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Seven Practices of Growing Student Ministries Deeper and Wider

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

If you have been around youth ministry very long then you have observed how some student ministries seem to grow wide but have little to show for it when it comes to growing deeply devoted followers of Christ.
On the other hand, you may have noticed that some youth ministries grow spiritual roots deeper than a Redwood tree but can’t’ seem to attract or win the lost through their efforts.
So today we are going to consider 7 essential steps you can take to grow your student ministry both deeper and wider?

The following list is a summary of sorts – a collection of responses that surfaced from a combination of student ministry consult interviews and surveys.
I have organized the list into 7 essentials found among growing youth groups. This list reflects part-time and full-time ministries without regard to the level of professional youth ministry training achieved by the volunteer or paid staff leader.

So what are these Seven Essentials for Growing Student Ministries Deeper and Wider?

The first one is
1. SMALL GROUPS: Growing student ministries focus on small group relationships as much as major event. Recognizing the important role small groups play in the spiritual development of an adolescent is a key factor to growing both numerically and spiritually. To calculate your small group effectiveness consider the ideal formula of having one small group for every 8 students in your average attendance. Each Small group should float between 5-10 students with an ideal of about 7 in attendance. Depending on the age group, interest level, and the time availability of the teacher/facilitator, one group may need to be smaller while others can afford to expand without losing the necessary high-touch factor.

If you want more info on the important role of small groups check out the training video on our YouTube channel dedicated to this topic and titled “The Importance of Small groups”

So the first essential is the importance placed upon small groups.
The second essential practice to growing deeper and wider is a focus on excellence.
2. Quality Excellence: Growing student ministries have a natural tendency towards programming excellence. The idea is that growing ministries strive for producing programming that is perceived as high quality. Regardless of whether it is or is not high quality compared to the star-powered mega-church – to the parents and youth involved in it and who serve within it – the ministry is perceived and received as programming excellence. Even if it is not Disney quality it is considered top-shelf by comparison.

So the first essential is a focus on small groups and the second is a pursuit of excellence. The 3rd essential is placing high value on involving students.
3. Growing student ministries will look for opportunities in which to place students into leadership roles. They want students to be personally involved in accomplishing their mission, vision, and weekly ministry gatherings. They know the value of students developing spiritually through doing, through preparing, and through personal involvement. This essential recognizes the fact that student leadership cannot be limited to those who play and sing with the praise band, are extrovert, or popular.

So the first essential is a focus on small groups and the second is a pursuit of excellence and the 3rd a high value placed on student involvement.

The 4th essential is to avoid failed ministry repetition.
4. Growing student ministries strive not to repeat unproductive ministry programming or events. Growth happens with those who are willing to discard or conclude a ministry that has proven unproductive over time with best effort expended to see it be successful. If you have given your best effort at making a ministry productive to no avail, then you must have the courage to discontinue it. Remember, an unproductive ministry due to programming ignorance or laziness is not the same as an unsuccessful ministry.

The 5th essential is what I call flood light encouragement.
5. Growing student ministries identify and encourage one another using a flood light rather than a spotlight. Understanding the benefits of flood light ministry is a key to high-touch growth. When we treat all students the same regardless of abilities, looks, popularity, athletic ability, etc. the tendency towards inclusiveness breeds acceptance and growth. A spotlight promotes individualism and exclusiveness much like a clique whereas a flood light distributes its beams equally regardless of how much or how little a youth brings to the table.

6. Growing student ministries will embrace and promote change. Now I don’t mean changing things for change sake (although sometimes even that is necessary in extreme stagnant cases) When it comes to change, we must remember that every ministry has its season. Some ministry programs will last a life time, like Summer Camp or Disciple Now Weekend. While the content may change and the programming updated, the concept of an annual ministry event like summer camp may outlive several generations of youth. On the other hand, some ministry initiatives have a very short life-span and are established with the intent of only accomplishing a specific, time sensitive ministry goal. Knowing when it is time to conclude a particular ministry program must be bathed in prayer and executed with humility and confidence.

The 7th and final essential to growing a student ministry deeper and wider is celebrating parent involvement.
7. Growing student ministries celebrate involvement and participation from parents and other adults. More than chaperones, these are adults who are youth friendly – who choose to invest in the spiritual development of teenagers. These are volunteers who are committed to providing students with significant other-person to which they can turn when the storms of adolescences flood their lives.

Deep and Wide . . .  its not just a kids song from days gone by.

deep-and-wide

10 Habits of Highly Successful Student Ministers

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

What is it that makes some youth ministries more successful than others? Why do some stagnate, decline or fail while others grow healthy and numerically? Is there a collection of habits that successful or exceptional student ministers practice? In our survey and interviews we have found ten practices that stand out as doable and adaptable for just about any student minister.Vintage scooter guy
For this study I focused on two criteria for classifying a student ministers as highly exceptional. Managing a growing student ministry for at least three years. I chose three years for two reasons.
1. First, the 3 year mark is just under the cut-off of the average length of stay for paid student ministers in the US (3.9 yrs).
2. Second, the 3 year mark helps prevent a skewed result from those who have not managed or built a ministry but rather inherited the kingdom, so to speak. Growth for one year – good for you! Growth for two years – awesome! Growth for three years – now we might just have the real deal going on here!

Let’s take a look at these habits and practices.

1. They Exercise: While this is probably not what you were expecting to top the list it is a reality of healthy youth ministers and ministries. Youth pastors who remain active through a sport, hobby, exercise routine, running club, organized leagues, etc. were more likely to remain satisfied in their position and be successful in the youth ministry arena.

2. They Celebrate: Not only do they celebrate the involvement and victory of volunteers, parents, and student leaders, they also celebrate big and little victories in the lives of students, families, and major ministry events. The celebratory factor creates a reputation of joy and excitement radiating from a winning team.

3. They Are Not Afraid to Fail: Successful student ministry ships are captained by those who are not afraid to attempt something new or extraordinary. It is not that they are never afraid but rather they make a habit of overcoming fear in order to experiment with change or create something from scratch. They do not allow fear keep them from what could make the ministry successful.

4. They Are Confident: This is not the same as being arrogant but more akin to being secure – in what they know, who they serve and how they will organize the ministry God has entrusted to their care. Since the church already suffers from an overabundance of arrogant leadership, we should strive to balance the scales with humble confidence.

5. They Plan and Administrate Well: Over the years student ministers have acquired quite a reputation for being disorganized. I think it suffice to say that if you want to succeed in student ministry you will either organized, plan, and manage out of a natural skill set or you will force yourself to learn, adapt and acquire the needed skills to plan and manage well. Otherwise, you will become a casualty of chaos or burn-out.

6. They Prioritize Well: Successful student ministers have a habit of putting family in the correct biblical order – ahead of ministry. Some of the most frustrated people in the world are spouses of student pastors and often the root of a premature exit. Too often student ministers appear better at managing the ministry calendar than their marriage and families. It must be both/and.

7. They Maintain a Devotional Prayer Life: It is no surprise that successful student ministers hold their daily devotional time in high regard. They insist upon nurturing an ongoing devotional commitment. It is the one thing, no matter what comes, must be retained, restarted, reignited, and reestablished however many times it takes to preserve it.

8. They Are Not Afraid to Ask for Help: While this may appear surprising to some, most youth ministers realize how much pride exist among ministers. This is especially true among youth ministers who are often times young, inexperienced, and highly pressured to produce. This can lead to a reluctance to ask for help for fear of appearing inept. Successful student leaders know when it is time to get assistance and they are not too shy or proud to ask for it.

9. They Listen More Than They Talk: While this is a valued trait in any profession, it is especially beneficial in the world of student ministry. Listening is paramount among those who serve teenagers as teens need to express their thoughts, be heard, and listened to. Often youth are learning about themselves when they are talking, and listening will deliver a truck-load of insight.

10. They Know the Team They Are On is More Important than the Team They Lead: One of the realities of successful ministry enjoyment is arriving at the conclusion that the staff team is more essential to your success and happiness than the youth staff or volunteer team you direct. While both are certainly important, one must take priority and that one is the pastor and staff you serve alongside.

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” I Cor. 9:24-27

Take Notes, Son

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

Guest Post By: Jarred Boyd

 

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I think us new guys on the youth ministry scene tend to treat all those who’ve paved ways before us like Coach Brickma from Rookie of the Year (the coach in that clip, who for some unknown reason was a MLB pitching coach). There’s a fad (which I love to be a part of sometimes) that loves to bash those youth ministries and youth pastors who have gone before us. Don’t get me wrong, I love making fun of old youth ministry names like “Xtreme” (I’m looking at you dad… In his defense, it was cool at the time), and “C.I.A. – Christians In Action”. And don’t get me wrong – there were and most definitely still are some Brickmas running youth ministries all over America. But why not apply the golden rule to our forerunners, here? Let’s treat those who have gone before us the way we should treat all pioneers – by asking the question: What can we learn from their successes and failures?

** For the sake of brevity, “those who have gone before us”, aka all those youth pastors who ministered from about 2005 and back, I’m going to call “The Pavers” (open for suggestions on a better name).

I believe there are a few factors at play for WHY newbies tend to treat Pavers with a “pffff” kind of attitude:

Because many of us have risen out of the Young, Restless, Reformed Movement. The rise of neo-Calvinism, like many movements, has had its share of negative impacts as it has also had many positive impacts. Careful, theological discernment and concentration on true Gospel ministry with Christ-centered preaching has created a lot of “amens” for a lot of well supported reasons. However, it has become prominent among this conservative evangelical sub-culture to create unnecessary lines in the sand just for the sake of originality and/or argument. Just because many of the Pavers and their fellow staff members and church leaders probably got carried away with building churchy kingdoms with some legalistic foundations does not mean we go to the opposite extreme. In effect, it has become trendy to treat many Pavers like everything they did was wrong and/or anti-Gospel. This simply is not true and creates division within the universal church instead of Christ-centered, cross-generational unity. Ease up on the heat there, Rocket (Another Rookie of the Year reference).

Because many have a sour taste in their mouth from a Brickma. So you had the displeasure of sitting under the leadership of a Brickma youth pastor as a student; the guy who had no theological or professional youth ministry training, and since there was nobody else “young enough to relate to them young’ns” or willing, they called on Brickma to coach ‘em up. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just because you had a bad experience with an untrained youth pastor when you were a student, doesn’t mean you should throw all of “those old, traditional youth ministry methods” out the window. Pump the brakes there, Scuffy McGee (and another… its just such a great movie).

Because many are badly mishandling statistics. The Lifeway study from 2007 that discovered, “70 percent of young adults ages 23-30 stopped attending church regularly for at least a year between ages 18-22”, has been vastly mishandled. This is one of several “dropout” stats from which so many youth and senior pastors have been shocked into overreactions.

 

It’s a freakout which has certainly increased Family Ministry advocates’ book sales. Instead of rewriting an already beautiful script, I’ll let a veteran debunk these faulty stats by turning them on their heads – actually proving there’s reason to celebrate youth ministries:

 

 

Whatever reason(s) you may have jumped on this train of critique, it’s time we stop and ask ourselves, “What can we learn from the successes and failures of the Pavers?” So, here are 6 lessons I believe we can take away from them:

1.  Fun is Necessary

Let’s be honest, the Pavers were pretty creative with fun and games. The rise of PowerPoint games was genius was it not? I’ve heard statements from my generation of youth pastors like, “We don’t do games because if they are the draw for our ministry, they’ll be the anchor… and we want Christ to be the anchor.” Pardon me while I throw up. Since when did this notion that fun and games removes Christ from a ministry’s center, come about?

Elle Campbell, a blogger over at stuffyoucanuse.org and ellecampbell.org, recently wrote concerning the matter of fun, “We should be strategic about infusing our weekly environments with fun.” She gave these reasons: “Fun matters to a kid’s faith; fun matters to a kid’s relationships; fun matters to a kid’s development; fun over time equals connection; fun over time convinces kids you actually like them; fun over time makes a friendship go deeper; fun over time reconnects what has been disconnected.” (Go check the full post out here)

Students connect with fun. You can build trust through fun avenues and break walls down that would not have crumbled had there not been a sledgehammer of fun.This doesn’t mean you develop an entire youth ministry around fun and games. But it also doesn’t mean you dump fun and games completely. I’m thankful for creative Pavers who actually understood and applied this. How sad it is to develop a student ministry in the name of “creating true disciples”, that no one wants to be a part of… get your spiritual nose out of the clouds, bro.

2.  Developmental Levels Matter

I’m very grateful for Pavers who are now teaching the importance of understanding adolescent developmental levels. This is essential to ministering effectively in youth ministry. All of life can be seen as a stretching or a shrinking back. Growth from one stage to the next is not automatic and certainly not directly related to age. Every teenager is working through different physical, social, emotional, and intellectual levels of life. Without a proper understanding of where they’re at in their development, we’ll be wasting time. We can take a lesson from the Pavers in understanding developmental levels to help us holistically approach discipleship to students.

“He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments”– (Psalm 78:5-7)

The Psalmist is wanting to touch the MINDS of youth – what they know, “that the next generation might know…the deeds of the Lord… the works of God.”The Psalmist is wanting to touch the HEARTS of youth – what students feel, “so that they should set their hope/trust in God.”And lastly, the Psalmist is wanting to touch the HANDS of youth – what they do, “keep his commandments.”

I pray that our generation of youth pastors will take notes from our forefathers to be learners of the adolescent developmental levels so that we can minister to the minds, hearts, and hands of youth. That is how we see faith put into action – that’s how the vets did it.

3.  Putting The Right Students in Leadership Roles exemplifies Eph. 4:12

It’s downright painful to watch a student who has not been equipped for the work of a ministry, in a leadership role – doing damage to the testimony of Christ. But at least that youth pastor is trying… what’s even more painful to me is seeing a one man show youth group led by the megalomaniac youth guy who has control issues – never equipping saints to do ministry and lead out. The Pavers can teach us a lesson on equipping saints for ministry.

4. Isolation From Parents Is Necessary

Let me explain. I agree that too often, parents use youth ministries as a “spiritual drop off service”; too often, parents see youth pastors as “professionals” they pay to do the discipling. But the solution, I believe, is NOT to integrate them into every inch of your youth ministry; or just completely abandon age-segregated ministries in exchange for family ministry. Instead, let’s take a page from the Pavers’ notebook and be strategic about when and how to include parents. Adolescents benefit greatly from local church leaders’ discipleship. A students’ small group leader can reach a student in a way that a parent cannot. A youth pastor’s sermon can preach in a way that the senior pastor’s or the father’s cannot. I’m thankful for the re-emphasizing of parents being the primary disciplers of the home that has surfaced these last few years. But let’s not make Pavers the scapegoat of the broken partnership between parents and youth and children ministries. The church as a WHOLE is to blame for not partnering with parents. Senior Pastors need to be preaching it; small groups need to be discussing it; youth pastors need to be reinforcing it.

Family Ministry advocates can use their “adolescence was an invention in the 20th century” excuse all they want, but those of us in the 21st century not trying to turn the clock back are going to “understand the times” (1 Chron. 12:32). Students need a Christ-centered community to belong to that separates them from their parents for 3 hours of the week. This allows walls to break down that wouldn’t have happened if mommy was 10 feet away.

5. Emphasizing rights and wrongs created legalism

Unfortunately, there seemed to be too much of an emphasis from the Pavers on the do’s and don’ts of Christianity. The intentions were for the sake of holiness, no doubt – but what happens when we emphasize rules? Legalism. On the reverse, what happens when we emphasize grace without works? Licentiousness. The Gospel destroys both. Thankfully, this new wave of youth ministry seems to have revitalized a true Gospel focused on teaching sound doctrine. My prayer is that we don’t make the mistake of swinging that pendulum from the extreme moral right, over to the extreme reckless left. Let us teach our youth how to love the Lord their God with all their mind (KNOW), heart and soul (FEEL), and strength (DO).

6.  Hand Motions to Worship Songs Were Horrible.

Thanks for that one, Pavers…

 

What are some other lessons this new generation of youth pastors can learn from Pavers?

On The Importance Of Knowing Names

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

On The Importance Of Knowing Names.

In small groups, strive to learn every students name as soon as possible. In larger groups this can be a challenge but doable. In huge groups, this may be impractical or nearly impossible. It should always be someone’s responsibility to KNOW the students name. So according to the size of ministry, if it is not you, make certain someone on the team is on top of it – like small group leaders. Nothing breaks down barriers with students, especially peripheral or visiting youth like calling them by name. It communicates to students that you take a personal interest in serving them. Also, try to avoid the habit of using generic camouflage names like: sport, buddy, man, girl, or friend. Students will only give you a “pass” for so long. In most cases, the use of generics simply increases the suspicion that you don’t know who you are speaking to. Your ministry will be greatly enhanced and attractive if students hear their name. A survey was conducted among elementary kids and the question was asked: What is love? Billy, age 4 said, When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.” 

Remember:

“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” (Proverbs 17:28)

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)

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On Using Multi Media

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

on using multi media

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When using video from a movie trailer, Youtube or other open source media, make sure you watch the WHOLE clip before incorporating it into your lesson. There are few glitches more embarrassing than a surprise on the big-screen. Never use media imaging just to appear relevant or cool. On the other hand, don’t hesitate to illustrate a message point using video or some other media source. Modern media capability is a wonderful teaching enhancement tool but it can also make you the joke at Tuesday’s staff meeting as well as a question mark in the minds of parents. Our standard in the way we teach, preach, present, counsel and function is to live up to Scripture’s:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”  Philippians 4:8

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

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On Admitting Your Imperfections

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

On Admitting Your Imperfections.

Staff, students and parents will all endear themselves to you much more readily if you can become comfortable with admitting failure. Your job does not demand perfection and you can not deliver it. People love to pull a perfectionist down, but they tend to root for the one they can relate to . . .  the flawed, imperfect, in need of forgiveness type. I’m not talking about self-depreciation or washing your ministry laundry in front of the parents or leadership. I am referring to the benefit in finding greater comfort with saying – I need your help, I may have rushed that a bit, I wish I had done that differently, and that did not turn out as I envisioned it. Really it is about the admitting and acceptance of the fact that you have nothing to offer if Christ is not your benefactor of grace and strength. Remember…

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

 

 

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On Personal Sanctification

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

On Personal Sanctification.

Prayer and daily alone time with the Father are the only hope you have to survive and thrive beyond the beginner stage (three years) of Student Ministry. And when you make it to that milestone, you will realize that prayer, daily alone time and volunteer leadership are the only way you will survive beyond the veteran status of five years. Becoming an equipper of the saints for the work of the ministry is the only hope you have in passing the seven year (considered exceptional tenure) mark in student ministry. Every young youth minister dreams of making a huge impact and seeing loads of students coming to know Christ as savior. The best gift you can give yourself is alone time with the Father, time in the word, and commitment to developing volunteer leadership.

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Eph. 4:11-16)

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Reprinted article from Walt Mueller pushing back about Family Intergrated Youth Ministry

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Youth Groups Driving Christian Teens to Abandon Faith? . . . Some Issues. . . .

Last week a friend posted a link to an article from Charisma magazine that was making the rounds in our youth ministry world. My friend wrote this:  “Have you seen this? I would love your thoughts. This study has been emailed to me by 2 pastors in the past two weeks. This study is by the same group that did Divided the movie. I agree that Youth Ministry has been factor in this problem but I don’t know the best way to respond to those that are putting this study on my desk.”

And so I went and read the article – “Youth Groups Driving Christian Teens to Abandon Faith” – and followed the embedded links.

Some of you may know that I blogged on the Divided  movie and the organization behind it – the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches – back in July of 2011. You can read that blog post here. In that post, I talk about my take on the film, along with some reflections on how the film was made, and how my interview for the film was presented to me, conducted, and then included in the movie. . . or about 5 seconds of it! At the time, I expressed some deep concerns about how these folks were going about their business, along with some concerns about their message. Now, I’ve read the Charisma article. My concerns have been reignited.

So, in response to my friend’s question, let me offer a couple of responses. First, about the survey and it’s methodology. Second, I want to say something about youth ministry.

The Charisma article begins with this line: “A new study might reveal why a majority of Christian teens abandon their faith upon high school graduation.” There’s quite a bit in that first sentence that should cause us concern. For me, the biggest and most immediate issue was referencing the “new study” conducted by the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches. I linked to the “study” and found it more accurately to be a “survey”. . . an online survey in fact. Take a look at it for yourself. All I will say about the survey is that if you are going to quote this, you also have to talk about the sketchy methodology that’s used to come up with results that are entirely slanted, and therefore unreliable. Like the Divided movie, what you have here appears to be another piece of propaganda. Consider this simple little fact: the people who will take this survey are already biased in their opinion against youth groups. That’s why they would go to this site in the first place. This would be like me. . . a Philadelphia Eagles fan.  .  . setting up an Eagles’ fan site that’s populated and frequented by Eagles’ fans. Then, setting up an online survey soliciting the opinions of Eagles fans on the Dallas Cowboys and their likability through a series of three questions that give Eagles fans the option to rail on the Cowboys. If you know anything about football. . . or are from Philly or Dallas. . . you know how this one would go if, let’s say, 90% of the respondents were Eagles’ fans. Enough said.

My first concern, then, is with how the folks at the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches are going about their business. We should expect better. They need to know that sketchy methodology and hidden agendas driven by an “ends justifies the means” mentality will drive Christian youth workers and others to ignore their message. I, for one, have a very difficult time taking them seriously based on my past experience with their methods and tactics. To be honest, I am now skeptical about anything these folks are producing.

But there’s a second aspect to this discussion. It has to do with the criticisms that are being leveled against our youth ministry world by these folks. To dismiss these criticisms without giving them serious introspective consideration would be irresponsible and arrogant on our part. We can’t use the irresponsibility or sketchiness of those who criticize us as an excuse to not pause and consider whether or not there is any truth or validity to their accusations. Is it possible that we do need to look at our theology and practices?

Let me offer some brief and direct thoughts on the relationship between church, youth group, and family that are restatements of things we’ve been saying here at CPYU since the get go:

  • The Scriptures are clear: parents are primarily responsible for the spiritual nurture of their children.
  • The youth group, Sunday School, youth pastor, youth workers, teachers, and congregation are to offer deliberate secondary spiritual guidance and nurture in support of parents.
  • Youth ministries that establish separate youth worship services at times when the “big people” are in “big people church” are nurturing kids into a needs-based understanding of worship and the Christian faith. Not only that, but they are dividing up the body of Christ. Children, teenagers, young adults, parents, middle-aged adults, senior citizens. . . all of them need to be worshiping together to experience the full breadth and depth of the body of Christ and to exercise and benefit from the giftedness of all.
  • Youth workers should be recruiting and equipping an army of adults to love, relate to, and mentor kids.
  • The church and youth group cannot ignore the growing number of young people who are growing up without a parent or parents in the home, and the growing number of kids whose search for redemption in the absence of home-based spiritual nurture lead them to the church and youth group.

One last thing. . . I can’t seem to find any place in the Scriptures where the use of websites, online surveys, and other “worldly innovations” are a biblical way to reach people or solicit opinions.

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Reading list for Student Ministry

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Preparing for Adolescence:

How to Survive the Coming Years of Change:  Dr. James Dobson /The gold standard for preparing parents for the adolescent transformation.  This book will allow parents to become a resource to those with whom they work and have influence.
Life On The Edge: Dr. James Dobson / Life on the Edge: The Next Generation’s Guide to a Meaningful Future is Dr. Dobson’s newest publication.
Don’t Waste Your Life:  John Piper / Recommended for Parents and High Schools.  This is a must read that provides insight into why God created us and reminds us that to live is Christ and to die is gain. A life lived for Christ is a life not wasted. A powerful and inspiring read.
How to Stay Christian in College:  J. Budziszewski / Not that a true believer can lose his/her salvation but a book on practical and powerful tips on remaining faithful when the safety nets and safe guards of High School are left behind. The foundations of Christian faith are covered in this essential work that directly addresses different worldviews and myths students encounter in college.
How to Stay Christian in High School:  How to handle the everyday temptations and pressures of high school are addressed as this author engages the student’s minds in a way that will lead to transformation and hope.
Do Hard Things: Alex and Brett Harris /  If you have ever wondered if this generation will rise to the challenge, read this book.  Discover the truth about challenging students to go all the way to His purpose and potential and about teenage rebellion against low expectations.

Raising a Modern Day Knight:  Learn the father’s role in guiding his son to authentic manhood.  If you are a single mom, see how an authentic role model from your student ministry can help change the future of your son.
Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture: Walt Mueller/ This highly recommended publication bridges teen worldviews and Christian culture. Mueller deals with modern v. post-modern worldviews and the need for listening and understanding the emerging generation in order to effectively minister and communicate the gospel to them.
Adolescence Isn’t Terminal: Kevin Leman / Trusted family relationship expert Kevin Leman helps parents navigate the choppy waters of their children’s teen years with humor and grace. Emotive stories and practical advice give parents hope and encouragement.
After You Drop Them Off:  Jerusha and Jeramy Clark / These guys provide trustworthy answers to parents’ questions about what goes on at youth group meetings and offers practical suggestions, biblical support, and “real-life” parents’ comments and stories.
The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers: Gary Chapman / Discover how to identify and fluently speak your teenager’s primary love language and gain insight into how and why teens need to be loved differently than preteens.
Confident Parenting: Jim Burns / Confident Parenting gives practical advice with God honoring principles. Jim Burns addresses overcrowded lifestyles, overcoming negative family patterns, and raising kids who love God and themselves.
Every Young Man’s Battle: Can any young man escape the lure of sexual temptation in today’s world? You’re surrounded by sex constantly–in movies, on TV, video games, music, the Internet. Is it any wonder that it feels impossible to stay sexually pure? How do men survive the relentless battle against the onslaught of lust? With powerful ammunition. The authors of the hard-hitting mega-bestseller “Every Man’s Battle “know the temptations young men face every day. The fact is, you can achieve victory over sexual compromise.  This book shows young men how to rise above today’s debased, self-seeking culture by examining God’s standard, training your eyes and mind, cleaning up your thought life, and developing a plan with biblical strategies that have worked for millions of men.
SAFE EYES – Not a book but a great resource.  The ONLY internet filter I recommend to parents.  Why?  The best price anywhere, excellent product and fast.  It is an unbelievable internet filter that does NOT slow down your computer or online search.  And, NO, they are not a sponsor – they just have a great product.

Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry: A Personal and Practical Guide to Starting Right, Doug Fields
Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, Christian Smith
Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers, Chap Clark
Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church, Kenda Creasy Dean
The Godbearing Life: The Art of Soul Tending for Youth Ministry, Kenda Creasy Dean
Understanding Today’s Youth Culture, Walt Mueller
Youth Culture 101,Walt Mueller
Blockbuster Movie Illustrations: Over 160 Clips for Your Ministry, Bryan Belknap
Group’s Blockbuster Movie Illustrations: The Return, Bryan Belknap
Blockbuster Movie Illustrations: The Sequel, Bryan Belknap
The Seven Checkpoints: seven principles every teenager needs to know, Andy Stanley
The Air I Breathe: Worship as a Way of Life, Louie Giglio
Purpose Driven Youth Ministry: 9 Essential Foundations for Healthy Growth, Doug Fields
Youth Ministry Nuts & Bolts: Mastering The Ministry Behind The Scenes, Duffy Robbins
Help! I’m a Small Church Youth Worker: Achieving Big-Time Success in a Non-Mega Ministry, Rich Grassel

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It’s a Tough Job

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

hallPeacemaker Ministries reveals nearly 75 percent of ministers feel so mentally burned out that they regularly consider leaving the ministry, and 40 percent actually do leave the ministry in less than five years.

Jonathan Grenz in the Journal of Youth Ministry, the career life expectancy of a youth minister is 7.8 years. Len Kageler, in his 2006 study of 373 youth ministers, reports the average stay of a youth minister to be 3.7 to 4.8 years.

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