08.27.17

Hi! YOU ARE AWESOME!!!! Lots of classes are training and starting right now!!!! Please pray for each other!!!
 
I am praying for YOU right now! 
 
I am also praying for all those being impacted by Hurricane Harvey!
 
Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
 
Quotes:
Ideas have consequences and bad ideas have victims. #stonestreet
In preaching, the gospel shouldn’t be like the dessert at the end of the meal, but the salt that gives the meal its distinctive flavor. #wax
 
Be a thermostat, not a thermometer.  #chance
 
It is impossible to understand a culture without discerning its idols. #keller
 
 
FYI:
 
1. 10 Ways to tell if you’re a millennial mom… https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/10-ways-to-tell-if-youre-a-millennial-mom?j=5350015&l=512_HTML&u=81290567&mid=7000332&jb=233&utm_source=082517+Default&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly#
 
2. Millennial Moms… http://www.relevantchildrensministry.com/2017/08/3-keys-to-reaching-millennial-moms.html
 
3. Teenage Friendships that result in healthier, happier adults… https://qz.com/1059666/having-a-stronger-closer-friendship-as-a-teenager-predicts-less-depression-as-a-young-adult/
 
4. Homework help apps… https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/homework-help-apps?j=5350015&l=512_HTML&u=81290573&mid=7000332&jb=233&utm_source=082517+Default&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly
 
5. Sunday School Games: 10 Active Indoor Games That Help Kids Grow (below)
 
 
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
3 Big Keys to Connecting with Gen Z by Dale Hudson (Might give you an idea.)
Turn Up the Volume by Dale Hudson
Five Shifts that Lead Kids from Apathy to Ambition by Tim Elmore
Rescuing iGen: Teens Raised on Smartphones Need an Escape Plan by Eric Metaxas
 

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

http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/54495/a-psalm-of-renewal?utm_source=WorshipHouse%20Media%20–%20Around%20the%20House%20(CD%20Update)&utm_medium=email&utm_content=psalm_renewal-2193664&utm_campaign=fp-08/22/2017-2193664
 
http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/68510/exalted-psalm-145
 
Here are 2 just for you:
 
Let God Use Your Strengths

 
“But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews . . . proving that this Jesus is the Christ.”  (Acts 9:22)

Psychologist Sheldon Kopp says, “All of the significant battles are waged within the self.” That’s true. The greatest of the battles people wage is against their own flaws and failures. To have an opportunity to reach your potential, you must know who you are and face your flaws. To do that:

  1. See yourself clearly.
  2. Admit your flaws honestly.
  3. Discover your strengths joyfully.
  4. Build on those strengths passionately.
You can reach your potential tomorrow if you dedicate yourself to growth today. Remember, to change your world, you must first change yourself.
 
33 Things the Holy Spirit Does
  1. He helps us (Rom. 8:26)
  2. He guides us (John 16:13)
  3. He teaches us (John 14:26)
  4. He speaks (Rev. 2:7)
  5. He reveals (1 Cor. 2:10)
  6. He instructs (Acts 8:29)
  7. He testifies of Jesus (John 15:26)
  8. He comforts us (Acts 9:31)
  9. He calls us (Acts 13:2)
  10. He fills us (Acts 4:31)
  11. He strengthens us (Eph. 3:16)
  12. He prays for us (Rom. 8:26)
  13. He prophesies through us (2 Pet. 1:21)
  14. He bears witness to the truth (Rom. 9:1)
  15. He brings joy (1 Thess. 1:6)
  16. He brings freedom (2 Cor. 3:17)
  17. He helps us to obey (1 Pet. 1:22)
  18. He calls for Jesus’ return (Rev. 22:17)
  19. He transforms us (2 Cor. 3:18)
  20. He lives in us (1 Cor. 3:16)
  21. He frees us (Rom. 8:2)
  22. He renews us (Titus 3:5)
  23. He produces fruit in us (Gal. 5:22-23)
  24. He gives gifts (1 Cor. 12:8-10)
  25. He leads us (Rom. 8:14)
  26. He convicts (John 16:8)
  27. He sanctifies us (2 Thess. 2:13)
  28. He empowers us (Acts 1:8)
  29. He unites us (Eph. 4:3-4)
  30. He seals us (Eph. 1:13)
  31. He gives us access to the Father (Eph. 2:18)
  32. He enables us to wait (Gal. 5:5)
  33. He casts out demons (Matt. 12:28)
 

Sunday School Games: 10 Active Indoor Games That Help Kids Grow 

These Sunday school games are active, fun and are played indoors. Plus they help kids grow their faith and work out the squirm!

Not going outside can make kids stir-crazy. Stuck inside, they dream of a warmer season when they can run and play with endless energy outdoors. And then they enter your Sunday school classroom, after a week of being cooped up at school and home, with a God-given, wiggly case of the fidgets and squirms. So tap into kids’ natural energy and exuberance with these active indoor Sunday school games specially designed to let kids move while teaching them more about their faith.

Sunday school games: Angry Ping-Pong

Use this game to talk about the effects of anger.

You’ll need a Bible, ping-pong balls, fine-tipped permanent markers, slingshots, and a supply of cardboard building blocks.

Put kids in groups of 10, and give them a few minutes to build towers with their blocks. Then give each group four or five ping-pong balls. Have each person write at least one thing on each ball that makes him or her angry.

Say: Let’s play a game. Your team’s goal is to knock down any other team’s towers. Use the slingshots and the pingpong balls to do this, but stand at least 15 feet from any tower you’re aiming at.

Show kids this distance. Then say: Think about the things you wrote on your ping-pong balls. What things has that anger “knocked over” in your life or in others’ lives?

Read aloud Ephesians 4:26-27. Say: What does it mean to you that anger can be a foothold for the devil? What can you do to deal with your anger in a God-honoring way?

Sunday school games: Elephant Stampede

Use this game to discuss the benefits of teamwork.

You’ll need a Bible and one pool noodle that’s been cut in half.

Choose two kids to be the Elephant, and give them each one of the noodle pieces.

Say: We’ll work as a team in this game. Our Elephant will chase everyone else and try to tag you with a noodle. If you’re tagged, you become part of the Elephant by holding hands with the person who just tagged you with a noodle. The person who tagged you will hand you the noodle piece, and you’ll work with the rest of the Elephant to tag others, handing off the noodle piece to the person you tag. The object is to be the last person tagged.

Check for understanding; then let kids play. Afterward, ask: Explain what you enjoyed more—trying to escape being tagged or being part of the Elephant. What did you do to work as a team in this game? What do you like or not like about working with a team? Read aloud 1 Corinthians 12:20-25. What are the benefits of working as a team? What adjustments can you make to be a team player?

Sunday school games: Cotton Nose

Use this game to practice encouraging others.

You’ll need a Bible, masking tape, petroleum jelly, cotton balls, a table, and paper plates.

Have kids get in groups of five to eight, and put a dab of petroleum jelly on the end of each person’s nose. For each group, set a plate of cotton balls on one end of the table, and set a second empty plate on the opposite end of the table for each group. Then designate a start line and have each group form a line behind it.

Read aloud 1 Thessalonians 5:11. Say: Let’s use this game to practice encouraging others. This is a relay race, and your team’s goal is to get all the cotton balls on your plate to your team’s empty plate at the other end of the table. Only one person can go at a time, and you must use only your nose to pick up the cotton balls. Got it? Check for understanding. This is going to be tough, so cheer on your teammates as much as you can. Shout encouraging words, clap, and chant for your teammates.

Begin the race. Afterward, ask: When it was your turn to race, what encouraged you to do your best? What ways did you notice others encouraging their teammates? How can you apply this kind of encouragement to your life?

Sunday school games: Balloon Bop

Use this game to talk about keeping God’s commandments.

You’ll need a Bible, a beach towel, and 10 inflated balloons.

Say: Pretend each of these balloons represents one of the Ten Commandments. Let’s play a game to try to keep all 10 balloons in the air at once.

Have kids each hold the edge of one end of the towel and stand apart so the towel is taut. Then have the kids shake the towel. Encourage them to continue to shake it as you add each balloon—each time naming one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). Continue for 30 seconds after you’ve added all the balloons, and replace any balloons that fall.

Ask: What was it like to keep all the balloons in the air? Explain whether that’s like or unlike trying to keep all of God’s commandments. Why do you think it’s helpful for your life when you keep God’s commands?

Use this game to teach kids how important it is to support each other as Christians trying to spread the good news about Jesus.

Bible Connect: Mark 16:15Romans 1:16

Stuff: You’ll need candy bars and clear packing tape.

Play: Before kids arrive, tape candy bars onto the wall high enough so kids can’t reach them without standing on chairs.

Tell kids the object of the game is to reach the candy bars without the help of furniture or other people.

Let kids try to grab the candy bars. Once they’ve given up, have them form groups of three and work together to reach the candy bars. Two kids can form a step by locking their hands together and lifting the third person high enough to reach a candy bar for all three.

Cool Down:

Ask kids to compare their first attempt to reach the candy bars with their second. Ask: What ways do you tell your friends about your faith? Why is it important to work together and support each other as Christians? How can you support a friend this week?

Sunday school games: Protect Me

This game teaches kids that it’s important to surround themselves with good influences for protection from temptation.

Bible Connect: 1 Corinthians 10:132 Corinthians 6:14

Play: Ask for two volunteers-one to be the Tempted and the other the Temptor-in a group of no more than eight kids. The object of the game is to protect the Tempted, who’ll stand in the center of the group’s tight circle. The Temptor tries to tag the child in the center by reaching through the circle. Kids in the circle can maneuver to keep the Temptor out, but they must stay locked arm-in-arm. When the Tempted gets tagged, new kids get to be the Tempted and the Temptor.

Cool Down: Ask: How have you been tempted this past week? How does having Christian friends’ support help you resist temptation?

Sunday school games: Snowball Fight

This game reminds kids of the power of God’s grace.

Bible Connect: Isaiah 1:18

Stuff: You’ll need newspapers, masking tape, a timer, and disposable wipes.

Play: Form two groups. Divide your classroom into two equal-sized areas with a masking tape line. Give each group an equal amount of newspaper. On your signal, let kids make newspaper “snow” balls and quickly throw them back and forth at the opposing team for two minutes. The object is to get more “snow” on the opponent’s side when time’s up.

At the end of the game, have kids collect the newspaper and place it in your church’s recycle bin. Have kids clean their hands with disposable wipes.

Cool Down:

Ask: How did your hands look after the snowball fight? How is the newspaper like sin? How are the wipes like God’s grace?

Sunday school games: Sock It to Me

Just as socks protect our feet, kids will discover that God protects us.

Bible Connect: Psalm 91:14-15

Play: Ask kids to sit in a tight circle and remove their shoes. Choose two kids to be It. They’ll sit on their knees in the center of the circle. The rest of the kids forming the circle must stay seated with their feet in the center of the circle. The object of the game is for the It kids to take off the circle kids’ socks before those kids can get the It kids’ socks off.

Cool Down:

Ask: What kinds of things are you exposed to in the world? How are socks like or unlike God’s love? How does God’s love protect you from inappropriate things?

Sunday school games: Belly Laugh

This silly game reminds kids that God loves a joyful heart.

Bible Connect: Psalm 9:2Psalm 28:7

Play: Have one child lie on his or her back. Then have another child lie with his or her head on the other child’s belly. Have the remaining kids lie down with their heads resting on another child’s belly.

Choose one person to start the game by shouting, “Ha!” The next person will shout, “Ha, ha!” and each child continues to add a “ha” as they work around the group. Sooner or later the group will burst into laughter, with heads bouncing off bellies with joy.

Cool Down: Let kids take turns telling a funny story or joke. Tell kids that God wants us to experience joy every day through fun and laughter.

Sunday school games: Pressure

Getting “pushed around” by others in this game lets kids think critically about peer pressure.

Bible Connect: 1 Corinthians 10:13Ephesians 6:11

Play: Form groups of eight. Have seven kids form a close circle with their arms on each other’s shoulders. One child stands in the middle, crosses his or her arms, and tries to keep his or her feet firmly in place on the ground while the circle presses in. Kids in the circle work together to force the child to give up his or her ground. Give every child a chance to be in the middle.

Cool Down: Have kids discuss how they experience peer pressure at school. Kids can brainstorm how they can work together to tackle negative peer pressure. Talk about the importance of relying on God when the pressure is on.

Sunday school game: Unlocked

Use this game to encourage kids to be patient and listen for God’s instruction.

Bible Connect: Isaiah 30:18

Stuff: You’ll need two combination locks, two colored dot stickers with matching paper, candy, and a kitchen timer.

Play: Before kids arrive, place one sticker on the back of each lock. Hide the locks in the room. Print the corresponding combination numbers out of sequence on the lock’s matching paper, but keep both correct combinations with you.

Form two teams and give each team the scrambled combination numbers. Tell teams they’ll race each other to find their corresponding lock and figure out the correct combination. The first team to return with an open lock will get a reward. But first, teams must choose one of two strategies they’ll use to win:

  1. On “go,” a team will race to find its lock. Once they find the lock, they have to work together to decipher the correct combination using the scrambled numbers on the paper.
  2. Or, on “go,” a team will delay their search for 30 seconds (giving the other team a head start), but you’ll give them the correct combination to their lock. That way, all they have to do is find the lock and open it.

Once teams have chosen their strategy, give the signal. No matter which team returns with an open lock first, reward everyone for their efforts with the candy.

Cool Down:

Ask: How did your team’s strategy work? Why did you choose that strategy? How is this game like or unlike being patient and listening for God’s instruction?

Sunday school games: Focus

A new twist on this favorite game shows kids that God’s blessings are everywhere-all they need to do is look.

Bible Connect: Matthew 7:7; Romans 2:7

Stuff: You’ll need paper, pens, and a tray of theme-related items such as office supplies, candy items, or craft supplies. You’ll also need an assistant.

Play: Give each child a piece of paper and a pen. Tell kids your assistant will walk around the room with a tray of items. Kids’ task is to write down what they see (be precise with your wording here). Have your assistant walk around the room with the tray, allowing ample time for kids to write down the majority of items on the tray.

Once kids have viewed the tray, have your assistant leave the room. Then tell kids they can use their notes or memories to answer questions. Ask questions related to the assistant such as: What color were his shoes? Was she wearing earrings? Was he wearing a watch?

Then call your assistant back into the room to reveal the answers. Kids will realize their focus on the tray contents was so narrow that they missed the obvious.

Cool Down: Ask kids to discuss things they focus on, such as fear, jealousy, or grades. Challenge kids to name things they may miss out on when they focus on one thing or only on the negative. Remind kids that when we focus on God first, we’re able to see all he’s blessed us with each day.

Sunday school game: A Hill of Beans

Use this “hill-of-beans” game to teach kids how lies destroy trust.

Bible Connect: Proverbs 12:22Ephesians 4:25

Stuff: You’ll need pint-size Mason jars with lids, food-service gloves, and plastic tablecloths. You’ll also need one pound of each of the following dried beans for each group of five: black beans, red kidney beans, barley pearls, pinto beans, Great Northern beans, navy beans, lentils, yellow split peas, green split peas, and black-eyed peas.

Play: Form groups of five and give each group a pound of each bean type. Place the tablecloths on the floor for each team’s workspace. Have kids wear food-service gloves and on your signal, work together to build the largest hill of beans in five minutes. When time’s up, kids can gather the beans and fill the Mason jars. Attach this recipe to the jar for kids to donate to a local food shelter.

Cool Down: Kids can discuss how building a hill of beans is like or unlike telling a lot of lies. Talk about what happens when lies pile up and how lying has negative consequences. Talk about how lies break trust, and ask God to help kids be honest and trustworthy.

Sunday school game: Apples and Oranges

This crazy game will help kids discover everyone is important in God’s family.

Bible Connect: 1 Corinthians 12:12-27

Stuff: You’ll need an apple and an orange.

Play: Form a circle. One child will pass an apple to the right around the circle. Another child will pass an orange to the left around the circle. The key to this game is that kids can’t pass the fruit with their hands. Kids can use their feet, elbows, or knees to pass the fruit. If someone drops the fruit or it touches the ground, the child must close his eyes to continue playing. Play continues until only one person with his or her eyes open remains.

Cool Down: Ask kids to talk about what was easy or difficult about the game. Ask kids what it was like to play with their eyes closed and how that affected the game. Help kids make the connection between this game and God’s family. Celebrate everyone’s contributions and emphasize everyone’s special role in God’s family.

Blessings, Kendall

05.01.17

Hi! I am praying for you right now! 

Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
Our love grows soft if it is not strengthened by truth, and our truth grows hard if it is not softened by love. #stott
 
Words matter, but sometimes our presence matters more.
 
The most pivotal decision you’ll make today is whether to view your faith through the prism of your world or your world through the prism of your faith. #denson
 
God has a Promised Land for us to take! It’s not real estate, but a real state of the heart and mind! A Promised Land…a promised land life! #lucado 
 
FYI:
1. When your children grieve… http://www.christianparenting.org/articles/when-your-children-grieve/?utm_source=Christian+Parenting&utm_campaign=f6f6d027d4-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_04_26&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_64355cce23-f6f6d027d4-273558069&mc_cid=f6f6d027d4&mc_eid=a5401c43e5
2. Science experiments to teach Bible lessons… http://childrensministry.com/articles/the-discovery-zone/?utm_source=internal_children’s_ministry_resource&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=
3. The Youth Rule the Web infographic… (below)
 
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
Children and Spiritual Growth: Faith That Figures by Misty Anne Winzenried
Bridging the Generation Gap with Stories by Caleb Roose (For churches but I think this is good for all leaders to know and try!)
Three Surprising Issues About Today’s Youth Culture by Tim Elmore
Will Your Teenagers Graduate from Their Faith after High School? by Jonathan Morrow  (The one thing you should do and should not do are important for us to know!)
 

Here are 2 video links and a worship intro I think you might like to see:

Worship intro… http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/64257/worship-him?utm_source=whmfp&utm_medium=email&utm_content=worship_him&utm_campaign=fp-04/28/2017-2089175
 
http://www.videosforyouth.com/mini-movies/40362/identity?utm_source=vfyfp&utm_medium=email&utm_content=identity&utm_campaign=fp-04/25/2017-2082148
 
http://www.videosforyouth.com/mini-movies/36252/uniquely-made?utm_source=vfyfp&utm_medium=email&utm_content=uniquely-made&utm_campaign=fp-04/25/2017-2082148
 
Here are 2 just for you:
 
Teachable Heart 
 
“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying God is one and there is no other but him.”   When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God…” Mark 12:32, 34a
 
Jesus affirms a teachable heart for He knows it has potential to learn and understand the things of God. Thus, a teachable heart is positioned to receive truth and has an attitude with more questions than answers.
 
However, a teachable heart does recognize truth when it comes knocking. It invites truth in to be examined, understood, and applied. Truth invigorates the teachable heart, and there is a rush of spiritual adrenaline when it intersects with an open mind and heart. Pride plateaus in its learning, but a teachable heart continues to scale the mountain of truth. Thus, when God discovers someone who is teachable, He calls him wise.
Wisdom comes from God; therefore, a teachable heart learns the ways of God.  God is not offended by teachability, though there is a tension that arises when truth begins to facilitate changes in behavior and attitude. This change of heart seems somewhat innocuous from the outside looking in, but most of us do not like to be told what to do.
Change doesn’t come easily, even as you understand that God has your best interest in mind. But 
the transformation is telling. Your character and behavior fall more in line with Jesus’; your spouse and children notice something different; your patience, rather than your intimidation, becomes dominant; your bad beliefs will be replaced with good ones; so let your teachable heart start first with God.
God is one. He is not many gods, but one God. He is not a mini-god, but the great and glorious God of the galaxies. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all one God. His oneness is to be worshiped and celebrated. Thus, your love relationship with the one true God is not to be rivaled by any other gods. Any acceptance of other gods is unacceptable to God. He is jealous for you. Your love for anyone or anything will pale in relation to your love for Christ.
To love God is to make room for God in all aspects of your life. You love Him when you love others, when you give sacrificially, when you strive for excellence in your work, and when you pray for and forgive others. Love is action; therefore, love Him and allow Him to love you. Let His expectations mold yours because what God thinks trumps any other thinking. The Holy Spirit within you has the answers to the questions that consume your thinking. Follow His internal promptings, not the external clamor.
What you believed yesterday will be dwarfed by what you learn tomorrow. Know God, love God, learn of Him and from Him. He affirms a teachable heart as one who fears the Lord. 
The Bible teaches, “Assemble the people—men, women, and children, and the aliens living in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 31:12). Stay teachable in your understanding of God.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, my prayer is to be a lifetime learner of You and Your ways, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Do You Really Want To Change?

Have you ever said, “I’ll never do that again!” only to make the same mistake a few days later?

If you’re a Christian, at some point in your walk with God, you’ll feel stuck in the same cycle of sinful decisions and foolish mistakes.

So how do we get from where we are to where God wants us to be?

Well, we need to start here: sometimes, we don’t actually want to change.

It sounds harsh, but I’ll lead the way.

Maybe that selfish pleasure is just too pleasurable for me. I know the Bible says I shouldn’t pursue it, or at least not allow it to dominate my calendar or wallet, but there are times when my heart simply loves the creation more than the Creator.

Then there are other times when I really do want to change, and I just feel stuck.

There are 4 “C” words that help me in my struggles.

Ultimately, these four action words won’t produce change in me. Only the power of Holy Spirit and the grace of God will produce lasting heart change.

But these 4 C’s remind me of how I can position my heart closer to the Spirit and Grace of God.

Here they are:

1. CONSIDER: The psalmist prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart … see if there is any offensive way in me” (139:23–24). The first step to change requires us to look intently into the mirror of God’s Word (James 1:23-24) and consider – or examine – what the Bible says about us.

2. CONFESS: If we accurately consider what the Bible says about us, it will be very tempting to run away from the verdict, or lessen the blow by making excuses and shifting the blame. Change only happens when we confess that we’re the primary problem (like David, in Psalm 51:10).

3. COMMIT: Once we’ve considered and confessed, we ought to be grieved by the reality of sin. That grief should spur us into action. Commitment can take a variety of forms, but there needs to be some plan to move from where we are to where God wants us to be.

4. CONTINUE: This will sound obvious – change has not taken place until change has taken place. At some level, we all stop short. We talk about change, we create an action plan, but then we never follow through, or we give up with discouragement.The process of heart and life change is a process, not an event!

So brothers and sisters, continue to consider. Continue to confess. Continue to commit. And continue to continue. The gospel of Jesus Christ provides us with the hope and help we need to keep pressing on!

Surround yourself with believers who will walk with you. Seat yourself under good preaching. Dive into the Word and pray, even when you don’t feel like it.

There is a day when sin will be eradicted. Until then, our Lord has given us everything we need. Stay encouraged, and watch the Lord bless you with a harvest of good fruit!

04.10.17

Meet Those Who “Love Jesus but Not the Church” by Barna Group

barna.org

We live in an increasingly secular American culture. In this new age, religion is in retreat from the public square, and traditional institutions like the church are no longer functioning with the cultural authority they once held in generations past. Today, nearly half of America is unchurched. But even though more and more Americans are abandoning the institutional church and its defined boundary markers of religious identity, many still believe in God and practice faith outside its walls.

This is the first of a two-part exploration of faith and spirituality outside the church. Let’s start with a look at the fascinating segment of the American population who, as the saying goes, “love Jesus but not the church.” (Return next week when Barna will break down the identity of the “spiritual, but not religious.”)

Traditionally Christian—with Exceptions
To get at a sense of enduring faithfulness among Christians despite a rejection of the institutional church, Barna created a metric to capture those who most neatly fit this description. It includes those who self-identify as Christian and who strongly agree that their religious faith is very important in their life, but are “dechurched”—that is, they have attended church in the past, but haven’t done so in the last six months (or more). These individuals have a sincere faith (89% have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important to their life today), but are notably absent from church.

According to aggregate Barna tracking data, this group makes up one-tenth of the population, and it’s growing (up from 7% in 2004). The majority are women (61%), and four-fifths (80%) are between the ages of 33 and 70. That is, they are mostly Gen-Xers (36%) and Boomers (44%), not Millennials (14%) or Elders (6%). Though Millennials are the least churched generation, they are also the least likely to either identify as Christian or say faith is very important to their life, explaining their underrepresentation among this group. Elders are underrepresented for the opposite reason—they are the generation most likely to attend church regularly.

This group also appears to be mostly white (63%) and concentrated in the South (33%), Midwest (30%) and West (25%), with very few hailing from the Northeast (13%)—a region typically home to the most post-Christian cities in America. The fact that they are just as likely to identify as Democrat (30%) than Republican (25%) is interesting, particularly for Christians and those in the South and Midwest, who typically are disproportionately Republican. It’s possible that left-leaning people of faith are encountering some level of political discord with their church, which may have prompted an exit.

Orthodox Belief Despite Church Absence
Despite leaving the church, this group has maintained a robustly orthodox view of God. In every case, their beliefs about God are more orthodox than the general population, even rivaling their church-going counterparts. For instance, they strongly believe there is only one God (93% compared to U.S. adults: 59% and practicing Christians: 90%); affirm that “God is the all-powerful, all- knowing, perfect creator of the universe who rules the world today” (94% compared to U.S. adults: 57% and practicing Christians: 85%); and strongly agree that God is everywhere (95% compared to U.S. adults: 65% and practicing Christians: 92%).

Positive, if Amorphous, Views of Religion
Despite their apparent discomfort with the church, this group still maintains a very positive view of religion. When asked whether they believe religion is mostly harmful, their response once again stood out from the general population, and aligned with their church-going counterparts (71% strongly disagree, compared to 71% among practicing Christians and 48% among U.S adults).

But the story changes slightly when it comes to the distinctiveness of Christianity: Just over half (55%) disagree (strongly and somewhat) that all religions basically teach the same thing, much closer to the general population (51%) than practicing Christians (68%), and even further from evangelicals (86%). In the absence of a rigid religious identity provided by the authority of the church, this group appears to be more affirming of the claims of other religions and open to finding and identifying common ground.

Privately Spiritual
Due to their enduring religious affiliation and overtly religious faith, this group falls outside of the characterization of “spiritual but not religious” folks—the topic of next week’s article. But one thing they do share is a sense of spirituality. Slightly fewer than nine in 10 (89%) identify as “spiritual,” on par with practicing Christians (90%), and far exceeding the national average (65%).

But unlike practicing Christians and evangelicals, this spirituality is deeply personal—even private—with many preferring to keep spiritual matters to themselves: only two in five (18%) say they talk with their friends about spiritual matters often. This is less than half as much as practicing Christians (41%), and almost four times less than evangelicals (67%), who are known for evangelizing and sharing their faith. When asked specifically about evangelizing—whether they personally have a responsibility to tell others about their religious beliefs—the differences are even more striking. Fewer than three in 10 of the “love Jesus but not the church” group agrees strongly that they have a responsibility to proselytize (28%), compared to more than half of practicing Christians (56%) and all of Evangelicals (100%). So, while “spiritual” topics may often or sometimes come up, the actual act of trying to convert someone is a low priority for this group.

Informal Paths to God
This group still actively practices their faith, albeit in less traditional ways. They maintain an active prayer life (83%, compared to 83% of practicing Christians), but only read scripture half as much as the average practicing Christian (26% compared to 56%). In addition, they are much less likely to read a book on spiritual topics (9% compared to 36% of practicing Christians), and never attend groups or retreats (compared to 24% of practicing Christians). This all points to a broader abandonment of authoritative sources of religious identity, leading to much more informal and personally-driven faith practices. They are certainly still finding and experiencing God, but they are more likely to do so in nature (32% compared to 24% of practicing Christians), and through practices like meditation (20% compared to 18%), yoga (10% compared to 7%) and silence and solitude (both 15%).

What the Research Means
We will explore this topic of faith outside the church much more in the coming weeks, but one thing that’s most worth noting among this group of people who “love Jesus but not the church” is their continued commitment to faith. “This group represents an important and growing avenue of ministry for churches,” says Roxanne Stone, editor in chief of Barna Group. “Particularly if you live in a more churched area of the country, it’s more than likely you have a significant number of these disaffected Christians in your neighborhoods. They still love Jesus, still believe in Scripture and most of the tenets of their Christian faith. But they have lost faith in the church. While many people in this group may be suffering from church wounds, we also know from past research that Christians who do not attend church say it’s primarily not out of wounding, but because they can find God elsewhere or that church is not personally relevant to them. The critical message that churches need to offer this group is a reason for churches to exist at all. What is it that the church can offer their faith that they can’t get on their own? Churches need to be able to say to these people—and to answer for themselves—that there is a unique way you can find God only in church. And that faith does not survive or thrive in solitude.”

About the Research
Interviews with U.S. adults included 1,281 web-based surveys conducted among a representative sample of adults over the age of 18 in each of the 50 United States. The survey was conducted November 4-15, 2016. The sampling error for this study is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points, at the 95% confidence level. Minimal statistical weighting was used to calibrate the sample to known population percentages in relation to demographic variables.

Millennials: Born between 1984 and 2002
Gen-Xers: Born between 1965 and 1983
Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964
Elders: Born between 1945 or earlier

Practicing Christian: Those who attend a religious service at least once a month, who say their faith is very important in their lives and self-identify as a Christian.

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

04.03.17

5 Ideas to Overcome Short Attention Spans in Students by Tim Elmore

Growingleaders.org

Recently, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league is considering speeding up their basketball games. Why? They realize people’s attention spans are shorter today. He’s right. TIME magazine reports, “The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the affects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.”

Wow. A fish now pays attention longer than a person does.

So, Mr. Silver logically responded by saying: “It’s something that I know all of sports are looking at right now, and that is the format of the game and the length of time it takes to play the game,” he said. “Obviously people, particularly Millennials, have increasingly short attention spans, so it’s something as a business we need to pay attention to.”

He’s right about sports, you know. For years now, professional baseball has discussed shortening the time between pitches, to reduce the total length of time it takes to play a game and to retain fans’ attention. MLB knows that baseball is a slow game.

Last November, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the league is looking at a variety of ways to shorten football game broadcasts, including trimming advertising, to keep the action moving. For many fans, the games are just too long.

Is the Answer to Shorten the Game?

I think we all get bored more rapidly today. Me included. Admittedly, if I become disinterested, I must get very intentional about staying engaged with a YouTube video, or a TV program or even a conversation.

But there is something else we must consider.

Teens and young adults actually can and do pay attention to people or programs for a very long time. Ask a typical high school or college student about their habits and you’ll find millions binge watch a series of programs on Netflix. Or, they will remain on social media sites for hours on end and not lose interest.

So is the answer merely to shorten the game or is it to increase their engagement?

Do we assume we must just give up on keeping kids engaged or do we find ways to keep them engaged as we lead them?

  1. Can we increase their ownership of classroom learning?
  1. Can we deepen their engagement in the conversations at home?
  1. Can we retain their attention on the practice field or locker room?
  1. Can we capture and harness their passion on the job?

I believe the answer is “yes.”

Five Ideas to Keep Students Engaged and Offer Them Ownership

Let me suggest a handful of culturally popular experiences that have captured the attention of our young and how we can use the principle they employ to increase student engagement in our classroom, home or practice field.

Escape Rooms

Escape Rooms are popping up all over America, but they were first created in Japan ten years ago. They’re physical adventure games in which players are locked in a room and must use elements in the room to solve a series of puzzles and escape within a set time limit. (The games are physical versions of “escape the room” video games.) Why are they engaging? They utilize metacognition, the Harvard-discovered method for engaging students by allowing the reflection and work to rest on their shoulders.

Likewise, we must stop giving students the answers, so they can experience “ownership” of their learning. Students learn on a need to know basis—and Escape Rooms create the need to know. They capture our imaginations and simulate real-life situations as mysteries to solve. Too often we don’t create a dilemma that engages students to discover solutions. Identifying pain points and giving autonomy are key.

Social Media

Why have social media sites like Facebook or Instagram overtaken traditional TV viewing among young adults? Two reasons. First, interface. They happen in real time and engage students to connect with each other—offering lots of back and forth. Question: Does your class feel more like TV or Facebook? We must stop lecturing. Social media sites invite interaction. It’s why students love them. Classroom lectures do not. It’s why kids hate them. Students learn by uploading their thoughts, not just by listening as we download ours. It’s about conversation—not mere information. In short, students support what they help create. We all learn better when insights come “just in time” not “just in case.” The second reason for social media’s popularity? They are visual. Lots of images, icons, emojis and bitmojies. Futurist Leonard Sweet says that images are the language of the 21st century, not words. Question—how do you leverage an image or metaphor to anchor the big idea you are communicating?

Netflix, HBO GO, and Hulu.

Shows on these platforms have garnered millions of students to engage, even when the shows act more like a traditional television show. So, what makes them different?

Two reasons. First, viewers began to care. Kids watch Netflix programs because they care about the characters and the story. The narrative draws them in and hooks them. Soon, they’re “binge-watching” the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or Game of Thrones. Question—would anyone binge watch your classroom? Do they care about what you’re saying or teaching? The second reason is—the shows are on demand. Viewers can connect anytime. Once again, students learn on a need to know basis. How could you create a challenge that makes them want or need to know your topic? Do you give them a “why” in your classroom before you launch into the “what?”

YouTube

YouTube is another form of social media—but students engage with it differently than they do Instagram or Snapchat. Kids usually watch YouTube videos for pure entertainment. With some exceptions, they use it to satisfy their need to laugh. Whether it’s “Fail” clips or funny things cats do, track what videos are viewed the most and you’ll see they are short and funny. Question—how do you leverage humor in your classroom? Do you sprinkle laughter throughout just to season a potentially irrelevant subject? In light of the shorter attention spans, there is something to be said for brevity, too. The most viewed videos are less than a minute. What if we utilized micro-learning—or keeping our teaching segments to 7-10 minutes, broken up with questions, discussion or other means of engagement—in order to remain appealing and helpful?

Political Marches

On the heels of the Trump presidential inauguration, marches and protests took place and continue to this day. While our country is divided, I’ve witnessed an increasing amount of high school and college students engaged in social and political issues, marching, writing and protesting a perceived injustice. Why is this true? To be frank, disagreement and conflict draw us in. Every great movie has a conflict. Every civil rights issue involves a conflict. Today, President Trump elicits conflicting opinions. People want to express themselves and get involved. When done with civility, this can be good. Conflict interrupts our comfortable life and makes people think. When we feel someone is wronged or unnoticed, we want to stand up. It’s been said, “Martyrdom emboldens true believers.” Question: How can you leverage issues to engage students to speak and act on behalf of social justice? How can we utilize real-life, current and relevant events to foster curiosity and learning.

03.27.17

Every Minute Makes an Impact by Dale Hudson

relevantchildrensministry.com

Do you struggle with any of these?

Volunteers showing up late?

Volunteers standing around talking with each other instead of interacting with the kids?

Volunteers sitting in the back rather than with the kids during large group time?

Volunteers coming unprepared and looking at their lesson during large group time instead of focusing on the kids?

Volunteers leaving as soon as the service is over rather than spending time with the kids while waiting for parents to come?

Volunteers not taking time to talk with and interact with parents?

Here’s how to change these scenarios.  Share with your volunteers that “every minute makes an impact.”

Every volunteers on your team has something in common.  Here it is.  They want to make an impact.  They want to leave a legacy.  They want to know that the time they are spending volunteering is making a difference. 

Help them see that they only have a small window of time each week to invest in the kids and parents and every single minute they spend investing in them makes a difference.  It’s in the seemingly small conversations before service where volunteers can make the biggest connection with kids.  It’s in the quick conversations at pick-up and drop-off where volunteers can encourage parents.  It’s in the 3 minutes of a worship song that volunteers can model what it means to worship God.  It’s in the few minutes after service that volunteers can speak life into kids while waiting with them for their parents.  It’s in the first minute that volunteers can make new guests feel comfortable and welcomed.

 Time spent investing in kids and families is never wasted.  Every single minute is valuable.  Every single minute presents an opportunity to make a significant impact in their life.

When you help volunteers catch this vision, they will show up on time.  They will come prepared.  They will be intentional about what they say to parents at drop-off and pick-up.  They will engage with the kids before, after and during the service.

We are in a race to children’s hearts.  Just like a minute matters in the outcome of a physical race, a minute matters in the outcome of this spiritual race.

09.26.16

3 Secrets to Showing Volunteers You’re Really Thankful for them by Dale Hudson

relevantchildrensministry.co

Did you know that 65% of volunteers say they haven’t heard the words “thank you” in the last 12 months?  That’s sad, isn’t it?  When we don’t take the time to thank our volunteers, they end up feeling used and taken for granted.

Saying the words “thank you” is important, but if you really want to help your volunteers feel loved and appreciated, here are 3 secrets to bringing depth to those words.

Secret 1 – Thank them for who they are instead of for what they do.  What do we normally say?

“Thanks for all you do.”

And that’s okay.  But if you really want them to feel appreciated, thank them for who they are.  It will mean so much more to them.  Here are a few practical examples.

“Thank you for your heart for God and for the next generation.”

“Thank you for being a person full of compassion and kindness for kids who don’t seem to fit in with everyone else.”

“Thank you for being a person of character, integrity and faithfulness. 

See the difference?  This shows you value them as a person over what they do for the ministry.

Secret 2 – Thank them for something specific that you’ve seen them accomplish.  After you’ve thanked them for who they are, this is the next step.  Here are a few examples.

“It’s awesome how you made the new little boy feel welcome last week and helped him make some friends.” 

“I noticed last week how you captured the kids’ attention while you were teaching.  You are so gifted at communicating with kids.”

“You did an amazing job organizing the crafts for the preschool rooms last week.  The teachers loved it and it made the craft time flow so well for the kids.”

Secret 3 – Give them a personal gift.  Giving all your volunteers candy or another small gift with a note attached is a good thing.  In fact, here’s 50 ideas for this.

But…if you really want to show them how thankful you are for them…give volunteers a gift that is special to them.  Here’s how you can do this.  Have each volunteer fill out an information sheet that asks what their favorite food is, what their favorite candy is, what their favorite color is, what their favorite hobby is, etc.  Then go and purchase that unique item and give it to them with a personal, handwritten note.

Here’s an example.  You find out one of your volunteers loves Almond Joy candy bars.  So you go and buy him or her that candy bar and attached it to a personal note.  Bam!  The person will feel appreciated as an individual.

My friend, Frank Bealer, shared with me that he found out one of his volunteers loved a special kind of candy bar that couldn’t be found in stores in their area.  So he went online and ordered it for her.  It meant so much to her that he would go the second mile to show how much he appreciated her.  That is an awesome example of how to really thank a volunteer.

They say people don’t leave a job, they leave a manager.  In many, many cases that is true.  And I think the same could often be said for volunteers in the church world.  They stop volunteering because they feel used instead of valued.  Let’s go all out to show them how much we appreciate them.  Without them, there is no children’s ministry.  One of the most important things you will do as a leader this week is say the two words “Thank you.”

Your turn.  The floor is yours.  How do you express your gratitude to your volunteers?  What are some special things you’ve done for them?  Share your ideas and thoughts with everyone in the comment section below.

09.26.16

Top 3 Questions to get Students Talking by Ricky Lewis

youthspecialties.com

Our organization (TEEN LIFELINE) provides 8-week Support Groups that thrive on creating and sustaining conversation with students. The difference we try to create is conversations that equip, encourage and empower students to find the tools and resources that will help them navigate life better. Many times with students, discussions can feel like they aren’t going anywhere. If you are working with students often, this can become frustrating. But what if you had just a few questions that could help you keep the conversation moving and, even better, guide students to relationships and resources that are going to benefit them on their journey?

A key tip to using these questions is to be willing to share from your own experience (in a relevant, appropriate way). This level of vulnerability helps students build trust and be more open themselves.

WHAT IS SOMETHING  SIGNIFICANT THAT  HAS HAPPENED THIS PAST WEEK?

This first question is important because it lets the students know that they get to decide what “significant” means. Something “significant” can be as small as eating a meal they love or as big as making the team or getting a new job. Using this question to start the conversation opens the door to follow up questions like these:

  • What makes that significant for you?
  • How were you able to do that this week?
  • Is this something you hope to do again?

As is the case with all of these questions, using the initial question to get to the follow-up and deeper questions can help you, as the leader, find ways to be helpful and point to resources that the students need.

HOW HAVE YOU SURVIVED WHAT YOU HAVE ALREADY BEEN THROUGH?

This can be a tough question, but it is an important one. The big deal with this question is that you want to help the students recognize something positive that has helped them overcome trials in the past. It doesn’t have to be major, but it does need to be possible to replicate. For example, a significant relationship with someone who has died is not a legitimate resource any more. That being said, here are some examples for what could be great ideas:

  • A regular work out or team activity
  • An adult that is a good listener and great role model
  • Good decisions about schedule: school, sleep, eating, etc.
  • Healthy eating habits

All of these can contribute to students surviving the tough times they face in life. When asking this question, encourage students to take ownership of their ability to survive in the past. They have been through tough situations and have made it through – they are able to do the same thing again in the future!

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU CAN DO THIS NEXT WEEK TO MOVE YOU CLOSER TO WHERE YOU WANT TO BE?

The importance of this last question is to help the students choose something that is achievable. This is also a great place for you to model by choosing a goal that you will work toward over the next week as well. Some examples of achievable goals are:

  • Getting more sleep to better focus during the day
  • Studying more for the next test to get better grades
  • Identifying 1 friend that can be a good accountability partner
  • Getting closer to parents by helping with chores around the house

There are 2 main pieces at play in this question. As I already mentioned, you want the student to choose something that they can realistically accomplish and you can follow up with them about. Keep in mind though, while you want to encourage them to choose something that can actually be done, it is not the end of the world if they don’t complete it. It is more important to have follow-up discussion and walk them through how they succeeded or why they failed. If they did make some steps toward the goal, that is a great opportunity for you to encourage and praise them for their accomplishment. No matter what progress they made on their goal, help them explore what the next steps are to move them closer to where they want to be.

These questions continue to give me success in gaining ground with students. This means that it also leads me to better know what resources those students need, and knowing those resources allows me to point them in the right direction to help shape a positive perspective about their life.

09.19.16

U.S. Religion Worth $1.2 Trillion by Jim Denison
denisonforum.org

It’s not often that an academic report changes the conversation about religion in America, but one just did. Georgetown University professors Brian Grim and Melissa Grim of the Newseum Institute have unveiled their groundbreaking study: “The Socio-economic Contributions of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis.” Here’s the summary:

•    Religion in the US contributes $1.2 trillion each year to our economy and society.
•    Despite declining religious affiliation in the American population, religious organizations have tripled the amount of money spent on social programs in the last fifteen years—to $9 billion.
•    Religion’s $1.2 trillion impact is more than the annual revenues of Apple, Amazon, and Google combined.

The study notes that congregations and religiously affiliated charity groups are responsible for:

•    130,000 alcohol and drug abuse recovery programs.
•    94,000 programs to support veterans and their families.
•    26,000 programs to prevent HIV/AIDS and to support those living with the disease.
•    121,000 programs to provide support or skills training for unemployed adults.

While religion contributes $1.2 trillion each year, religious tax-exemptions costthe US $71 billion. In other words, religion contributes seventeen times more to America than it costs.

This good news comes as we are facing unprecedented attacks on religious liberty and increasing skepticism regarding our contribution to the common good. For instance, 63 percent of atheists and agnostics believe that religious institutions contribute not much or nothing at all to solving social problems.

Other institutions face similar trust issues. FBI Director James Comey bemoaned this week the loss of public trust in government institutions like the one he leads. He lays much of the blame on social media: “Things like Twitter offer us the opportunity only to encounter views consistent with our own, 24 hours a day. There’s an opportunity to feed that monster of a bias, that confirmation bias, all the time. So it accelerates the fractionalizing of our society.”

Social media is undermining trust, but apparently conventional media isn’t helping. A just-published Gallup poll shows that only 32 percent of Americans either trust the media “a great deal” or “a fair amount.” That’s by far the lowest percentage in the forty-four years Gallup has asked this question. Seventy-two percent of Americans trusted the media in 1976, but less than a third of us do so today.

In a skeptical day, the best way to gain trust is to do what the culture values. Our society clearly values deeds over doctrines. People believe that our faith is real when they see that it is relevant.

Here’s an example: Acts 5 notes that “many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles” (v. 12). As a result, “The people held them in high esteem” (v. 13) and “more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women” (v. 14).

When skeptics claim that religion is irrelevant or even dangerous, we can cite the Grims’ study to show that they’re wrong. But we must not stop there. We demonstrate the personal value of our faith when it moves us to personal ministry: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Do good today for God’s glory. This is the sum of life.

Note: For more on the Grims’ report, see Nick Pitts’s Religion Contributes $1.2 Trillion Each Year to US Economy.

08.30.16

Discipline Tips for Pushovers, Control Freaks, Scaredy-Cats and Clueless by Adam Day

childrensministry.com/articles/discipline-with-your-style/?utm_source=internal_cm&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=

Whether you’re a pushover, a control freak, a scaredy-cat, or just plain clueless about discipline — you can become a better classroom manager.

Classroom management can be the toughest part of a teacher’s job. It’s a constant struggle for some, and even those who seem to have figured out how to best manage their kids see that doing so is a continual process rather than one easy fix. Teachers everywhere seem to struggle with discipline in some way — usually because they fall into one of four categories: The Pushover, The Control Freak, The Scaredy Cat, or Just Plain Clueless. So before you get out your knuckle-snapping ruler or let the kids run over you on their way out the door, read on. Discover which discipline style is your default — and how you can strengthen your classroom management skills.

You may be a Pushover if you…

• Can’t say no — even when you know you need to.

• Grin and bear bad behavior because you don’t see other options.

• Can’t (or won’t) set or enforce limits.

• Notice the kids are taking over and you’re not sure you should regain control.

• Must repeat yourself constantly to be heard over the general roar in your classroom.

Rules are healthy. Saying no is a foundational development stage in all children. In fact, no is one of the first words most children learn to say. And if a child is old enough to tell you no, then the child is old enough to hear it in return for inappropriate behavior. Ministry to children isn’t only about spir-itual principles; we’re here to help give them a productive, healthy approach to life.

When kids take over, no one wins. If kids are calling the shots, everyone will walk away feeling unfulfilled. If you allow children to write the rules, you give them a false impression of what real life is all about.

Testing is normal; your job is to define the boundaries. You can rest assured that your kids will test the limits. It’s a normal aspect of childhood. But it’s important to understand that while this testing is natural, children feel comfort and security when they know where the boundaries are. They want to know you love them enough to tell them no.

Post a few simple rules. Then — and this is key — hold kids to them. At first it’ll seem like you’re mean if you haven’t been enforcing rules up until now. You may get some initial push back from your kids, but this is normal. Keep steady and hold your ground.

Help kids self-regulate. A marble jar is a great way to encourage collective self-monitoring from your kids, and it produces positive peer pressure. Put the jar of marbles in front of your class, and add marbles when kids are attentive and on-task. You’ll find kids self-regulating if they know that marbles could get taken away. You’ll be surprised the first time you hear someone say, “Zach, stop! We’ll get a marble taken away!”

Help yourself. If you still need an extra push to establish and enforce rules, consider asking someone you know who has great classroom management skills to join you in your classroom for a few weeks to help you build your discipline muscles.

You may be a Control Freak if you…

• Can’t say yes — even when doing so would have absolutely no negative impact in your classroom.

• Tightly control every aspect of kids’ interactions and behavior.

• Are terrified of what might happen if kids “take over.”

• Hear kids tell their parents, “Church has too many rules.”

• Constantly use no, don’t, can’t, and stop when you talk to kids.

Rules are good, but too many rules cast a shadow. When keeping control is your number one goal, that emphasis paints church and Christianity as a stuffy, staunch, and stressful lifestyle. For kids to feel ownership of their class and to build relationships with one another, they must have a level of freedom. That means you must relinquish a corresponding level of control.

Church is fun. If your classroom’s fun factor has waned along with kids’ enthusiasm, you’re probably exerting too much control. Make an honest assessment — is it time to loosen up and remember what it was like to be a child? Trade in those long lectures and constant corrections for hands-on manipulatives and laugh-inducing experiences.

Micromanagement isn’t effective. Especially when it comes to helping kids sprout wings and grow. If your default is control, reign yourself in and remember that children don’t need to be managed; they need to be nurtured.

First control yourself. Make an intentional effort to get kids excited and interested in your lesson and activities rather than depending on your tone or mannerisms for classroom control. If you feel yourself reverting to Control Freak status, keep a handle on that tendency and instead put your energy into breathing life into the lesson. If you can pull kids into the content of the lesson, you won’t have to spend your time on discipline.

Study kids. Go to a children’s venue — a museum, zoo, playground, or recreation center, and watch kids as they learn. Most kids enjoy quickly moving from one concept to another and getting their hands on what they’re learning. Notice, too, that they tend to be noisy and boisterous when truly engaged in learning. This is typical of the species.

Take a relational break. Take a leap and intentionally schedule time for your kids to interact with one another every week. Ten minutes of free play or talk time is a great way to let kids connect. Prayer time is also important to help children relate in a group setting.

You may be a Scaredy Cat if you…

• Are terrified of what’ll happen if you dare to discipline.

• Are scared of parents.

• Are scared of kids (though you may be unlikely to admit it).

• Prefer to endure classroom chaos rather than ruffle feathers.

• Feel ill-equipped to go toe-to-toe with a misbehaving child.

You have a purpose. God placed you in kids’ lives for a reason. You’re ministering to these specific children not by fate, but by God’s providence. It’s your place-and your right-to make the most of every opportunity.

It’s not a popularity contest. Don’t be scared that kids won’t like you if you discipline and hold high standards. Frankly, children today don’t need a big brother or big sister or best friend; they need leaders in their lives who’ll guide them with loving boundaries.

Kids will respond. Kids will respect authority, but like any new responsibility they need you to teach them how. Your responsibility as a spiritual influencer goes beyond passing on biblical knowledge to kids. They see your actions and will model their lives after what you say and do. If you’re too scared to confront conflict, they’ll view that as a normal response to conflict. But if they see you boldly — yet lovingly — address issues, they’ll see that as normal and healthy.

Don’t be afraid. God’s Word tells us we don’t have a spirit of fear in our lives, but a spirit of power and wisdom. (Check out Romans 8:15 and 1 Peter 3:14.) Strengthen your prayer time. Ask God for courage in your classroom.

Focus on your kids. First John 4:18 says, “Perfect love drives out fear.” So set aside time to pray for your kids by name every day. A consistent pattern of prayer helps you focus on the kids and the issues that most need your attention.

Find out what’s at the root of your fear — and then do some weeding. If you’re concerned that people might not like a bold new you, take small steps to let kids and parents know you’re ready for a change. Focus on the positive aspects of a better-managed classroom: more learning, respect, and fulfillment for all. If, however, your fear is still crippling your classroom management, it’s time to ask for honest coaching from your leader.

Set the stake. A great starting point for a former Scaredy Cat is to establish and post a few simple ground rules. Introduce the rules at the start of your next class — and return to them whenever you need to. This will help you and your kids stay on track.

You may be clueless if you…

• Find yourself asking, “What boundaries? What rules?”

• Don’t have the foggiest notion why kids need parameters.

• Question why kids don’t come with the rules programmed in.

• Believe that rules are too cool for Sunday school.

Kids aren’t little adults. They can’t balance checkbooks, don’t know what FICA is, and are still learning self-control. For the most part, they don’t see abstract consequences as reality. So it really is all fun and games until somebody puts an eye out.

Kids need rules. Plain and simple. Kids actually thrive most when they know the rules and are expected to follow them. Boundaries offer a safe environment where kids can focus on learning. Classroom guidelines are critical to the success of your ministry.

Your job isn’t Director of Chaos Management. You have the huge task of molding and developing kids to follow God. This is no small task, so don’t take it lightly. It requires that you have a healthy, functioning class where kids feel emotionally and physically safe. Fun should still be a key ingredient, but there’s a line between total chaos and controlled chaos.

Get a grip on reality. Letting kids run wild isn’t doing them a favor and won’t please their parents — or your leader. If you don’t see a need for classroom order or can’t imagine requiring kids to follow rules, take stock of your current classroom situation. What’s actually happening? How much more might kids learn in a more controlled environment? Settle down with some popcorn and watch a few episodes of “Super Nanny.” Take notes on the before and after. Imagine how your classroom is now and how it could be. Which environment is more honoring to kids?

Get a mentor. Set up a time to observe a more seasoned teacher. Notice how the person guides kids’ focus and transitions from activity to activity. How are rules enforced? What does a class session look like when guidelines are in place? Kids respond positively to structure and stability.

Challenge yourself. Create a plan and timetable to implement structure and guidelines. Include rule-setting, plans for consequences, and transition ideas between class segments.

Your individual discipline style will show through in your teaching, and that’s the way it should be. God picked you because you bring something special to the kids you’re working with. But keep your balance-somewhere near the middle of the discipline continuum. Too far in any one direction could spell discipline disaster. Strengthen your style, and you’ll be a more effective teacher.

08.30.16

Why We Should Change the Way We Talk to Teenagers about Reading Their Bible by Andy Blanks

youthministry360.com

Like most of you reading this, a large percentage of the time I spend discipling teenagers is devoted to encouraging them to develop the spiritual practices that form the foundation of a Christ-centered life. Chief among these practices is spending daily time with God in His is Word. And like you, I imagine, I’ve found this to be one of the more challenging areas to see fruit in. And it’s always been this way. You see, I’ve long challenged my teenagers to find set-aside time to meet with God each day through Bible reading and prayer. I’ve challenged them to do this at night before they go to bed, if they had to, but most often I’ve challenged them to find a half hour or so before school to start their day with prayer and Bible reading. I’ve done this for years. I bet you have too.

It occurred to me recently that I don’t speak to teenagers about this in the same way I used to. I have adapted my message.

Nowadays, I find myself encouraging my teenagers not to think about their daily time with God as something that they do for 20 or 30 minutes in the morning or evening, but more like something they do in short bursts throughout their day. I encourage them to listen to a devotion or passage of Scripture on an app on the way to school. I encourage them to pray as their walking between classes, or to simply reflect on some aspect of God as they encounter His creation around them. I encourage them to grab snatches of Scripture using a Bible app as they wait for practice to start. Ultimately, I find myself encouraging them to see their time spent daily with God as much more organic and not so structured.

Here’s why I do this, and a few more thoughts on this whole progression.

FIRST, I REALIZED WITH THE STUDENTS I DISCIPLE, THE IDEA OF 20 OR 30 MINUTES OF SET-ASIDE TIME TO BE WITH GOD IN THE MORNING BEFORE SCHOOL IS COMPLETELY COUNTER-CULTURAL TO WHERE THEY FIND THEMSELVES.

The guys I disciple are up and heading to school by 6AM for practice or study hall or choir, and so on. These same guys have had practice after school the night before until 6PM or so. Once you factor in dinner, shower, and the ton of homework they have, they fall into beds exhausted at 10:30 or 11:00. For these guys, the idea that they would get up 30 minutes early is a big deal. I like the idea of freeing them from the burden of this expectation. I like helping them reframe their relationship with God in a less legalistic way.

SECOND, WHO THE HECK SAID THAT COMMUNING WITH GOD HAS TO LOOK A CERTAIN WAY ANYWAY?

Well, I guess I did. And I guess the reason why I did is because that’s the way it was taught to me. But culturally, it’s just not a relevant practice to my teenagers. And I would rather adapt to set them up for success than make them feel burdened by a practice that is admittedly difficult for them.

THIRD, AND THIS IS IMPORTANT, I ABSOLUTELY, 100% STILL THINK THAT MEETING GOD IN HIS WORD IN SILENCE AND SOLITUDE IS THE BEST WAY TO COMMUNE WITH GOD.

It’s the way Jesus modeled for us. It’s been practiced for thousands of years by everyone from cloistered monks to your Grandmamma. Heck, I did it this morning, alone, at 4:45 AM while everyone else was asleep. And maybe that’s the secret to why I have adapted my message.

The goal is to get my teenagers meeting with God through His Word and through prayer. I couldn’t care less how they do it.

Why? Because I know this: when they begin to understand the value in this relational connection to God, it will birth in them a desire to meet with Him more. At that point their habits will catch up with their hearts. I believe they’ll ADD a daily time of quiet reflection with God to their organic, meeting with God in the day’s margins way of interacting with Him. And if they do, they will own a wonderfully holistic approach to engaging with their Creator on a daily basis.

My goal is simply this: I long for my teenagers to know God in a way that is dynamic and transformative. I want them to have practices that enable this. And I am open to any model that precipitates their spiritual growth.