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Offering reliable and trustworthy information

There have been some serious floods in our area a few weeks ago due to heavy rainfall. Luckily the small village where we live is on a hill, so we escaped damage, but many towns around us have been flooded as rivers rose too high.

This weekend, we were confronted with an unexpected result of the flooding: our drink water has been contaminated as the sewer system couldn’t handle this much water. We can’t consume our water without boiling it first.

It’s a bit of a hassle that makes you appreciate the necessity of clean drinking water, that first and foremost. But it also made me ponder the importance of reliability.

I’ve always trusted our drinking water, trusted that it was safe, healthy and good for me. After this, that trust is somewhat damaged, although the water company did a great job in being open and honest and warning everyone about what’s going on.

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10 preaching tips from Tony Campolo

When I saw Tony Campolo was leading a preaching master class on the early day of the Youth Work Summit, I immediately booked this stream. He’s a brilliant communicator and I was pretty stoked to be able to spend a whole day learning from him. And I have to say: he didn’t disappoint. He was funny, sharp, and wise and I could have listened to him for hours more. Let me share some of the highlights of what he taught that day: 10 preaching tips from Tony Campolo himself.

1. Make sure you have the gift

Speaking, preaching, teaching, whatever you want to call it: it’s a gift. You need to have this gift if you want to have an impact. Churches are dying because their pastors don’t have the gift of teaching, so make sure you have a call and a gift to preach.

2. Prepare physically

This is something Tony Campolo could speak on with authority, considering he’s in his seventies and still going strong. He stressed the need to be physically fit, to eat well and keep yourself in shape to be able to keep going.

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Why God’s promises can cover a multitude of our sins in teaching

God’s Word never returns empty.

It’s a great promise and an encouragement for youth leaders who are trying to reach students with God’s words. But it’s also one of those promises that can cover a multitude of sins. Our sins in bad, lazy teaching for instance. Our sins in not building deep and true relationships with the students we minister to. Or our sins in failing to apply what we teach in our own lives.

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Helping your students with ‘anchoring’ new Biblical truths

In cognitive psychology there’s an interesting phenomenon called anchoring. It means that people will always try to anchor new knowledge, problems or issues to existing knowledge and experiences. This not only helps us to remember things better (example: the same math equations work for math, chemistry and physics), but it’s also a big help in problem solving skills. In short: anchoring is a very important part of the process of learning.

Example: when given a problem (‘How do I open this jar that is stuck’?) we automatically try to recall previous similar knowledge (‘A few weeks ago I managed to open one with a knife’) and experiences (‘I have to be careful to use the knife in the right direction, otherwise I’ll end up cutting myself like I did last time’).

This process of anchoring has some interesting and important consequences for teaching Biblical truths in youth ministry: Continue reading Helping your students with ‘anchoring’ new Biblical truths

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How to make a good youth small group study

Making a good youth small group study yourself is time consuming perhaps, but also very rewarding. It gives you more flexibility than bought curricula and you can adapt your study specifically to the needs of your small group. While I don’t believe there’s one right format for good small group studies, I do think there’s a process you can follow to help you create a good study. Here’s what I advice on how to make a good youth small group study:

1. Pray

Everything you do needs to start in prayer, be imbedded in prayer. Without God’s blessing, the best Bible study in the world won’t make a difference for your students. Make it a habit to spend some real time in prayer before writing a small group study, not just a two minute ‘rescue me’ prayer a few hours before small group starts. Continue reading How to make a good youth small group study

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How to make a teaching plan for youth ministry

One of the most challenging plans to make for a new season of youth ministry is a teaching plan. Yet it’s also the most rewarding one, both spiritually and in terms of stress reduction. First, let’s have a look at some of the benefits of making a teaching plan. Then we’ll discuss how to actually make one for your youth ministry.

The benefits of a teaching plan

I admit: I’m a planner, so making plans and planning in advance comes natural to me. Yet I’m convinced of the benefits of a teaching plan for every youth ministry. Here’s why: Continue reading How to make a teaching plan for youth ministry

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Dealing with disruptions during your talk

[This post is part of the series on Preaching for youth]. Teens aren’t exactly the easiest audience for a speaker. Disruptions during a talk are fairly common as a matter of fact. Teen whisper with each other, or even talk out loud. They giggle, look at their cell phones, show pictures to each other. All the while, you’re standing there trying to give a talk. So how do you deal with these disruptions in an effective, yet loving way?

Ignore when possible

When it’s just a couple of teens talking a bit too loud with each other and the rest is still listening, ignore it. Usually, they’ll stop after a bit. Continue reading Dealing with disruptions during your talk

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Creative ideas for memorizing Scripture

In the church I grew up in, we spent quite some time memorizing Bible verses. We always had vacation Bible weeks for kids where we were taught one or more verses, we did the same every Sunday in Sunday school and even the teen ministry gave it a shot.

But after that, I didn’t devote much attention or time to memorizing Scripture. In the last few years however, I’ve become more and more convinced of the importance of knowing verses, passages and maybe even whole chapters or books from the Bible by head. Continue reading Creative ideas for memorizing Scripture

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The lasting power of simple images

I was still a college student when I first encountered this image, or drawing actually. My husband and I were part of a Campus Crusade for Christ group and that’s where we first saw it. In the years we spent there, it became sort of funny, because the thing kept popping up in sermons, speeches, talks, Bible studies and testimonies. We referred to it as the ‘Campus-train’ and by the time we left the group, we could draw it off the top of our heads.

It’s a powerful demonstration of the necessity to put the facts first, followed by faith and then feelings. In this postmodern culture with its focus on experiences and ‘what feels good’, the temptation to put feelings first is big. But as we all know, our feelings aren’t reliable and they certainly are no indication or evidence of what God is doing in our lives. It was a deep truth, the depth of which we didn’t even fully realize at that time. Still, we found the image to be a bit silly. Continue reading The lasting power of simple images

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Dealing with nerves when giving a talk

[This post is part of the series on Preaching for youth]. Being nervous before or during a talk or sermon is completely normal. It’s not something to worry about or feel ashamed about.

But your nerves can hinder you from speaking freely and with conviction. So here are some tips on dealing with nerves while speaking to youth. There are four things you can do before hand and four tips for dealing with nerves while talking.

What you can do beforehand to minimize the changes of getting really nervous for a talk or sermon:

Know your stuff

When you’re prone to nerves, make sure you know your stuff. That means preparing your talk well and making sure you know it by heart. There should be no doubt in your mind that you have done everything you can in prepping your sermon, so that cannot cause extra nerves. You should be able to focus on your delivery because you have the content down to a t.

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