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Thank God for dirty dishes;
They have a tale to tell.
While others may go hungry,
We’re eating very well
With home, health, and happiness,
I shouldn’t want to fuss;
By the stack of evidence,
God’s been very good to us.

So… how have you been blessed?

Tis the season to be thankful.

Say thank you to Him, right here.

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166639415This morning Twitter sent me a message that instructed me how to follow football on Thanksgiving. The essence of the message said that it’s really what the holiday is all about. Sports. They seem to take over everything these days.

If you had asked me just a couple of years ago if sports was the enemy of youth group, I would have screamed, “YES!” What is wrong with these parents who force their children to give their lives up for athletics? Maybe if students were just a bit better at time management they could be involved in both…

Then each of my children found a passion in an extra-curricular sport that took a lot of their time. We are a 2 season cheer family along with softball, football, volleyball, and this year potentially, Spring track. There are daily practices, evening games, travel and training to get better. This is all because they love it, not because we “make” them do anything. As a matter of fact, they are all allowed only one extracurricular per quarter, and they just all happen to choose sports. It’s an outlet where they build friendships and confidence. They don’t miss church, but all too often they do miss other youth programming throughout the week. There is either a scheduling conflict, or sometimes they are just exhausted.

I read a really interesting post this week on the “flaw” in Orange family ministry philosophy. The author actually supports the family ministry model while bringing up a really valid point. Parents aren’t the only outside influencers in kids lives: friends, coaches, and teachers in many ways equally reach into the lives of a student.

He actually suggests we equip parents to equip their kids to reach their friends. My kids have had the opportunity to be evangelists on their perspective teams while learning how to shine Christ in a place that can be focused all too much on performance.

Our family sports are not the center, but I have been amazed at the amazing faith lessons they learn in that environment. They have noticed a pattern that youth leaders tend to care a lot when they show up to programming, and few make an effort to ever watch them on the field. Quite frankly, they have missed out on great opportunities to see my kids and interact with a lot of parents who like us sit in the stands way too often. You can learn A LOT about a parent in watching the way they interact with their kids playing a competitive sport.

Here’s what I will say is unfair on the parent front: when our kids choose sports and we the parents expect you the youth leader to make concessions for that. My kids have missed retreats and trips for the sports they play. They have hated it, but it isn’t their youth leaders fault. They shouldn’t ever be asked to change anything for a game or practice. Our children are given the choice of what to attend while at the same time taught to weigh all the factors involved. Yet in the process, they are learning life lessons of commitment, teamwork, and accountability.

You see, I no longer believe sports are the enemy. If I were to tell any of my children they could no longer play, I think they would come to resent youth group honestly. They aren’t living in sin because they like a sport. Isn’t it our role to help students know how to share the Lord with those around them. For this type of kid it happens to be on the field, court, pool or slopes.

Can we get creative? Groups like Fellowship Of Christian Athletes finds ways to meet before school. I have heard of leaders who intentionally become coaches and refs to meet the kids at their point of interest. We haven’t even talked about the other students involved in activities like drama, choir, or academic clubs that might take just as much of their time as any sport. I just wonder if we are missing out on a huge discipleship opportunity when we expect students to only come to us? I often wonder if our real issue is they don’t like our programs as much as they like other things and we are jealous? Is youth group more than just a place for the kids not involved in other things?

These are the question we need to ponder.

What about you? Are sports your enemy or your friend?

Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1On this episode we deal with these three topics:

  • What to do when the enemy (devil) is attacking your youth group.
  • What to do when a student doubts their salvation.
  • How to respond to tragedies like the Ferguson situation. We will go more in-depth in our next episode on this topic. Subscribe to get it sent directly to email!!!

Join the conversation!!

Send any questions or topic suggestions to talkyouthministry@gmail.com.

Hope it helps,

AC & Kurt



Artificial Service?

 —  November 24, 2014 — Leave a comment

Have you heard about JIBO?

It’s already raised over $2 million so far, with more than 4,800 in pre-orders. According to its website, “We are no longer accepting pre-orders and are focused on getting the first shipment of JIBOs to our early adopters who supported our crowdfunding campaign.”

jiboWho wouldn’t want to own something that looks like the offspring of Wall-E and Eve?

The pitch is simple and appealing – not only does your family get to live in the future, but they get a robotic friend who will serve their social and media needs.

That is… if you believe the video.

JIBO’s creators even admit that the footage is forged to offer a glimpse at the potential of the product. That doesn’t matter, though… because I like what I see… or, what I think I see.

While not everything in the video will necessarily be there at launch, the JIBO skills described above are part of the core skill set. The core skill set will be released in 2015. And, because of the rich platform and ecosystem we’re building, everything in the video beyond the core skills will be possible — and more! With our developer community, we will continue to improve the product and add new and exciting features over time.



Because JIBO is an open platform, his skills and applications will grow, helping and delighting in ways even we haven’t even imagined…



The software update to make bluetooth available to developers and accessories should happen in early 2016.

There certainly is a lot of promising going on.

You know… just like how you and I sell our serving endeavors.

Don’t we often explain to students and parents about how there is a payoff on the other end of their financial/time investment? Sometimes that does happen, but often it requires a bit of spin doctoring to help students see the value in something that is often sacrificial.

Just as the creators of JIBO are asking people to throw money at something they’ve never seen, how often do you ask students to throw their lives at something they haven’t seen?

Then again, isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” (Hebrews 11:1-2)

Or is it?

“It is a snare to say rashly, ‘It is holy,’ and to reflect only after making vows.” (Proverbs 20:25)

 

Should we keep showing high-energy, edited videos from our last event… or should we also include all the down-moments that highlight the entire experience we’re inviting them into?

Go ahead – check your last highlight video.

I’ll wait here with my artificial service.

(No, I’m not talking about JIBO)

What do you think?

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In these past few months, I have had many conversations regarding Korean church youth ministry. Through these discussions, I realized that there were some things to reconsider in terms of the hiring process of youth pastors. Do youth pastors really need a Master’s of Divinity?

In my culture, having a life-long calling as a youth pastor is very unusual. It is more common for a pastor with an M. Div. to strive to become an adult ministry pastor, and not “settle” for youth. Usually youth ministry is seen as more of a stepping stone to reach this call or do ministry while pursuing their studies. I also think they don’t settle due to the lack of recognition of a youth pastor. While I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with this scenario, I do see that there is a definite shortage of youth pastors due to the qualification of needing an M.Div. Setting up such a high standard on paper sometime might miss the opportunity of high quality youth pastors that are just satisfied with their undergrad ministry degree.

There needs to be a paradigm shift and a remedy to this situation. It is evident that it is becoming more difficult to find someone with an M.Div that also has a call for youth ministry. Korean churches are losing out on young, talented gifted individuals that have a heart to serve the youth students, simply because they do not possess an M.Div. credential.

I think it is time for some churches to stretch the boundaries of accepting candidates with a degree in Christian Education, youth ministry, or a masters in biblical or theological studies. To think even further, it would be awesome to even consider hiring candidates that have an undergrad degree at a Christian College or University. Due to my cultural context, I do understand the title given as “Pastor” can be uncomfortable to someone that has not completed an M. Div., so a possible solution is to give them the title of “Youth Director” instead. Simple, right?

Don’t get me wrong, having an M. Div. could only help and better our youth students, but let’s not count out those brave individuals that have a true passion and desire to serve in youth ministry!

- Estevao / @estevaoyu

Cosby and Christendom

 —  November 20, 2014 — Leave a comment

bill-cosby-rape-allegations-pr-nightmareThe Cosby show is recorded before a live audience.

You know this, not because the voice of “Rudy” told you so… but because of all the new coverage and social media chatter about the iconic comedian Bill Cosby. Multiple women have come forth after decades of silence to make claims of sexual assault and drug-induced rendezvous against their will.

I’ve been processing all of this awkwardness like many of you have… not just because he’s been one of my favorite comedians over the years, or even my thirteen-year old son’s recent discovery online of the old 80′s show.

The real “Cosby show” that I’m interested in is how this all relates to you, me and the Church.

bentateConsider the sports commentators on my local radio station who were discussing how athlete Ben Tate was let go from the Cleveland Browns. They noted how after talking about it for an hour, no one called in or sent a message to the station in defense of this player whose firing seemed more related to locker room antics than his skills on the field.

Perhaps because of that filter, I’ve been wondering about if anyone will publicly come to Cosby’s defense. It could arguably be career suicide for such a fellow celebrity, for even Cosby’s own legacy is now in jeopardy. According to Variety newspaper:

Given what a public figure Cosby has been throughout his life, and the likelihood many will believe his accusers no matter what he says, this sets up significant dilemma. Cosby can seek to address the situation head-on, with no assurance that will allow him to rehabilitate his reputation; or choose to stay quiet, which would very likely entail living out his days as a pariah – someone with whom no network, streaming service or sponsor would understandably want to be associated. 

The media are hardly known for long attention spans, and if Cosby opts for the latter path, the drip, drip, drip of accusations will inevitably begin to subside. Yet he will no longer be able to perform – or certainly do interviews to promote any of his appearances – without inviting a new round of uncomfortable questions.

All of this highlights for me our own controversies within Christendom, between the latest megachurch pastor resignation to the ways smaller, extreme radicals of the faith become mountains out of molehills in the local press. Consider that in light of this quote from Ta-Nehisi Coates:

jellocosbyThe heart of the matter is this: A defender of Bill Cosby must, effectively, conjure a vast conspiracy, created to bring down one man, seemingly just out of spite. And people will do this work of conjuration, because it is hard to accept that people we love in one arena can commit great evil in another.

It is hard to believe that Bill Cosby is a serial rapist because the belief doesn’t just indict Cosby, it indicts us. It damns us for drawing intimate conclusions about people based on pudding-pop commercials and popular TV shows. It destroys our ability to lean on icons for our morality. And it forces us back into a world where seemingly good men do unspeakably evil things, and this is just the chaos of human history.

Finger-PointingWhat might be your response to this if it happened in your arena of life?

  • Imagine someone leveled harsh accusations against someone in your church that everyone loved. How would you handle it, especially if you loved this person? Someone recently told me, “I don’t care what people say about Bill Cosby. I love that guy.” Ever felt that same sentiment from someone who thought someone in the church could do no wrong?
  • What is in your past that could be brought up and addressed in a crowd of embarrassment? Maybe the accusations by themselves are slim, but if you got four or five people in a room together sharing stories of your shortsightedness or sin… what would happen next? Should you navigate that ahead of time and confess the situations – whether they’re actual or perceived – or hope that no one notices?
  • How would you feel if your internet search history was published within your church? What would you hope no one would notice or see? How does this affect how you are practicing cover up… or are you practicing transformation?

cosby-show-11The character of Cliff Huxtable was ranked first in TV Guide’s list of the “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.” None of that seems to matter in all of these allegations against Cosby, unless you consider how it seems that much more sad if this all pans out to be true. Some argue no one wanted to talk about the allegations back then because he made so many white Americans feel so good about race.

Should there be an opportunity for restoration?

What about if we’re not just talking about Cosby, but among people within the church?

What if you were the “Cosby” individual and the allegations start flying?

Where is the consistency and the hypocrisy in how we should deal with this in our own circles?

Are you confused by your “Cliff Huxtable” reputation and assuming all the flubs in your life can be solved by “going to commercial break” or making a silly face when they come up?

How should prayer and confession guide any of that?

Your life and ministry, after all, are being recorded before a live audience.