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The Rookie Mistake You Need to Avoid

[This is the fifth post in our series on Building a Youth Ministry from Scratch]

So, you’ve just gotten started with a new youth ministry. You’ve got a few students already and you’ve hung out a few times, maybe shared some Scripture with them, or played a game or two.

A rookie mistake you need to avoid in this phase, is to ask the first students to bring friends right away. Don’t. It’s okay if they do it out of their own initiative, but don’t ask them just yet. Continue reading The Rookie Mistake You Need to Avoid

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Why American Youth Min Resources Don’t Work Elsewhere

As you may know, I grew up in The Netherlands, in Europe, and that’s where I first started doing youth ministry. One church I was serving in became big fans of Rick Warren’s ‘purpose driven’ model and the youth pastor wanted to use Doug Field’s resources. He had bought small group studies for instance, with the idea to translate them into Dutch and use them in our small groups.

It was a big fail.

There’s nothing wrong with these studies, except that they’re very, very American. That in itself is fine, as long as you are using them in an American context. But you can’t just use these studies, or any American resources, in a different country and culture. You’ll have to adapt them to the country and culture you’re using them in. Continue reading Why American Youth Min Resources Don’t Work Elsewhere

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Finding Prayer Support for Your Youth Ministry

[This is the third post in our series on Building a Youth Ministry from Scratch]

Aside from making sure your own connection with God is strong, the most important thing you need is prayer support. What you need are some prayer warriors who will petition the King of Kings for the new ministry. So how do you find these? Continue reading Finding Prayer Support for Your Youth Ministry

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How Are We Defining Masculinity?

One of the key messages I remember from Guyland, a powerful book on male culture, was the importance of the ‘guy code’:

  1. Be a man: guys don’t want to be perceived as weak, effeminate, or gay. Masculinity matters. Showing emotions is a sign of weakness, especially kindness or compassion.
  2. Power is everything: status and power are crucial. They define success. So does winning.
  3. Be aggressive: live life on the edge, take risks, go for it. Don’t care what others think.

These findings are not unique; they are reported in other books and research as well. Yes, gender fluidity is a major topic at the moment and I am sure that in time, it will redefine what we mean by male, female, or even the concept of gender. Right now, the idea of masculinity, however, is still very much defined by this guy code. Continue reading How Are We Defining Masculinity?

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Starting a Youth Ministry: First Steps

[This is the first post in our series on Building a Youth Ministry from Scratch]

Let’s start this series on Building a Youth Ministry from Scratch at the very beginning. You have the idea, the calling, the urge or however you want to describe it to start a youth group or revitalize something that’s there but barely alive. Where do you start after that first idea?

There are two things you need to start with: personal prayer and finding facts. Continue reading Starting a Youth Ministry: First Steps

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Building a Youth Ministry from Scratch

I’m excited about this new blog series we’ll be starting today: Building a Youth Ministry from Scratch. Recently, I had quite a few people contact me for advice on how to build a youth ministry from the ground up. I figured more people could benefit from my advice if I started blogging about this, so here we go.

Before we dig in, I want to make a few things clear. This series is not just aimed at those doing ministry in a western (Read: American) context, on the contrary. I’ve gotten many questions about starting or revitalizing a youth ministry from other parts of the world as well, for instance from South Africa, The Philippines, and India. So I will try to make my advice as broad as possible and not just focus on issues that are important to the church in North America or Europe. Continue reading Building a Youth Ministry from Scratch

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How Emotions Influence Our Decisions

One of the key thoughts of my book Storify, is that we need to address not just the intellectual brain in our messages to teens, but the emotional brain as well. That’s because we make decisions not just with our minds, but with our hearts.

I came across this fascinating article in the Harvard Business review, which illustrates just how much our emotions cloud us. Here’s the gist of it: research suggests that putting users in an emotionally positive mindset improves their accuracy in interpreting data visualizations.  Continue reading How Emotions Influence Our Decisions

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Responding to the Hyper-Feedback Parent

If you’ve never had a hyper-feedback parent involved in your youth ministry, you’re missing out. I mean that in both a sincere and sarcastic way. Sarcastically, these parents are a thorn in the flesh, the cause of ulcers, and deepen your prayer life in all the wrong ways. Sincerely, hyper-feedback parents can sharpen the ministry, push you to grow, and provide numerous opportunities to practice humility, courage and love. Continue reading Responding to the Hyper-Feedback Parent

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Learning How Jesus Engaged Critics

Criticism can be helpful, but we can’t shut it down. In my early years of youth ministry, I learned a lot about how not to respond to criticism. Mostly through failure. I also learned that it is how we react to criticism that determines if we are going to grow as leaders and followers of Jesus. Most importantly: I learned that Jesus dealt with criticism and shows us how to deal with it today. Continue reading Learning How Jesus Engaged Critics