Generation Screwed

 —  July 19, 2012 — Leave a comment

I just read an article that Newsweek put out called, “Are Millenials the Screwed Generation?”  Interesting read.   The tag line reads, ‘Boomer America’ never had it so good.  As a result, todays young American’s never had it so bad. 

There are some interesting stats that compare generations that may be worth your time.  Here are a few that stood out to me:

1. The median net worth of households headed by someone 65 or older is $170,494, 42 percent higher than in 1984, while the median net worth for younger-age households is $3,662, down 68 percent from a quarter century ago, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center

2. Since 2008 the percentage of the workforce under 25 has dropped 13.2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while that of people over 55 has risen by 7.6 percent.  The unemployment rate for people between 18 and 29 is 12 percent in the U.S., nearly 50 percent above the national average.  [Note: I think the pursuit of more education, as I write about in Worlds Apart, has a massive influence in this.]

3. The average student, according to Forbes, already carries $12,700 in credit-card and other kinds of debt. Student loans have grown consistently over the last few decades to an average of $27,000 each. Nationwide in the U.S., tuition debt is close to $1 trillion.  The articles states this: “This debt often results from the advice of teachers, largely boomers, that only more education—for which costs have risen at twice the rate of inflation since 2000—could solve the long-term issues of the young.” [Note: I also I write about in Worlds Apart]

They also put together this little video where they compiled some interviews with Millenials.  This isn’t exhaustive, of course, but I think the insights offered by those interviewed are normal…and perhaps more normal than many still recognize as we approach relationships with younger generations. Go here to watch that and see the article.

  • BIG NEWS! Jason Ostrander has officially joined the Simply Youth Ministry staff. He is taking over the helm from Andy Brazelton who moved back to SoCal to be near family. Here is a little more info about Jason. His email is; lets flood his box with welcome notes!


    What superpower do you currently possess?

    The ability to guess anyone’s age/weight/social security number (unfortunately if I reveal anyone’s info I lose my superpower).

    If you were a word, what would you be?


    What’s the best thing ever?

    A used bookstore in a tiny town that has no idea how many great books they have on their shelves.

    What’s your favorite website or blog?

Weekend Teaching Series: Before and After: a study through Ephesians (series premiere, week 1 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: The person that I used to be and the person I am in Christ.
Service Length:
66 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend AC taught for the first time in HSM – he walked students through Ephesians 2 and how we were before Christ and the life-change that happens at salvation. He did a great job explaining sin, the traps of Satan and salvation by God’s grace. The highlight of the weekend was when he had a student come up and share the story of her life, including a recent departure from God’s path that cost her things she could never get back. Her story clearly illustrated the amazing grace of God and how

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend was really straightforward with lots of welcoming students, a fun recap of our recent Rwanda mission trip and our 80′s skate night from this past Friday.

Music Playlist: Somebody That I Used to Know (A capella cover), Here For You, Majesty, What Would I Have Done, Savior of the World

Favorite Moment: Cayla sharing her story was incredible – made the whole message come to life. Incredible testimony to God’s grace!

Up next: Before and After (week 2 of 3)

Today’s Deal of the Day from Simply Youth Ministry is the Volunteer’s Back Pocket Guide to Sex by Craig Gross. Until midnight tonight it is just $2.99 – and a great resource to get in the hands of your team as they talk about God’s plan for their sex life.

Teenagers live in a sex-saturated world. And for many of them, sex has become a purely physical act, fully divorced from spirituality, love, and commitment. Sex, pornography, and “hooking up” are all met with the same response: “It’s no big deal.”

Too many of our students don’t know where to turn to learn about sex, leaving many feeling confused, fearful, and alone. Teenagers who struggle with sexual addiction or unhealthy patterns don’t know how to find freedom and healing from the choices they’ve made, and they’re afraid the church will label them as perverts if they’re open and honest about their deepest struggles.

But amidst these sobering realities, there is good news: Youth workers are on the front lines of the battle to shape, challenge, and encourage teenagers toward sexual wholeness and purity. The Volunteer’s Back Pocket Guide to Sex will help you as you aid students in navigating a path that honestly addresses all the challenges they might face, while honoring God along the way.

Authors Craig Gross—founder of—and Cris Clapp Logan—an Internet safety expert, artist, and writer—don’t sugarcoat the realities, and they don’t hold back in bluntly, honestly tackling the toughest topics, including pornography, sexuality, masturbation, and purity. Using God’s truth as the foundation for the conversation, they’ll equip you with practical information and powerful strategies to help you become a volunteer youth worker who helps teenagers live wisely and walk in freedom!


My boss Kurt put together a great post called Things Are Getting Sticky at Saddleback talking about the origin of something new we started this summer called Worship Together Weekends. Here’s a little of the backstory, head there for the full perspective:

  • About a year ago, I started really digging into the Sticky Faith research and asking myself some tough questions.
  • About 10 months ago, I started using my allotted “report back” time in our executive meetings to share some of my learnings, to let the senior leadership of my church know that I saw some changes on the horizon.
  • About 6 months ago, I suggested the radical idea (radical in our setting) of taking tangible steps to get our teenagers more involved in the overall life of the church. These ideas included combined missions trips, ministry teams, discipleship classes, etc.
  • At the same time, I suggested the idea of creating a monthly “Worship Together Weekend”. I pitched the idea that on the first full weekend of every month we cancel our JH and HS church services, completely shut down our youth building and encourage families to go to “big church” together. In essence I proposed that we spend 25% of our time NOT doing the type of ministry that our church has been built upon.


  • What is this BURNING I feel in my chest?
  • Why are my teeth clinched and my fingers balled into a fist? Is this a brutal, but necessary, surgery? Or is it a brutal, but avoidable, violation?
  • Is this a bullet being removed to save my life or is someone looking for an internal organ to sell on the black market?
  • Is this the what it feels like to give up my pride? Or is this the sinister, sinking feeling that follows the surrendering of my passion?

Of course, Pride and Passion are so very different. Passion leads to serving others and Pride leads to serving self. Giving up either feels the same, even if the results are different. Loosing Pride creates dependence on God, losing Passion creates an apathetic life.

The world is filled with fuel for the fire of pride: “Look at what I have done! This is what I deserve! Here is where I am great!”

The world is also filled with leeches that drain passion’s power: “You are no good! You have no value! Know your place, don’t step out of line! Be afraid and be little!”

I have seen the passion fade, and there are few things more terrible than apathy. I have seen the sprinters stop running. Giving up their joy in order to take a seat on the sideline. It is not long before they roll over, and play dead or even just simply be dead.

Giving up pride is painful. Of course, it’s the only path to spiritual growth, to intimacy with God. Humility frees us up to stop managing our sin, accept grace, and move forward with trust and surrender.

These feelings and thoughts are the same, (at least they are for me): surrendering pride and giving up passion. Am I enduring hardship or caving in? Am I giving my heart to God or selling out my soul?

I have seen the zombies shuffle. The thing I fear most is becoming one. Zombies create more zombies. Administrators create more administration. Zombies can’t create life, and neither can micro-Administrators create leadership.

  • When I’ve lost my pride, I feel like lashing out in attack.
  • When I’ve lost my passion, I feel like laying down forever.

And perhaps here is where the knot is thickest: maybe loosing pride and passion often happen at the same time. The difference is not in the moment that it happens, but in the moments and days ahead. Which is it that we choose to add back into our hearts, pride or passion?

Perhaps there are times when we loose pride and passion at the same time, and our goal is to restore the passion without puffing back up with pride.

Pride is about receiving glory, being admired, understood, and respected. You can loose these things and still operate out of passion.

When the grinding moments come, step into the pain.

Suffer the indignity if you can stuff serve with the same fire that got you serving in the same place.

Matt McGill blogs a ton about youth ministry over on Love God, Love Students and was gracious enough to let me post these words here on MTDB. Check out his site and be sure to subscribe!

Our junior high ministry has its fair share of what I like to call “transient leaders”; those volunteers who are only with us for a year or two before moving on to another area of ministry. Older high school students who volunteer during their senior year before heading off to college and parents of junior highers who serve for a year or two while their child is in our ministry are the two predominant transient leaders on our team.

But over the years, we have also had tremendous success creating a ministry atmosphere that excels at keeping folks on board for long periods of time. We have tons of 5-year veterans, numerous 10-year veterans, an occasional 15-year veteran and one volunteer who has been on our junior high team for over 20 years.

While those certainly no “silver bullet” for creating a team of JH ministry veterans, I do think there are some things we’ve done real well over the years that have contributed to our success. Here are a few that come to mind.

- We focus on relationships more than on formal training. If relational ministry is the type of youth ministry we acknowledge is best, then it makes sense that a relational approach to building a leadership team would take the same approach.

- We empower like crazy! We believe in the power of giving ministry away. As long as it fits within our purpose/strategy/paradigm…go for it! Our team tries to view ourselves more as coaches, encouragers etc. of the team instead of a ball-hogging quarterback.

- We share life. As your team grows this becomes harder to do, but we’ve found that a good chunk of our veteran leaders have stuck around because of the friendships that we have formed outside the walls of the church and activities of the junior high ministry.

- We are professional. Quality leaders want to be part of something the perceive as being somewhat professional. We do background checks, we have good training, we have clear guidelines, we have their backs, we clearly articulate the various ministry opportunities, we have a purpose statement and values that we can point to. One of our volunteers is the CFO for the western region of UPS. Somehow we’ve managed to convince him that we sorta know what we’re doing.

We’ve been around a while ourselves. I’ve been involved in our junior high ministry for 15 years. Katie Edwards, who leads our ministry, has been involved for almost 20. Jason Pogue, one of our JH Pastors has been on our team for about 10 years (first as a volunteer himself, then on our paid team). Because folks can look around and see a handful of people who have invested in our ministry for decades, it sends the message that it may be worth their long-term investment, too.

Healthy, veteran volunteer leadership teams don’t happen overnight. Be patient, be intentional in your efforts and don’t quit when the going gets tough. Building a team of veterans is hard work….but it might be the most important, and most rewarding hard work you do!

Best Geek Gift…

 —  July 18, 2012 — 1 Comment

I like browsing the ThinkGeek web store.  I wrote about a product that you get get from them that is perfect for youth ministry here.  Well, if my birthday had not just passed and if fathers day was near I would be begging for this geeky, useless gift…the Useless Box Kit.  When I saw the video below I laughed out…YES, I LOL’d.  Watch it…they buy it.  $40 is pricy but it looks like a great prop for a youth pastor’s office.