I was priviledged to be a part of a roundtable on speaking to Teenagers in the most recent issue Youth Worker journal. It’s now available on their site – here’s a clip of it, head there for the whole thing!

YouthWorker Journal: What goals in youth ministry are achieved through teaching?

Duffy Robbins: Helping kids nurture a relationship with Christ, make good life choices and be equipped for ministry. All of this is drawn from Ephesians 4:14-16.

Josh Griffin: Dispensing information is part of teaching, but far more important are inspiration and challenge. Teaching gives youth workers the opportunity to combine personal experiences and story with the eternal relevance of God’s Word.

Pamela Erwin: Critical thinking, biblical literacy and teaching the story of God’s revelation. There’s a tremendous difference between teaching objectives (what content we want to communicate) and learning objectives (the transformative learning that takes place through an experience). A primary transformative skill is thinking critically. Youth ministries are excellent places to teach biblical literacy basics such as the books of the Bible and key characters of Scripture. Youth workers also need to help students understand the big story of God’s work in humanity from creation to Revelation, along with the individual stories of God’s activity in Scripture coupled with how God is constantly pursuing them. Students need to know their stories are as important to God as those in Scripture.


Enjoyed Jake and Kurt’s Simply Youth Ministry Show episode 2 today – this one focuses on communication with special guests Adam McClane, Tim Schmoyer and Terrace Crawford.



Josh Griffin —  March 9, 2010 — 5 Comments

We like safety. We do things to make our life easy. We like easy. Church looks nice when it is easy. Smiling faces. Shallow conversation. Sports. Weather. News. Kids. Everyone is great. We work hard not to go too far. We don’t want to give up too much, other people might think we’re strange. People we feel safe around.

I have really been convicted in the last couple weeks about the church’s desire for safety. I am tired of safe, easy church. One of my greatest fears and convictions about the modern church in North America is that Christ would be so sickened by our actions and lack of action that he would spit, spew, vomit us out of his mouth (Revelation 3:20). Francis Chan reminds us that this passage is written to believers, to the church.

The church of Laodicea was a safe church. They had everything they needed. God had blessed their area with prosperity through banking, fashion, and a medical training school. They had become dependent on the things God had blessed them with instead of God Himself! Christ called this church poor, blind, and naked! The language of the passage paints a picture of the church making God physically ill. I do not want that for the church I’m a part of or the North American church as a whole.

We talk a good game about what God is doing in persecuted churches, and that we desire for God to grow our churches, but are we truly prepared for what that might mean? I am not sure that the majority of the churches in America could survive if driven underground. I don’t know how many could even survive a major disaster such as what has happened in Haiti.

The other day, I heard Tim Schmoyer from studentministry.org tell about his trip to Haiti. In the midst of this unspeakable disaster, they are experiencing true revival in Haiti. One of the native pastors they met with told Tim that they have been praying that God would do whatever He needed to do to bring the people back to Him. Are we prepared to make that declaration in America? Honestly, the uncertainty of the outcome of that prayer scares me more than a little.

Where is radical thinking among churches? Are we truly working to bring in a revolution that builds and encourages God’s people into falling face-down in awe and reverence to the God that created us and loved us enough to send His only Son to die for us? What are we doing that is so different that people cannot help but notice? I fear that well-intentioned youth pastors and pastors have perpetuated the condition of comfort in our churches (myself included). We have done it with shallow, slick, easy, messages that fail to call people into the dangerous unknown. Do we even know where that is ourselves? We cannot lead students where we have not been, nor where we fear to go. Do we still believe that God can truly bring revival into the context of what we’ve made church today? Are we willing as a church to make whatever changes out of a compelling fear and love for Christ to keep from being spit out, separated, removed from God’s plan. Are you in? It will not be a safe choice.

Brent Lacy is the Youth Pastor at FBC Rockville, IN and the tech guy behind http://MinistryPlace.Net.

Don’t get me wrong…I like Facebook. A lot. (Although this guy makes some good points!) As a tool for youth ministry, it can be powerful. I love seeing status updates from kids about what they’re doing, seeing photos from school plays or dances and even youth group events. As a youth ministry, we’ve even utilized Facebook to create a Celebrate Youth Ministry group for announcements, events, and photos. And countless other youth ministries and Christian interest groups are doing the same.

It’s great to communicate with kids in a forum that they like, to meet them where they are. According to Facebook’s statistics page, there are over 250 million users on the site (though I can’t be sure how many are students). I love leaving encouraging messages or commenting on their photos or videos. It’s a reminder for them, and me, that youth ministry isn’t just a one-night-a-week thing for me. But it can’t be used to build meaningful relationships. I am convinced that our encouragement, our mentoring, our “doing life together” must be done face-to-face. It’s too easy for our students to hide behind technology. Tim Schmoyer shares a little on Facebook-friendship here.

But it’s also an indicator for where our students are really at spiritually. And honestly, it can be discouraging to see status updates about the latest party or pictures that show too much. But it is a great jumping-off point for challenging discussion with those students that I already have a relationship with.

Becky Albertson is an Administrative Assistant with Celebrate KIDS and Celebrate Youth.

Thought that Tim’s post over on Life In Student Ministry was solid about using video in your youth ministry. Coming off of a series that was completely on video (HSM’s Road Trip) I couldn’t agree with him more. He gives 5 ways, here’s a couple of them before you head over there for the rest:

1. Teaching. Although it’s a pretty common usage of video in ministry, using it in teaching environments is often way undervalued. 1) Video gives the audience something different to focus on after staring at me for a while. 2) It keeps minds engaged. 3) Video can tell a story much better than I can. 4) I can only describe an event, place or a person, but a video can actually show them. 5) I try not to take it personally, but video is also more memorable than most sermons and bible studies I lead.

2. Announcements. When I started using video for announcements in my youth group, kids actually started paying attention! When I stand up in front of them and tell them what’s going on, most students are not listening very intently and thus the retention of the information shared is pretty low. But if I say the exact same thing and project it on a big screen or show it on a TV, everyone is glued to it. Turns out the exact same thing is true for adults and our church announcements (see an example here). Plus, our news videos are viewed by all our teenagers’ friends online when I include our youth group kids in the videos and tag them in Facebook. More on using video to communicate youth group news part 1 and part 2, as well as a free youth group news video intro.


Had a chance to make a guest appearance on the Life in Student Ministry Podcast this morning, it was fun talking with Tim and the gang about helping freshman transition into high school, keeping upperclassmen engaged in youth group and more. Fun!


Here’s the official blog list for the National Youth Ministry Conference this week, if you’re not on here and will be posting – let me know and I’ll add you in:

And let’s not forget the Twitterers, too … you can see all of the #NYMC posts right here.


Tim Schmoyer, a youth ministry veteran and friend who blogs at Life In Student Ministry, wrote this guest blog post exclusively for MTDB (which we haven’t done before, but I’m open to it – send in your stuff, too). Good stuff in here about tough questions from students and your youth ministry:

Lately the Lord has brought several people into my life, both teenagers and adults, who struggle with their Christian faith. They’re asking questions like, “Is God real? Can He hear my prayers? Why don’t
I feel him in my life?” As much as I love those honest questions, our typical answers are not always very satisfying for those who are struggling. My recent conversations have taught me a lot about why
it’s important that we, as spiritual role models for teenagers, live out our theology in front of teens in very practical ways. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Build a relationship before blindly forcing theology on someone. Every student’s struggle is different. There’s no cookie-cutter answer for every question, so leave the Sunday school answers at the door and just listen. Learn about what’s going on in their life and intentionally connect Truth to it after earning their respect.

2. Actions really do speak louder than words. How we live our lives communicates a lot about our theology. We teach about the power of prayer, but does our personal prayer life reflect that it’s evident in our life? We tell kids how vital it is for them to spend time in the Word, but how much time do we personally spend in it? We all want students to reach out to their unsaved friends, but how many unsaved friends are we intentionally perusing ourselves? We need to apply His Word to our lives first so we can teach it with credibility later. Otherwise we’re contributing to their notion that maybe all of this is fake.

3. Avoid trite “Christian-ese.” Maybe it’s a boost for our ego to use big “meaningful” words, but it’s not worth alienating someone. Teenagers who are struggling in their faith don’t care if we know 20-syllable theological words, so let’s keep it simple. However, that doesn’t me we should try to neatly package scripture and theological principles in some easy-to-swallow canned message. Teenagers desperately want to know that there’s an element of mystery to the Word. They’re okay with conflict and tough questions. It usually makes them dig deeper.

4. Ask the hard questions with people who searching. Maybe that makes some of us feel uncomfortable because we like our theology all boxed up with no loose ends, but spirituality in general is very messy. Ask the hard questions with them. Don’t shy away or belittle the search because it’s uncomfortable. Sometime we forget that questioning is a search for discovery, not an offensive threat. For teenagers, that’s often the time where their faith stops being their parents’ faith and becomes their own, so go on that journey with them.

5. Perhaps the most important question someone can ask is, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Don’t blow it off or give trite Sunday school answers. Listen to the pain behind it, the real-life stories kids have, and encourage their searching while pushing them to scripture for answers.

Having answers and knowing theology are so vitally important in youth ministry today, but it can have a negative affect if approached inconsiderately of the audience that hears it. Teaching theology is necessary, but maybe publicly living our theology for all to see is even more necessary today. Theology should be caught as much as it is taught.