08.14.17

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

Fulleryouthinstitute.com

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

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

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

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

Is God real? 

Why are Christians so messed up?

Can I trust the Bible? 

Is it wrong to doubt God? 

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

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

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

1. Yes, you can ask that

2. I don’t know, but…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

08.07.17

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why It’s Worth It

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

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

Ministry is Hard

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

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

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

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

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

But It’s Worth It

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

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

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

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

07.17.17

Hi! I am praying for you right now! 

Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
God wants to bring you to a place where you are not defined by your dysfunction but by your deliverance. #lusko
When you focus on everything that could possibly be missing, you miss everything that could be possible. #furtick
He who fears not the future may enjoy the present. #fuller
Trust is accepting what God sends into your life whether you understand it or not. #keller
 
FYI:
1. Guide for Teen Slang… https://netsanity.net/teen-slang-parents-guide/?inf_contact_key=212eef2d96d68c5ccc8b2ac124c863d85b4670f59a5b027563136e1e779ff5ca
2. 56 Games Students Love… http://childrensministry.com/articles/list-of-bible-games/?utm_source=internal_children’s_ministry_resource&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=
 
4. Maybe it’s Time to Shut Up… https://www.heartlightministries.org/2017/07/maybe-time-shut/?utm_source=CC+Master+List&utm_campaign=bb35a72359-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_07_03&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5926458580-bb35a72359-126726953
5. Why Christians Need to Make the Case for Making the Case (Below)
 
 
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
Facebook Can’t Replace the Church by Grayson Pope 
Ways to Reach More Millennials at Your Church by Brandon Hilgemann (For churches and reaching millennials… but this applies to our students too!)
Why Big Fun Doesn’t Work & What To Do Instead by Aaron Helman (Blog post for youth pastors but the what we do instead has some great reminders.)
When Pain is All You Have – Why Teenagers Cut Themselves by Jim Burns (Some good info here!)
 

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

http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/67995/stuff?utm_source=WorshipHouse%20Media%20–%20Around%20the%20House%20(CD%20Update)&utm_medium=email&utm_content=stuff-2169778&utm_campaign=fp-07/14/2017-2169778
http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/68153/i-am-his?utm_source=WorshipHouse%20Media%20–%20Around%20the%20House%20(CD%20Update)&utm_medium=email&utm_content=i_am_his-2169778&utm_campaign=fp-07/14/2017-2169778
 
Here are 2 just for you:
 
Why Nothing You Give Up for Christ is Ever Lost 
 
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.   Galatians 2:20

Mark 10:29-30 Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age and in the age to come, eternal life.”

1 Corinthians 3:12-15 reminded me that God notices all the work we do for him and also reminded me that those who know Christ will be rewarded in heaven for what they do on earth.

When I embrace these truths, difficulties take on an eternal meaning and I am bolstered with confidence that nothing in this world can really shake me because nothing that I give up for Christ will ever be lost. Every sacrifice will be ultimately redeemed.

Joy! In Christ, we win and the story ends very, very well.

Perhaps this knowledge is why Corrie ten Boom, the beloved author, evangelist, and concentration camp victim who traveled for over thirty years telling the world about Jesus, said that material things would never be important to her again after her time in Ravensbruck. Corrie had stood at death’s door, and when she did, heaven’s priorities became illuminated.

There is an internal freedom that comes when we realize that what we do here matters for forever, and because it matters for forever, absolutely no earthly happening will ever be able to destroy us. Nothing will ultimately ruin us. No disappointment will keep us down—and nothing that we give up for Jesus will be lost. Not when we give up a job, a home we love, or loved ones as we move across the country and say goodbye. In the end, we win.

What have you given up for Christ? You can be confident that He notices. And, when you work for Him, you are storing up for yourself treasure in heaven that can never be destroyed.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).

Prayer: Lord, how wonderful you are that you reward those who know you, love you, and do your will. Please help me to live in light of eternity. Amen.

Jesus heals our broken hearts

The physical heart muscle, fed by arteries, pumps and regulates the blood flow that carries oxygen and nutrients throughout our bodies. If we exercise that muscle through cardiovascular workouts and feed it healthy nutrients, it grows stronger. But let it languish and feed it toxins, and we all know what happens: the muscle grows weak and the arteries get clogged.

The same is true of our spiritual hearts. The heart is the seat of our passions; it drives and compels us to be who we are and act as we do. It is the essence of our character. So what happens if our spiritual heart is fed toxins and we let it languish? It too grows weak, gets clogged, and sends those poisonous toxins pumping through our lives. When shame has been pumping through a heart, over time the heart itself grows toxic. When we are wounded, we leak toxic waste, and that waste poisons us and the people around us — even when we are completely unaware of it.
The reality is:

  • Hurt people hurt people.
  • Broken people break people.
  • Shattered people shatter people.
  • Damaged people damage people.
  • Wounded people wound people.
  • Bound people bind people.

Many of us have been hurt, suffered offense, and then lived with it unforgiven in our lives. But over time God will replace our clogged hearts with His heart of flesh because healthy hearts create healthy and fruitful lives (Ezekiel 36:26). And free people can truly free people.

  • Hurt people hurt people, but helped people help people.
  • Broken people break people, but rebuilt people build people.
  • Shattered people shatter people, but whole people restore people.
  • Damaged people damage people, but loved people love people.
  • Wounded people wound people, but healed people bind up wounds
  • Bound people bind people, but freed people lead others to freedom.
Why Christians Need to Make the Case for Making the Case by J. Warner Wallace
coldcasechristianity.com

Now, more than ever, Christians must shift from accidental belief to evidential trust. It’s time to know why you believe what you believe. Christians must embrace a forensic faith. In case you haven’t been paying attention, Christians living in America and Europe are facing a growingly skeptical culture. Polls and surveys continue to confirm the decline of Christianity (refer, for example, to the ongoing research of the Pew Research Center, including their 2015 study entitled, America’s Changing Religious Landscape). When believers explain why they think Christianity is true, unbelievers are understandably wary of the reasons they’ve been given so far.

As Christians, we’d better embrace a more thoughtful version of Christianity, one that understands the value of evidence, the importance of philosophy, and the virtue of good reasoning. The brilliant thinker and writer C. S. Lewis was prophetic when he called for a more intellectual church in 1939. On the eve of World War II, Lewis drew a parallel between the challenges facing Christianity in his own day and the challenges facing his country as war approached:

If all the world were Christian it might not matter if all the world were uneducated. But, as it is, a cultural life will exist outside the Church whether it exists inside or not. To be ignorant and simple now—not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground—would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason because bad philosophy needs to be answered. The cool intellect must work not only against the cool intellect on the other side but against the muddy heathen mysticisms which deny intellect altogether. (C.S. Lewis, “Learning in War-Time,” The Weight of Glory page 58)

Over seventy years ago, Lewis recognized two challenges facing the church: (1) Christians are largely unprepared to make the case for what they believe; and (2) many in the church still deny the need to be prepared in the first place. We are a largely anti-intellectual group, even though the history of Christianity is replete with some of the greatest thinkers who ever lived. In spite of our rich intellectual history, we have arrived at a point where there is a need to make a case for making a case.

Blessings, Kendall

07.17.17

Why Big Fun Doesn’t Work & What To Do Instead by Aaron Helman

ministrytoyouth.com

Twenty years ago, it was pretty easy to attract a crowd to your youth group.

Throw together a fun activity on a Sunday night, print some posters, order some pizza, and you were set.

But that was twenty years ago.

Things have changed, and today it’s so much more difficult to bring together a large group of teenagers.

And while there is so much that has changed in our world, in technology, and in mainstream teenage culture; perhaps no change is as profound as the one that so many of us have failed to notice.

Giving teenagers social, fun activities has turned into big business over the course of the last decade.

Think about it.

Even in 1995, there weren’t a ton of opportunities for teenagers to get together and do something fun with friends on a Sunday night.

Maybe the movie theater? If you were lucky, maybe Putt-Putt?

Youth group had a near-monopoly on Sunday night’s (or weekend) social teenage entertainment, and so a dodgeball tournament or messy games extravaganza was a good draw.

If you were 15-years-old, it’s not like there were a ton of other things to do at 6:00 p.m. on a Sunday.

Today, hobbies like paintballing are fully realized industries.

Trampoline parks are a thing that exists.

Malls and food courts keep later Sunday hours than ever before.

The local skating rink hosts all-nighters, an activity that used to be strictly reserved for caffeinated youth ministries.

Even more, with the advent of online gaming, video games are no longer a primarily solo hobby – these too can be considered social entertainment.

You could go on and on and on, but the point remains the same.

Teenagers today have more social options and more entertainment options than ever before. If we’re competing for their time in the space of BIG FUN, we’ve found ourselves in a suddenly clustered field. 

Teenagers who are just looking for a fun time with their friends on Sunday night have a lot more choices than they used to.

And those other places? They have marketing budgets and niche appeal and a dozen other things that we don’t necessarily have ourselves.

The bottom line is that for most of us if we’re trying to sell youth ministry as the fun place to be, it’s probably going to be harder than ever before.

SO, WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

The good news for all of us is that youth ministry was never supposed to compete on fun.

A youth group offers Meaning and Truth and Real Relationships and plenty of other Capitalized Things that you won’t find at the ice rink or climbing wall.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t play games or have fun in our ministries.

Our programs should be fun.

Fun is important.

Our students should have fun when they’re with us.

But BIG FUN shouldn’t be our primary draw, it shouldn’t be the primary focus of our marketing or communication.

If you’re trying to persuade students to attend because it will be fun, they’ll compare your program against a dozen other fun options and too often, you’ll lose out.

But if you’re trying to persuade students to attend because they’ll get to be a part of something that Matters, because they’ll be a part of something Real, and because they’ll belong to something Eternal…

…they won’t have anything else to compare it too.

Your ministry is the only thing that can do that.

I know what you’re thinking that kind of philosophical advice sounds really, really good until you have to actually figure out how you’re going to, you know, do it.

Let’s go into more detail of how to put all of this into action.

BE A PART OF SOMETHING THAT MATTERS

A friend of mine runs a mid-sized suburban youth ministry.

He is a phenomenal teacher and Bible study leader. He is a gifted counselor when he meets with students in crisis.

In short, his giftedness emphasizes the Pastor part of Youth Pastor.

A typical youth group meeting for him looks a lot like a typical meeting for a lot of youth groups.

There’s some hang-out time, they play some games, eat some food. Then they worship together, hear some teaching, and break out into small groups.

The day after youth group, he always posts a one-minute hype video about everything that happened at youth group last night.

It’s supposed to be a tool that makes more people want to come.

But what’s in that video?

  • A ten-second intro featuring the youth group logo, and truly epic build-up music.
  • Captured video of students playing shaving cream games set to pounding rock music.
  • Captured video of people eating pizza and making faces at the camera.
  • A few seconds of people worshipping at a stage, before it fades out to black and says, “Every Wednesday at 7:00”.

End video.

Now, none of those things are bad. There’s nothing wrong with games or shaving cream.

There is definitely nothing wrong with pizza.

But even though I know for a fact that this youth group features rich teaching and life-giving small groups, you wouldn’t know it from the video or the Facebook page.

“Big Fun” makes up 10% of my friend’s ministry and 80% of its marketing. If you’re on the outside looking in, youth group might look fun, but you don’t see meaningful.

And the worst part is that the fun at youth group doesn’t look nearly as fun as the fun at the Trampoline Park or the Paintball Fields or the Basketball Courts.

So, how could we make that video even better?

MEANINGFUL IS EVEN BETTER THAN AWESOME

Imagine you’d just had a rough week at school.

You’re a 17-year-old junior and you’re caught in the pressures of choosing colleges.

You’ve got options about how to spend your evening, and just going to sleep is absolutely one of them.

Then your small group leader shoots you a text:

Hope you can make it to youth group tonight! We’re playing dodgeball! It’s going to be epic. 

Ugh. What does that even mean? Can any game of dodgeball really be that epic?

But what if the text said this?

I know you’re busy with college stuff, praying for you, bud. Hope you’ll be at youth tonight, I’d love to take five minutes to hear about your week.

That’s different. That’s an adult that cares.

You think the night manager at the movie theater wants to hear about your week?

Is the random person you’re playing video games with online taking time to pray for you?

These kinds of meaningful interactions probably already happen within your ministry. Now it’s time to emphasize them.

Your ministry isn’t going to the best entertainment option a teenager has in a week.

You’re not going to be the coolest social interaction they have all week, and probably your volunteers aren’t going to be either.

But your ministry can be the place where students are most cared for, where they feel most valued, and where they feel freest to be themselves.

Your ministry can be the place where students feel safest to ask questions, most supported in times of difficulty, and most prayed for in times of strife.

Your ministry won’t be the most fun, but it will be the place where teenagers discover who they are and “Whose” they are.

In fact, it probably already is.

HERE’S THE HARD PART

This stuff doesn’t make for good video.

An authentic small group conversation really can’t be videotaped for public consumption, and if it was, it would look pretty boring, even set to the hardest Skillet track you can find.

So how do you attract students to something Real and Meaningful if you can’t capture it in a cool video or colorful flyer? 

You talk to them about it.

You send text messages like the one above and you teach your small group leaders and volunteers to do the same.

You train your students not to testify about how epic youth group is, but instead to testify to how it changed their life.

When you send materials home to parents, emphasize stories of lives changes, Truth shared, and God moving; not just the craziest games you’ve played in the last month.

Most of all, every time you communicate anything, ask yourself this question –

“Am I selling my youth group based on how fun it is? Or how much it Matters?”

Always choose the second.

Your youth ministry is already doing amazing and meaningful things.

Now you’ve just got to make sure you’re telling that story.

07.17.17

When Pain is All You Have – Why Teenagers Cut Themselves by Jim Burns

homeword.com

17-year-old Lauren was despondent over breaking up with her boyfriend. She had never known pain so deep and lingering.

She tried to drown her sorrows in her favorite activities but nothing seemed to work. Even a trip to the movies turned sour when she noticed her former beau with his new girl watching the same film she was.

Trying to keep her composure but hurting just the same, she inadvertently yanked the tab off her soda can. Without much thought, she pressed its sharp edge deep into the flesh of her thumb.

The pain and the blood that followed unleashed what had been pent up inside of her since the relationship ended. But it also gave her something she had longed for all her life – a sense of control over her pain.

Within weeks, Lauren became a full-fledged self-injurer…a “cutter,” if you will. And though few statistics exist on the subject, it’s estimated that as many as 2 million Americans have been treated for some form of self-injury, cutting being the most common. Other common forms of self-mutilation include burning, bone-breaking, and hair-pulling.

As you might imagine, self-injurers don’t always come from stable, loving homes. It’s estimated that about 50% have a history of physical or sexual abuse. One 26-year-old woman said the physical pain she inflicted on herself helped her forget the pain of a childhood marred by sexual abuse.

In recent years, made-for-TV movies and popular television dramas about self-injury have brought this phenomenon to light. And in most, if not all of these storylines, the self-injurers were women. But, in reality, just over 70% are, most of those ranging in age from 11 to 26.

In years past, statistics would show that as many as 90% of those who “cut,” “burn,” or “pull” grew up in homes where communication between children and parents was severely lacking, and messy problems were ignored, avoided, and ultimately left in silence. Interestingly, those early statistics also showed that children of divorced parents are more likely to cut than children whose parents remain together even in a tense, difficult union. However, according to youth expert Ken Mueller, the practice has now become more mainstream and has reached fad status. In fact, Teen Vogue referred to cutting as “the new anorexia.”

Mueller writes, in an article for the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, “Like most other destructive behaviors, cutting has moved into the church, and many Christian teens are getting involved. Those behaviors that we have so neatly bookmarked as ‘of the world’ are finding their way into our homes at an alarming rate.” And that includes homes that are self-described by the cutter herself as happy, loving, Christian homes.

What’s the appeal? Cutting is, at its core, an unhealthy act of coping. Only sometimes is it associated with suicidal thoughts; rather, it’s a means of actually feeling something – anything. Beyond that emotional release, the act of self-injury gives a sense of control, as well as a physical satisfaction, as doctors note that cutting releases pleasurable endorphins.

Following is a set of facts about cutting, produced by S.A.F.E. (Self-Abuse Finally Ends) Alternatives and are reproduced here with their permission.

Self-Injury Facts
About Self-Injury: Self-Injurious behavior is defined as the deliberate, repetitive, impulsive, non-lethal harming of one’s self. Self-injury includes: 1) cutting; 2) scratching; 3) picking scabs or interfering with wound healing; 4) burning; 5) punching self or objects; 6) infecting oneself; 7) inserting objects in body openings; 8) bruising or breaking bones; 9) some forms of hair-pulling, as well as other various forms of bodily harm. The behaviors, which pose serious risks, may be symptoms of a mental health problem that can be treated.

Incidence & onset: Experts estimate the incidence of habitual self-injurers is nearly 1 % of the population, with a higher proportion of females than males. The typical onset of self-harming acts is at puberty. The behaviors often last for 5-10 years but can persist much longer without appropriate treatment.

Background of self-injurers: Though not exclusively, the person seeking treatment is usually from a middle to upper-class background, of average to high intelligence, and has low self-esteem. Nearly 50% report physical and/or sexual abuse during his or her childhood. Many report (as high as 90%), that they were discouraged from expressing emotions, particularly, anger and sadness.

Behavior patterns: Many who self-harm use multiple methods. Cutting arms or legs is the most common practice. Self-injurers may attempt to conceal the resultant scarring with clothing, and if discovered, often make excuses as to how an injury happened. A significant number are also struggling with eating disorders and alcohol or substance abuse problems. An estimated one-half to two-thirds of self-injurers have an eating disorder.

Reasons for behaviors: Self-injurers commonly report they feel empty inside, over or under stimulated, unable to express their feelings, lonely, not understood by others and fearful of intimate relationships and adult responsibilities. Self-injury is their way to cope with or relieve painful or hard-to-express feelings and is generally not a suicide attempt. But relief is temporary, and a self-destructive cycle often develops without proper treatment.

Dangers: Self-injurers often become desperate about their lack of self-control and the addictive-like nature of their acts, which may lead them to true suicide attempts. The self-injury behaviors may also cause more harm than intended, which could result in medical complications or death. Eating disorders and alcohol or substance abuse intensify the threats to the individual’s overall health and quality of life.

Diagnoses: The diagnosis for someone who self-injures can only be determined by a licensed psychiatric professional. Self-harm behavior can be a symptom of several psychiatric illnesses: Depression; Personality Disorders (esp. Borderline Personality Disorder); Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depression); Mood Disorders (esp. Major Depression and Anxiety Disorders); Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, as well as psychoses such as Schizophrenia.

Evaluation: If someone displays the signs and symptoms of self-injury, a mental health professional with self-injury expertise should be consulted. An evaluation or assessment is the first step, followed by a recommended course of treatment to prevent the self-destructive cycle from continuing.

Treatment: Self-injury treatment options include outpatient therapy, partial (6-12 hours a day) and inpatient hospitalization. When the behaviors interfere with daily living, such as employment and relationships, and are health or life-threatening, a specialized self-injury hospital program with an experienced staff is recommended.

The effective treatment of self-injury is most often a combination of medication, cognitive/behavioral therapy, and interpersonal therapy, supplemented by other treatment services as needed. Medication is often useful in the management of depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and the racing thoughts that may accompany self-injury. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps individuals understand and manage their destructive thoughts and behaviors. Contracts, journals, and behavior logs are useful tools for regaining self-control. Interpersonal therapy assists individuals in gaining insight and skills for the development and maintenance of relationships. Services for eating disorders, alcohol/substance abuse, trauma abuse, and family therapy should be readily available and integrated into treatment, depending on individual needs.

In addition to the above, successful courses of treatment are marked by:

1) patients who are actively involved in and committed to their treatment

2) aftercare plans with support for the patient’s new self-management skills and behaviors

3) collaboration with referring and other involved professionals.

If your child is cutting, or you know a child who is, there is no substitute for professional treatment from a caring, Christian counselor. You might consider contacting SAFE (Self-Abuse Finally Ends). You can call them toll-free at…1 – 800 – DON’T CUT (366 – 8288).

Contrary to conventional wisdom, time doesn’t heal all wounds. Self-injury leaves scars that last a lifetime. Only with God’s help will they ever fully heal!

07.10.17

Six Simple Ways to Better Engage Generation Z by Tim Elmore
growingleaders.com

We are leading, coaching, parenting, and teaching kids who’ve never lived a day in the 20th century. They’ve only known a world of terrorism, recession, racial unrest, corporate scandals, under-employment and uncertainty. They’ve also only known a world of portable devices, multi-tasking, social media, multiple personas and a complex world where they are more about coping and hoping.

How do you coach this new student or young athlete?

Barkley Incorporated and Futurecast LLC collaborated on a study to inform companies and brands to better engage this younger generation as consumers. While I believe part of our job is to prepare kids to enter the adult world, which includes routines and hard work, there are a number of take-aways for us in this report, as we make adjustments to better lead Generation Z. After reviewing the report, here are some of my conclusions on how to engage them:

I Will Engage Them Better If I Will

1. Be faster at feedback.

This new generation values a faster pace of classroom, practice, rehearsal and career advancement that provides frequent feedback for meeting certain benchmarks. According to Dave Weisbeck, from data firm Visier, “They want to “gamify” their careers — a reference to online games and applications that reward players for completing specific tasks.” How can you offer more frequent benchmarks to help them see and measure personal improvement? Even though our class or our season continues to be the same length of time, how can we offer quicker feedback?

2. Do it more fluid and flexible.

Young people are more likely to view themselves as being at the center of their academic paths or careers, rather than revolving their careers around one college or company. “They are building a personal brand.” Therefore, the most flexible you can come across to them—communicating that you’re adjusting to their new realities—the faster you’ll engage them. You will give the impression of being real and “organic.” The longer I “stay the same” the more I appear “plastic” or even “fake” to a student. How can you flex in your methods of delivery or communication to current news or needs that pop up?

3. Offer more frequent rewards. 

While I believe we must equip our students to sustain their interest—even when the rewards are not visible at first—we can prepare them for this lifestyle by offering frequent rewards or benefits to incentivize them to stay and keep working. Sometimes the rewards can be easy for you, yet very meaningful to them—like points for finishing a project on time; affirmation for reaching a goal; or small gifts for hitting a deadline. Once they build a habit (within 21 days), it’s fine to reduce the volume and watch the internal motivation kick in. How could you provide rapid rewards for great performance? Remember: what gets rewarded gets repeated.

4. Break up the meetings into smaller segments.

Former Rams coach Jeff Fisher learned rapidly that splitting up his two-hour meetings into four 30-minute meetings resulted in more engaged players. While some felt he was placating the short attention spans of Millennials, the average age of his LA Rams football team was 24 years old. He got more engaged attendees when he allowed them to get their “social media fix” every half hour. How can you divide your time with students into smaller bites and segments of content to enable them to stay engaged more hours in the long run?

5. Find a way to do it digitally. 

According to Barkley, Inc. and Futurecast, “Teens today are the first generation of consumers to have truly grown up in an entirely post-digital era. Beginning in early childhood, if they did not know an answer to a question, they were taught to “Google it” or, even better, “ask Siri.” As our technology rapidly evolves, the things that were once considered groundbreaking advances to other generations are taken for granted by them. For example, a smart phone is not a piece of “technology.” Instead, it is simply part of life. Teens today are not amazed by the latest iPhone because they expect the functionality and ease of use it delivers. How well do you capitalize on our digital world to teach and coach students?

6. Empower them to create and curate.

In one survey from Barkley, Inc. and Futurecast, Generation Z said, “We want to work for our success, not to be discovered.” Unlike former generations, they are not simply posting a YouTube video and hoping to be found by Usher or some music label. They are curating videos or creating videos as artists who want to express themselves. The more we can empower them to mix and match ideas and then create an idea that represents “them,” the sooner they’ll engage in the project. How can you transform your classroom or practice and let them own it?

Here’s to more creative leadership as we learn how to better engage Generation Z.

06.27.17

Hi! I am praying for you right now! 

Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
Failing to plan is a plan to fail. #maxwell
 
Jesus didn’t come to tell us the answers to the questions of life, he came to be the answer. #keller
 
When we dance to the rhythm of daily faithfulness, God can turn our situational prisons into supernatural positions. #mccown
 
Every day, there is an average of 5,400 suicide attempts by students in grades 7-12.
 
FYI:
4. 10 up and coming brands, platforms, and influencers that will be shaping GEN Z (Below)
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
How Your Students Utilize Social Media by Tim Elmore
4 Ways To Respond To Unchurched Students by Jeremy Zach (For youth group but good for us to read.)
The Four Seasons of Growth for Students by Tim Elmore
How to Teach Your Kids to Appreciate God’s Word by Jim Burns

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

http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/62327/made-for-something-great?utm_source=WorshipHouse%20Media%20–%20Around%20the%20House%20(CD%20Update)&utm_medium=email&utm_content=something_great-2143706&utm_campaign=fp-06/23/2017-2143706
http://www.youthworker.com/mini-movies/64257/worship-him
 
Here are 2 just for you:
 
12 Ways to Humble Yourself

 
  1. Routinely confess your sin to God (Luke 18:9-14). All of us sin and fall short of the glory of God. However, too few of us have a routine practice of rigorous self-honesty examination. Weekly, even daily, review of our hearts and behaviors, coupled with confession to God, is an essential practice of humility.
  2. Acknowledge your sin to others (James 3:2, James 5:16). Humility before God is not complete unless there is also humility before man. A true test of our willingness to humble ourselves is willingness to share with others the weaknesses we confess to God. Wisdom, however, dictates that we do so with others that we trust.
  3. Take wrong patiently (1 Peter 3:8-17). When something is unjust we want to react and rectify it. However, patiently responding to the unjust accusations and actions of others demonstrates our strength of godly character and provides an opportunity to put on humility.
  4. Actively submit to authority…the good and the bad (1 Peter 2:18). Our culture does not value submission; rather it promotes individualism. How purposely and actively do you work on submission to those whom God has placed as authorities in your life? Doing so is a good way to humble yourself.
  5. Receive correction and feedback from others graciously (Proverbs 10:17, 12:1). In the Phoenix area, a local East valley pastor was noted for graciously receiving any negative feedback or correction offered. He would simply say “thank you for caring enough to share that with me, I will pray about it and get back to you.” Look for the kernel of truth in what people offer you, even if it comes from a dubious source. Always pray, “Lord, what are you trying to show me through this?”
  6. Accept a lowly place (Proverbs 25:6,7). If you find yourself wanting to sit at the head table, wanting others to recognize your contribution or become offended when others are honored or chosen, then pride is present. Purpose to support others being recognized, rather than you. Accept and look for the lowly place; it is the place of humility.
  7. Purposely associate with people of lower state than you (Luke 7:36-39). Jesus was derided by the Pharisees for socializing with the poor and those of lowly state. Our culture is very status conscious and people naturally want to socialize upward. Resist the temptation of being partial to those with status or wealth.
  8. Choose to serve others (Philippians 1:1, 2 Corinthians 4:5, Matthew 23:11). When we serve others, we are serving God’s purposes in their lives. Doing so reduces our focus on ourselves and builds the Kingdom of God. When serving another costs us nothing, we should question whether it is really servanthood.
  9. Be quick to forgive (Matthew 18: 21-35). Forgiveness is possibly one of the greatest acts of humility we can do. To forgive is to acknowledge a wrong that has been done us and also to further release our right of repayment for the wrong. Forgiveness is denial of self. Forgiveness is not insisting on our way and our justice.
  10. Cultivate a grateful heart (1 Thessalonians 5:18). The more we develop an attitude of gratitude for the gift of salvation and life He has given us, the truer perspective of self. A grateful heart is a humble heart.
  11. Purpose to speak well of others (Ephesians 4:31-32). Saying negative things about others puts them “one down” and us “one up.” Speaking well of others edifies them and builds them up. Make sure, however, that what you say is not intended as flattery.
  12. Treat pride as a condition that always necessitates embracing the cross (Luke 9:23). It is our nature to be proud and it is God’s nature in us that brings humility. Committing to a lifestyle of daily dying to ourselves and living through Him is the foundation for true humility.

Why you need daily discipleship 

We must be attentive to God’s direction as we go through the day or we may walk right past the opportunities to give a cup of water in Jesus’ name.

Sheep wake up hungry, ready to eat. Their instinct tells them to eat and to eat now. In fact, a lost appetite is one sign to the shepherd that a sheep is unhealthy. Camels, on the other hand, can go up to forty days without eating (they store calories in their hump). Not sheep. They need to eat daily to stay healthy.  

In Scripture, one of the more consistent images used to describe believers is sheep. We are called the sheep of His pasture (Psa. 100:3), in need of a shepherd (Matt. 9:36), the sheep for whom the Shepherd laid down His life (John 10:11), as knowing the voice of our Shepherd (John 10:14), and as a lost sheep being sought (Matt. 18:10-13). Like sheep, we too need to feed our souls daily to remain healthy.

We need it daily because life happens that way. Temptation doesn’t carry a calendar nor does it pace itself. It doesn’t stop and say, “It is Tuesday so I need to wait until Saturday to execute this temptation.” Opportunities to represent Christ in this world are usually not scheduled either. We must be attentive to God’s direction as we go through the day or we may walk right past the opportunities to give a cup of water in Jesus’ name. Life happens daily.

David understood the need for us to feed our souls daily. He declared that true happiness comes to those who meditate on God’s Word day and night (Psa. 1:1-2). David was not the first leader to understand this. Joshua was told that his success as a leader would be dependent on him meditating on God’s Word daily and obeying what he discovered (Josh. 1:7-8).  

When we think of discipleship we usually think of it in terms of a weekly meeting with another person who either we invest in or who is investing in us. As valuable as that may be, we can’t wait for a weekly meeting or weekly Bible study group to be fed. We need daily discipleship, taking daily actions that move us forward in our spiritual lives.

As a shepherd, we are responsible for making sure that the sheep under our care have access to the food they need. We can’t force them to eat, but that doesn’t negate our responsibility of making it possible for them to eat something. The good news is we don’t need to be present for them to eat. We just need to find a way to provide them daily food so they can feed themselves. Remember, healthy sheep want to eat.

Sheep were observed in Great Britain laying down and rolling over a cattle guard to gain access to gardens being “protected.” Their willingness to cross even a “hoof-proof” cattle guard to find food reveals more about their shepherd than about the sheep. Hungry sheep will look other places for food, willing to eat anything with the hope of surviving.

Move Over Millennials, Here Comes Gen Z

Born between the mid-90’s and early 2000’s, Generation Z makes up more than 2 billion people worldwide. They’ve officially replaced millennials as the next generation, and their $44 billion a year of purchasing power has captured the interest of advertisers, content creators, and social media platforms. They are the first generation ever to be raised completely in the digital age. Here are 10 up and coming brands, platforms, and influencers that will be shaping your student’s hearts and minds in the years to come.

  1. Houseparty: As of December, this group video chatting platform already has more than 1 million daily users
  2. AwesomenessTV: Parent company DreamWorks launched this new media conglomerate focusing primarily on content for GenZ. Their first feature film Before I Fall debuted this year.
  3. Astronauts Wanted: A transmedia, story-driven content development company creating shows, movies, and social media experiences for youth. Their “stories” are designed to live “across platforms and have entire social media worlds” built around them.
  4. Brandy Melville: This “Instabrand” Italian clothing company is suddenly the hottest clothing brand among tween girls, selling crop tops, baggy sweaters, and high-waist shorts. They credit Instagram (3.9 million followers) with their recent breakthrough in the U.S. market.
  5. Anastasia Beverly Hills: Burgeoning cosmetic company that primarily uses social media to build its fan base. Their makeup products have been featured by Kylie Jenner and the rise in “beautiful brows” is attributed to them.
  6. Amandla Stenberg: Debuting as Rue in the Hunger Games, the 18-year-old Stenberg is a social activist for feminism, racial injustice, and LGBTQ issues.
  7. Zendaya: The 20-year-old was dubbed “the most influential teen star of them all”, with ample reasons why. She’s a quadruple threat: she acts, sings, models, and dances. And, with over 42 million followers on Instagram, odds are your daughter’s fashion game is being shaped by this former Disney Channel star.
  8. Teen Vogue: Sure, you’ve heard mention of this label-conscious magazine, but did you know under new editorial leadership the publication is quickly becoming the go-to-source for political commentary, educating the rising generation on feminism, President Trump, and racial issues.
  9. Whistle Sports: It’s the new sports network for the YouTube demographic. With over 360 million fans across social platforms, they target young, online viewers whose television habits do not include watching traditional cable TV. If you want a glimpse into the way sports will be viewed in the future, keep an eye on Whistle.
  10. Musical.ly: Any one of the 200 million teen users can become a pop sensation overnight. In short, it’s a platform for creating, sharing, and discovering new music.

Blessings, Kendall

06.27.17

One of my favorite bands is Need To Breathe. The end of one of the choruses for their song “The Outsider’s” goes like this:

And through everything we’ve learned
We’ve finally come to terms
We are the outsiders,
Oh we are the outsiders

Imagine you’re a teen who has stepped into your youth program for the first time. They’re feeling this chorus. They don’t anyone. They don’t know you, your team, or your church. How would you feel? I know that we’d all agree that we want our youth ministries to embrace the students who are outsiders, however, do our ministry philosophies, strategies and programmatical structures reflect that passion?

Here are four strategies that will help us evaluate whether our youth ministries are effectively structured to reach the teens who are outside our ministries, stepping into our program for the first time.

1.  Be sensitive to each student’s spiritual development and process.

Every students’ spiritual process is unique.  The adolescent spiritual growth is not sequential progress. Rather the spiritual process for new unchurched kids is very intermittent and disruptive.  Here are a few ways to support the uniqueness of each student’s spiritual process:

– Overestimate the power of the Gospel and Jesus. Even though it may seem like Jesus isn’t present in this outsider’s life, HE is. Every student is made in the image of God.

– Be committed and consistent through their ups and downs. Don’t be discouraged when students fall. The teenage brain is like a Ferrari without brakes. So give some grace.

– Most growth happens when a student does hands-on ministry. Giving students ways to serve will amplify their faith. Give them opportunities for God to use them and work through them. Giving ministry opportunities is way more effective them preaching at them.

– Become a conversationalist and a not lecturer. Learn how to ask questions. It’s important to get students talking rather than the leader talking. Using the 80/20 principle. 80% listening, 20% talking. Listening will gain you influence.

– Discipleship starts with a student’s heart and not with their actions and behaviors. Don’t worry about the exterior behaviors of the outsiders. Start with their belief.

– Pray that the Holy Spirit will spark an awe for God in the teenager.

2.  Put yourself in their shoes.

Start with where they are at, not with where you are at. To know where kids are at you have to become a participant observer of youth culture and student clusters that populate your community. Learn what it is like being a kid today. Today kids are longing to belong, to be taken seriously, feel like they matter and be supported in a warm and safe environment.  The aim is to see and experience life as a 21st-century teen so you can comfortably connect with the unchurched kid so you are not surprised by what they know, say and do.

How do you do that?

– Watch them. Go where they are, don’t seek to evangelize, just seek to learn. Watch how they interact, observe how they dress and where they shop.

– Listen to them. We often wander school lunch rooms because we want to share about an event. What if instead we wandered the lunch room and just listened to their conversations. Sit at a table and listen, don’t feel the need to be the smart adult.

– Invite a teen to mentor you in youth culture. You’ve got student leaders in your church who would be willing to help you learn their values and culture. Learn from them.

3. Think about your life before Christ.

Remember what life was like NOT trusting and following Jesus.  We cannot presume students automatically know what it is like following Jesus.  It is very easy to forget the Bible, church, and Jesus means absolutely nothing to these unchurched students.  These students haven’t spent years being “sanctified”.  So it is okay if they are a bit “unholy”.

4. I am open to outsider’s feedback?

The most valuable feedback comes from influential students who are new to our environment. Best feedback comes from the most influential students. Here are three easy questions you can ask any new students:

– Why did you show up?

– Did you have fun?

– Would you ever bring your friends here?

The goal is to get the outsider to feel that they belong before they have to believe. Getting feedback will be helpful as you begin to figure out how your youth ministry can reach those outside.

In any given youth group always be understanding, demonstrate compassion (always err on grace) and establish boundaries for any unchurched student that walks through the church doors (and by all means, don’t disciple them about something they don’t understand). Just be thrilled they are there and will be exposed to Jesus’ teachings and love.

06.19.17

Hi! I am praying for you right now!

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

Quotes:

Sometimes the interruption is the assignment. #furtick

As we work, God works. The more we surrender ourselves to him, the more we position ourselves to be used by him. #denison

Our nation and world will be changed. One person at a time. For the glory of His Name! #lotz

When you realize He sacrificed to give us life, you will start to say how can I sacrifice to give other people life? #keller

FYI:

1. 13 Ways You Can Equip Parents to Lead Their Children Spiritually… http://childrensministry.com/articles/equipping-parents/?utm_source=internal_children’s_ministry_resource&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=

  1. When someone says Christianity is intolerant…https://beardeddisciple.com/2017/05/30/christianity-is-intolerant/?utm_content=buffer35802&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
  1. 10 Toxic Behaviors That Will Ruin Your Small Group… http://www.ibelieve.com/slideshows/10-toxic-behaviors-that-will-ruin-your-small-group.html
  1. 12 YouTube Challenges Your Kid Already Knows About (See below)

Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org

The #1 Surprising Thing Your Church Needs to Know About Gen Z by Ron Powell

Child Behavior: When Nothing Else Works, Consider These 7 Strategies by Gary Direnfeld (Has good insight about behavior in general!)

How to Correct a Student’s Negative Perception by Tim Elmore

Why Porn Might Bring Down This Generation of Young People and My Child Was Caught Viewing Porn! What Do I Do? by Jim Burns

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

http://www.youthworker.com/mini-movies/66448/discover-the-kingdom

http://www.youthworker.com/mini-movies/67142/fools-gold

Here are 2 just for you:

How to Add Value to Others

“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.” Matthew 4:23

When people think about you, do they say to themselves, “My life is better because of that person”?  Their response probably answers the question of whether you are adding value to them.  To succeed personally, you must try to help others.  That’s why Zig Ziglar says, “You can get everything in life you want if you help enough other people get what they want.” How do you do that? How can you turn your focus from yourself and start adding value to others? You can do it by:

  1. Putting others first in your thinking.
  2. Finding out what others need.
  3. Meeting that need with excellence and generosity.

Passing the Trust Test

“Among leaders who lack insight, abuse abounds, but for one who hates corruption, the future is bright.”  Proverbs 28:16 (The Message)

People today are desperate for leaders, but they want to be influenced by someone they can trust, a person of good character. If you want to become someone who can positively influence other people:

  1. Model consistency of character. Solid trust can only develop when people can trust you all the time
  2. Employ honest communication. To be trustworthy, you have to be like a good musical composition: your words and music must match.
  3. Value transparency. If you’re honest with people and admit your weaknesses, they appreciate your honesty. And they are able to relate to you better.
  4. Exemplify humility. People won’t trust you if they see that you are driven by ego, jealousy, or the belief that you are better than they are.
  5. Demonstrate your support of others. Nothing develops or displays your character better than your desire to put others first.
  6. Fulfill your promises. One of the fastest ways to break trust with others is in failing to fulfill your commitments.

12 YouTube Challenges Your Kid Already Knows About by Christine Elgersma

commonsensemedia.org

It’s a tale as old as time: We see a lot of people wearing/doing/saying something and we want to try it, too. Back in the day, it was saying “Bloody Mary” into a mirror at slumber parties. Today, it means viral social media stunts. Though adults get caught up, too, kids are especially susceptible to peer pressure and FOMO (fear of missing out). To them, what was once a double-dog dare is now a popular YouTuber eating a hot pepper just to see what happens.

Called “challenges,” these stunts range from harmless to horrifying: There are the silly ones (such as the Mannequin Challenge); the helpful ones (like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge); and the slightly risky ones (such as the Make Your Own Slime Challenge). But sometimes, challenges are downright dangerous, resulting in physical injury — and possibly even death. So what’s a parent to do?

Below are some of the hottest challenges that have swept social media; some fade and then make a comeback. In most cases, kids are watching these challenges on YouTube purely for entertainment, but some challenges inspire kids to try them out themselves. (In fact, the safe ones can be fun for families to try.) Others — like the Backpack Challenge — are often done with the goal of filming other kids and broadcasting the results online. While there could be a new one as soon as tomorrow, they do seem to fall into certain categories, and there’s some universal advice that parents can follow, no matter the challenge.

Funny

Try Not to Laugh Challenge. Popularized by YouTubers like Markiplier, this trend involves watching short, funny videos and trying not to laugh. It’s simple and harmless, though there’s often a lot of laughing at others’ expense.

Whisper Challenge. You may have seen this one on Jimmy Fallon: One person wears headphones playing loud music. The other person says a phrase out loud, and the one listening to music tries to read their lips and repeat the phrase. Hilarity ensues.

Mannequin Challenge. A group of people gets together, poses, and freezes in place, and someone with a camera walks around recording the scene while music plays. Even celebrities have gotten in on this one, including Michelle Obama, Ellen, and Adele.

Food

Eat It or Wear It Challenge. This one takes some prep: Put some different foods in separate bags and number them. A player chooses a number, checks out the food, and decides to eat it or wear it. If they eat it, they can dump the remainder on another player’s head. If they choose to wear it … you can guess what happens. Other than a huge mess (and food allergies), this one is low-risk.

Hot-Pepper Challenge. You can probably guess: Eat a super hot pepper — like a habanero or a ghost pepper — while you film yourself suffering and chugging milk to try to stop the burning. Though most people get through it unscathed, there have been a few reports of people ending up at the hospital.

Cinnamon Challenge. Eat a spoonful of cinnamon, sputter and choke, and record the whole thing for others to enjoy. Again, though there may be some temporary discomfort, most kids won’t get hurt — but some have.

Physical

Bottle-Flipping Challenge. Partly fill a plastic water bottle and toss it in such a way that it lands right-side up. This one got so popular they made apps to replicate the experience!

Backpack Challenge. This one’s a little like running a gauntlet. One person runs between two rows of people who try to hit you with heavy backpacks. The goal is to make it to the end without falling down … but no one ever does. Of course, it’s easy for kids to get hurt doing this.

Kylie Lip Challenge. Oh, Kylie Jenner — and her lips. In an effort to replicate them, kids would put a shot glass over their mouths, suck in, and make their lips swell artificially. Not only can it cause damage, but it also can be an indicator of body insecurities and the emulation of impossible beauty standards.

Frightening

Choking/Fainting/Pass-Out Challenge. To get high or faint, kids either choke other kids, press hard on their chests, or hyperventilate. Obviously, this is very risky, and it has resulted in death.

Salt and Ice Challenge. If you put salt and ice on your skin, it causes burns, so the purpose of this trend is to endure it for as long as possible.

Blue Whale Challenge. Of all these challenges, this one is the scariest and the most mysterious: Over the course of 50 days, an anonymous “administrator” assigns self-harm tasks, like cutting, until the 50th day, when the participant is supposed to commit suicide. It is rumored to have begun in Russia, and there were reports that suicides were tied to the trend, but those are unverified and likely not true. Apps related to the Blue Whale Challenge were said to appear and were then removed. The biggest concern is teens who are at risk and may be susceptible to trends and media about suicide because even if the challenge began as an isolated incident or hoax, it could become real.

What to Do

Talk about it. Though we can’t always be with our tweens and teens to prevent dangerous behavior, our words really can stay with them. Say, “If you ever want to do an internet challenge, check with me first.”

Get them to think. Help your kid think through the challenges and whether they’re safe or have potential risks. Say, “Walk through each step and figure out where things could go wrong.”

Acknowledge peer pressure. Today’s kids think of internet personalities as their peers, so seeing kids on YouTube doing a challenge could influence your kid. Say, “Why do you want to do this? Is this a video of yourself that you really want out in the world?”

Stay (somewhat) up to date. Ask your kid about what’s happening in their lives when they’re not distracted — even when it seems like they don’t want you to. Sometimes kids are more willing to talk about what’s going on with other kids than with themselves, so pose questions about friends, school, and trends. Once the conversation is open, you can get a sense of what your kid thinks about the latest craze — and if they’re safe. Keep an open mind and intervene if you’re concerned. Say, “Would you consider doing a viral stunt if someone asked you? Which ones would you do and not do?”

Model responsible online habits. Some parents are the ones recording their kids taking these challenges, so make sure your involvement sends the message you intend. Today it might be harmless, but tomorrow it might be more dangerous. Help your kids make the distinction so they can stay safe. Say, “Let’s do a funny challenge together, but we’ll only film it if you want to, and we’ll only share it with family.”

Blessings, Kendall

06.19.17

The #1 Surprising Thing Your Church Needs to Know About Gen Z by Ron Powell

youthministryunleashed.com

Gen Z is upon us and if we confuse these students with Millennials we’re going to miss out on connecting with them and touching their hearts.

As James White tells us in Meet Generation Z, “If the heart of the Christian mission is to evangelize and transform culture through the centrality of the church, then understanding that culture is paramount.”

So sure, they have been brought up by the biggest generation of adults claiming no religious affiliation, and they are the first group considered post-Christian but what is the most surprising thing about this cohort of students?

The #1 Thing

We know also that they have grown up in a snapchat world of weekly terrorist attacks, gay marriage, and legalization of marijuana but what is at the heart of GenZ that needs to be understood and approached differently than previous generations? “They aren’t merely secularized. They’re not thinking about religion and rejecting it; they’re not thinking about it at all.”

That’s Right. The God Question isn’t Relevant. So what is? 

…The human condition. All research points out that in the absence of the God question, the human question is close to their hearts. How should we live on this planet (and Mars when we get there)?

In one way they aren’t waiting for God to solve world problems so they are looking at what can be done. Sadly, they will realize that they can do only so much without God. Also, they won’t have a solution for their own human failings.

Introduce them to the Jesus they Never Knew

With only the vaguest concept of God, GenZ can approach Jesus fresh. They can see him as someone who did something about human suffering and religious oppression. They don’t see him through the lens of boring church rituals or their parent’s God.

We need to let them know that, “When you see Jesus you’re looking at God. When you want to know what God is like, look at what Jesus did and said!”

Community Before Commitment, Service before Salvation

They are less concerned if God loves them that if you or I love them. Starved from genuine acceptance they want to be part of a small group of close friends that loves uncritically. Unsure they will be looking for constant affirmation. Only after standing that test will they be interested in the content of our faith.

A possible scenario is that we invite them to be part of a team building a house in Mexico before they have faith in Christ. We may have to change some of the screening criteria for our trips and other social justice initiatives. Groups that are constantly trying to prove that we can be Christians and still have fun won’t have much to offer Z.

A Reason for Hope

At the end of a retreat, a student asked me, “All weekend you have been telling me that Jesus died for my sin… How did he die?” His brother yelled at him, “It was a cross, stupid.” Every week I hear another story like this from youth workers and my students at Vanguard College.

Why does this give me hope? Maybe I’m too much of an optimist but I believe that when students have been loved by a group and they’re ready to hear about Jesus the power of the Gospel won’t be warped by years of negative religious experience. I’m excited to see Z will do with an encounter with the real Jesus instead of second-hand knowledge of a religious one.