Ignite - The Bible for TeensNothing quite like hanging with Mark Oestreicher and I recently got a chance to spend some virtual time with him recently discussing his new Ignite Bible for Junior Highers. I rattled off 6 rapid-fire questions and here are his answers:

1.    What’s your weirdest memory from junior high?
MO: Probably my youth group’s “sex retreat,” which was not a retreat where we had sex, but a retreat where we learned about sex. Either that memory, or the time I blew a big handful of sneezing powder into a teacher’s face.

2.     Why create another youth Bible? Aren’t there enough of them?
MO: I think they get dated. I know there’s one I general edited 15 years ago that is now perfect for pre-teens, but I would never give to a middle schooler. Teenagers change, and so should the resources we provide for them.

3. What’s unique about Ignite?
MO: A bunch! It’s not for all teenagers of any age: it was intentionally created to hit the spiritual and developmental realities of junior highers.

4.     It’s in the NKJV version. Why?
MO: Well, the short answer is that it’s a Thomas Nelson Bible, and that’s their primary version. But I think I had a bit of an anti-NKJV bias before working on this project that probably had more to do with the KJV and my lack of knowledge about how the NKJV was created. Anyhow, the NKJV is the third most-used translation in the English language.

5.     Did you have other junior high ministry experts who were part of creating Ignite with you?
MO: I sure did! Scott Rubin (the junior high pastor at WillowCreek), Brooklyn Lindsey (junior high pastor at Highland Park Nazarene in FL), Jeremy Lee (former JH pastor and founder of ParentMinistry.net), Crystal Kirgiss (Young Life leader and fantastic writer), and many others. We’re discounting it up to 44% on pre-orders of 10 or more copies. We’re really hoping we can help youth workers get it into the hands of a bunch of young teens!

JG

Parents Ministry, Family Ministry, or Inter-generational Ministry whatever you want to call it seems to be the hot button topic in youth ministry today. From mega churches who are learning about it to smaller country churches who have been doing it forever but want to get a fresh perspective on it, we all cannot debate it’s place in our job description or its value on the spiritual development of our students.

parent_ministry_resources

While there are many different theories and strategies out there, I’ll give you an insight to one that has taken off at our church. When I hold a parents meeting I cannot get more than three or four sets of parents there at the same time. So the nifty resources I get for them only make it in the hands of a few parents. So how to get the other parents resourced became a priority. So I designed a nice looking resource table, placed it in the church foyer, and since then I cannot keep the resources on the table. I could make guesses as to why it works, our parents want help but they want it anonymously or they don’t want the other parents thinking they don’t have it all together but the fact of the matter is the resources are going out with great results. I’ve had a ton of parents call me to discuss this or that from a book or article so as long as its working I’m good with that.

In case you were wondering what the top resources are at our church, here ya go:

The key to this idea, like anything in ministry is the follow up. When I talk to a parent I ask them if they grabbed any resources lately and if they say yes I ask which one they’ve enjoyed and we talk about it. Plus all of our parents know if they have any questions with the resources that I am always there to help.

Kevin Patterson is the youth pastor at Dawson Springs First Baptist Church in Dawson Spring, KY. Be sure to check out http://www.lifeintheymfishbowl.blogspot.com/ to regularly get in on his learnings, too!



Q&A about 99 Thoughts on Raising Your Parents
with Liesl Oestreicher and Max Oestreicher

Marko (their dad, read his blog here): Liesl and Max really did write these answers, just like they really did write the book with me (they wrote 100% of these answers, and about 70% of the book). BTW: Liesl is 18 – she graduated from HS last spring, and I currently on a gap-year, living in Ireland at the moment, and heading to India in January. Max is 14 (turns 15 in a week), and a freshman in HS.

OK, first off tell us about YOU!

Max: Drums + ukulele + bacon = Max Oestreicher
Liesl
: I’m a dirty hippy, loving trees one hug at a time.

OK, now … what’s up with your dad’s beard?

Max:  I think he should go pro.
Liesl: Babies and old, senile women enjoy grabbing and stroking it. It’s true, I’ve seen both happen.

The book is awesome – how did it come about?

Max: My dad wanted me and my sister to write a book about how cool he is. At first I refused, and then he told me I’d get paid.
Liesl: I was sitting in a forest, writing my autobiography, when a glowing figure approached me. The figure told me He was God, who had come down in human form to tell me something. He told me that He had peeked at what I was writing and that it was very good, that it even exceeded the work of the great Mark Oestreicher. He then told me that He wanted me to write a book for teenagers, just like me, about how to get along with their parents. And, of course, I gratefully accepted. I don’t know, maybe I imagined that. Now that I think about it, my dad just sent me an email one day that said my brother and I were going to write a book and we were going to get paid for it.

What’s one thing that teenagers can do to change the game for the relationship they have with their parents?

Max: When you are getting in an argument/fight/disagreement with your parents, don’t get defensive. Respectfully communicate your point of view, and then listen to theirs.
Liesl: Respect their opinions. If you don’t, how do you expect them to respect yours? …or you can just move to Ireland, like I did.

Tell us a story about when your parents screwed up (aka, give me some hope). Make me laugh!

Max: My parent lost me at Disney World when I was three. They let go of my hand and I decided I wanted to go see King Louie.
Liesl
: Once my mom and I were on a snowmobile on a family vacation. My mom accidentally went too close to a little dip and our snowmobile rolled over sideways. We couldn’t get up on our own, so before he helped us, my dad laughed as he took pictures.

Who do you love more – mom or dad? What do you value most about them?

Max: I think my mom is just OK, but compare her to my dad and she’s amazing.
Liesl
: I would say my mom, but my dad is more likely to see this, so… definitely my dad.

You have the attention of a TON of youth workers – what would you say to them about their jobs/roles/calling?

Max: I think youth workers should give a lot of opportunities to get involved in a leadership roles as this has been very meaning full to me.
Liesl
:  It is really encouraging to here your life stories, especially the times when you screwed up. It shows us  (teenagers in your youth group) that it is a safe place to admit to our faults when you do the same.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these! Make sure you check out the book here – might make a good resource to put in the hands of your students this Christmas, too!

JG

A couple days ago I posted my review of the Unauthorized Dictionary of Youth Ministry, then got the chance to interview the author, Steve Case. Here’s 5 questions about one of my favorite new books:

JG: Tell us where the idea of the book came from?
Steve Case: Mostly from hanging out with other youth workers, especially at conventions. We chat and trade ideas and then its only a matter of time before you start to hear stories of stress and pain in youth ministry. Everyone has a story.  Once the stories come out then the humor starts to flow and you find yourself laughing through the problems.  I really wanted to be a catalyst for that kind of laughter.

JG: Did you try to get others to publish the title, and why do you think the Youth Cartel enthusiastically said yes?
SC: Mostly because I know Marko and Marko knows me.  The guys at the Youth Cartel understand what I meant when I said, “sometimes the Christian faith is like wearing a T-shirt two sizes too small.”  Plus Marko knows a good fart joke when he hears one.

JG: My only criticism of the book is the overuse of #hashtags. Explain.
SC: Hashtags are how people communicate the age of Twitter.  Comedicly speaking it also puts an extra beat on the end of a joke.  Get a bunch of church workers together and they can play off each other’s humor verbally.  I think the hastags copy that idea of “plussing” the joke.

JG: Give me 2 or 3 of the best ones of the cutting room floor?
SC: Honestly, I was surprised the Cartel guys let me get away with as much as they did.  I was kind of disappointed we had to lose part of the G is for Genie entry.  I made a reference to Barbara Eden’s navel that I thought was very funny but then didn’t go over with the editors.  Also the original title of one of the Graduation Books was “Is That a Cross in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See Me?”

JG: Got a next project on the horizon?
SC: Oh yes.  Hopefully at the end of this year or early next year, the Cartel is publishing Dancing In The Dark which is a dramatic re-tooling of the Stations of the Cross.  Also a book called The Audacious Seven which is a book of Bible Studies about seven saints who lived and worked so outside of the box they didn’t even know the box was there.

JG: Thanks for your time!
SC: No problem. Thanks for the opportunity.

JG



Today we’re simply pointing you to great tools that will help students grow on their own. Check them out in consideration of something that would work in your ministry context as well:

1-Minute Bible by Doug Fields
You’ve committed yourself to more Bible reading plans than you care to admit, and you’re 187 chapters behind in your latest attempt. If this sounds familiar, then the One Minute Bible for Students is what you need to get back and stay on track. Do the math. There are 1400 minutes in a day. It will take you One Minute to read a passage of Scripture. “Hey, that’s doable!” Additionally, veteran youth pastor Doug Fields has contributed some great insights to help you apply these short, one-minute Scripture readings to your every day life.

Student Leaders Start Here by LeaderTreks
Student Leaders Start Here is a practical, interactive workbook, to help students grow in leadership. It focuses on three topics that are crucial for developing as a leader, and gives students a personal leadership profile for their strengths and growth areas in each topic. Give this book to the individual student who is growing in leadership, or use it in your student leadership team and small groups when you follow the bonus pages for small group facilitators.

Stripped Clean by Jeff Storm

Give your teenagers a guilt-free, up-close look at materialism—one that strips away the overwhelming messages of a consumer society. You’ll see authentic changes in readers as they tear out pages to use in Jesus-centered activities.

Case for Christ Student Edition by Lee Strobel
Who Was Jesus? A good man? A lunatic? God? There’s little question that he actually lived. But miracles? Rising from the dead? Some of the stories you hear about him sound like just that—stories. A reasonable person would never believe them, let alone the claim that he’s the only way to God! But a reasonable person would also make sure that he or she understood the facts before jumping to conclusions. That’s why Lee Strobel—an award-winning legal journalist with a knack for asking tough questions—decided to investigate Jesus for himself.

Live Large. Be Different. Shine Bright. By Josh Griffin and Doug Fields
In Live Large. Be Different. Shine Bright., Doug Fields and Joshua Griffin share about some important character qualities that will help teenagers live large, be different, and shine bright. A lot of what Doug and Joshua write about doesn’t seem to get much sermon time, but these topics are definitely worthy of consideration and experimentation—topics like competition, laughter, cliques, encouragement and several others will help teenagers in the process of being a more vibrant follower of Jesus.

More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell
With almost 10 million copies in print, More Than a Carpenter continues to be the most powerful evangelism tool worldwide. Josh McDowell’s timeless examination of the true nature of Christ and his impact on our lives is one of the best-selling Christian books ever. Written by a former skeptic of Christianity, it is a hard-hitting book for those who doubt Jesus’ deity and his purpose.

Your Own Jesus by Mark Hall
A true storyteller and a teacher with a heart for ministry, Mark Hall traces the downward spiral caused by spiritual compromise with the world, and then charts the upward road to wholeness and restoration that comes when we claim our very own Jesus. When that happens, believers experience authentic fellowship with the one living God. Through fascinating personal stories, scriptural insights, and discussion questions for practical interactive study, Your Own Jesus: Student Edition will set readers free to live without compromise with the Jesus they come to know intimately and love fully.

ETHIX: Being Bold in a Whatever World
High school and college students are bombarded today with mixed media messages of moral relativism. ethiX: Being Bold in a Whatever World helps young adults better understand how to make Bible-informed ethical decisions on the issues of abortion, homosexuality, marriage and divorce, the morality of war, cloning, euthanasia, capital punishment, sexuality, and more.

Middle School Survival Series by Kurt Johnston, Mark Oestreicher, and Scott Rubin
There are six books in this series: My Faith, My Family, My Friends, My School, My Changes and My Future. Each book consists of 72 easy-to-read mini chapters written specifically for young teens.

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.

Mark Oestreicher has a new book out this week – and you can get it for a limited time for free! Just click on the banner above and it is yours. Here’s a little bit from the product description:

Theologically and anecdotally, we can uncover plenty of encouraging signs in the realm of youth ministry, according to Oestreicher, whose youth ministry experience includes time as an in-the-trenches youth worker and as a publisher of youth ministry books and resources. A Beautiful Mess features insights on the issues and opportunities facing youth workers, including the trend toward longevity in ministry, the power of smaller churches, the work of the Holy Spirit, the rewards of authentic relational ministry, the need for integration instead of isolation, and the centrality of faith and humility.

JG



From time to time I’m asked to contribute to the Slant33 blog and this week this scenario was presented: A parent complains about a recent youth group event; how do you respond? Here’s the first half of my timeless wisdom on the subject:

Easiest question in youth ministry history! Seriously?

The first thing you should do is ignore the parent as long as possible. You are taking some well-deserved time off after the world’s Best Overnighter in the History of the Universe (TM). Here’s a handy rating scale to let you know how seriously you should take the criticism they level at you:

If the complaint comes via voicemail… Listen carefully to the voicemail, then shake it off and go back to relaxing. A voicemail tells you that the person is 50+ years old, and to help them take a technological baby step, you need to delay returning the call for at least 48 hours. Unless, of course, they name-drop a key elder, deacon, or even hint they might go over your head to the senior pastor. Deduct 1 hour from the projected response time for each time they cry or scream in the message.

If the complaint comes via written letter…
Don’t even open it for a few days. Snail mail, really? Did someone use a Portal gun and drop me back in 1974? After a few days, simply toss the letter in the trash then claim it must have been “lost in the mail,” and when you see them across the pews, just say you are so sorry you didn’t respond earlier, but you had no idea.

If the complaint comes via text message… Quickly reply with a short apology and promise to make everything right within 24 hours. This is to honor a parent who knows how to text and is also savvy enough to spread some serious thumbs down on social media if you don’t jump into action.

Obviously meant to be funny … lots more of the answer on the Slant blog if you want to head over there to catch it. HA!

JG

You might not have noticed yet that Slant33 has been relaunched recently but the premise remains the same: 1 topic, 3 perspectives. I got a chance to jump in on the question How Far Do You Plan Out Your Youth Ministry Calendar? What’s Your Process? Why? Here’s part of my thoughts on the topic, click through for the complete thought and to get the other 2 takes from Brian Berry and Lars Rood, too:

I love Google Maps. When you load the homepage, the default view is zoomed way out, showing you the whole United States. Type in an address and it zooms in quickly to show you a specific region. Click “street view” and BAM! you’re looking at things as if you were literally walking through the neighborhood on foot. Kinda creepy, since this means Google is stalking us, but kinda awesome at the same time. And a great example of how we typically plan our youth ministry calendar.

We first take a look at the big picture of our ministry then zoom in on the season ahead and finally get a street view all the way down to the current teaching series and events.

It is a wise idea to get away for the day and get a big picture of your ministry. Take a break from the pace of ministry and the distractions of email, voicemail, and the persistent nagging of Google Plus and wrestle with an overview of your youth group. August is the perfect time for this!

For some, this is a simple task because they live in the world of ideas and vision. For others, it will be challenging to stick your head up over it all and get a glimpse of the whole.

Key questions to ask yourself at this big-picture stage:

  • Where do you think God wants to take students in the next year?
  • What worked well last year, and will it work again?
  • What annual events would be effective again this year?
  • What needs to get the ax?
  • Have you blocked out your week of vacation?
  • Where are we strong, and where are we weak?
  • Is there a good balance of God’s eternal purposes for our ministry (evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, worship)?

JG