ReachStudents Blog

Every year, while watching March Madness basketball games, I can’t help but think of youth ministries all around the country preparing to launch thousands of graduating seniors into the sea of college faces. I find myself wondering if the faith of these fledgling adults will hold up under the pressure of intellectual attack, new ideas and criticism found on a college campus.

In a post from byFaith, Timothy Keller paints a bleak picture of where America is as a culture:

“This is an unprecedented time in human history…What’s new is the breadth of conviction that there is no such thing as truth. There have never been whole societies built on that idea. Never.

Everyone knows that younger people are far less religious than the generation before … and despite all the things that we’ve been doing for the last 30 years, we’re losing them.”

Zoe Erler, the writer of the byFaith piece, went on to say, “Humanistic perspectives such as rationalism, individualism, relativism, and pragmatism have all contributed to this religious indifference. As well, perhaps, the seeming irrelevance of various evangelical movements has done little to draw the ‘nones’ back into the fold.”

However, Keller notes that the secular college campus may be the best place to develop emerging Christian leaders. Erler writes, “If you’re on a college campus, you’re on the culture’s cutting edge. It is, [Keller] says, our best leadership development pipeline. By exposing people to the cutting edge of culture where they have to deal with the modern mindset, where they have to deal with non-Christians — that, in Keller’s opinion, is the best way to develop pastors and lay leaders.”

Parents and youth leaders feel the pressure to adequately prepare youth with a sound faith that can withstand the test of intellectual scrutiny. In fact, we want youth to not only be able to articulate the gospel to others, but defend it for themselves.

Christ on campus 

Continue Reading…

The Source of Vision for Your Ministry

Dr. G. David Boyd – March 16, 2016 Leave a comment

ReachStudents Blog

A vision of a renewed Jerusalem was given by Nehemiah to rebuild the walls.

In Nehemiah 2:17-18, Nehemiah says, “‘You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.’ I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.”

Nehemiah starts with their present condition, and moves to where they should go by providing them a vision and a reminder that God is with them.

A vision does not provide a picture of the way things are, but an image of what could and should be. It focuses a community on where they are going and what must be done to get there. It unifies them as they work towards the common good.  Continue Reading…

Jesus, RESET My Character and Purity

Reid Kapple – March 11, 2016 1 Comment

ReachStudents Blog

Father in heaven, you are the all wise and all good creator of all things (Gen. 1:31). In you we find no trace of evil or corruption, for you are holy, pure and right in all that you are and all that you do (Isa. 6:3). It is not enough to say that your ways are pure, but rather that you yourself are the very standard and definition of purity. For we only know what purity is through knowing you (Lev. 20:26). And we know we would be far worse off if we did not have the blessing of knowing and being known by you (2 Thess. 2:7). Your common grace to all people (Matt. 5:45) is one of the many gifts you bless humanity with as the giver of all good gifts (Jas. 1:17).

But Lord, while your holiness reveals to us how we ought to live (1 Pet. 1:14-16), it also reveals the extent of our unholiness. Your holiness is like a black light that opens our eyes to see how great are the stains of our sin  – stains we didn’t see before (Isa. 6:1-5). Because of our sin, our love has turned to hate, our wisdom has turned to foolishness, our service has turned to consumption, and our pursuit of purity has turned to the pursuit of countless things that corrupt us (Prov. 6:32). And this is not simply because we have done impure things, but rather because we have been disconnected from the source of ultimate purity. We find ourselves so easily and naturally pursuing that which over promises, under delivers, and leaves us hollow and lost (Rom. 1:21-25). Continue Reading…

In The Crossfire of Generations

Dr. G. David Boyd – March 2, 2016 Leave a comment

ReachStudents Blog

A mediator serves as a conduit, or channel, between two parties in conflict, seeking to ensure both feel understood, respected and able to contribute towards an agreeable solution. Within the church, disagreements can erupt between different generations due to disparate values, beliefs and practices. As a youth worker, I have stood up in defense of Millennials amidst a boardroom of angry Baby Boomers, and I have defused frustration among disillusioned Millennials in hallway conversations.

Youth workers as generational mediators

When battle lines get drawn within your community, youth workers are often on the front lines serving as mediators between generations. As mediators, they can restore peace and unity in three ways: Continue Reading…

10 Reasons to Attend TIU 360

Katherine Jeffery – February 17, 2016 Leave a comment

ReachStudents Blog

The annual TIU 360 Conference is designed for high school students to engage with each other as they learn about leadership and their relationships with God. Workshop content and networking opportunities make this a great event for youth leaders as well as students.

So, here are the top 10 reasons to attend TIU 360 on April 15-16 in Deerfield, Illinois.  Continue Reading…

Telling Your Story With Jesus As The Hero

Shane Stacey – February 15, 2016 2 Comments

ReachStudents Blog

I want every student to have these three competencies so they can live on mission in everyday life:

  1. The ability to articulate the gospel in a compelling way—after all, it’s good news!
  2. The ability to share their own faith story with Christ as the hero.
  3. The ability to listen to their friend’s story with compassion and discernment.

Jeff Vanderstelt and the good people at SOMA created a helpful tool that uses the outline of God’s story to help people tell their story with Jesus as the hero. It also helps people learn to listen to the stories of others in order to make gospel connections.

“Every follower of Jesus has a story to tell, and it’s a story about God and his grace. However, many of us have not been equipped to tell our story in such a way that it points to Jesus as the hero. As those who want to show and share Jesus every day, it’s imperative that we learn to talk about him through the medium of our stories. Often, telling our story will be the most natural way to talk to our not-yet-believing friends about Jesus.

Every great story contains four movements: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. God’s Story follows the same pattern. God’s Story is the Great Story, the story that helps us make sense of all other stories. God’s Story is the ultimate Good News, the gospel that we find on the pages of the Bible. Understanding the Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration pattern in God’s Story will help us make sense of our stories, and of the broken world in which we find ourselves. Below is a quick summary of these four movements along with the themes that emerge in each one.” – DNA Guide, p.28.

The basic premise is that everyone’s story finds its true meaning in God’s story—Creation, Separation, Redemption and Restoration. Each of the major chapters of the Bible have themes we find in our own stories. Below you’ll see the themes, as well as questions to help people craft their story.  Continue Reading…

A View From The Outside

Gordy Williams – February 10, 2016 Leave a comment

ReachStudents Blog

Culture is rapidly shifting. It cannot be denied or even doubted. As a result of those changes, many experts now describe America as a post-Christian nation.

We can no longer assume shared biblical and theological knowledge. Younger generations increasingly describe themselves as something other than Christian, although they still think of themselves as spiritual. As youth workers, that has serious implications on how we do ministry.

Not long ago, I talked with a fellow youth pastor about evangelism. Both of us admitted we moved away from doing large outreach events. It isn’t because we lost our passion for evangelism. Rather, it’s that we realized in our contexts they were no longer effective. Some of my friends on the para-church side of the spectrum have made the same observation. The days of pizza and volleyball leading to mass conversions are over (if they ever really existed). Continue Reading…

Jesus, RESET My Purpose

Shane Stacey – February 8, 2016 3 Comments

ReachStudents Blog

Almighty God –Creator of everything that is seen and unseen (Col. 1:16)—I was created by your grace and for your glory (Isa. 43:7). I am no accident. I am not a mistake. You formed me in my mother’s womb (Ps. 139:13). Every day of my life was ordained by you before one of them came into being (Ps 139:16). Though everything may fail around me these two truths are certain: I was handcrafted by you and for you and made to be in relationship with you (Col. 1:17).

Gracious God, I confess that I am all too easily enamored with created things rather than with you, my Creator (Rom. 1:25). I have made this life about me rather than about living in response to who you are and what you’ve done in Christ. I have often charted my own course. I have sought a name for myself. All too often my life’s mission is to be as comfortable as possible as I accumulate all that I can for myself (1 Jn. 2:16-17). I’ve spent far too much time looking for meaning and purpose in the dim light of a glowing screen than in the life-giving light of your Word. Rather than allowing your Word, works and ways to shape my life, I have allowed others and popular opinion to mold me, my values and direction in life. This living leaves me empty, tired and unsatisfied. I know there must be more.

Jesus Christ, I need You to reset my purpose. While you walked this earth, you completely fulfilled your purpose, bringing glory to the Father (John 17:4-5). Not only have you shown me the way, but you also graciously gave your life to set me free from the exhausting, empty burden of living for myself (2 Cor. 5:15). Through faith, you saved me from the power of self-focused sin and created me anew in Christ as one fully committed to doing the most good possible in all of life (Eph. 2:8-10; Titus 2:14). Just as the Father sent you, you now are sending me to bring your life and love to every person you put in my path (Jn. 20:21). You have commissioned me with incredible purpose to be fruitful and multiply redeemed image bearers who live with you and for you in all of life (Gen. 1:28, John 15:15-17; Matt. 28:18-20). Just as the Father sent you, you are now sending me to be your representative in everyday life (Jn. 20:21).  You have infused my life with such meaning and purpose.  Continue Reading…

Clarify Your Leadership With 5 Priorities

Shane Stacey – February 3, 2016 Leave a comment

ReachStudents Blog

How would you define your role?  

Years ago, when asked this question, I immediately thought about the programs I oversaw. Therefore, I saw myself more as a program director than one who develops people. This was a problem because developing people is the primary role of leaders in the church (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Before we go any further it would be wise to define programs. I view programs as the way we plan our intentional time together. Programs are not bad. They are necessary. Programs are merely vehicles that help the movement of people from one place to another. But, if we view our role and primary responsibilities through the lens of the program, then programs become the vision. Continue Reading…

How to Handle an Angry Parent

Dr. G. David Boyd – January 29, 2016 Leave a comment

ReachStudents Blog

Over the years, I have found myself in more than one contentious conversation with a parent. Sometimes the disagreement ends well, while other times it, well, ended. These difficult conversations seemed to come the day after a retreat, soon after I finish unpacking, or when I was in the midst of a demanding week of programming.

I didn’t understand it then, as a young youth pastor, but parents will become emotional when their child feels hurt or upset. We must remember that while their anger gets directed at you, it might not be about you, but a natural desire to protect their child.

Three ways to handle an angry parent

Next time you end up in hot water, here are some ways to get back into a parent’s good graces: Continue Reading…