Programs Alone Won’t Make Disciples

Shane Stacey – October 3, 2014 2 Comments

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Over the last few years, when talking about disciplemaking among students, I have often avoided talking about programs.

I’ve avoided it because, in our church culture, as soon as you start talking about programming, it becomes everyone’s place of focus. The flawed thinking is that the answer to developing a disciplemaking movement is in the right programming models and ideas.

I get that programs get a bad rap. Don’t misunderstand me, you have to have some sort of structure. I define programs as how we organize our relational time together. It’s the things we do. The role of programming is simply to support disciplemaking, not produce it. Continue Reading…

Best Interactive Games for Youth Ministry

Brandon Early – October 1, 2014 Leave a comment

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You do not need to play games to have a great youth ministry. But if you’re going to play games they need to be great. You can quickly lose your audience with a game that doesn’t connect, doesn’t make sense or just isn’t fun.  Continue Reading…

The Gospel and the Lunch Room

Reid Kapple – September 26, 2014 2 Comments

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“What on earth does the death of a homeless Jew 2,000 years ago have to do with my struggles today?”

I will never forget that question, asked by one of my more thoughtfully skeptical students in the middle of an empty Mexican restaurant. I have to admit that the question somewhat blindsided me. But, it is precisely this question that youth workers today must not only be ready to answer, but answer with clarity and practicality with their students.

The gospel is the single most important truth in our world and its depths can never be fully plummeted this side of heaven. But it seems as though our students struggle to connect the dots between the truths of the gospel and the challenges of their lives. I think it is because we as youth workers struggle to see what Mike Bullmore refers to as the functional centrality of the gospel. We know what Jesus accomplished for us through his life, death and resurrection and we can share that good news with others. But when it comes to applying these same truths to our daily lives, we feel less able and ready to do so. That is why we are going to work on our gospel functionality skills by looking at how the good news of Christ applies to an area of life that many of our students are familiar with. The lunch room. Continue Reading…

Let Your Parents Pray!

Dr. Greg Carlson – September 24, 2014 Leave a comment

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I was in my first year as a youth pastor and things were going pretty well. Well, most things. There was the budget that needed to be submitted for next year, the Christian education committee chair that didn’t like me much and the communication to parents that was pretty weak, but hey, somehow it will be OK!

That’s when Shirley, the mom of one of my students, made an appointment to see me at the office. She came in and got right to the point: “You’re struggling to communicate to parents, aren’t you? The promised monthly news blast (three of the last five months) is great, but I think you need help. So, I’ll be in on the 20th of every month to get your teaching topics for youth group, special events you want promoted, assistance from parents you would like to have and prayer requests so we can pray!” Continue Reading…

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Is your ministry aligned to do what Jesus plainly stated that your ministry is supposed to be all about? Namely, being disciples who make disciples who also make disciples?

Our Father’s passionate desire is that – through faith in Jesus Christ and the indwelling empowerment of his Spirit – every one of His children join Him in His mission to make a people who love Him supremely, love others sacrificially and help others do the same. One of the implications of the gospel is that it sets us free to no longer live for ourselves, but for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:15). To live for Christ means that He becomes not only our message, but also our model for life and ministry. It means a disciplemaking way of life becomes our disciplemaking way of life.

In the EFCA, we’ve identified five critical disciplemaking questions that we believe every leader (vocational and volunteer) needs to be able to answer. Your answers to these questions give a good indication of the clarity and focus of your disciplemaking vision. (Note: If you are a student ministry leader, these questions are vital to your student ministry, but you’ll find the greatest momentum when the entire staff and leadership own the answers to these questions together.) Continue Reading…

Are You Over-spotting Your Students?

Shane Stacey – September 19, 2014 2 Comments

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When weightlifting or resistance training, the job of the spotter is simply to support the one who is training during a particular exercise, with an emphasis on allowing the participant to lift or push more than he/she could normally do safely.   

Correct spotting involves knowing when to intervene and assist with a lift, and encouraging a training partner to push beyond what they normally could without a spotter’s help. Continue Reading…

Do Unto Others

Dan Jester – September 17, 2014 Leave a comment

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As I write these words I am moved to share the wisdom of someone else. First, I am an evangelist currently serving the Lord as a youth pastor. Second, what my friend has to say will explain the heart of Jesus and what he and I, and all who are believers in Jesus Christ, are called to model. You see, Dan Owens is approaching his final days due to terminal cancer. He is now home in California from Stanford University Hospital and with his family. I asked if I could share his heart when it comes to caring and loving others and how to share our faith in Christ as well. As I have recently performed two funerals this summer, and I am walking through another friend’s incurable cancer locally, I feel the urgency to encourage those around me with the profound words of a dying man. What you will read from here on comes from Dan Owens, a husband, a father, an author and an evangelist.

“I am honored to bring you just a word of encouragement with regards to evangelism and these are the same words I give my teenage son. In a society that has become so incredibly self-absorbed, mean spirited and fearful, living out of the words of Jesus’ simple command creates the most light. ‘In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you…’ Matthew 7:12. Treat people as you would want to be treated. How do we do this? I give you three points to remember. Continue Reading…

Why Rebound is Not a Vacation

Shane Stacey – September 15, 2014 Leave a comment

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Too often, I learn of young leaders who have been removed from their ministry positions because of some sort of moral failure. In my current role, there is nothing that saddens me more.

This is one of the reasons why we host Rebound—a renewal retreat for youth pastors and wives—every year. I want to stay focused on the preventative side of this battle rather than simply on the recovery side of it. Most conferences that youth pastors attend rightfully focus on their “hands” – equipping them with tools for doing more ministry.

Rebound is unique because it focuses on the heart of a youth worker and the relationships that matter most, but are all too often neglected—namely the relationships with God, ourselves and our spouses (if applicable).

Every year, I have a few conversations with youth pastors who tell me their board will not allow them to attend Rebound because they already are given vacation time.

Here are four reasons why Rebound is a renewal retreat and not merely a vacation: Continue Reading…

Reading Theology!

Dr. Greg Carlson – September 12, 2014 4 Comments

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“Youth ministry is like the Platte River, about two miles wide and two inches deep! Do you guys ever read anything other than game books or webpages?” The critic was describing his perspective on the youth ministry at his church—and also at mine! He felt that youth pastors and workers rarely had depth, were more interested in games and gimmicks, but really weren’t committed to knowing the Bible or theology.

Well, I love a good technique as much as anyone, and certainly my students at Trinity International University would support new joke material—but not deep? The youth workers I know are anything but shallow! Most are concerned that the gospel is presented clearly and effectively in this generation. They wrestle with answers to problems both apologetic and psychological. They care deeply about their students, their church and the direction of ministry. And all the while they serve students and their families with prayer, teaching, care and investment of self. Who has time to read theology? Continue Reading…

Family + Mission Not Family or Mission

Shane Stacey – September 10, 2014 1 Comment

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When talking about disciplemaking, I like to ask people who they are intentionally investing in with disciplemaking priorities. I do this because I believe that if you can’t identify names, then it’s probably not actually happening. It doesn’t matter if I am with vocational or volunteer youth workers, it never fails that only a few will write down the names of their children.

While I don’t make them feel guilty for this, I do draw attention to it. I think it is less about it not happening and more about how we’ve pitted family and ministry against each other. Instead, if we see ministry, really, about helping people love God and love others, then family certainly fits within ministry, not above or in opposition to ministry. Continue Reading…