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Gina-McClain

Youth Ministry: Making Wise Choices

It was another average weekday. Shortly after arriving home from work, I’m routinely rifling through the pile of papers pulled from my second-grader’s backpack. Amid the assortment of math worksheets, writing assignments and doodles, I see one yellow slip of paper.

One glance, and dread envelopes me.

Another ticket; another note from the teacher; another reminder of my son’s innate gravitational pull toward horsing around. (Sigh.) read more

magnifying-glass-girl

How to See Youth Through Lenses of the Holy Spirit

When you look at the students in your life (let’s give them a name for the sake of convenience—how about Steve and Sally?), what do you see? What stands out to you?

Is it their height, their build or their features? Is it their personality, style or quirks?

The world sees their label—jock, diva, brain, groupie, gaming geek, ladies man or drama queen.

They are assessed a tag based on their past behaviors—liar, thief, pervert or addict; difficult, dangerous, dominating or delusional. read more

Youth-ministry

How Not to Be a Youth Pastor 101

It begins with a lump in the throat, followed by a cold sweat and clammy palms, and it finishes with a sinking feeling. It’s the moment you realize you’ve “failed” in youth ministry.

Today I thought I would share some of my most cherished moments from the “How Not to Be a Youth Pastor” handbook.

1.  The "unbroken arm." Imagine your student who is “that kid.”  You know—the one who needs to push all of your buttons, and you are too proud to admit it? At camp I say four times, “Don’t stand on the trash can that is 5 feet in the air. We are playing basketball, and you could fall off.” Fourteen-year-old Malcolm ignores me. He falls, then grabs his arm, screaming, “It’s broken!” Me, in an award-winning moment: “No, it’s not. Go play basketball like you were asked.” Malcolm finally begs me to go to the nurse. read more

Gina-McClain

How to Mobilize Youth to Serve

Two years ago, I sat in on a breakout session led by Joy Bowen at Orange Conference 2011. Within the first five minutes she used the word ‘copious.’

I was hooked.

Joy’s topic focused on mobilizing kids and youth to lead in the context of the weekend worship services. And her first point of business was to ask:

What’s the difference between a student leader & a student helper? read more

shaking-hands-church-welcome-small

How Youth Ministers Should Treat and Respect Parents

This is a topic that freaked me out my first year in youth ministry. As a young parent myself, it’s not easy telling grown ups how to deal with their children.

So, it took me a while to really get to a place where I was comfortable with talking to parents. I’m sure I’m not alone in this area. I thought I’d list some principles that I’m learning along the way that has helped me navigate dealing with parents.

Know your role to parents. We are support to parents first and foremost. Let them take the lead. My value is in being another voice for the student to hear the same message that their parents give. It may sound different and even be presented differently, but it should be the same message—unless, of course, the message is contrary to God’s word. read more

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On the Backs of 20-Somethings

What do mission legends Mary Slessor, Hudson Taylor and Cameron Townsend share in common? They were all impacting nations and reshaping mission paradigms before they were 30 years old.

The gospel’s march has often been carried on the backs (and in the backpacks) of young people. The golden chain of mission expansion has been forged by teenagers and young adults. And whether or not they realize it, on-fire youth today add to a train of faith centuries long. read more

F-Gray

How to Stand Out From the Crowd

The greatest legacy my mother gave me was a legacy of holiness, of integrity, of a life well-lived and of exemplifying the Word in action.

Simply put, Alice Gray stood out among the crowd. Many of the people I grew up around attended church. But looking back, there were very few whom I would classify as true Christ-followers. That’s not to judge them and say that they were bad people. But there’s a difference between those who follow a religion (which simply involves rote repetition) and those who are committed to growing and developing in their relationship with God. read more

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Mission Trips: God Encounters for Youth

Think about the teenagers in your church who you believe love God the most, the ones that would be most likely to serve in your congregation. Can you see them in your mind yet? These are the “good” kids, right? At least these are on the correct path, right? 

Don’t be too sure. 

These are the exact type of teens who go on mission trips with my team each year. More than 72,000 of them have shown up over the years ready to explore South American jungles, trek through Himalayan mountains and journey inside cultures unlike their own, all for the chance to tell people about Jesus. At least that’s what I thought, until I made a shocking discovery. read more

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How to Establish an Unshakeable Foundation for Your Youth

Half of all Christian students will walk away from their faith in college. How can your church confront that statistic and help teens establish a deep faith before stepping on campus?

As young people from your church graduate high school, how they develop in the years that follow will determine not only their destiny, but also the destiny of the American church. Pastors enjoy a certain delight and privilege in helping to guide the lives of the families that look to their wisdom and spiritual leadership for navigating the tumultuous waters of life.

This is especially true as many parents enter the minefield of determining a course of direction for their recent high school graduates. Since these early years are so important, we must be very careful to help parents set up their young adults for success, no matter how unconventional the approach may be.  read more

F-Glasgow

Teen Mania Gets Youth All Fired Up

In a world that has become so wrapped up in social media like Facebook, Instagram and avatars, has the live event lost it place? Has the “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves” become relegated to a computer screen or a smartphone (Heb. 10:25)?

I recently watched a group of young girls sitting at the same table in the food court of a trendy mall and laughing. Though there’s nothing unusual about that, what caught my attention was that they weren’t talking to each other; they were feverishly texting back and forth. Their laughter wasn’t a result of what they were saying to each other, but rather what they were texting to each other. In our digital age, have we lost even our most fundamental art of conversation? read more

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