youth ministry

3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church

leave

This is one of parents and youth pastors greatest fears, that their students would walk away from their faith after graduation.  The author of this article gives three common traits of youth who don’t leave the church.  This is well worth the read if you are a leader in student ministry or a parent of a teen.

3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the

Church

By: Jon Nielson
Jon is the college pastor at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He blogs at Something More Sure.

 “What do we do about our kids?” The group of parents sat together in my office, wiping their eyes. I’m a high school pastor, but for once, they weren’t talking about 16-year-olds drinking and partying. Each had a story to tell about a “good Christian” child, raised in their home and in our church, who had walked away from the faith during the college years. These children had come through our church’s youth program, gone on short-term mission trips, and served in several different ministries during their teenage years. Now they didn’t want anything to do with it anymore. And, somehow, these mothers’ ideas for our church to send college students “care packages” during their freshman year to help them feel connected to the church didn’t strike me as a solution with quite enough depth.

The daunting statistics about church-going youth keep rolling in. Panic ensues. What are we doing wrong in our churches? In our youth ministries?

It’s hard to sort through the various reports and find the real story. And there is no one easy solution for bringing all of those “lost” kids back into the church, other than continuing to pray for them and speaking the gospel into their lives. However, we can all look at the 20-somethings in our churches who are engaged and involved in ministry. What is it that sets apart the kids who stay in the church? Here are just a few observations I have made about such kids, with a few applications for those of us serving in youth ministry.

1. They are converted.

The Apostle Paul, interestingly enough, doesn’t use phrases like “nominal Christian” or “pretty good kid.” The Bible doesn’t seem to mess around with platitudes like: “Yeah, it’s a shame he did that, but he’s got a good heart.” When we listen to the witness of Scripture, particularly on the topic of conversion, we find that there is very little wiggle room.

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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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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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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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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!

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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).

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1 Goal and 5 Ways to Enrich Your Small Group Time!

One goal that I have in creating and maintaining this blog, which is yet to be seen, is to pass along stuff I like or find interesting.  Essentially that is articles or blog post that I didn’t write nor had anything to do with but I found beneficial.  Below is one such post.  I’m not familiar with the rules of blogging, so I don’t know if what I’m doing is frowned upon or not.  I just want to pass on that information and if that means you pass through my blog to a better blog, I’m okay with that.  It doesn’t bother me that you skip right over the paragraph (this paragraph) that I’ll try to write to introduce the actual blog that I’m highlighting.

Today’s blog is from “More than Dodgeball.” I’m highlighting a post about 5 way to improve or enrich your small group experience.  I’ve lead multiple small groups and could probably come up with my own list of ways to improve your small group experience, but “More than Dodgeball” has already done it.  Plus they’ve come up with a bunch of other good stuff that you might stumble across  on their site.  So check them out!

I can attest to each of the 5 points that are made, but would actually add at least 1 more.

6. Be Flexible – Be open to the leading of the Spirit.  Be open to the direction of the discussion.  Be open to how it’s suppose to look.  The goal is growth.  That is achieved in many different ways.  Be flexible to adjust to how the Spirit leads you, your plan, the conversation, and how you think this is all suppose to take place.

5 Ways to Enrich Your Small Group Time!

Aaron Crumby

This year with my small group I decided to try somethings that I didn’t do with my last group, and boy has it paid off. So I thought I’d share with you five things that I’ve tried this year in my small group that has brought them closer, and has also made them more interested in their life with God. Now, maybe a lot of you are already doing these things, and if that is the case, keep going strong. But if not, I encourage you to try a few:

  1. Remove all social media devices. Make sure you let parents know that this is happening and how important it is that their child cooperates with this rule. Let them know your phone will be on if they need to reach their child.

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