These are articles you MUST take the time to read, especially if you are a parent or a teenager.

A Word to Young Ladies from a Dad

A Little Advice to Young Men

Now a Word for the Ladies


Why is this happening?

That’s where we left it with part 1 of the post. On to part 2…

Our culture has changed and many of our methods have not. We have to take responsibility as educators and youth workers for what we need to do differently and what we need to do better. We have to take responsibility for becoming better teachers and better students.

In what areas have we become stagnant?

In what areas have we always done it that way?

In what ways are we allowing current culture to distract us from what is best for our audience?

In our changing culture everyone seems to be busier. One of the most damaging effects of busyness that I’ve seen is in the parent involvement. At such a crucial time we are seeing less and less positive modeling for our youth. Maybe some of the parents don’t know any better. Maybe some of them don’t care. Maybe some of them are doing the best they can. Maybe some of them don’t think it’s their job. Isn’t that why they pay teachers and clergy?

I am a strong advocate for families being the primary influence in the lives of their children. With that being said, when you take into account the scrutiny that schools and churches are coming under, how do you respond? It’s my belief that schools and churches will increasingly have to take on the burden and responsibility of “parenting” if we are to achieve the goals we desire. I realize this is a dangerous statement. Because it is such a dangerous statement let me reiterate – I do not think it is the responsibility of churches and schools. However, something must be done to make up the ground that is being given away.

“How do you motivate the unmotivated?” I don’t know where this comes from originally, but it is something I hear frequently at school. And that question also isolates the core issue we deal with in youth ministry.

How do we equip, inspire, or motivate students to live the truth? Admittedly, this presupposes that we are actually teaching the Truth in a way that is meaningful to our youth. My personal opinion is that we’ve done a great job with “meaningful” but we have a ways to go with “Truth.”

But anyway…

Can one “make” youth have the right heart attitude?

Can one “make” youth live out the truth they know?

Can one “make” youth care enough about church to make it a priority?

What can I do? I can only be responsible for them to the extent allowed by God. It sounds a lot like parenting, doesn’t it? It breaks my heart that I have to see them struggle to make it their own (or not).

Pray for our youth and their families like life and death depended on it – it does.

Create opportunities for meaningful relationships. Treat it like it’s important – it is.

Teach the Bible like as the ultimate source of authority – there is no other way.

Be at peace and trust that God knows what He’s doing – He does.

There has been a lot of talk in different places lately about the idea that youth ministry isn’t working as well as it should anymore. For the most part, this idea has been promoted because so many youth are leaving the church when they leave high school.

Some people suggest that people are leaving the church because of a lack of relationship within the church.

Others suggest that the church is too consumer-driven and the youth go looking for the next bigger and better thing.

Still others think that the parents are responsible.

The flip side to that is that some think that the youth group doesn’t do enough. Not enough games, too many games, not enough Bible, too much Bible…

Our youth are isolated from the rest of the church.

Our youth don’t have facilities of their own.

The preaching has too much fluff.

The preaching is too high and lofty.

The music is ancient and doesn’t connect.

Church is boring.

The pastor is boring.

The youth pastor is boring.

No one cares about me.

I just plain don’t care.

And no one really knows the answer…

Is it that way with adults and what some people mockingly call “big church?” Is anyone looking to see if there is any correlating information about adults coming and going out of churches? Are they asking the same questions and making the same comments?

Let’s take it a step further. For some time the public schools have struggled with rising expectations and trying to equip students to meet those standards. Ask people why the schools are failing and you are likely to see a list of things similar to the list above. This has become such a major issue that the government has started to step in, replace teachers, and close down schools. Admittedly, there are a lot of arguable issues here such as funding, how scores are created, how students are measured, and “No Child Left Behind,” to name a few. In theory, however, these are all issues related to helping the students.

Few of these things seem to be working. Why?

Why is this happening?

To be continued…

What are you all about?

In my last post I shared about four words that I recently used to encourage the youth group I serve with. They were people, prayer, preaching and purity.

I thought I would follow that up with a summary of a message I gave last summer during our annual “Youth Sunday.”

I preached primarily from Acts 2:42-47. As I’ve become acquainted with that passage four things stood out to me. Just as that passage was the heartbeat of the church’s beginning it is also the heartbeat for what I am committed to.

My personal passion for ministry could be summed up with four broad statements taken from this passage, Acts 2:42-47. The four statements may overlap some but each one has a distinct idea that I believe is addressed in the passage.

42And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

First, we must have a passion that God’s Word be taught accurately.

Second, we must have a passion for authentic loving relationships.

Third, we must have a passion to see the lost and the found drawn to and transformed by Jesus.

Fourth, we must have a passion to reach out and impact our community and world.

These are the things I’m committed to in ministry.

Do you value balance or tension in life?

I don’t know about you but for a long time I’ve valued balance. I like the idea of balance. Everything is equally spread out with nothing taking up more time or energy than it should. In my mind it has meant that I am well-adjusted, whatever that means, and I have everything under control.

Recently, I’ve started wondering if I have it all wrong. What if I should be pursuing tension also? I guess I’ve always considered tension to be a bad thing but what if tension caused us to grow because there wasn’t perfect balance?

Think of the picture of a tightrope walker. Does it represent balance or tension? One could say it represents balance since if you don’t have it you’ll fall off. One could also say it represents tension. Think about how tired one’s muscles must feel after walking across a tightrope without falling! Ultimately, though, it’s probably a mixture of both balance and tension.

Think about a relationship. Can any relationship ever be perfectly balanced with the best of everything and the worst of nothing? Only in an ideal world! Most of my relationships tend to reflect more tension than not. It’s not that I’m not getting along with someone, but rather, because we are different. We have different personalities, beliefs, or even moods.

I guess I’ve come to realize that something facing tension has the great potential to get stronger. Weightlifters improve their strength. Relationships, properly handled, improve and gain new dimensions. Indeed, even a rubber band, when stretched, never goes back to its original position.

What about you? Do you appreciate tension? Do you make the most of it or avoid it?

Can you have too much tension? Too much balance?

Think about it…

Every couple of years I give a series of messages about dating and relationships in our youth group. It always creates quite a stir. It raises a lot of questions and challenges. That’s not a bad thing if it causes us to reconsider our practices.

In light of that, I thought I would put some of the thoughts and questions here. Let me know you find this useful. Let me know if you disagree too.

1. What is the purpose of dating? For the majority of JH/SH students the issue is not finding a suitable marriage partner. Many will tell you they are not even ready to consider getting married.

2. Dating and relationships tend to be self-centered to start with. The focus is on looking for that “right one” for me. Characteristics of the right one include physical, emotional, or spiritual qualities.

3. We aren’t necessarily looking at the other person the way we should because we are often looking for what enjoyment the other person can provide for us.

4. When we are looking for the “right” person we can lose sight of becoming the right person.

5. We also lose sight of the right person. God should be the center of our focus and at this stage our dating relationships do not promote that.

6. Is it possible to survive in this culture without dating?

7. When should we start dating?

8. Modern dating relationships do not promote a biblical view of purity. That doesn’t mean that they promote impurity but dating relationships seem to make purity more difficult. Given the vast amount of verses on purity should we reconsider our practices?

9. Our perceived/felt need for someone is fed by others as well as the media. We lose sight of finding our satisfaction in Christ alone.

10. Dating creates a lot of drama for the wrong reasons!

11. Is dating mentioned in the Bible?

12. What kinds of relationships are mentioned in the Bible?

13. If not dating then what?

14. We are created for community and relationship with each other. Dating relationships distort what that is supposed to look like.

Here you go. What do you think?