discipleship

Discipling Your Kids Is More than Family Devotions

Discipling Your Kids Is More than Family Devotions

By Derek Brown

A couple of months ago I was in the kitchen preparing lunch and caught a familiar tune wafting from the living room. My son was singing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” along with an interactive Christmas book. Particularly delightful was his substituting “morning” for “glory” and mumbling incoherently the “peace on earth” section. He didn’t have any trouble with the following phrase: “God and sinners reconciled,” my 3-year-old bellowed with joy. As I laughed to myself and squeezed mustard onto a slice of wheat bread, my wife—ever ready to seize on teachable moments—turned immediately to the living room. “Do you know what reconciliation means, Colton?” After he indicated he didn’t understand the significance of what he’d yelled across the house, she proceeded to explain, in simple terms, the nature of our relationship with God and our need for a Savior.

But wait: hadn’t Colton heard these things before? Wasn’t he familiar with the idea of sin and holiness and the need to be right with God? Ever since bringing him home from Ethiopia two and a half years ago we’d incorporated family worship into his nightly routine. We’d read The Jesus Storybook Bible several times and talked a good deal about God, Christ, and the cross during our nightly treks through Scripture. Wasn’t that enough?

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Ten Reasons to Memorize Big Chunks of the Bible

Ten Reasons to Memorize Big Chunks of the Bible

Scripture memorization is a great discipline.  We have been challenging our students to simply memorize a few verses ever few weeks.  This article give 10 great reasons to memorize not just verses but big chunks of scripture.  Better yet it gives you a method as to how to do it.

Ten Reasons to Memorize Big Chunks of the Bible

By Jon Bloom
Jon Bloom (@Bloom_Jon) is the author of
Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith and serves as the President of Desiring God, which he and John Piper launched together in 1994. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Pam, their five children, and one naughty dog.

You can memorize big chunks, even books, of the Bible. Unless you’re part of the very small percentage of us who suffer from a traumatic brain injury or stroke or disability, you really can. And you should. But why should you?

1. Because you have a bad memory.

Don’t say you can’t memorize because you have a bad memory. That’s why you need to memorize. I have a bad memory too. I think it’s worse than average — seriously. I forget names of people I know and see regularly! I have to force my faulty, inefficient brain to drive things that matter most into my long-term memory. This only happens by the process of repeating (memorizing) every day over a period of time. You’d be surprised what you can commit to memory if you have a simple system and put forth some effort. I’ve memorized five New Testament books and am working on my sixth. And that’s because I have a bad memory.

2. Because you need to feed your mind.

Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise. But how can we do this if we can’t remember such things? General positive Bible concepts are not very helpful. We need specific “precious and very great promises” in our memory to draw on when we are alone and battling discouragement or anger or lust or fear (2 Peter 1:4).

3. Because the Bible is too accessible to you.

It’s strange how having an abundance of something can result in our neglecting it. If the Bible’s always there on our tables, tablets, phones, computers, and on the web we can dip in, read sections, search for key words when needed, but feel no urgency to really internalize it. Memorizing is one way to fight that delusion.

4. Because you have the Internet.

Unfortunately the Internet is teaching us how not to read. We are becoming information scanners, quickly browsing but not digesting very much. We are losing patience for deeper, more reflective reading. Memorizing longer passages of Scripture forces us to reflect deeply on meaning and application.

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Rites of Passage for Your Daughter

self-esteemI feel less qualified than usual in writing this post.  I do not have daughters, nor have ever claimed to understand the opposite gender.  Although I do believe this article is very relevant for parents of teenage daughters.  One of my favorite parts of this series is the emphasis on the power of words.  While I agree that words have an effect on guys, I believe that they have a much more powerful effect on girls.  While there are guys who struggle with self-worth and self-doubt, it seems to plague girls.  Words of worth from parents go a long way, especially from a father to a daughter.

ARTICLES

Words are Powerful

Ideas for Creating Traditions

More ideas for Traditions

Other Rites of Passages

Creative Traditions Build Relationships

Simple Influence

Rites of Passage for Your Daughter

by Pam Farrel, Doreen Hanna

The conversation with the group of young women that day had been one of excitement and laughter as they planned the upcoming special Night of Celebration. Each girl’s family would join in a special rite-of-passage ceremony that would culminate with each princess’s father reading a personalized blessing over his daughter. However, after the meeting, one princess was not as excited as the rest of the girls, so I [Doreen] initiated a conversation with her.

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Darla shrugged her shoulders with frustration as I asked if she would please reconsider asking her father to impart her blessing at the ceremony before she asked her youth pastor. With exasperation she began to blurt out her reasons for not wanting to give her father this privilege: “He spends all his time on that dumb computer! I can tell my parents are not happy. I feel like they might be talking about divorce. I wish he’d spend time with me. I know he used to be a Christian because he used to go to church. I hate being at home. I look for something to do every day just to be away from there.”

It was evident that the power of her parents’ words — talk of divorce, as well as a lack of loving words — had begun to kill hope in Darla’s heart.

My heart grieved for her, knowing also that at just 13 years of age she was already dealing with depression. However, I spoke quickly, reminding her that this might be an opportunity to hear her father publicly say things she never thought he knew or noticed about her. I told her that this would be a day she would remember for the rest of her life and, if possible, it would be best remembered with her father.

Lastly, I asked her if she would allow him this opportunity. She begrudgingly agreed and said she’d let me know of his decision within the next few days. The following day, she called.

“Mrs. Hanna, this is Darla.” (Long pause.) “Well, he said yes.”

Her tone of voice reflected an irritated disappointment that he had agreed to participate. However, she changed the subject and with excitement told me of the dress a girlfriend was going to let her borrow and how she was looking forward to celebrating with some of her friends.

After we hung up, I called and spoke with Darla’s dad, Rick. I explained what he needed to do to prepare to impart her blessing. I sensed sincerity in Rick’s voice and felt assured that God was at work.

The night of the ceremony I happened to be standing at the front of the church when Darla and Rick arrived early. As she stepped out of the car, she looked radiant in her beautiful navy blue formal. She ran to find the other girls who were applying their last touches of mascara, lip gloss or blush. All of them were complimenting and helping each other. In the meantime, Rick had searched and found a parking place, then rushed in asking where he was to sit. I saw that he had a yellow pad of paper in hand. The moment he sat down, it was evident he was still jotting down notes in preparation for Darla’s blessing.

The evening moved along smoothly and I soon found myself introducing Darla and Rick. They stepped forward, taking their respective places at the podium. Then Darla folded her arms across her midriff and looked over the heads of the audience. It was so obvious that she was still not happy to be sharing her special moment with her father.

Rick began speaking his blessing with a tone in his voice that reflected tenderness. As Rick’s endearing words poured out, Darla’s arms soon dropped to her side and she looked directly into her father’s eyes. His words were warm, loving and sincere, bringing life back into Darla’s heart. It was evident he truly loved Darla and recognized the importance of this opportunity with his daughter. Darla’s eyes filled with tears and a smile brightened her countenance. Rick, with great delight in his eyes, crowned her with her tiara. Then Darla hugged him warmly. You could hear the sniffles of joy in the audience!

As this celebration came to a close and we headed to the reception, I overheard someone affirming Rick, complimenting him for the powerful words he had spoken into Darla’s life.

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Rites of Passage for your Son

One of my favorite shows that the Discovery channel ever produced was their Human Planet series.  It was a 8 week series that highlighted how different people all over the world live.  My favorite story was from the mountains episode.  It highlight a rite of passage for a 13 yr old boy from Mongolia.  In order to become a man in his culture he must capture, train, and hunt with an eagle.  In the episode you see him climb down the side of a cliff to kidnap a baby eagle from its nest.  You see him train his eagle.  Then you see him while riding horse back through a foot of snow, go hunting with his eagle for a fox.  It has to be one of the most epic and amazing things I have ever seen, especially from a 13 yr old boy.

In all teenagers I believe there is an innate desire to prove themselves.  To show to themselves and others that they have what it take to move up to the next phase of life and responsibility.  Rites of passage do this for both teenage boys and girls.  The next two weeks I will be highlighting two posts from Focus On The Family that address this very issue.  This post and the episode from Human Planet are a reminder that our teenagers can sometime accomplish far more than we give them credit for.  And by creating rites of passage that give them the opportunities to prove themselves we are telling them that we believe in them and see how incredibly awesome God has made them.

I can’t wait to help Maddox and Jonas kidnap their first eagle and go fox hunting in Mongolia.

In this first post I will highlight Rites of Passages for Your Son. It contains 6 articles that give great ideas for each stage in a teenage boys development.

ARTICLES

Initiating Sons Into Manhood

Puberty: The ‘Page’ Stage

High School Graduation: The Squire Stage

College Graduation: The Knight Stage

Marriage: The Promise/Oath Stage

Your Son Wants You to Notice Him

 

Rites of Passage for Your Son

by Robert Lewis

David Wills faced a monumental task. Governor Andrew Curtin of Pennsylvania appointed him to oversee the burial of thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers at Gettysburg. In addition, the 32-year-old attorney was to plan a dedication ceremony for this pivotal Civil War battle.

The task was daunting. Following the July 1863 conflict, Gettysburg had taken on the appearance — and the stench — of an open-air mortuary. Thousands of human bodies lay scattered over the fields and hills, decaying in the heat. Others were buried but, as Willis reported to Governor Curtin, “in many instances arms and legs and sometimes heads protrude, and my attention had been directed to several places where the hogs were actually rooting out the bofocus-logodies and devouring them.”1 Human scavengers picked at the exposed bodies for anything of value. Meanwhile, grieving relatives scoured the fields, searching for fathers and sons. Gettysburg had become a “carnival of carnage.” Like a scene from Dante’s Inferno, the grisly features of death were pervasive, revolting, visceral.

Something had to be done. David Wills did it. But at every turn, he was like a man stumbling in the dark. He started by forming an interstate commission to finance the project. Seventeen acres were purchased for a cemetery, and a company was retained to exhume, prepare and bury the bodies. (Willis had hoped to have the burial completed before the November ceremony, but it wouldn’t be finished until the following spring.)

Having resolved the pressing issues of burial and hygiene, the agent turned his attention toward the ceremony itself. Willis desired to memorialize the sacrifices of these brave men by staging an elaborate ceremony. According to the conventional wisdom of his day, this entailed securing a powerful orator who could lend dignity to the event, someone who would speak for two hours (as was the custom) and bring a lofty perspective to the proceedings. Without question, Edward Everett was the man.

An Ivy League scholar and former Secretary of State, Everett was considered the preeminent orator of his generation. He had dedicated the battlefields at Lexington and Concord as well as Bunker Hill. Almost as an afterthought, David Wills also extended an invitation — two months later — to President Lincoln, with the request that Lincoln deliver only “a few appropriate remarks.”

On November 19, 1863, an estimated 20,000 people gathered for the ceremony. They had traveled by horse, train and carriage from as far away as Minnesota to participate in the event. Under a blue sky, Lincoln and Everett, along with a host of other dignitaries, sat on a raised platform amid a sea of onlookers.

The ceremony began. First there was music. Then a prayer. And more music. Then it was time for the keynote address. Edward Everett’s presentation was worthy of his reputation. For two hours, he held the crowd in thrall with his fiery language, his childlike animation and his detailed description of the battle.

Following a hymn, Lincoln stepped to the podium. “Four score and seven years ago,” he began … and before anyone knew it, he was finished. The crowd, which hadn’t expected much, was still surprised by the brevity of his speech. Historian Garry Wills, in his much-acclaimed book Lincoln at Gettysburg, alludes to the story of a photographer who, expecting the president to be at the podium for a while, missed his shot while he slowly set up his camera.2 In 272 words, the president said what he wanted to say and then sat down. The choir sang a dirge, the Reverend H.L. Baugher gave the benediction, and it was over.

The rest, as they say, is history.

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9 tips for teaching students

9 tips for teaching students

by: Mark Driscoll

1. Start strong

You have to get their attention the moment you step up to teach if you want to keep their attention. Start with high energy, a big question, or a big concept. Don’t ever, ever start with, “Hey, how are you guys doing?” Your lead pastor probably does that, everyone does that, and it’s nearly always the wrong way to start. We don’t ask people how they are—we tell them what God has said, which then changes how they are. Start strong. Nail your first word or line in your prep.

2. Teach one concept

Students are not stupid. They can learn more than is often expected. Don’t dumb it down, just focus it in. Give them one big idea—sin, Scripture, the cross, Jesus’ divinity, the resurrection—something to focus the entire message around.

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Tips for Parenting Teenwolfs

Raising teenagers is like trying to tame a wild animal, at least, so I’m told.  I find it ironic that I’m going to attempt to equip parents on how to be a parent to teens, even though I don’t have a teenager and am a long way from having one. (10 years)  So while I’ll acknowledge that irony, I will still pursue this effort because it is needed.  As a theme within this blog, I ascribe to know very little, if anything at all, but rather will attempt to point you to someone who does, namely Jesus.

Today’s post comes from Focus on the Family.  Focus on the Family is global Christian ministry dedicated to helping families thrive.  They provide help and resources for couples to build healthy marriages that reflect God’s design, and for parents to raise their children according to morals and values grounded in biblical principles.  They have a “teen” section on their site that is full of articles and tips to help parents navigate the murky waters of raising teenagers.

I’ll do my best to highlight the ones that I find most helpful, practical, or encouraging.  This series is titled, “Tips for Parenting Teens.”  It is a 6 article series with very practical tips on parenting teens.  The first article is an overview of the series and then each following article highlights a different aspect of parenting teens.  Instead of breaking this post into 6 separate posts, I’ve linked each of the 5 main articles below, not including the overview.  I will later highlight specific sections of some of these articles in a later post, but not all 5.

Articles in the Series

Walking Alongside Your Teen

Being Available for Your Teen

Tools for Listening to Your Teen

How to Talk to a Reluctant Teen

Being a Diligent Parent

While I don’t have experience being a parent to teenagers, I do have experience being a parent.  I also have experience working with teenagers.  That doesn’t me an expert, just a student of both, just like you.  A reoccurring statement I hope you notice is the idea of working intentionally, not perfectly.  Parents must be intentional.  Leaders must be intentional.  Do not get discouraged if you are not perfect, but strive to be intentional.  Not perfectly, but intentionally.

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Tips for Parenting Teens

An old Ozark Mountain “hillbilly” friend shared some wisdom with my dad a few years ago: “The older I get, the less I know for sure!” That’s how I felt when I was raising my teen girls. I couldn’t figure out the intricacies of dad-and-daughter psychology. But I worked and prayed and cried over it more than I care to remember!

Don’t get me wrong: My daughters were my pride and joy, and I tried every way I could to be the perfect dad. But, man, how many times I failed! I was clumsy and always seemed to be “say­ing it wrong.” I give God and their mom all the credit for the amazing, godly young ladies they were and are today.

During those turbulent and often disillusioning days, all I knew to do was spend time with my girls. Fortunately, that turned out to be the key to the relationship I wanted so badly.

My connecting point with daughter Courtney was on her early morning jogs. She wanted to run three to six miles at 6:15 A.M., so we hit the pavement together. I had to follow her rules, though:

  1. We ran at her pace.
  2. She did all the talking.
  3. I did all the listening.

When I tried to change the pace (a mistake I only made once) or tried to give unsolicited advice (probably more than once), I was quickly corrected and reminded of “the rules.”

I still look back on those early morning “joggers” as some of the most important hours I’ll ever spend in my life. That’s when I learned how vital it is to walk (or run) alongside our teens.

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Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

Top Ten lists are great because you can read the list and then read only about the one’s that you are interested in.  Here are 10 mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make.  If you’ve made a few or all of them, repent, refocus, and get started.  Remember, you don’t have to be perfect, just intentional.  This list is not ground breaking, but it is a good reminder of what not to do when it comes to teenagers.

Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

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It might be difficult for some parents to read through, but here’s a top ten list that I’ve been wanting to write for a while. Over the next several days I’ll be expanding on each of these in succession, but for now, here is my top ten mistakes Christian parents of teens make:Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

10. Not spending time with your teen.

A lot of parents make the mistake of not spending time with their teens because they assume their teens don’t want to spend time with them! While that’s true in some contexts, teens still want and need “chunks” of one-on-one time with parents. Despite the fact that teens are transitioning into more independence and often carry a “I don’t need/want you around” attitude, they are longing for the securing and grounding that comes from consistent quality time.

Going for walks together, grabbing a coffee in order to “catch up,” going to the movies together, etc., all all simple investments that teens secretly want and look forward to. When you don’t carve out time to spend with your teen, you’re communicating that you’re not interested in them, and they internalize that message, consciously or unconsciously.

9. Letting your teen’s activities take top priority for your family.

The number of parents who wrap their lives/schedules around their teen’s activities is mind-boggling to me. I honestly just don’t get it. I know many parents want to provide their children with experiences and opportunities they never had growing up, but something’s gone wrong with our understanding of family and parenting when our teen’s wants/”needs” are allowed to overwhelm the family’s day-to-day routines.

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3 Ways To Stop Being An Ineffective Youth Leader

Being intentional is a key value in ministry.  A key phrase that always comes to mind is “Not Perfectly, But Intentionally.”  We have to realize as leaders that we are not perfect and are not always doing everything that we should or could to accomplish our mission.  There are things we don’t see or  understand and sometimes we even choose sin over godliness.  Shocking I know.  I’m not advocating that it’s okay, but it’s true.

While we may not be perfect, we can be intentional.  We can intentionally share the Gospel.  We can intentionally build relationships.  We can intentionally serve with excellence.  We can’t guarantee effectiveness, since it is ultimately a work of the Holy Spirit that causes any one to accept Christ, be sanctified, or changed in any way.  We can guarantee a clean heart before God as we intentionally seek to become more like His Son, Jesus Christ.

The 3 ways center around a leaders ability to “BE INTENTIONAL.”

3 Ways to Stop Being an Ineffective Youth Leader

3 Ways to Stop Being an Ineffective Youth Leader

By: Adam Ramsey

Making disciples is harder than you could ever imagine, but simpler than you would ever think. For those involved in student ministry, discipling young people is not really complicated—it’s just costly. You don’t need a doctorate in theology, but you do need to have died to yourself.

What exactly makes someone an effective youth leader?

Here’s an example. Melisa is a youth leader who has been leading a group of junior girls at Mars Hill Bellevue. Each week she opens up her Bible with these ladies, listens to their struggles and questions, and points them to Jesus. She also opens up her life by pursuing their hearts relationally outside of a program or event. And when she was away on a family vacation for a couple of weeks, two of her girls stepped up and led their peers the same way Melisa has been leading them.

Melisa is just one of many examples of a godly and effective youth leader. By the grace of God she is making disciples who make disciples, by sharing the gospel, sharing her life, and empowering young people to do likewise.

Paul reveals some powerful practices in the way he discipled those in the church at Thessalonica. His pen drips with insight and sincerity as he writes, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:8).

What follows is the job description of every youth leader at Mars Hill: three simple yet costly characteristics of Paul’s leadership in 1 Thessalonians 2, which we use as a leadership model for anyone serving in student ministry at Mars Hill Church.

1. Be intentional about sharing the gospel

Paul reminded the Thessalonians that the most important gift he shared with them was the gospel: the message about Christ’s finished work on the cross for sinners. An effective youth leader has the gospel on repeat like 90s church kids with a new DC Talk track. When it comes to repeating the best news in the universe, if you feel like a broken record, you’re doing it right.

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The 10 Don’ts Of Leading A Small Group

Small groups are essential to real discipleship.  It is through the context of relationship that we can truly have an impact in the lives of others.  In student ministry having an effective small group ministry will allow your ministry to grow while remaining small.  A persons ability to really know and disciple students is limited to really just a few students.  Small group are essential.  I’ve posted a few other articles about how to improve small groups.  These articles are not groundbreaking.  They are just some practical ways to immediately make improvement in your small group setting.  They can be found here: “5 Things Small Group Leaders Should Say to Parents” and “5 Ways to Enrich Your Small Group Time.”  Below is another such post.  I can admit I have made a few of these “Don’ts.” Check them out yourself so you don’t repeats others mistakes.

The 10 Don’ts Of Leading A Small Group

Being an effective small group leader means doing a lot of things well.

It also means NOT doing a lot of things.

This is a list of what I believe to be some of the most common “don’ts” of being a small group leader. (I’d love to see what you would add.)

1. Don’t play favorites.

This is tough. I think sometimes we do it subconsciously. We will be naturally drawn to some students based on personalities, both ours and theirs. But, we have to be aware of this tendency and work to give each student his or her fair amount of attention.

2. Don’t join with other students in making fun of a student.

Even if it’s good-natured. It’s easy to fall in to this, especially with guys. It starts out with a few guys messing with each other. Seemingly harmless. But the moment your voice is added to the chorus, it changes. You’re an adult. And your words have a lot more weight. Stay away from making fun of a student, even if it’s a joke.

3. Don’t let details fall through the cracks.

This one owns me. I struggle more with this than anything on this list. Just this week I put a mother in an not so great position with her son because I had not communicated as clearly as I should have. Details will kill you. Do not let them slip through the cracks.

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5 Ways to Make Your Sermons Stick

Preach is a skill.  One that can be improved upon with practice and experience.  As Oscar Wilde puts it, “Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing.” While this is true, experience is not the only way that we can improve.  Another way is to improve is to learn from someones else’s experience and then apply learned principles to your actions.  Preaching is also a miracle of God.  One that can not be improved upon with practice or experience.  It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through the life of the believer that our sermons stick to anyone, which is essentially the first point of this article.  Check out this post on the Resurgence blog from Adam Ramsey about how to “Make Your Sermons Stick.”

5 Ways to Make Your Sermons Stick When Preaching to Students

5 Ways to Make Your Sermons Stick When Preaching to Students

Adam Ramsey »

The high calling of every parent and preacher is to faithfully pass on the baton of faith to the next generation. Here are five ways to make the message stick.

Over the past decade, I have had many opportunities to open the Bible and preach to young people in a huge range of settings and cultures. While I have previously written on some of the most common ways I have bombed a sermon (and seen many other young preachers do likewise), I have also learned some helpful practices along the way that can help your message stick.

The gospel is the power

These practices are intentionally pragmatic, but they are of little use if the message being preached is anything other than the gospel. Only the gospel—the good news of the finished work of Jesus, on the cross, in our place, for our sins—has the Spirit-propelled power to make dead hearts live.

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