Youth are significantly influenced by their friends. This is why it’s important to have youth leaders who can model what it means to be a good friend.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. -John 15:3
Friendship is important in every stage of development. But during adolescence friendship becomes central to everything. This is a critical stage of development because teenagers are building a foundation for having good friendships the rest of their lives.
One of the most powerful benefits of healthy youth ministry is that we can help kids understand God’s design for relationships. Jesus talked alot about friendship, and we know that he nurtured model friendships in his disciples. A teenager’s intense preoccupation with friendship is a good thing. It is an opportunity for the adults in their lives to imprint in them a road map for a lifetime of good friendships. Here’s how…
Youth ministry requires lots of leaders. If you want your church or parachurch to reach an increasing number of young people in your city, then you will need more leaders to do it. Developing youth leadership is a top priority. This is true for a couple of reasons. First, trends in youth ministry show us that it takes more leaders to reach fewer kids today than in previous generations. I talk about some of the reasons why in my recent post, 5 Trends in Youth Ministry & How to Navigate a Perfect Storm. If we want to reach more kids, then we need more leaders. But how do you recruit, train, and empower new teams of leaders year after year?
Five trends in youth ministry point to a perfect storm on the horizon
The trends I’m referring to are:
1. Youth culture is more fragmented than ever before. (Why? Because families are breaking down, young people are more fragile, broken, and have greater needs.)
2. You need more youth leaders today to reach fewer young people.
3. Volunteerism is decreasing.
The good news of Jesus Christ is that you are loved.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” –Romans 5:8
Jesus loves us not because we are these incredibly loveable fur balls who deserve his love. He loves us in a much deeper profound way than that. Jesus knows we are made from dust. He knows that we can’t possibly fathom how great and worthy he is of our awe and worship. He understands that we were all born of the seed of Adam which means in our own strength we have no chance of ever being completely pure. He knows how broken and frail we are even though we put on all sorts of prideful masks and crutches of victimization. And in the midst of all of that, when he was on the cross, paving a path for us sinners to cross over from death to life, he cried out to the Father in our defense:
Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. –Luke 23:34
WE NEED DAILY REMINDERS WE ARE LOVED
Most of us need daily reminders that we are loved so much. Without Gospel reminders we become jaded, cowardly, judgmental, and self-protective. And when we sway from feeling loved our ability to reflect the Light of Jesus’ love to others dims and dims and dims…
I really believe that ministry is more “caught” than taught. What I mean by that is that young people learn more about being a disciple of Jesus by being around someone who is intentionally pouring their lives into them. Jesus spent most of his time with Peter, James, and John, and then the bulk of the rest of his time in ministry with the other eight of his 12 Disciples. Jesus was intentional about showing them day by day what it looked like to be in relationship with him. By being around him all of the time they learned by observation what his priorities were, how he spent his day, and what seemed to matter to him. They even observed what he ate, when he slept, how he recreated, how he talked to the Heavenly Father in prayer. For Jesus, it was “quantity” time with his Disciples as much or more than the “quality of time.”
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.’ – Revelation 14:6-7
As I get to know student ministry leaders in dozens of countries around the world, one of the most important topics we constantly keep at the forefront is the Gospel of Jesus and how we can communicate it effectively to young people. As the passage from Revelation above excites our imagination about the activity of God in the spiritual realm to spread the yeast of his Good News to every tribe, tongue, and culture, we need to keep reminding ourselves that evangelism is absolutely central to the mission of the church. As we explore the Parable of the Sower in Mark 4:1-9 in this post, I want to encourage you that no matter how hard you find it is to share the Gospel, or how discouraged you get, never give up on introducing people to Jesus. The central message of this parable is exactly that: NEVER NEVER NEVER STOP SOWING.
Joshua 7 is one of those chapters that is a bit perplexing until you read it through the lens of the Gospel.
The only way to properly read this story is to put ourselves into it. If we are honest, we can all relate with Achan. What he did. And the consequences he suffered.
We have to be careful to not distance ourselves too much from Achan. The temptations that seized Achan are common temptations to ALL of us. The pile of stones that were stacked on Achan should be piled on each of us too.
If we don’t understand the depth of our sin, then we’ll never understand grace either. The good news is that the story of Achan’s tomb of stones is overshadowed by the epic story of the Empty tomb of Jesus.
To hear my sermon on “Achan’s Sin, the Human Story”, click here…
I recently had the privilege of sharing the Gospel with a young man in a foreign country who grew up in a family that taught that the way to God is only through believing the message of a different book than the Bible. After sharing the Gospel with him for a couple of hours I pleaded with him to take my Bible read the story of Jesus for himself to see how different his story is from this other religious book.
Although he listened intently to everything that I told him about Jesus and seemed to want to believe it… he would not accept my Bible because he said that his father would disown him or kill him if he came home with it. This is where my mind went: