For Youth Workers and Parents: Top Ten Plus, the Pandemic Edition

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Welcome to a special edition of the Rooted Top Ten! Each month we publish two versions of the Rooted Top Ten- one for youth pastors and one for parents – and each of these posts lists ten articles from across the web for the Rooted community. This month we’re doing things a little differently (because what isn’t different these days?). In the Top Ten Plus we combine articles that we hope will encourage and inform everyone who ministers to teens, inside or outside the home. We have gospel- centered pieces, informative secular articles related to youth development and culture, suggestions to share with your kids, and a list of resources that we hope will help you with your youth groups and families. We might have gone a little bit over ten this month…. But we hope this will serve you well. And as always, if you have an article you’d like to contribute to the next edition of either Top Ten, please email Anna at [email protected].

Additionally, please check out Rooted’s own coronavirus resources.

Gospel- Centered Encouragement 

Leading Beyond the Blizzard: Why Every Organization is Now A Start-Up by Andy Crouch, Kurt Keilhacker, and Dave Blanchard, journal.praxislabs.org. This podcast and article are excellent and practical food for thought for youth ministers re-thinking the path forward. “We write especially for leaders of businesses and nonprofit organizations who are fellow Christians, because Christians of all people are equipped to face the current reality with both clear-eyed realism and unparalleled hope. In this essay we outline the major challenges we face and some forward steps we can take, acknowledging that we all are operating with profound uncertainty not only about the future, but even about the present. We write in the confidence that Jesus is Lord, that his Spirit is even now working powerfully in all of our lives, and that God is good.”

Apart for Now: Why We Long for Face-to-Face by Marshall Segal, desiringgod.org. “And yet, as alone as he was (far more than we are today), [the Apostle John] not only took heart in the promise of heaven, but found ways to strengthen others’ hope for what’s to come. His isolation became the reason for someone else’s perseverance. For our perseverance. How might God use us — a letter, a phone call, a text message — to do the same for someone struggling to believe?”

A Christian Doctor Answers Questions About COVID-19 by Bob Cutillo, crossway.org. Cutillo is a physician who ministers to the homeless in Denver, Colorado and teaches at Denver Seminary. “COVID-19 is a potent virus for a number of reasons. It’s potent biologically, though it’s not the most potent virus we’ve ever seen. But I would argue that it’s probably more potent psychologically and socially than any virus we’ve ever known.” Click here for free COVID-19 resources for families from Crossway. 

Practice Hospitality, Especially During COVID-19 by Rosaria Butterfield, crossway.org. One of the most helpful, practical pieces I have seen since the pandemic began. Butterfield focuses on loving our neighbors during a time of fear and social distancing. 

Leading Change When Everything Has Changed by Jake Mulder, Fuller Youth Institute. A discussion of the helpful concept of unfreezing: “getting a person or group of people to be open and consider a new way of thinking or acting,” which this pandemic may actually have accomplished for us in our ministries and homes.

We Can’t Go Back, So Let’s Go Forward by Jeanie B. Cheaney, World Magazine. “In every case of collapse, we can’t go back. And ultimately that’s to the good, because the God of history is leading us forward. Trying to get back to the Garden—an ideal state of harmony and plenty—tends to breed just the opposite.”

Youth Leader, What’s In Their Suitcase During This Crisis? by Cameron Cole, TGC. “Kids are encountering the crisis of the century and are now mostly disconnected from their church community. They’re seeing frightening news and forecasts. They’re asking questions about God amid global suffering. They’re confronting the reality of death. What’s in your students’ spiritual suitcase right now?”

Post-Pandemic Youth Ministry: Adjustments to Get It Right by Walt Mueller, CPYU. “So. . . we are and should be thinking/talking/planning about the adjustments we will make in our youth ministry strategies once this pandemic passes and we all get back to normal. I hope that our lives and our ministries will be different. Times like we are having now serve to reveal to us the elements we should be lopping off, while helping us understand the additions we should make. The question is, “Will we settle back in to life as normal? Or, will we act on lessons learned?”

Mothering in a Pandemic by Ann Swindoll, Risen Motherhood. “The Lord understands that for many of us, it’s difficult to pivot into something totally new, especially if we feel comforted by knowing what is ahead and setting schedules and routines. He knows that living in a pandemic is not what any of us want or would choose, and there is grace for us to grieve what is lost—and then adjust our expectations for the days ahead.”

Five Ways to Disciple Your Teen While in Quarantine by Syler Thomas and Justin Wevers, TGC. “I have two teenagers. When they got word their schools were going online in light of COVID-19 and they’d be spending more time at home, they high-fived each other. Then they gave my wife and me big hugs, exclaiming, ‘More time with our parents? Our prayers have been answered!’” 

Okay, that’s not even close to true.”

Youth Development and Culture

Why the Coronavirus Hits Teenagers Especially Hard: Developmental Scientists Explain by  Leah Lessard & Hannah Schacter, Education Week. “ … beyond the disappointment of canceled events and extracurriculars, social distancing can interfere with the basic developmental needs of teenagers—who are evolutionarily wired to become increasingly independent from parents and increasingly dependent on their peers.”

No, Your Teenager’s Boyfriend or Girlfriend Cannot Come Over During the Pandemic by Matt Villano, CNN. “So why is it so difficult for teenagers to grasp the gravity of a pandemic? Why do so many of them struggle with understanding the importance of social distancing and actually sheltering in place?”

Opinion: I Refuse to Run a Coronavirus Homeschool by Jennie Weiner, NYTimes.com. “My kids are watching TV, playing video games, and eating cookies. It’s fine.” 

To Read and Share With Your Teens

Nine Ways the Gospel Speaks to Us During COVID-19 by Dave Harvey, ftc.org. Such encouragement here. “When we are home-bound, powerless, fearful, and economically helpless, the gospel reminds us that we have something more satisfying than our nervous struggle with unbelief; we have a Savior—one who is able ‘to sympathize with our weaknesses, who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin’ (Heb. 4:15).”

Come to Me All Who Have COVID Weariness, and I Will Give You Rest by Benjamin Vrbichek, Fan and Flame. “It may prick your pride, but you don’t need to be business casual for Christ to help you. All you need is to know your need and the urgency that if you wait until you’re better, you will never come at all.”

How a “You Do You” Culture Has Made Us Vulnerable to the Coronavirus by Michael Kruger, Cannon Fodder. “The virus will be curbed when people embody a spirit of self-sacrifice. A posture of self-denial. We must limit our travel, limit our social contact, even limit our “fun” so that the virus won’t spread. And that requires a worldview that gives us a reason to deny ourselves.” For questions from Rooted to start discussion with your teens, please see here.

You Cannot Keep Your Life: Courageous Stories for Coronavirus Days by Tim Keesee, desiringgod.org. “How do we fight the fear? How do we act with courage in this present crisis? In a thousand little ways — none of which will likely win a medal or make headlines, but which can and will make a difference in people’s lives and in their view of our God.”

3 Ways Humor Can Help in Hard Times by Rachel Jones, TGC. “… while we should be aware of elevating humor to a virtue—as though funniness were next to godliness—it can be a good (and biblical) way to help yourself and others survive a crisis.”

A Checklist for Your Fears and Anxieties by Ed Welch, TGC. ““When I am afraid,” the psalmist writes (Ps. 56:3). In other words, you have good reasons to be anxious… Your Father knows this, which means that he has compassion on you, and he will act.”

Resources You Can Use

Family Tabletalk from Walt Mueller, CPYU. A daily family devotion created especially for our current moment, Family Tabletalks is a trustworthy gospel-focused resource written by youth pastors and parents for families with teens. Print them for daily use with your families; this resource is outstanding.

Some Good News by John Krasinski, YouTube channel. One of the best things to come out of this whole mess is this delightful, home-grown good news channel hosted by John Krasinski. As an example of a man using his talent, connections, and influence for the common good, Krasinski inspires us all.

Spiritual Rhythms for Quarantine, thecommonrule.org. “Everything you have ever known about household rhythms is now disrupted, which means this is an incredible opportunity to form new rhythms that guide you towards God’s power in a time of humanity’s powerlessness. That guide you towards courage in a cultural moment of fear. That guide you towards concentration and presence, in a blitz of information and alerts. That guide you towards self-sacrifice in a mood of self-preservation. And above all – that guide you towards a household gathered in love, rather than scattered in fear.”

Redemptive Reentry Inventory for Families by Kristen Hatton, kristenhatton.com. This awesome resource from writer and Rooted Steering Committee member emeritus Kristen Hatton poses a series of thoughtful questions to help families choose well as they reenter life after social distancing. Hatton invites us to consider how our families may have benefited from some aspects of quarantine, choose the changes we’d like to make going forward, and check that God is leading us as we hone our values as a family.

A List of Great Christian Videos Free on Amazon Prime by Kevin Halloran, Anchored in Christ. A list of some of the best Christian videos that are currently free on Prime Video. 

 

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