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Discipleship Lessons from the Patriots

Being from Europe, football is not a game we were familiar with until we moved to the US—unless you were talking about the real football: soccer. Sure, I’d seen some football games and I had tried my best to understand what was happening, but it never really captured my interest. And in Europe, that as fine as no one cares about football there anyway. Continue reading Discipleship Lessons from the Patriots

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How Teens Learn: Anchoring

Why do teens sometimes decide to tune out when we’re teaching? That’s a question that bugged me when I started doing youth ministry. I’m sure I’m not the only who has experienced being in front of a group and seeing teen’s attention wander, or actually noting certain students ‘switch off’. Why do they do that? Is it because we’re boding? Because they’re not interested in what we’re sharing?

Maybe. But maybe there’s more at play and to explain that, we need to learn a little about how teens learn. There’s one crucial factor in getting teens to listen to you that’s often overlooked. It’s called anchoring. Continue reading How Teens Learn: Anchoring

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Youth Ministry and the War on Reason

There is a growing belief amongst students and parents, that being exposed to anything that contradicts their beliefs, or even challenges them, is an infringement on their rights. More and more students and parents, both in middle school/high school and in college, are protesting textbooks and required reading materials—fiction and non-fiction.

In Time Magazine, Kareem Abdul-Jamar wrote a powerful opinion piece where he lamented this ‘War on Reason’, as he called it. “For many Americans, education is about feeding students certain factual information, then testing them to make sure they retain it.”, he writes. Continue reading Youth Ministry and the War on Reason

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Is Your Youth Ministry a ‘Third Place’?

I’d heard of ‘thin places’, but the concept of a third place was new to me.

It’s the term sociologist Ray Oldenburg uses for those spots people used to meet each other, like post offices, pubs, coffee shops, or for kids the parks and playgrounds. Back in the day, these central meeting spots were where community happened.

Now, not so much. Many of these third places have disappeared, or people have stopped frequenting them. I mean, how much time do kids spend in parks and playgrounds these days? Continue reading Is Your Youth Ministry a ‘Third Place’?

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Two Overlooked Success Factors in Discipling

It’s safe to assume that for most of us in youth ministry, the goal is to see spiritual growth in our students. Discipling is the name of the game.

Too often, we assume a wrong equation though. We think that information, knowledge, will lead to spiritual growth. We think discipling means cramming our teens’ heads full with Scripture.

Well, God can work wonders and the Bible does day that God’s Word never returns empty, but inspiring our students to take the next step in their spiritual journey would be more effective if we’d remembered these two overlooked factors in discipling. Continue reading Two Overlooked Success Factors in Discipling

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20 Powerful Principles for Teaching Students

As youth leaders, we have much in common with teachers. We are both trying to get a message across the best way that we can.

The American Psychological Association has published a fascinating overview with 20 powerful principles from psychology  for teaching students from pre-K through 12 grade. As I read through them, I realized how many of these are applicable to youth ministry as well. Continue reading 20 Powerful Principles for Teaching Students

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What’s Keeping Teens from Being All-In for Jesus?

I have the habit of keeping articles from magazines that somehow pique my interest. But there was quite a stack accumulating on my desk and so I decided to work my way through these again. One article I had saved was from the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of Group Magazine, in which Rick Lawrence detailed some research about students and being ‘all-in’ for Jesus. Continue reading What’s Keeping Teens from Being All-In for Jesus?

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Reading and teaching the Bible as more than soundbites

This video shows why N.T. Wright is such an influential theologian at the moment. In just seven minutes he explains how you should read the Bible: as a whole, not as a collection of soundbites. His analogy of listening to only a part of a symphony instead of the whole thing is as brilliant as it is understandable. I also love that he especially wants to challenge students to read the whole Bible, whole books and not just verses and soundbites.

 

N.T. Wright on How to read the Bible

(embedding was disable for this video, so you’ll have to watch it on YouTube)

Continue reading Reading and teaching the Bible as more than soundbites