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Yes Means Yes: Affirmative Consent

[This post is part of our Let’s Talk About Sex Series] Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about the topic of sexual assault and rape, especially in high schools and on college campuses. The issue that has been put front and center after many horrid incidents, is what consent looks like.

Many youth ministries have sex as a regular topic on their agenda, and rightly so. But few include open conversations about what consent looks like. Yet we need to talk about this, because it’s not something that is crystal clear to students (anymore). Continue reading Yes Means Yes: Affirmative Consent

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The Starting Point of Pastoring Students


It’s the crucial word in this post-post-modern world. Many movies have played around this theme. Think of The Matrix, The Usual Suspects, Inception, and more recently Edge of Tomorrow.

Still, for many of us, it’s hard to grasp teens’ concept of reality, since it’s so different from ours. One area in which this plays out, is in pastoral conversations.

Think about it: what is the starting point when pastoring students? It’s the reality of their situation. Continue reading The Starting Point of Pastoring Students

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5 Things NOT to Say to Hurting Teens

Pastoral conversations with teens require less skills than you might think. Listening really is the biggest skill you need.

But at some point you may feel it’s appropriate to say something, share some advice, or offer an encouragement. When you do, make sure what you say is helpful. While some empty clichés may not do too much harm, others can damage the trust and relationship. Continue reading 5 Things NOT to Say to Hurting Teens

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What to Say to a Struggling Teen

When I started out in youth ministry, I feared pastoral issues the most. I mean: what should I say to struggling teens? I was a afraid I wouldn’t have the profound wisdom they’d be looking for, or the spiritual nuggets they’d need to get through it.

As it turns out, struggling teens don’t need us to say all that much. Sure, there are times when they ask for concrete advice: Rachel, should I break up with my boyfriend or not? What do you think I should major in in college? Do you think I should stop being friends with her? And those times, I help them analyze the situation and come to the best advice. (A pro tip: ask them what they’d advise a friend in that situation…) Continue reading What to Say to a Struggling Teen

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Using Youth Ministry to Teach Independence to Students

We’ve been talking about independence and what we can do to raise independent kids and promote it in students. One obvious tool we can use as youth leaders, is our youth ministry.

We may complain about parents doing too much for their teens instead of letting students do it themselves, but as youth workers, we tend to make the same mistake. That’s because it’s much faster to clean up the youth room myself, than to supervise four students who take twice as long with not nearly as a good a result. Well, deal with it. The only way students can learn is by letting them do it, even if they don’t do it well at first. Continue reading Using Youth Ministry to Teach Independence to Students

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Raising Independent Students

In a previous post, we started our discussion on raising independent kids. Much has been said about extended adolescence and the irresponsibility and dependence of this generation of young people. I think our goal is to counter that trend and stimulate independence.

Many of us may be parents as well as youth workers, but since this is a youth ministry blog and not a parenting blog, the question is how to ‘raise’ independent students. What can we as youth leaders do to promote independence in our students? Continue reading Raising Independent Students

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Raising Independent Kids (part 1)

It was a great combination of a play date for my son and a catch up with a friend for me as both our sons played with each other at McDonald’s. After an hour or so my son reported to me he was thirsty. So I gave him two dollars to buy a bottle of water at the counter. My friend looked at me in amazement. “You let him do that all by himself?”

To be honest, I never even thought about it. He’s seven by the way (my friend’s son is eight) and he didn’t hesitate going to the counter and buying that water. He brought back the change and all was well. Afterwards, my friend and I talked about this and she confessed she would not have let her son do that. I pointed out that we were in the same space (though divided by a glass wall) and that I trained my son to raise hell if someone would try to take him. She reluctantly agreed that she was maybe a bit overprotective. Continue reading Raising Independent Kids (part 1)