Modest is Hottest!

 —  November 14, 2012 — Leave a comment

I should start from the beginning. I hate the phrase “modest is hottest.” I’ve hated it for awhile but wasn’t really sure why exactly…until recently. Allow me to share!

1. Modest is hottest…really? If a girl has been in our ministries long enough they have heard someone mention pornography and how every guy battles it. Porn is visual. It is a distorted visual and a broken one. At the heart of it, porn is about exposing woman and defining what is hot. I believe most girls are asking, is really modesty really the hottest… and if that’s true than why are guys so drawn to visuals that are less than modest. Really at some level the statement isn’t believable.

2. Modest is hottest…why hot? This one is the big one for me. Why is hot the goal? Why are we selling girls short and asking them to be just hot. Why are we encouraging the same goal as the world. It’s shallow and limited. Focusing on the physical keeps us from what is really important…the heart. Do you know how much girls care about their physical appearance? Studies show that girls care more about being pretty than they do about the world ending or their parents getting cancer. Their appearance literally consumes them. So why is the church offering them the same goal. Modest isn’t hottest…maybe it’s the holiest or maybe our modesty reflects our heart…but it isn’t or it never has been about being the hottest.

I am sure there are plenty of other confusing statements that we say…but the more we get to know about our girls and their world, the better we can help them understand God’s truth for their lives!

What are some other confusing things that we say? Let’s chat about them!

Had a few of our Life Group leaders this week talk about ministering to students struggling through same sex sexual attraction – saw this new resource called Ministering to Gay Teenagers landed at Simply Youth Ministry today and immediately bought it (digitally) and immediately gave it to them. Not sure if it is any good – but I trust Simoply and it is a very important and needed resource. A little clip from the description:

Ministering to Gay Teenagers is filled with wisdom and practical advice on how to respond when a student comes out and how to help the teenager’s family through that journey, too. This book will equip you with solid answers to the questions parents ask, and it will challenge you, your youth ministry, and your church to consider how you can practically minister and serve a group of people who seek deep authenticity in love, character, truth, and presence.


Slow blogging season mostly because Scott was prepping then away at his junior high groups big Fall Retreat, and I’ve been away in Germany for about a week. The trip was slotted because of an opportunity to train 150 German youth workers and I decided to bring Rachel along for a bit of a vacation on the tail end.

I’m in Berlin….in a Starbucks of course…reflecting on some of my learnings/observations over the past several days. As is often the case with international ministry opportunities, I think I benefited much more from my time with the Youth Ministry Nation in Germany than they did by having me. Here are a few totally random thoughts I’m processing:

- Youth ministry here is about 15-20 years behind “the curve” in many aspects. And I’m not totally convinced they need to catch up!

- However youth ministry, and the church as a whole, seems to be holding on by a very thin thread so there is obviously the need for life to be breathed into it.

- In my sessions, I tried to present mostly “universal principles” sprinkled with some examples of “how we do it where I’m from”. I found it interesting that many of our “universal principles” aren’t as universal as I assumed they are. Many of them are completely connected to the methodology in which we express them….or so it felt at times.

- Heart-to-heart conversations about life and ministry are perhaps the most “universal” ways we can encourage and train each other.

- I need to think more critically and do it more often. Friends like Marko and Adam McLane have helped me in this area, but it doesn’t come naturally. I’m a “doer” a pragmatist and a utilitarian youth worker. I rarely take time to think…really think…about some of the deeper issues of youth ministry and theology. The amazing men and women I’ve spent the past four days with thrive on it. I often felt like I was coming up short in conversations because I am mostly a man of ideas and “tools” not profound, futurist, theological youth ministry thoughts. I don’t need to go to that place very often, and I’m happy I have friends who seem to live there, but an occasional visit might be warranted!

- American youth workers are a spoiled bunch. We might not recognize it, or even have an entitled attitude…but we’ve got it very, very, good. I honestly can’t think of one tangible ministry resource, tool or necessity the youth workers I’ve met have that most of us don’t. Yet they are passionately committed to the task at hand.

This week our Xbox 360 crossed 58,000 in Gamerscore – thanks in part to the next installment of the Halo franchise. Took a break from gaming this week to give you a few quick reviews:

  • Jetpack Joyride (A+): One of the funnest iOS games makes its way to Windows 8 and is incredibly fun on a laptop. Such a great game – play it on whatever platform you can, the game is genius.
  • Halo 4 (A+): This may very well be the best Halo game ever made. As a fan of the franchise since the beginning, it was fun to pick up a copy of the game and play straight through it in 4-player co-op. Incredible cinemas. Epic multiplayer. Unreal graphics. Fun x 1000.
  • LEGO Batman 2 (A-): Another winning installment in the LEGO video game franchise. Such a fun game – my kids ate it up and have already beaten it several times. Super, super fun family game!


This week Kurt and I are going after a youth ministry fail in our lives in the past season of ministry, and sharing what we learned from the incident. You got to revel in Kurt’s mistake yesterday—here’s mine:

I was teaching a few weeks ago in youth group and during the talk we had a disruptive student. It was a little disruption at first, but a few minutes later we had a full-blown problem on our hands. A student was making all sorts of comments and noises from his seat—students were staring, whispering, and generally completely distracted by the situation. We found out later the teenager has a special medical need and didn’t have any control over what was coming out of his mouth. But the point is our team didn’t know what to do…so no one did anything.

FAIL: We weren’t ready to handle this situation. I’m left on stage trying to teach while this disruption is occurring and everyone is frozen or in a silent panic trying to figure out what to do.

LEARNING: The next week we put into place a simple 4-step process for dealing with disruptions during youth group:

1) The speaker never addresses the situation. Whoever is on stage models grace and pretends like nothing is going on. Motor through.

2) Don’t wait. Will someone else jump in? Let’s just take the “wait and see” approach to see if it gets worse. No…take action when any disruption occurs. From the giggles in the back of the room, to a full on meltdown, do something; don’t just stand there.

3) Take it outside. Ask the student to step outside of the room with you as discreetly as possible. Usually a knowing look or a fierce glare from a youth leader corrects poor behavior. When those don’t work, invite them to the exit for a talk.

4) Investigate what to do from there. Could this situation be fixed by simply reseating the person? What discipline is needed to correct this behavior? Handle each situation with incredible amounts of care and grace but balance firmness.

General rule of thumb: don’t let one ruin it for all. Where have you failed and what have you learned recently?

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here. Tomorrow look for a special guest post on ministering to a student with special needs that will be helpful to unpack that area for ministry as well. In hindsight it would have been wise to use another student as an example in this post. #FAIL

I used to be jealous of our children’s ministry because I thought they were getting all the attention. Space in our church needs to be shared; therefore, everything needs to lean towards “CHILD FRIENDLY”. Just like the teenagers I serve I would grow embarrassed by the “KID-LIKE” décor that filled the walls. I would wonder, “Do teens want to come back after seeing that?”

I eventually matured and realized that as a youth minister I need the children’s ministry in order to succeed. They are the future teens you will mentor. They are laying the foundation for what you do, and if they fail your job will be that much harder. So, what does that mean?


How are you supposed to invest in the children’s ministry in order to create a better student ministry?

Not sure what the relationship you have with your children’s pastor looks like but it needs to be healthy. This means getting to know them as a coworker and a person. Schedule a weekly or biweekly meeting where you can discuss obstacles, share stories of success and challenge one another. The more you get to know them the more you begin to trust them.

I found that much of my frustration with the children’s ministry was due to old expectations. I always compared it to the misconceptions I had about children’s ministry. All this did was create suspicion. By observing the children’s ministry you will see how it is serving your student ministry. You will also be able to give your children’s pastor an outsider’s perspective.

Just as you need multiples of volunteers, so does the children’s ministry. One thing you can offer them that they can’t offer you is a teenage workforce. Encourage your teens to give what they have been given. Your teens will not only be youthful and energetic, but a positive role model for the kids.

While you may want a bigger budget, make sure it doesn’t come at the expense of the children’s programs. On top of finances, help them recruit leaders and help them communicate to parents about what they are doing. By serving the children’s ministry in your church, you are building the foundation of your future teens.

It’s easy to grow jealous of others if you are only focused on yourself. The way that your ministry will grow is if you learn how to grow with others on staff. After your pastor the best place to start is with the person running the children’s ministry. It’s not only your future but also your foundation. Help them succeed.

What are you doing to invest in the children’s ministry at your church?

Chris (Twitter)

From time to time I post a question that comes into the blog that feels like we could answer together rather than me alone. What advice would you give this youth pastor who is asking about effectively ministering to parents? Weigh in!

I’ve been trying to minister to parents as well as volunteers and students – have had NO luck with anything for parents. I make resources available to them, no one shows up for my monthly meetings, everything I do seems to be met with “meh” … it is killing me and I can’t help but feel like a failure. Do you guys have parent stuff that IS working? Because I sure don’t!

Your turn, MTDB community … I’ll be back later this week with a few of the things we have planned in our next season of parent ministry – honestly I think it is time to overhaul a little bit and launch some new things, too!


Over Memorial Day Weekend, 2008, I became a minimalist.

My journey into minimalism was not entered into as a fad, experiment, or temporary life adjustment. Nor was it just for the purpose of moving, getting out of debt, traveling the world, or quitting my job. My decision to intentionally live with less was born out of my desire to line up my life’s pursuit with my heart’s deepest desires. It was about creating space for faith, family, and friends. It was a decision I knew would influence the rest of my life. And I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.

Over the past five years, we have removed 60-70% of our personal possessions, we have moved into a smaller home, we have removed ourselves from the hollow race of American consumerism, and we have completely changed our habits of consumption. As a result, we have found more time for the things that are most important. In short, we have been finally able to start living the life we always wanted to live.

This journey towards minimalism has been far more life-changing than I anticipated. The possessions in our lives define who we are on a far deeper level than we know. And as a result, the process of removing them teaches us valuable truths about ourselves.

But the most important life lessons I’ve learned can be summed up like this:

1. Possessions weigh down our lives more than we realize. They are heavy and cumbersome. They slow us down. They demand our time, energy, attention, and focus. They need to be purchased, transported, organized, cleaned, sorted, fixed, and managed. They keep us from the ones we love and from living a life based on our values. Ultimately, they cause us to lose our life rather than find it. Life is indeed better with less.

2. Our lives are just too valuable to waste chasing possessions. Society has told us our greatest dreams should consist of “doing well in school, getting a high-paying job, and buying a really nice house with lots of cool things.” That is a shame because we can dream bigger dreams. We can dream better dreams. Our lives can be far more valuable than the things we own. Our lives are meant to be built on the things that really matter: love, faith, hope, charity, relationships, influence, significance, spirituality…. not the physical things that will always perish, spoil, or fade.

3. Living with less provides the freedom to pursue our greatest passions. The removal of excessive possessions and the intentional decision to live with less offers countless benefits. In exchange for removing the clutter, we are rewarded with newfound finances, time, energy, freedom, and mental capacity. Our lives are lived with less stress, less anxiety, and less burden. Our finite resources become more available to us… and we are freed to pursue our greatest passions—whatever they may be.

4. The external decision to own less has a positive impact on our journey inward. Owning (and buying) less has allowed my heart to change and adopt values I have always admired in others. Through the process, I have learned contentment, generosity, gratitude, self-control, honesty, and appreciation. These attributes were difficult to discover during the pursuit of more… but the intentional pursuit of less has allowed room in my heart for them to surface.

5. Jesus had it right all along. When I removed the accumulation and pursuit of possessions from my life, Christ’s teachings on money and possessions began to take a new hold on my life. I began to realize his teachings to “sell your possessions and give to the poor” and to “not hoard up treasures here on earth” are not instructions designed to make my life miserable while on earth. They weren’t given as some means of forced sacrifice on our lives. They are an invitation—an invitation to live a more abundant, meaningful life—just like everything else Jesus taught. This abundant life is available to anyone who begins to believe that Jesus knew exactly what he was talking about… even when he encouraged us to give away our possessions and pursue something greater instead.

Joshua Becker has served in Student Ministry for 14 years. He blogs at Becoming Minimalist where he encourages others to find more life by owning less. And his new book, Living with Less: An Unexpected Key to Happiness, is written to inspire teenagers and young adults to discover the simple truth behind Christ’s plain teaching on money and possessions.