Recently, I spoke at a youth ministry conference and I shared the story of losing one of my students to suicide. My talk wasn’t about that, it was about relational communication with teens, but I had used my story with this teen as an example.
Much to my frustration however, tears welled up when I shared that he died. I had been confident that after four years I would be able to share this experience without getting emotional, but alas.
Here’s the thing, though. Many people came to me afterwards to thank me for being vulnerable and for sharing my pain with them. Because for a minute in that room, my pain over losing him was tangible as I fought back the tears—and everyone saw it.
And it was okay. Continue reading Ministering from Pain
Worrying always overwhelms you just when you don’t need it. You want to go to sleep, but worrying keeps you awake. You need to prepare your youth sermon, but worrying keeps distracting you. You want to really ‘be’ in the conversation and listen, but worrying keeps drawing your thoughts elsewhere.
Worries about your youth ministry.
Worries about your financial situation.
Worries about your marriage, your family, your friends.
Worries about students, your small group members.
Worries about the future.
While we all have our worry moments every now and then, there can be times in your life when your worries really seem to take over. If you feel your life is being dominated by worries, here’s what to do. Continue reading Overcome Your Worries
Joshua was Moses’ servant for more than 40 years before it was his turn to lead. 40 years! That’s an incredibly long time to be the number two. And a great deal of that time was spent walking around in a desert, waiting for an entire generation to die because of their sins. Yet nowhere does Scripture mention Joshua complaining, offering critique, or trying to change his circumstances. He served faithfully while waiting on God. Continue reading Waiting on God
In an article in Time Magazine, James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox, wrote about the transformative power of stories and how exposure to these transformative stories can change opinions.
He quoted some examples: how the TV series 24 exposed Americans to the idea of a black president for instance (though movies have shown this as well, notably The Fifth Element (1997), Deep Impact (1998), and 2012 (2009) and White House Down (2013)). In another example, he credits series like Modern Family with challenging conceptions about same sex families. And moving away from fiction, ISIS certainly uses stories to ‘inspire’ atrocious acts, he argues.
His point is this: stories have transformative power. Continue reading Transformative Stories: Stories Change Opinions
If we want to take bullying seriously, we need to start by being able to recognize it when we see it. When does teasing or calling names become bullying? And according to teens, there’s also a thing called ‘drama’. What is drama exactly and how soes it help us distinguish better between drama and bullying? Continue reading The Difference between Bullying and Drama
If you want to understand guys better, Guyland is a solid place to start. Reading it certainly opened my eyes to the reality of being a boy/guy/man in America.
Author Michael Kimmel explores the world of guys, meaning 16-26 year olds, and the picture he paints is a startling one. It especially focuses on college students and the life they lead—tackling topics like binge drinking, hazing, hooking up, and the infamous ‘guy code’. Continue reading Book Review: Guyland
Living intentionally is the key to a life that matters. That’s the core message of John Maxwell’s newest book, aptly titled Intentional Living. For those struggling to take the steps into a life of making a difference, this book inspires you in how to get there. Here are 5 lessons I took away from this book. Continue reading Intentional Living: 5 Lessons
There’s a rich and long tradition of wonderful Christmas ads and this year has been no exception. Some are plain old tear jerkers, some are inspiring and some touch you more profoundly than a commercial ought to be any standard. After watching a particularly strong message yesterday, I came up with the idea to make a top 10 of the best Christmas commercials ever…and how you can use these in your youth ministry. So here we go! Continue reading Top 10 Christmas Ads to Use in Youth Ministry
Are you looking for a great book to gift a youth pastor? Here are my 10 favorite books to give to someone who loves youth ministry (in random order): Continue reading Top 10 Books to Gift a Youth Pastor
It’s hot off the press: Right Click, a book on parenting teens in a digital age, brought to you by the same research institute that wrote the well-known book Sticky Faith. Now, I’m no digital novice and my son is only in elementary school, but this new resource offered valuable key insights.
First off all, I so appreciate a book on this topic that is not downright negative and judging about the digital age our kids grow up in. I’m so tired of well-meaning people lamenting the good old days—they’re not coming back and besides, in many ways the new technologies have brought improvements I truly appreciate. Continue reading Book Review: Right Click, Parenting in a Digital World