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Youth Ministry: Set Apart or a Part?

Most churches heartedly affirm the importance of a thriving youth ministry within the local church. However, unless we are intentional, youth ministry can also be mistakenly viewed as a separate entity apart from the wider church body. So it’s important that we ask, “Are the structures and programs we have in place serving to help or hinder incorporating our young people into a bigger and more biblical vision of what it means to be a community of believers?”

Pastor Jon Nielson has some good diagnostic questions for youth ministers to think about. These questions also apply to parents and the wider church leadership:

  • Does our ministry compete in any way with the priority of corporate worship for students? 
  • Do our youth leaders intentionally encourage intergenerational relationships for the students? 
  • Does our ministry generally support or compete with the discipleship work of godly parents in our congregation? 
  • Are students encouraged to choose between youth ministry involvement/leadership and service in other areas of the local church? 
  • Does the youth ministry hinder, in any way, the preparation of young men and women to engage in local church contexts as adult Christians? 

 (“Does Your Youth Ministry Mess with Christ’s Bride?”, www.thegospelcoalition.org.)

(Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

 

Free Lesson for Youth: A Biblical View of Technology

ID-100103343In the previous post, “Children and Youth in a Digital Age,” we recommended some important “must-read” articles regarding digital media and technology for parents by Dr. Albert Mohler. As a follow-up, we’d like to offer you a free lesson from our curriculum Your Word Is Truth. The lesson gives students (ages 7th-9th grade) a biblical foundation for understanding technology, and then challenges them to apply these truths in practical ways to their own lives and daily decisions. Although not specifically geared toward digital media, it does provide general biblical truths for helping students evaluate their use of digital media and other popular technologies. Here is an outline of the main ideas presented in the lesson:

  • Man is able to create technology because we are made in God’s image and reflect His divine ability to create.
  • Technology often assists man in exercising rightful dominion over creation, and is a means of God providing for the needs of people.
  • The sinful heart is prone to develop and use technology for evil purposes.
  • The sinful heart is prone to trust and find its satisfaction in technology, and not in God.
  • Technology can be used as a means of glorifying God, or glorifying man.

Click here to download all lesson components.

(Photo courtesy Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Moving Youth toward Adulthood

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Years ago, Dr. Albert Mohler wrote about a disturbing trend among young people:

The transition to adulthood used to be one of the main goals of the young. Adulthood was seen to be a status worth achieving and was understood to be a set of responsibilities worth fulfilling. At least, that’s the way it used to be. Now, an entire generation seems to be finding itself locked in the grip of eternal youth, unwilling or unable to grow up.

(What If There Are No Adults? at AlbertMohler.com)

As parents and teachers, are we in any way—even inadvertently—participating in this trend? Or, are we encouraging our young people to heed this call expressed by John Piper: (more…)

Preparing Children to Interact Redemptively with the Culture

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In his excellent book Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens,Paul Tripp offers five strategies for preparing children and young adults (a.k.a. “teenagers”) to interact redemptively with their culture. Here is a brief summary: (more…)

Free Lesson: Boldly Proclaiming the Truth in Humility

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As a follow-up to yesterday’s post “Teaching Our Children to Go Beyond Being Nice,” it is important that we teach our children and students how to boldly proclaim the truth in a spirit of humility. Here is a free lesson from our youth curriculum Your Word Is Truth. The lesson includes a presentation and explanation of Bible texts, interactive skits and discussion questions, and a variety of questions to challenge students to make personal application in their own lives. (more…)

Centering Youth on the Word

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In his article, “Some Advice for Youth Ministers” (posted at The Gospel Coalition), Dave Hinkley offers some good advice regarding priorities we set in youth ministry. Although originally posted in 2010, his advice is still timely. Here is an excerpt: (more…)

Male and Female He Created Them

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Nine years ago, Dr. Albert Mohler wrote an article, “A Call for Courage on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.” His words were prophetic.

The fault lines of controversy in contemporary Christianity range across a vast terrain of issues, but none seems quite so volatile as the question of gender. As Christians have been thinking and rethinking these issues in recent years, a clear pattern of divergence has appeared. At stake in this debate is something more important than the question of gender, for this controversy reaches the deepest questions of Christian identity and biblical authority. (more…)

A Genuine Parent and Youth Ministry Partnership

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In his article, “Can Youth Ministers Actually Work with Parents?” (posted at The Gospel Coalition), Pastor John Pond challenges the church with the following:

For years I always told the pastor, parent, or anyone else who asked that of course I am partnering with parents. We never want to be that youth ministry that does not work alongside parents,[since] they are the primary disciple makers. However, a few years ago I realized that when it comes to working out this priority I was just giving lip service. Talking to other youth ministers I realized I was not the only one. How do the youth minister and parent practically work together to see that discipleship is actually happening in our teenagers’ lives, as opposed to working in isolation and only pretending that we are working together?

He then highlights and discusses four elements that must be present for a genuine partnership to exist:

  • Communicate regularly
  • Pray together
  • Spend time with parents
  • Create pro-family calendars

And he concludes with this important reminder:

The youth minister and parent are each other’s best allies when they work together. If we want our students to persevere with faith after high school, having joy in Christ and not in sin, parents and youth ministers have to support and encourage each other. Discipleship starts to go deep in the teenage years, and the whole church must cooperate. What’s at stake? Only the future family of the church.

You can read the whole article “Can Youth Ministers Actually Work with Parents?
here.”

The Importance of Biblical Convictions

The following are some good words from Dr. Paul Tripp:

I am afraid that many of us are so busy making decisions for our children in order to keep them safe that we do not teach them to develop their own set of internalized biblical convictions. It is one thing for a teenager to do what is right under a watchful eye or under the threat of punishment. It is quite another thing to see the independent, unpressured, heartfelt exercise of personal conviction. As we are preparing our teenage children to go out into this darkened, fallen world and live a godly life, it is mandatory that we make the development of internalized convictions one of our primary goals.

Dr. Tripp then outlines six characteristics of biblical conviction:

  1. A biblical conviction is always based on a study of, submission to, and application of Scripture.
  2. A biblical conviction is always predetermined.
  3. A biblical conviction will not change with the circumstances.
  4. Biblical convictions are inflexible.
  5. True biblical conviction is bold.
  6. True biblical conviction is always lived out.

(Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens, copyright© 2001, pages 128, 132-133)

The Importance of Parents in Youth Ministry

In the past 10 years or so, there has been a healthy reevaluation of how churches do youth ministry. Increasingly, the focus has turned to the importance of parents in the spiritual discipleship of their children. In this helpful seven-minute video posted at The Gospel Coalition, three youth ministers discuss the topic “Don’t Outsource Your Kids to Youth Group.” An interesting statistic noted at the beginning of the video states: “Seventy percent of kids who go through youth ministry will not continue with the church after high school.”

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