, and He is the right attitude sustainer. He wants His attitude to be our attitude. This is why you need a daily attitude alignment from your heavenly Father. Each day, your attitude gets knocked around and abused by life. If left unattended, your attitude will drift into wrong thinking, harsh words, and bad behavior. Self-pity and anger can begin to replace selflessness and forgiveness. With just a little bit of daily tweaking, your attitude stays in line with His. It is subtle, but sometimes attitudes need to be adjusted moment by moment.

Lastly, slow down and pray when you feel your attitude eroding. When you’re in the midst of a bad attitude, don’t make important decisions; the time isn’t right for that. You will regret every decision you make during a time of emotional upheaval. Be patient, and wait until your anger has subsided, your heart is cleansed, and your attitude is objective. Almighty God is into attitudes that trust Him and reach out to others with compassion and understanding. Open-minded and reasonable attitudes lead to rich and robust relationships. Anyone can be negative; so don’t be anyone, be different. Allow God to shape your attitude on the anvil of His heart.

An attitude molded by God is infectious and transforming. Allow Him to change yours, and then trust Him to change another’s. The Bible says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5).

Post/Tweet today: Attitude is everything; it can lift us up or bring us down. It is a barometer of our heart. #wisdomhunters

Blessings, Kendall

10.09.17

Greater Leadership in Children’s Ministry by Dale Hudson

relevantchildrensministry.com

We live in a challenging day, don’t we?  We’ve been called to reach Generation Z.  They are the largest generation on the planet.  74 million in the U.S.  2 billion in the world.  9,000 babies are born and join Generation Z each day.

They have an attention span of 8 seconds.  They are digital natives and interact with up to 5 screens a  day.  The average age they are exposed to pornography online is 11-years-old.  Terrorism is a way of life, they are growing up walking through metal detectors at their schools, large event venues, airports and more.

Gen Z’s parents are struggling as well.  Over 2 million of Millennial parents are addicted to drugs (either prescription or illegal).  Much of this is driven by an opioid epidemic.  Babies born to a parent taking opioids has increased by 300% in the last 10 years.

If we are going to reach today’s kids and families, then it can’t be business as usual!  It will take greater impact and influence.  How can we have greater influence?  How can we make a greater difference in people’s lives?  It will take greater leadership.  The saying is true, isn’t’ it – everything rises and falls on leadership.

Greater impact is made possible by greater leadership.

This is certainly not the first time a group of disciples like us have been called upon to have greater leadership.  Think back with me to the early disciples.  They had the challenge of taking the Gospel to the world.  And it was a world that was hostile and totally unfamiliar with the Gospel since it would just be unfolding.

Jesus knew it would take greater leadership for the disciples to effectively impact the world with the Gospel and so He began preparing them.  You see many incidents in Scripture where He taught them what greater leadership looked like.

One of those times is found in John 15.  Throughout this chapter, He explains greater leadership to the disciples.  And the entire chapter can be encapsulated in verse 13.  Here’s what it says.

There is no GREATER love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

In this verse, we see the 4 elements of greater leadership.  Ultimate leadership.  The best kind of leadership.  Leadership that is a game changer.  Let’s examine it.

1. Greater leadership loves people.  

Notice again what He says. 

There is no greater LOVE than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

The foundation for greater leadership is love.  It reflects the heart of God for people.  If you want to have greatest leadership, then…

Ask God to renew your love for the kids and families in your community.

Ask God to give you a fresh love for the volunteers and people you serve with.

Ask God to fill your heart with love for those who are far from God in your neighborhood.

Ask God to break your heart for the broken families in your city.

Ask God to give you unconditional love for the child who seems unlovable, uncontrollable and uncooperative.

When people know you truly love them, it opens their heart to your leadership and influence in their life.

2. Greater leadership serves others. 

Look at the verse again.

There is no greater love than to LAY DOWNone’s life for one’s friends.

We have been told that leadership is about taking charge…climbing the ladder…having power…exercising authority…advancing no matter who you have to go over to get there…getting the office with a window view…being known as powerful…taking….getting.

The disciples had seen the same thing modeled.  The Roman government ruled by fear, power, punishment, strength of the army and force.  The religious leaders of the day lived in a class above the ordinary person and lead by rules, regulations, pomp and circumstance.

But then Jesus came and taught them about a greater kind of leadership.  Look what He says in the verse above.  He tells them greater leadership is not about getting, but about giving.  It’s not about taking, it’s about laying down.

He not only taught this greater kind of leadership, He modeled it.  In Matthew 20, the disciples were arguing about who would have the greatest authority…the greatest title in the kingdom that Jesus would establish.  Again, they were reflecting the leadership they had grown up with.  Leadership that is established by power and force and position.

Jesus tells them this.

You know how the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.  But among you it will be different.

Here it is. He’s about to tell them about a different kind of leadership.  A greater leadership.

But among you it will be different.  Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.

Whereas the world says leadership is about how many people serve you, Jesus says greater leadership is flipped.  Greater leadership is about how many people you serve.

He then models this by washing the disciples feet.  While they were busy arguing about who would have the best title, Jesus took a towel and water, got down and washed their feet.  In that culture, only the lowest servants washed people’s feet.  It was the lowest job, the lowest position in the kingdom.  When there were no servants present to do this “demeaning” task, the disciples weren’t about to wash anyone’s feet.  So Jesus used the opportunity to show them what great leadership looks like as He washed their feet.

Greater leadership is servant leadership.  It’s an oxymoron, isn’t it?  Servant and leadership.  But that’s the beauty of greater leadership.  Before you can become a great leader, you must first become a great servant.

Greater leadership is about replacing your “ego” with “we go” as you invest in others.  It’s not about being powerful, it’s about empowering others.

Good leaders are starts.  Great leaders create stars.

Average leadership ponders its rights.  Greater leadership ponders its responsibilities.

3. Greater leadership depends on God. 

The third component of greater leadership is found in the next part of the verse.  Look what it says.

There is no greater love than to lay down ONE’S LIFE for one’s friends.

In this chapter, Jesus shows them that the life is found in the vine.  As life flows from the vine into the branches, fruit comes forth.  He reminds them that without the vine, the branches can do nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  Nothing is going to happen without the vine.

Greater leadership acknowledges that without God nothing of eternal value will happen.

That’s good news for leaders.  You see, greater leadership is not based on how talented you are, how charismatic you are, how big your budget is or how nice your facilities are.  It’s about the power of God working through you.

Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 2:

When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.

Greater leadership is not about walking in your own confidence.  It’s about walking in Godfidence.

4. Greater leadership builds friendships.

Notice what Jesus calls the disciples in the last part of the verse.

 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s FRIENDS. 

Jesus shared with them that greater leadership leads through relationship.  The word He used for this is “friends.”  The word “friends” carried a special connotation.  It was a reference to kings who would have a group of special friends that he brought close to him.  This group of friends would be the king’s trusted inner circle.  He would ask their advice before anyone asking anyone else.  They had access to the king 24/7.

You’ve heard the statement “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”  That’s what greater leadership is all about.  It’s earning people’s trust and respect over time through relationship.

Jesus also tells them that He is not going to call them “servants.”  Rather they will be His friends.  When someone leads servants, the people serve because they have to.  They don’t have a choice.  They are made to serve.

But greater leadership leads through friendship.  When you lead through friendship, people follow you because they want to.  You lead through motivation instead of mandating.

Greater leadership invests in people.  Greater leadership is there for people in their time of need.  Greater leadership goes on a journey with people.  Greater leadership is not about what you want from people, it’s about what you want for people.

If you want to see people serve with you for the long haul, then focus on relationship.  The amount of time people spend serving with you will be in direct correlation to the depth of the relationships you build with them.

Greater leadership loves people – ask God to renew your love for people.

Greater leadership serves others – ask God to give you the heart and attitude of a servant. 

Greater leadership depends on God – before you serve, fall on your face before God and ask Him to fill you with His power and anointing.  Acknowledge that without Him you can do nothing. 

Greater leadership builds friendships – invest deeply in the people God has called you to serve with. 

Do these things and you’ll make a greater impact.  You’ll provide greater leadership for the kids and families God has called you to serve.  

Do these things and God can use your leadership to turn the world upside down. 

10.02.17

Hi! Happy October!! OCTOBER????? Haha! I am praying for you right now! 
 
Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
Our job is to prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child. #elmore
When you feel stretched, it’s a setup for God’s strength. #furtick
Don’t worry about finding your purpose. If you are seeking after God, your purpose will find you. #evans
Being odd for the sake of Jesus is the highest of callings. It’s living an odd life marked by love, forgiveness, compassion, kindness, humility and self-sacrifice. #fields
 
 
FYI:
1. 10 Things to Say When Your Child Says They Don’t Believe in God Anymore…
http://christianmomthoughts.com/10-things-to-say-when-your-child-says-they-dont-believe-in-god-anymore/#more-8114
 
2. Teen Trouble… https://www.heartlightministries.org/2017/09/teen-trouble-take-quiz/?utm_source=CC+Master+List&utm_campaign=70d98c1e72-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_07_05&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5926458580-70d98c1e72-126726953
3. 12 Prayers for when you are anxious by Max Lucado
 
 
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
4 Passionate Desires of a Good Leader’s Heart by Brandon Cox
Today’s Kids Are Not Yesterday’s Kids by Dale Hudson (Find your age group!! Memory lane!)
Seven Terms That Summarize Generation Z’s Mindset by Tim Elmore
Apps Stirring Up Trouble in Schools by Caroline Knorr (Yikes!)
 

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

http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/26201/when-storms-come?utm_source=WorshipHouse%20Media%20–%20Around%20the%20House%20(CD%20Update)&utm_medium=email&utm_content=when_storms_come-2214110&utm_campaign=fp-08/31/2017-2214110
http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/69368/today-we-celebrate?utm_source=Christian%20Song%20Tracks%20(Final)&utm_medium=email&utm_content=today_celebrate-2215209&utm_campaign=fp-09/02/2017-2215209
 
 
Here are 2 just for you:

Great Leaders Live By Strong Convictions by Rick Warren

The real foundation of great leadership is character, not charisma. And one aspect of a leader’s character is the convictions to which he is deeply committed. Great leaders have strongly held beliefs. An opinion is something you’d argue about; a conviction is something you’d die for. Pastors, especially, must define the convictions for which they will endure every kind of hardship, and the only way to stand for those kinds of convictions is to live from a deep sense of God’s calling.

If God has called you to the task of leadership, nothing can stop you. Your identity rests in your relationship with him, not the approval of the people you are leading or the watching world around you. Instead of living in the comparison trap or the fear of what people will think, you must develop your convictions – theological, ethical, and practical – and stand by them.

Believe in advance that your convictions will be tested from at least eight angles:

1. Derision. When you’re in leadership, one of the first ways people will try to get you to deny your conviction is to make fun of you. Your convictions may very well be a punchline at times.

2. Discouragement. One of the enemy’s most powerful weapons is discouragement. Why? Because convictions, by their very nature, require courage to uphold. Discouragement usually comes at the halfway point when you’re halfway done with the project or halfway up the mountain.

3. Dread. Fear is one of the greatest threats to a leader’s convictions. I’ve often said, even when put on the spot by secular media personalities that I must fear God more than other people. It is to him alone that I will answer someday for how I stood by the deeply held beliefs he called me to possess.

4. Discord. Few things will stunt the growth of a movement or a church faster than gossip. One rumor or false accusation has the potential to destroy the reputation of a leader.

5. Division. It’s a big challenge for a leader to keep people together in a movement, but it’s essential. And since leadership is all about getting human beings to work together toward a common goal, this challenge is especially difficult for a leader to face.

6. Distractions. If the enemy can’t divide the people of a movement, he’ll provide distractions. Some of the distractions that cause the most problems aren’t bad things but rather good things that aren’t the best things.

7. Defamation. Paul was hounded by the Judaizers. Nehemiah had to deal with Sanballat. Jesus was falsely accused of blasphemy. It’s the pioneers out front who are most likely to get shot in the back. It’s a side effect of an expanding influence.

8. Danger. The Bible never actually promised believers a life “safe and secure from all alarms.” On the contrary, those who lead and have a voice will also suffer persecution and encounter danger along the way.

The enemy will try to use all eight of these tactics to top you from leading. What do you do in the face of such opposition? Don’t give up! Hold onto your convictions. Be persistent. Endure. When you are committed to your convictions, nothing will cause you to quit. And a “no quit” attitude is an essential characteristic of any great leader.

Heart of a Champion (One of my favorites!)

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”                      (1 Corinthians 9:25-27) (NIV)

There is an old saying: Champions don’t become champions in the ring – they are merely recognized there. Boxing is a good analogy for leadership development because it is all about daily preparation. Even if a person has natural talent, he has to prepare and train to become successful.

One of the most famous quotes of President Theodore Roosevelt uses a boxing analogy: “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause.”

09.18.17

Hi! I am praying for you right now! 

Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
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
 
FYI:
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:

http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/57201/our-stories
 
http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/69175/a-new-creation?utm_source=WorshipHouse%20Media%20–%20Around%20the%20House%20(CD%20Update)&utm_medium=email&utm_content=spot1-2208619&utm_campaign=nl-08/30/2017-2208619
 
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

09.11.17

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
 
Quotes:
 
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
 
FYI:
 
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:

http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/69291/known?utm_source=WorshipHouse%20Media%20–%20Around%20the%20House%20(CD%20Update)&utm_medium=email&utm_content=banner2-2208619&utm_campaign=nl-08/30/2017-2208619
 
http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/64988/no-other-king?utm_source=WorshipHouse%20Media%20–%20Around%20the%20House%20(CD%20Update)&utm_medium=email&utm_content=no_other_king-2207483&utm_campaign=fp-08/26/2017-2207483
 
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

09.11.17

Are Smart Phones Damaging Our Kids by Dale Hudson
relevantchildrensministry.com

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.

09.11.17

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

ministrytoyouth.com

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.

TODAY’S TEENAGE WORLD

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.

TEENAGERS DON’T SLEEP (NEARLY) ENOUGH

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.

“MY YOKE IS EASY, AND MY BURDEN IS LIGHT.”

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.

09.04.17

Hi! I am praying for you right now! 

Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
It’s impossible to be what God has called you to be and do what he’s called you to do without the grace he gave as part of his call. #tripp
 
Obstacles in life are not in the way of God’s glorious plan; they are part of God’s glorious plan. #tripp
 
How would your life change if you looked in the mirror and saw what God sees? #yancy
 
 
FYI:
 
 
3. Hemorrhagic no faith: a brief synopsis… ( news you have heard for a long time but in a good synopsis.)… https://www.apologeticscanada.com/2012/11/16/hemorrhaging-faith-helpful-notes/
 
4. Best ways to stay in touch with your college student… https://www.universityparent.com/topics/parent-posts/best-ways-to-stay-in-touch-with-your-college-student/?utm_content=buffer5bb14&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer#.WZ-Tiq2ZN0u
 
 
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
Children in America… the Latest Findings by Dale Hudson
How Teens Spend Their After School Hours by David Kinnaman
3 Crucial Back-to-School Reminders for Students by Greg Steir (About sharing their faith.)
How Our Screens Diminish Our Empathy by Tim Elmore
 

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

 
http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/69175/a-new-creation?utm_source=WorshipHouse%20Media%20–%20Around%20the%20House%20(CD%20Update)&utm_medium=email&utm_content=spot1-2208619&utm_campaign=nl-08/30/2017-2208619
 
Here are 2 just for you:
 
Strengths and Struggles 
 

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. Romans 12:6  

Know and understand your strengths, for it is best to behave how God created you. By God’s grace, He places within you giftedness to carry out His plan. This is called your core competency. You may be a gifted leader, so lead. You may be a gifted coach, so coach. You may be a gifted counselor, so counsel. You may be a gifted administrator, so administer. 

You may be a gifted networker, so network. You may be a gifted writer, so write. You may be a gifted teacher, so teach. You may be a gifted servant, so serve. You may be a gifted artist, so create. You may be a gifted communicator, so communicate. There is a long menu of gifts, and you probably possess several of them. Study your gifts, and you will discover your strengths.

Become comfortable with and accept the one thing you do naturally. It is effortless because God has engineered you for this. He gave you the skills and abilities to innovate, create, and produce these desired outcomes. However, make sure you do not confuse passion with strength. If you have the passion to speak, it is imperative you at least have the raw skill for speaking. Many of the technicalities of communication can be learned, but don’t try to make yourself become someone you’re not. 

Synergy for life and work come as you align passions and strengths. Take the time to understand what you do best and where you have the most energy, then position your responsibilities at home and work to mirror that ideal. Do not be afraid to change and try new things. Ask others to validate what you do best. Ask those who know you well to affirm where they see your passion materialize. Then, prayerfully align around both.

You can know and understand your strengths by taking a spiritual gifts assessment, as this helps you define your God-given disposition. Take a personality assessment, for this helps you understand your temperament. Lastly, consider taking a psychological test, because this reveals your emotional intelligence and your leadership style. Be who God has made you to be, and you will be free.

Furthermore, embrace and celebrate your struggles. They keep you humble. Do not resist accepting your struggles; embrace them instead. Make your struggles your servant by allowing others to do much better what you aren‘t able to do. It is okay not to like details, but value them and those who manage them well. Your struggles beg the need for a team. It is in your struggles that you depend more on God and others.

So, be honest with yourself about what you don’t do well. Accept the fact that even though you want to do something, you don’t need to if others can do it better. They can free you to do what you only can do. Release your areas of mediocre effectiveness, as this gives others opportunities for excellence. Laugh at yourself, for this frees you from the tension of unrealistic expectations, and allows you to enjoy life.

You are a valued member in the Body of Christ. “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body…” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me gifts and talents to use for Your glory, show me how to apply those for Your Kingdom, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

15 Beautiful Benefits of Scripture

If you’re wondering how to come to the Word today, consider these 15 beautiful benefits of Scripture:

Come, let it nourish your dry soul. “My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!” (Psalm 119:25).

Come, let it strengthen your weary bones. “I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!” (Psalm 119:107).

Come, let it redirect your wayward gaze. “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things, and give me life in your ways” (Psalm 119:37).

Come, let it soothe your discouraged heart. “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words” (Psalm 119:147).

Come, let it grant you peace. “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble” (Psalm 119:165).

Come, let it fill you with hope. “Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope” (Psalm 119:49).

Come, let it feed your hungry spirit. “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).

Come, let it grant you deep wisdom. “I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts” (Psalm 119:100).

Come, let it reassure you during pain. “I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me” (Psalm 119:75)

Come, let it echo your glad praises. “At midnight I rise to praise you because of your righteous rules” (Psalm 119:62).

Come, let it keep you from falling into temptation. “Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God” (Psalm 119:115).

Come, let it point out your wrong beliefs and actions. “Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!” (Psalm 119:29).

Come, let it assure you of your eternal inheritance. “My eyes long for your salvation and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise” (Psalm 199:123).

Come, let it comfort you in your time of trouble. “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life” (Psalm 119:50).

In all times, come, and let it lead you to the Word of Life, Jesus Christ. “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments” (Psalm 119:176).

Blessings, Kendall