ministry

Four Moments I’m Preparing Students to Face

There are moments in everyone’s life where they are pushed to stand for what they believe in or are put to the test through adversity. Four moments in particular are:

1. The semester with the persuasive, atheist philosophy professor.
2. The day their best friend dies in a car accident.
3. The year when they don’t feel God’s presence at all.
4. The day when their fiancée breaks off the engagement, even after they have remained abstinent.

In this article the author tackles each of these moments and how we should be preparing our students to face them.

Four Moments I’m Preparing Students to Face

By Cameron Cole

Ministry to children and youth for both parents and church workers focuses on cultivating followers of Christ with sustainable faith. Basically, we want the faith of our young people to stick when they leave our homes and churches to live as independent adults.

As I listen to and observe the faith journeys of former students and young adults, I often see pivotal moments along the way that constitute “make or break” tests of their faith. Discipling my students, I am preparing them for these four moments.

1. The semester with the persuasive, atheist philosophy professor.

Whether in college or in a coffee shop, every young Christian will meet people who do not believe in the truth of Christianity and can argue persuasively against it. Particularly in college, students will encounter professors with an ax to grind against Christianity and with a desire to use their classroom as a platform against the religion. Many times, students without a deep theological base have their faith wrecked by slick arguments.

I want my students to ask hard questions and to have experience logically arguing for their belief in the veracity of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. So we dedicate much time in our youth ministry to working on apologetics. In particular, we focus on the validity of the Bible as God’s Word, the historical facts surrounding the resurrection, and the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the life of Christ. I have found Tim Keller’s video series The Reason for God to be an indispensible tool for giving students both exposure to and practice in engaging arguments against Christianity.

2. The day their best friend dies in a car accident.

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Abortion . . . think you understand it?

Life.

Although most Americans have some sort of opinion on abortion, many don’t really understand the truth behind this horrific problem.  How does abortion impact you and your family?  Is it really a constitutional right? Why do most abortions happen?

Take this quiz and find out just how much you know about abortion in the United States.

Some of the answers will surprise you.

Lone Oak here we come!

Lone Oak
We are excited to announce that we have accepted the call to be the High School Student Pastor at Lone Oak First Baptist Church in Paducah, KY. 

God has used the last 5 1/2 years at Crossings to prepare us for our next chapter in student ministry.  While we have loved our time at Crossings, we cannot wait to invest in the students and families at Lone Oak FBC.  God’s call on my life and my passion for student ministry has lead us to make this decision.  God made it clear earlier this year that my time at Crossings was coming to an end.  While we didn’t know where or what He was leading us toward, we knew He was leading us away from Crossings. In a step of faith we began the job search process. Through prayer and reading God’s Word, He made it clear that He was leading us back into the church.  At Crossings my primary responsibility has been to minister to students through our summer staff and the various programs and resources that I helped to develop. My connection was on a one week basis connected only through the churches student pastor or group leader.  God was giving me the desire to invest long-term.  As the student pastor at Lone Oak FBC, I will get the opportunity to walk through life with students and families on a long-term basis, something I have truly missed.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him,and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Delight yourself in the Lord,and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalms 37:4

I surrendered to the call to ministry when I was 18 years old at a church camp (Centrifuge) in Jackson, TN.  At that point I had no clue how the Lord was going to use someone like me in student ministry.  I held on to these two verses as Christ begin to do a new work in my heart and in my life.  It has been an incredible journey to see how God has personally directed my path and given me the desires of my heart.  He has given me a passion for student ministry and I am excited to be used for His glory.

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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4 Tips for a Trip to a Third-World Country

The last two years Crossings has been able to send some of our summer staff to Haiti for only the price of a plane ticket.  It is just one of the many perks of working for Crossings as a summer staff or beyond.  David Rouse, Quinton Matthews, and I lead the first trip in 2012.  It was one of the most fun and impactful experiences I have had in a long time.  I really, really enjoyed it.  The trip itself was incredible.  I have traveled to Haiti before but on this trip we accomplished some great work, I got to see areas of the country I had never seen, and we got to serve for a day in an orphanage.  Not only that, I got to experience it with two very good friends.  It was a great trip.

Last year I was not able to go, but sent this advice to the staff that were going.  I think it is applicable to any trip to a third-world country.

I know this is an older video, but it still get’s me fired up every time I watch it.

Just wanted to encourage each of you as you prepare for your trip to Haiti. A few tips for those on this trip.

1. Be ready for God to change you.
The impact of this trip will hopefully follow each of you for the rest of your lives. It is my prayer that you will be changed. That God challenges you in ways that you do not expect and convinces you to make changes in your life. The Lord is going to do incredible things through each of you while on this trip. Much like summer, the impact you can make largely depends on your willingness to be used by God. BE OPEN to what God might be calling each of you to do.

2. Get past the poverty.
Get past the fact that these people live in poverty and see their greater need for Jesus Christ. The poverty is always difficult to experience and see. Don’t walk away from this trip only being thankful for all of your stuff. Get more out of it than that.

3. Love kids
You will be in contact with kids who literally do not know what it is like to have loving parents or to be loved by anyone at all. You will work with orphans and children who have great needs. Show them the love of Christ through the time you spend with them. Make them feel loved.

4. Soak it up
Relish ever minute of your time. Do not sit on the sidelines. Experience everything.

I wish I was going with you all. Last year I got to go on this trip and it was literally one of the best trips of my life. I can’t wait to hear all the stories when you guys return. God Bless. Be safe. Have fun!

Patrick

PluggedIn – A great resource for parents and leaders

PluggedIn is a Focus on the Family publication designed to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving families the essential tools they need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which they live.

Many parents and youth leader already know about the Christian movie review website called PluggedIn.  It is a great resource for finding out which movies are age-appropriate for children and teens and which movies are not.

What PluggedIn has to offer:

Reviews – PluggedIn reviews Movies, TV shows, Music, and Games.  They also promote a site that reviews books.

Resources – Movie Night, Family Room, Culture Clips and a Blog

Content Access – PluggedIn helps you get the content you want by utilizing social media, podcasts, and mobile apps.

Leading student, whether that be as a parent or youth leader, is a full-contact sport.  It requires effort, hard-work, tenacity, and a willingness to get dirty.  Doing your homework before letting students watch a movie, play a video game, listen to an album, or watch a show on TV is a necessary evil in today’s culture.  Students are like sponges and they are absorbing their world view, religious beliefs, and character from their families, their leaders, and the media.  This is a fact.  PluggedIn helps parents and leaders face that brutal fact and equips them with information to help them navigate the influential waters of media and entertainment.

Reviews

Games

While this is a sub-section of the overall purpose of the site, I listed it first for a reason.  If you are the parent of teenage boy and increasingly even girls, the amount of time spent playing video games is growing rapidly.  While a movie exposes students to unwanted content in the form of actors/actresses.  Games expose students to unwanted content in the form of first-person experience.  Gamers are acting out these unwanted actions and behaviors as they play endless hours of the games.  As parents and leaders it benefits us to know what our students are acting out in the form of a video game.

Movies

This is the obvious one.  Most of us know that you can come to PluggedIn and search almost any new release movie and find a review.  What you might not know are the elements in which each movie is reviewed.

Each movie is reviewed on the basis of 6 elements or content features.

1. Positive Elements
2. Spiritual Content
3. Sexual Content
4. Violent Content
5. Crude or Profane Language
6. Drug and Alcohol Content
7. Negative Elements.

Each review also includes a short summery and a conclusion that gives a recommendation as to how to navigate the decision making process of watching the movie.

Music

Album and songs are both reviewed.  The basis on which they are reviewed are Pro-Social Content and Objectionable Content with a Summary Advisory for parents at the end.

TV shows

Shows and even individual episodes are reviewed.  These reviews are in the forms of summaries, which require a little more digging to figure out what they are saying.  None the less, they are incredibly helpful if you don’t want to spend the time watching the show or the season to understand what is going on.

Books

Book reviews are found on a related site call ThrivingFamily.com. While the index is not as exhaustive as PluggedIn, it is still a great resource to find out what books are saying.

Resources

Family Room

The Family rooms combines all the elements in the resource section onto one page.  From the Family Room you can find the blog, Movie Night, Podcasts, and other great articles from PluggedIn.

Movie Night

This is a great resourced created by PluggedIn.  Movie night picks appropriate movies for parents to watch with their kids or teens and then provides summaries and follow-up questions to discuss.  The movies that are targeted towards kids provide themed activity sheets.  The movies for teens provide discussion questions and talking points to discuss after or during the movie.  This great resource promotes watching movies together as a family.

Culture Clips

This section of the site points you to the current issues of movies and media.  It will have the most recent movies listed, the most recent shows, and if there is a current event, it should address it.  This page tackles the hot topic issues of each week.

Blog

The blog is full of articles and opinion from the guys who manage and create the content for PluggedIn.  This is like an expanded version of the culture clips or the culture clips are an abbreviated version of the blog.  Either way you should find great content about various topics related to media and even other topics.

Content Access

How can you get access to all of this great content?  PluggedIn has made it easy.  They have provided multiple avenues for you to download, listen to, and interact with their site.  Below you will find links to each of these avenues.  I personally listen to the podcast and use the app to access online reviews.  The two-minute Podcasts keep me up-to-date on the latest movies while I drive to work and the app gives me easy access when I want more content from my phone or tablet.

Social Media

Mobile Apps

Podcast

Wanting God’s Best for Your Children

Abby and I are first time parents with two incredible boys.  They are now approaching 3 years old.  We are just like most Christian parents in that we want to express God’s love to our children as early and as often as possible.  We read the Story Book Bible to them at bedtime.  We pray before meals.  We take them to Sunday school.  We are doing our best at figuring this out as we go. Not perfectly, but intentionally.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Matthew 7:7-11

We all love to give gifts to our children and the knowledge of Christ is the greatest gift of all.  The idea that God loves my children more than me and wants to give better gifts than I do, blows my mind.  The love for your child is an incredible thing.  And think, God loves them more.

So what is our role in spiritual discipleship for our kids?

The full scope of that question cannot be answered within a single post, blog, or even a single book.  Ultimately, I think it starts with being intentional.  Not perfectly, but intentionally. Intentionally sharing the Gospel with your children.  Intentionally reading and pointing them to God’s Word. Intentionally praying with them. Intentionally taking them to church.  Intentionally talking to them about their relationship with God. And intentionally being a living example of the Grace we have received.

Orange is a ministry philosophy that focuses on ministering to the family as a whole.  In student and children’s ministry, that means spending as much if not more attention on parents.  This is not a new philosophy, but Orange has done a very good job of packaging, communicating the essentials of this philosophy, and providing resources.  Below I have highlighted a post from Orange Leaders that I think helps at attacking the question of our role in spiritual discipleship for our kids.

Wanting God’s Best for Your Children

©2012 Jim Wideman Ministries Inc

Wanting God’s Best for Your Children

Psalm 112:1-8 (NIV) tells us: “Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, 
who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land; 
the generation of the upright will be blessed. . . . Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. 
He will have no fear of bad news; 
 his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. 
His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.”

This is hard to walk out as a parent, let alone lead other parents to walk this out for their families. The world can be a cruel place, it can be an unsure place. This is our time but they are hard and troubling times for the church.

A large percentage of Americans believe it will get worse before it gets better. When you look at what’s happening in the news, on TV and even in the church it’s pretty scary out there but it’s times like these that makes us ask the big question: Do you really believe and practice what you teach and preach? As for me, I BELIEVE THE BIBLE!

KEEP READING…

5 Things Small Group Leaders Should say to Parents

As a follow-up to last weeks post, 1 Goal and 5 Ways to Enrich Your Small Group Time, I wanted to include a great post from What is Orange about what small group leaders should be saying to parents.  Small groups are essential to Gospel relationships so we should work hard to improve them as leaders.  Orange has multiple posts on the subject.

Orange is a ministry philosophy that focuses on ministering to the family as a whole.  In student and children’s ministry, that means spending as much if not more attention on parents.  This is not a new philosophy, but Orange has done a very good job of packaging, communicating the essentials of this philosophy, and providing resources.

I could simply give you the 5 things, but then you would be tempted to not read the entire article, although that might be what you do anyway.  I would encourage you to read the article and look around the Orange Leaders blog.  It is full of other great resources.  Next week I’ll look at the question, “What is my role as a parent in spiritual discipleship of my kids?”

Five Things Small Group Leaders Should say to Parents

by Jeff Brodie

Rethinking the Way we Communicate to Teens

Parents don’t walk around over-encouraged. They just don’t. Most parents feel like they aren’t doing a good job of raising their kids. Parenting resources make them feel guilty, and the Facebook feed of their friends’ seemingly perfect families doesn’t help. It’s isolating. For some families, the only time they hear from an adult who knows their child is from the principal or the police.

Here’s the truth we need to remember: Kids are an incredible gift, and hold unlimited potential to impact the world around them. Their parents are their primary influence, and Jesus is their only hope.

A number of years ago, I realized the Small Group Leaders in our student ministry had very little contact with parents, so we started to create events that needed the Small Group Leader to call the parent in order for the event to succeed (sneaky, I know).

KEEP READING…