Tag Archives: Students

Why You Should Teach Theology To Teenagers

PosterTheology to teenagers? Are you sure? We are already seeing teenagers leave the church, aren’t you just going to add to the problem by teaching doctrine and a whole bunch of topics that end in –ology?

Actually it is quite the opposite. Teenagers need a foundation. They need to know the basic doctrines of the Bible in order to properly understand the rest of the pages written by God.

There is a reason that Genesis chapter 1, the very beginning of the Bible, begins with “In the beginning God”. God is the beginning to all knowledge, to all things spiritual. He is the answer to life’s important questions.

If anything, theology should be a place where we begin, not a place we fear to step. Do not underestimate what your students can learn. Do not overestimate what your students know now…

In fact, below is a simple theological survey, with the results from my youth ministry. Feel free to use it and maybe you will see the need to teach theology. Or it may point to specific doctrinal issues that you need to address. Feel free to share how it goes…

Survey Results PDF

 

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What is Technology Doing to Us?

OK, I can hear you from here. You’re thinking: “this is another guilt-me-into-putting-my-cell-phone-down blog. I’ve seen these a million times, and I feel guilty for a day and go without my cell phone. Then, the next day a new version of Candy Crush comes available for free, and I go bananas (pardon the pun)”

Bear with me, let’s start with an experiment. Next time you drive on the highway, take a look around. Count how many people are on their cell phones while driving. Maybe your highways are safer than mine, so take this experiment to the next restaurant you have dinner, and look to see who is actually having conversations with a non-electronic device. Take a stroll to the park, and watch parents push their kids on swings with one hand, and check their social media on their smartphone with the other.  Even when teenagers hang out, it’s commonplace for phones to be out and communication to be non-existent.social_media-Technology-Wallpapers

What’s my point?  Is the iPocolypse upon us.  Should we all try to build a Delorean with a flux capacitor to get us back 15 years.  Doc, slow down.  Before we get to some answers, let’s start with the bad news:

  1. Danger, Danger! You’ve all seen articles like this or this. There’s no doubt about it, with the overuse of technology, there comes developmental and social ramifications. Don’t ignore the warning signs of technology addiction. It’s real, and must be monitored in the future.
  2. FOMS. Anxiety is a growing problem for this generation. In fact, there is a term for the anxiety that occurs with a smartphone, it called Fear of Missing Something or FOMS. It may seem silly, but the statistics of this are staggering. Read here.
  3. So Much for Honor RollAnxiety is also growing inside the classroom.  While there are benefits of technology in the classroom, there are also some drawbacks. Not trying to be a Debbie Downer here, just presenting facts to consider.

The Good News:computer-kid

  1. Techie Faith. Teens are using their tablets for devotions and iPods for Bible reading. While I’m a big fan of feeling the Scripture pages with my fingers, technology can provide an avenue for Spiritual growth and discovery. (See Barna’s article)
  2. Millennials, Robots in Disguise? Can you say multitasking while chewing gum, patting your head, listening to your iPod, and skating…a typical Millennial can. The ability of this generation to process information quickly, multitask, and decipher technology is astounding (I caught my one year old texting the other day, not joking). This ability can be a huge advantage in their education, breadth of learning, and advancing our technology even further in the future.
  3. World-View. Whether it is learning of an earthquake in Central America within minutes of it happening, or finding out about persecution in the Far East…the worldview expansion of this generation has potential to be world-changing. Possibly by prayer, financial support, or leading causes, we are seeing more teenagers taking strides in making a difference in the world.

When it comes down to it, the key word here is BALANCE. When it comes to technology, don’t throw the cell phone out with the bath water. Technology provides educational tools, instant access to information, and globalization of communication. However, the overuse has seen the rise in anxiety amongst teens, increase in auto accidents, slow erosion of academic performance and decrease of quality family time. family-and-technologyWhere is the balance? Here’s some action points to help:

  1. Be Smart with your SmartPhone. Put the thing away when you are driving, riding a bike, or walking on a bridge.
  2. Set Limits. These could include, but not limited to: no cell phones at dinner, limit yourself to 1-2 games on your phone/tablet, must be put away when entering the house from work, and at a distance when on a date or playing with the kids. For kids & teens especially – no cell phones during homework/study and after designated bed time.
  3. Charging Station. Especially for teens that are suffering from sleep deprivation and sleep texting, take the temptation away. Design a charging station away from the bedrooms, and check the phones before your shower, not between 1am-5am.
  4. Security. Set up security and restrictions on devices. With teens averaging 6 devices, it’s no longer just computers that provide temptations. Parents, keep an eye on this, and set up software to protect. BUT DON’T STOP THERE! Have regular conversations about purity vs. pornography, online bullying, and proper technology behavior (i.e. sexting).
  5. Superheroes of Technology. In virtually every superhero movie, there’s a quote that or scene that depicts the phrase “use your powers for good not evil”. Encourage yourself and students to use this power of technology for good.   Help them find and pray for global causes, teach them to witness on social media, and show them Bible study tools online. The list is endless for positive things too.
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How to Teach Students to be World-Changers

Last week, I posted an article about doing something to help the world in need.  Well, how about creating an event dedicated to this very topic, of being “World-Changers” and helping those across the world, from poverty to persecution, from sex slavery to sweatshops, and from forced child labor to forced child military.

Here’s an idea that might work for your student ministry…create a World In Need Event or WIN event.  Get out your box cutter and open up this box, and inside you’ll find a kit to create this event.

Purpose

Allow your students to open their worldview from pin hole to wide view lens.  Not just in their sense and compassion of the world’s needs, but also compassion for the lost in far off countries, and faces and names to go with these issues.

Supplies

Over the course of the year, I collect articles & stories of poverty, persecution, and problems across the world.  My primary resource for these articles is Relevant Magazine, with the Reject Apathy project being a huge contributor.  Other resources could include national news publications such as Time Magazine.  Also, it may be a good idea to contact missionaries to see needs in their regions.

Dispatches from the Front DVD Series:  This may need to be edited in some parts, because there are some issues that are more adult.  However, this series is powerful to gain an inside look at other cultural issues, and provide a real view of these far places of persecution and unrest.

Finally, purchase Operation World.  No, seriously.  Put in your order right now, here.  This will provide a valuable research during the prayer time of the WIN event.  Did you buy it yet…do it!

Planning

Opener Video – Choose an opener video to introduce your event.  I’ve used these:  World Edition of How Great is Our God, First World Problems (this one is especially powerful), & Audio Adrenaline – Kings & Queens.

Main Bible Passage – Use a passage that depicts the compassion God urges us to have for those in need.  Click here for some examples.

Presentations – Choose several world regions you would like to focus on helping.  Dispatches from the Front provide numerous options of where there is persecution and needs.  You can use these DVD’s to introduce the region and needs.  Or you can use your research to provide areas of needs.

Presentations can be adult or student led.  I would suggest doing the adult or youth leader led projects with a leadership student assisting.  After doing this a year or two, move to student presentations.

Give the youth leader or student a packet with the research you have compiled over the year.  Provide the location and problem/issue.  Inside the packet, provide a cover sheet of what the presentation should include.  For example:  Project Assignment, Title for Presentation, Bible Verse or Main Passage – Short devotional & How verse relates to topic/presentation, Presentation of World Issue – Present the Problems, Give statistics, Provide visuals – pictures, videos, Provide Solution – What can the audience do?  How can we help?, Close in Prayer

Preparation – Allow for several weeks and half your youth group time for students to collect their data and work on their presentations.  With youth leaders, you will want to provide the material 1-2 months in advance to give them enough time to prepare their presentations.  Choose a month where you can present the idea of helping others or loving others, and take time each week to pray for needs and problems in the world using your Operation World book that you just purchased earlier =)

WIN Event

Travel the World.  Make it special.  Have your leaders dress up as flight attendants and have students “fly” to their location for the presentations.  Use your worship center or gym to provide space between presentations, or use separate rooms.

Provide tools.  Allow each group to have access to internet and computer.  This will allow them to show Power Point and/or videos to enhance their presentations.

Be Creative.  Have each group bring in a cuisine or appetizer from their region.  Bring in a missionary speaker from that region as your main speaker.  Find someone who was originally from that culture who can speak from experience.

world-changers

Summation:  This WIN (World in Need) Event can provide an eye-opening experience for your students.  Did they know about the epidemic of sexual slavery?  Do your students realize the devastation of AIDS in Africa?  Do they understand how good they have it with clean, hot water whenever they want it?  Or most of all, how much do they take for granted their Bible in their hands and their freedom to worship, where many die for those two things?  It’s time we take some time and wake up our young people to the needs of this world…and allow them do to something about it!

 

 

 

 

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The Worst Thing You Can Do for Others in Need

All too often, I see young people live life with blinders to the world.  Their worldview is seen through a pin hole, overlooking the issues of someone their age on the other side of the world.  It is in this blindness where difficulties and problems in their world would be labeled as luxuries in many parts of the world.  For every teenager that scoffs at doing the dishes, there is another young person that misses another meal.  For the child that is angry at their parent for not allowing them more time playing video games, there is a child that never had the chance to call someone mommy or daddy.  And for every young person that divulges in sexual promiscuity, there are young people who have little choice and are forced into the act on a daily basis.

love-God-love-others-titleLet’s be honest.  Adults fall into this category as well.  We take for granted every day our freedom, our luxuries of appliances, devices, abundance of food, and overall safety.  Little is done on a consistent basis for the poor, the neglected, and the needy.  We too fall into the trap of complaining about our weak cell phone signals, the difficulty of choosing an outfit not as a result of too little clothes, but because the abundance in our closest, or finding just the right meal on a ten page menu.

So when I read passages like 1 John 3:16-18, it feels like a punch in the gut.  The realization of my apathy towards the needy makes me ill.  As I type this on my laptop, sitting in my leather chair, and with a comfortable setting on the thermostat (oh don’t worry, if it gets a little chilly, I have a space heater for extra comfort).  Not saying these things of themselves are evil, because God’s Word says the LOVE of money is the problem, not money.  But, as it says in 1 John 3, the issue is not what we have that is typically the problem; the real issue is the neglect of what others do not have.   Take a look at what John says in this passage…

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

If I asked you, do you love others?  You probably would say yes.  If I asked you if you have Christ’s love for others, would you be able to answer so easily?  Not when it is defined like this:  one that would be willing to give his life for His brothers & sisters.  Goodness, we can barely give $5 in a missionary love offering or a Saturday night to work at the homeless shelter…maybe we should start small and work our way up!

Let’s keep reading…

17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

Remember our earlier discussion about a small worldview.  Imagine that, this is not a new problem.  John highlights how our problems & struggles are right in front of our face, and we rarely look around those troubles to see what others are going through.

Let me explain it this way.  You know what magicians try to do with their audience?  They usually try to get the audience to focus on one hand, while the other is hiding something…And that’s Satan’s goal to when it comes to the needy, the poor, and the sick in the world.  We often focus on other things…it might not even be sinful or evil…but we get distracted and neglect those that may need help.

Listen, 80% of people live on less than $10 a day.  22,000 children die of poverty every day.  1.1 billion people in the world don’t have access to clean water….I could keep giving you statistics, but your reaction would probably be the same.  Either you care or you don’t.  I’m not naïve; some of you will leave this article with no change in your heart for the poor, the sick, and the needy.  But I hope there will be some that will be changed.  My hope is you will find real, tangible ways to change these stats.  That you will start an event that helps children with AIDS, or start a charity that provides clean water to poor countries.  You can do these things; there are little kids in the news that are able to accomplish these things. Maybe you start small and support a child through Compassion International or Holt International.  Maybe you do have a limited income, so start small and contribute to a missionary monthly of $2 a month.  Here’s the point…DO SOMETHING!

18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Do you believe you can change the world?  Do you believe you CAN make a difference?  I hope so.  Here’s the worst thing you can do – NOTHING!  You wait for someone else to do it…you hope George Clooney or Bill Gates will take care of poverty in Africa.  You think you have to wait until you are older.  Listen, all these are excuses or lies from the enemy to prevent you from making a difference.

God wants more from us than just love in our words…He wants action.  My challenge during to you is to find something that YOU can do.  Whether it is planning a community event for clean water or raising money to rescue girls from sex slavery…I hope you will listen to whatever God is placing on your heart.  Don’t underestimate what you can do to help others.

The worst thing you can do is nothing.  Do something.  Less words and more action.

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2013 Goals Evaluation

If you are a regular reader of my blog, I thank you.  Also, you maybe remember the goals I set for the 2013 ministry year.  Well, it is always a good idea to look back and see how we did on each of those goals.  Below are the 10 goals and the evaluation grade.????????????????????????????????????????

Student Takeover   Broaden & Heighten the expectations of students in ministry & youth group participation.  Continue personal discipleship & Leader Training.

A-.  During the course of the year, we provided multiple opportunities for students to participate and lead.  In fact, we set aside one youth group night per month for the students to lead the entire night – from attendance to set up!  Would have been an A, but without having everyone involved, it wasn’t quite accomplished.  Something to shoot for, 100% involvement!

Parent Connection    Parent Seminar & Improve with weekly youth culture updates

B+.  Much better this year.  Held a parenting seminar, provided youth culture updates each week regularly, and hosted 3 parent meetings.  Improvement needed in the area of parent involvement in activities (more than just providing snacks)

Family Life Planning     Begin offering life planning for student ministry parents.

A. My goal was to begin this, and I have been able to begin this with several families.  Looking forward to more of this in 2014.

Easter Outreach Community    Easter Egg Hunt planned by leadership students

A.  Praise the Lord for how well this went.  I could not have asked for better leadership by the students, and they deserve an A.  Over 125 kids came to our first student-led outreach!

Youth Pastor Network    Launch a network in SW Columbus.

B.  Sure, I was able to launch the network.  But due to schedule conflicts and limited participation, the group was typically only 2 or 3 guys.  Still, it’s a start!

Public School Ministry    Still working on ways to enter public schools to share Jesus.

B-.  Was able to go to school and speak to Special Education department and put my name in for help with counseling.  Other than that, still needs work.  Possibly working on doing an ant-bullying program for the coming year.

Youth Leader Equip    Improve equipping & discipleship in meetings.  More opportunities to equip for service.

B.  Some improvement here of more intentional equipping in leader meetings, discussing ways to mentor/disciple.  Need to broaden scope of training.

Better Documentation of MSM    I’m talking pictures/video.

B-.  Doing a better job with this, trying to post pictures and video when possible.  Still working on getting a MSM video together for the website, which would drastically improve this evaluation grade.

WIN Event    World in Need Event to promote spiritual and physical needs globally

A.  One of my favorite events of the year.  Liked it so much, going to do it again this coming year.  What an eye-opening, worldview forming event this was.  Well worth the time and effort.

Inter-generational Church    Promote events and ways to bridge generations in church, church programs, church events.

B.  Could definitely use improvement, but was able to pull off the best inter-generational event in my ministry career.  Did a “speed-dating” type event, connecting the older & younger generation together.  Still hearing about it even 4 months later!

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10 Free Easter Devotionals

Easter_2013_Easter_Devotions

Devotion Title: 10 Free Easter Devotions For Teenagers

Devotion Objective: These devotions will help teens prepare their hearts and minds to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. They offer a look at the events surrounding Jesus’ last days on earth. Each day is interactive and will provide a solid Bible-based approach to helping teens focus on each day’s key takeaways from Scripture.

Click on above picture to download the free devotionals.

Courtesy of:  https://youthministry360.com

 

STAY TUNED FOR NEXT WEEK:  How To – Easter Egg Hunt & “The Bible” Series Review

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