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Moving Past Your Dominant Teaching Style

When I was in college getting my teaching degree, we learned about teaching styles. You know, the  differentiation in how people supposedly learn, for instance visual, auditory, kinesthetic, read/write, verbal, etc.

Turns out, the evidence for teaching styles isn’t all it’s claimed to be. That is, research suggests people do have preferences in their learning styles. But the bedrock of the learning styles approach is that teaching people in their preferred style improves the learning results and sadly there’s no evidence for that. Continue reading Moving Past Your Dominant Teaching Style

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Modeling Relational Prayer

A while back I wrote a post about the importance of modeling prayer as a conversation, modeling relational prayer. In it, I mentioned two examples of ‘not-prayer: an altar call and a summary.

Recently, I came across this cartoon, which circulated on Facebook (all credits belong to the original author/artist). It perfectly captures why we so often model a different prayer than we teach in theory. When you pray with your students, make sure to model relational prayer… Continue reading Modeling Relational Prayer

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Book Review: Grow Down

I met Ken Castor a few years ago on an American youth ministry conference. It was my first time there (I was still living in Germany at the time) and I didn’t really know many people. While worshiping, the band played a song that brought back fresh grief over a student I had lost only a month before and I broke down in tears. Ken didn’t know me at all, but he sat right next to me and asked me if everything was okay, supported me. It was a powerful experience for me and I never forgot this kindness of a complete stranger (at that time, we later connected a few more times at conferences).

The reason I’m sharing this story with you, is that sometimes, knowing an author’s character is important because it helps you determine whether they’re the real thing or not. It’s easy to put theories on paper, especially about Christian living, but it’s a whole different story to live them out in real life yourself. Ken’s book Grow Down shows you what an overflowing life rooted in Christ should look like and knowing Ken personally, he’s living this out himself. This book is not theory, it was born in practice. Continue reading Book Review: Grow Down

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Addressing Students’ Behavior with I-Messages

My original background is in teaching: I’m a certified teacher in Dutch history and social sciences in secondary education. When I was getting my teaching degree, we had to do several internships. And boy, did I have my work cut out for me.

Most of my classes ware great and I could work well with them. But some groups of students were really hard and I dreaded teaching them. Yet, it was often just a few kids who caused the problems and who infected the others with being disruptive, insolent, or downright rude. But I was at a loss how to handle these kids.

Until the teacher who was supervising me, sat me down and explained a very simple technique called the I-message. Nope, this had nothing to do with Apple’s I-Message, since that didn’t even exist at the time! Continue reading Addressing Students’ Behavior with I-Messages

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5 Creative Ways to Pray for Students

I’ve struggled with the opening sentence of this post. That’s because on one hand, urging youth leaders to pray for their teens is such a cliché, but on the other hand it’s something too many youth leaders neglect.

I don’t want you to feel guilty about not praying enough, because guilt is not a good emotion when it comes to prayer. Prayer is born in a relationship, in love, not in guilt. So if prayer is an aspect of your youth ministry you want to grow in, that’s fine. Know that God loves you and knows your heart. So, no guil trip here.

But, I do want to offer some suggestions for those who wish to pray more, deeper, or simply differently for their students. As you may have found out for yourself already, praying for your teens consistently isn’t always a walk in the park. It easily evolves into a naming of names, a praying of ‘lists’ and not an actual conversation with God about those kids you care so much about. So here are five creative ways to pray for your students. Continue reading 5 Creative Ways to Pray for Students

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Don’t Forget To Tell Your Students This

Do you know what simple thing can have a huge impact when you’re praying for your teens or students, besides actually praying?

It’s to tell them you’re praying for them.

I remember a girl who had stopped coming to our church and to all youth activities. From her Facebook page it was pretty clear she was drifting further and further away from God. I put her on my prayer list and prayed for her regularly. Continue reading Don’t Forget To Tell Your Students This

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Finding a Sustainable Rhythm

[This post is part of our series on Building a Youth Ministry from Scratch] One of the aspects of doing youth ministry you want to get right from the get-go is to find a sustainable rhythm for yourself and for your youth ministry. If I could give advice to my younger self when I started out, this is really what I would talk about most.

Finding a sustainable rhythm has three elements:

  1. Finding
  2. Sustainable
  3. Rhythm

Continue reading Finding a Sustainable Rhythm

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The Three Biggest Mistakes in Creating a Mission and Vision

I’m still amazed when I hear of churches, youth groups, or (Christian) organizations operating without a mission and vision. For the first year or two of a new church or group that’s perfectly fine, but after that creating a mission and vision statement is crucially important to bring focus and growth.
That being said, you can’t ‘just’ create a mission and vision. Or to use a well-known meme: one does not simply create a mission and vision. Here are the three biggest mistakes when doing so: Continue reading The Three Biggest Mistakes in Creating a Mission and Vision

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How to Move from Surviving to Thriving

Stress is an inescapable part of youth ministry, of life really. But when that stress takes over your life, when that stress forces you into a constant survival mode,when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore, it’s not okay anymore.

No matter if you’re a full time youth pastor or combining a paid job with a role as volunteer in youth ministry, it can get overwhelming to try and do it all. You want to spend time with God. You want to spend time with your family. You want to spend time with students. You want to get stuff done. And somewhere, sometimes, you’d also like to breathe and have some down time. But how?

If you feel at times like you’re drowning, you’re not alone. Many youth workers struggle with stress and being overworked, and I used to be one of them. I was in full-on survival mode for years, until I had a scary wake-up call that made me realize how much I was sacrificing: my health, my relationships and friendships, even my relationship with God. After that, things changed and with some effort, I created a more healthy life rhythm. And I want that for you as well.

You’re not called to survive in youth ministry. You’re called to thrive. Continue reading How to Move from Surviving to Thriving

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Free e-Book: The 7 Keys to an Effective To Do List

I’ve been in youth ministry since 1999. For the first 10 years or so, youth ministry equaled massive amounts of stress for me. Oh, don’t get me wrong: I loved working with teens. Youth ministry was and is my passion. But it was tough to combine a full time job with being a youth leader. And even when I became a paid youth pastor, the stress was always there.

One huge stress factor for me (being the perfectionist over-achiever that I am) was my to do list. Or maybe I should say: my do do lists. The endless list of actions I felt I had to do for my job, my personal life, and my youth ministry was so overwhelming, I felt I was drowning in to do’s half the time. Whatever I managed to get done at the top, was immediately replaced with new items at the bottom. It was so discouraging. Continue reading Free e-Book: The 7 Keys to an Effective To Do List