Archives For Youth Ministry

I am seeing a transformation take place in our society, and it scares me. I’ve noticed it primarily among our nation’s youth and college students, although it is taking place among people of all ages. The problem is a postmodern shift in how we view truth and tolerance.

Over the last few days, I’ve seen and heard numerous statements to the effect

I know what’s true for me, but who am I to tell someone else how to live their life. Just because it’s right for me doesn’t mean it’s right for them.

You don’t have to do a scientific study to show that youth and college age students are now more accepting of “alternative lifestyles”, drugs, cohabiting before marriage, same-sex marriages, and more. The reason is that society has taught us that we can’t speak truth into other peoples lives, and that just because something is right or wrong for us, it doesn’t mean it is right or wrong for others. Society wants us to believe that truth is relative, that is is based on our circumstances, traditions, and background.

Today’s definition of “tolerance” differs radically from the traditional dictionary definition. Tolerance used to mean showing respect to someone, even if you disagree. It meant enduring with something, such as a person’s behavior, attitudes or beliefs, without necessarily agreeing with them. In other words, love the sinner, hate the sin. However, today you are labeled intolerant and bigoted if you disagree with someone. Today’s definition of tolerance states that a person’s behavior, beliefs and attitudes are inseparable from who he or she is. Therefore, any attack on behaviors, beliefs or attitudes is seen as a personal attack.

In today’s society, each person’s idea of truth is based on their unique culture, and because all people are created equally, the new tolerance decrees that no one person can claim to possess a superior truth, or a truth that is “more true” than other people’s truths. Rather, all truth claims are equally valid.

Here is why this is so important. I have seen so many strong Christian young people refuse to take a stand for truth. Instead, in the name of tolerance, they are afraid to speak the truth in love as Ephesians 4:15 instructs us. The Bible is more than a guide book, it’s the divine story of a God who has provided a way for us to be reconciled to Him. It’s the Good News that God loved you so much that he sent his Son Jesus Christ to rescue you from your sin. We can and should address sinful lifestyles and behaviors. Jesus is the perfect example for us. John 4 is a just one example of how he confronted a woman living in a sinful lifestyle. He extended tolerance, love, respect, and grace to her, but he still shared with her a better way of life. We have reached the point where many Christians celebrate sinful behaviors while condemning other Christians who hold to their convictions based on the Bible. I think our church does a great job of standing firm in truth, while extending love to those who don’t know Christ. We have been accused of being a friend of sinners, and I’m perfectly fine with that, because we are in good company. But we also preach and teach that there is a better way to live, by allowing the truth of the Gospel to transform our hearts and minds to be more like Christ.

Isn’t it amazing how those who claim their mission is tolerance are so quick to judge and condemn Christians who disagree with them. Do you see the irony in this? As Christians, we should show grace, love, and compassion, but we can’t be afraid to take a stand for truth. In John 14:6, Jesus tells us that truth is not just a concept, truth is a person. So take a stand for Jesus, and don’t give in to the culture we live in. Don’t be ashamed of the Gospel!

Live Bible for Teens

I’ve seen a lot of teen Bibles over the years, but the Live Bible by Group Publishing has to be one of my favorites. My two oldest children are now in youth group and are spending a lot of time reading their Bibles. We bought them each a copy of this Bible, and they both love it. I grabbed their Bibles and took a quick picture with my cell phone. Not only do they look cool for a teen, but they truly have helped my children get in God’s Word.

My thirteen year old daughter just finished reading through the entire Bible, and my eleven year old son has finished the New Testament and is working through the Old Testament. The graphic design is contemporary, the content is applicable, and the translation is the easy to read NLT. If you are looking for a good Bible for your teen, then click here for more information from the Publisher.  You can click here to purchase from my amazon estore.

I’m recommending this because I’ve seen how it has helped my own children. I love seeing teenagers develop a hunger to read and learn from God’s Word.

From the Publisher,

Most youth Bibles are just teen versions of adult Bibles. Live takes an all-new, teen-centered approach. It includes a wealth of experiences and activities that help teens discover surprising things about God, see God involved in their lives, and express their faith creatively. Teens will see how God works in the lives of other teens and be encouraged to express their faith, too.

I saw this video earlier today about 7 different churches coming together to create a combined youth ministry. Examples like this excite me because churches typically don’t cooperate very well. At Cornerstone, we have tried to partner with other area youth ministries, and I would love to see even more cooperation take place in the future. I want to continue to try and break down denominational, racial, and social barriers that exist in our community.

thanks to Youth Specialities for the link

It’s the end of an era for my family and my ministry. My daughter will officially be entering into the youth ministry in a few weeks at church! I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow, I turned into a middle school dad. I’m having a tough time seeing my baby girl grow up, and this just adds fuel to the fire.

I’m extremely thankful that we have a huge group of pre-teens at church, and my daughter can’t wait to start attending. I’m also thankful that we have Jr. High leaders who really love this age group and do a great job teaching and leading them. I’ve been involved in youth ministry for a long time now, but Jr. High is not my calling. You need patience, energy, and discipline in order to keep them having fun while staying focused. I still help and teach some with our older teens, but I’m not sure how I will handle that when my daughter joins that group in a few years. I’m having a tough enough time now with her in our Jr. High group.

Youth Group Struggles

May 19, 2010 — 3 Comments

Most Christian blog writers tell you how great everything is going in their churches. I want to switch things up and tell you a little about one of our struggles this year in the hope it may help some of my readers. First, I need to give a little background. I started working with teenagers in youth ministry 14 years ago. I have spent countless hours hanging out with teens, riding in 15 passenger vans, and doing way too many gross games that involved food. This blog even started out when I was in youth ministry. But 3 years ago, I accepted the call to pastor the church I’m now at. Since that time, I have juggled youth responsibilities with the responsibilities of pastoring and leading a church, and I haven’t always done a good job.

With the start of this past school year, we made quite a few changes. In hindsight, we made way too many changes at the same time. The effect has been that our Sr. High youth group has really struggled through this school year. In fact, it has been one of the most frustrating years ever for me in youth ministry. So what happened and what have I learned from it.

  • We graduated a huge class of seniors last year. I neglected the impact that it would cause on the group. Losing that many leaders at one time really created a sense of loss for the group. We didn’t do a good job of preparing the current students to rise up and take leadership.
  • We changed the time and structure of our meetings. This may seem like a small change, but we moved it too early on Sunday. We currently meet from 4:30 to 6, before our 6pm Sunday night service, and that just hasn’t worked. We wanted to change the main meeting time to mid-week, but because of scheduling problems, we couldn’t make it happen. I’m not sure what to do next year, but it won’t continue at the current time for our Sr. High group.
  • I stepped back from teaching and leading the youth and got more people involved. This was a very positive change, but yet it was still a change. It made things a little rough at the beginning of the year and it took some time for the youth to get comfortable with the new leaders.

Looking back, I think our group would have been fine with just one or two of these changes, but when combined, the changes posed some serious problems. We really do have a great group of students, but things just haven’t worked out the way we intended. It is going to take some work to regain momentum for the summer and for the next school year, but I am also excited about the possibilities. I know the teens in our group have a huge potential and God can definitely stir them up to do great things for the Kingdom.

And lastly, it’s not been all frustrating. Our Jr. High/Middle School group has had a wonderful year. It has grown and continues to be strong. We had some great leaders step up and serve (thanks Ed and Veronica!) and I’m confident that it will continue to grow. I’m just a little nervous because my daughter will be in that group next year. :-)

Hopefully this may help some of you who are planting churches and juggling responsibilities. Please share your thoughts on youth ministry in the comments below.

StudentLife is a great organization for youth workers and they have put together an informative video on current youth culture. The truth is that today’s culture is changing rapidly due to the use of internet and media. Over the last 15 years, I have seen a huge change in the youth in our small rural community. Our teenagers used to lag behind contemporary youth culture by months or even years due to our isolation from the outside world. Now, with the rise of social networking and the internet, our teens hold the same worldview as others from around the country, and their beliefs are shaped and changed quickly. It’s scary, but it’s reality. If you have a passion for seeing teenagers come to Christ, then I encourage you to watch this video. This would also be helpful for parents of teens as well

ht to Josh for the link

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