Rooted’s Top Ten Articles of 2020

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Each month we compile a Top Ten list for youth workers. December’s list is our roundup of some of the best articles and resources from the year 2020 – ten articles from various sources that we believe will encourage you in your ministry to students and their families. Some give explicit instruction on gospel-centered ministry, while others are included because there is a message of common grace that is helpful to youth workers. (The opinions presented in these articles do not necessarily reflect the position of Rooted.) If you find an article that could speak to the Rooted community, please share it in the comment section below.

Gospel-Centered Ministry

The Cross Changes Everything by Fred Sanders (Christianity Today)
Whenever we say anything about the Cross, we are almost always using a figure of speech called metonymy. A word functions as a metonym when we use it to refer to something else, usually something larger to which it is closely related. When Paul says he boasts only “in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14), he is using one thing (a large, wooden object used for executions) to refer to something else: the death of Jesus and its effect in reconciling us to God.”

What We Learn When We Teach Kids the Bible by Will Anderson (TGC)

It’s enlightening that when Jesus’s disciples jockeyed for status, he rebuked them by pointing to the humility of a child (Matt. 18:1–5; Mark 9:33–37). In a unique way, teaching kids topples our self-centered kingdoms, reminding us to yield to God’s. It’s a wakeup call that teaching is about his glory, not our own.

Racism and the Church: How Should We Respond? by Dennis Hollinger (Pastor Theologians)

So clearly both our nation and the Church are not making adequate progress on racial understandings and issues.  But what should the Church, and particularly the White Church do?  I would suggest that the strategy for addressing racism is not monolithic.  There are three distinct, though interrelated areas that need to be addressed: understanding, reconciliation and justice.  Some quarters of the Christian Church may attend to one or the other of these, but we need a full-orbed approach, with pastors leading the way.

Partnering with Parents

It Takes a Village to Help Single Parents by Anna Meade Harris (TGC)
Roughly 23 percent of American children are being raised in single-parent families. That’s a lot of vulnerable kids and parents. The single parents in your church, neighborhood, and workplace need help, and it will bless you to give it: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction” (James 1:27).

The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake by David Brooks (The Atlantic)
If you want to summarize the changes in family structure over the past century, the truest thing to say is this: We’ve made life freer for individuals and more unstable for families. We’ve made life better for adults but worse for children. We’ve moved from big, interconnected, and extended families, which helped protect the most vulnerable people in society from the shocks of life, to smaller, detached nuclear families (a married couple and their children), which give the most privileged people in society room to maximize their talents and expand their options.”

Youth Culture

7 Ways to Biblically Approach Cancel Culture (Axis)

Cancel culture utilizes shame: You are bad when you mess up, you didn’t just do a bad thing…Think about the last time someone changed your mind about something. How did they convince you that you were wrong? By scoffing at you? By putting you down? By flaunting your failure? Probably not. Those tactics rarely work. Paul writes in Romans, “God’s kindness leads us to repentance.”

3 Changes You Need to Know About Young People as You Minister During (and After) the Pandemic by Tyler Greenway (Fuller Youth Institute)

“We can also address anxiety, depression, and loneliness. We may need to check in frequently with young people as they navigate new social realities. Interactions with friends, family, and church have shifted. The future feels uncertain. In the midst of these shifts and uncertainty, we are on the frontlines of response.”

Ministry Skills

Why Students Don’t Get Much Out of Large Group Talks by Doug Franklin (LeaderTreks)
It’s teaching time again. You step up in front of the students, grab the microphone, and clear your throat. You feel especially good about this lesson because the topic could be life changing for the students who really listen. Yesterday you worked harder than normal to find amazing illustrations, and you decided to tell a heart-breaking story from your own life to bring things home.”

Your Devotional Is Not A Bible by Jen Wilkin (Christianity Today)
The Bible uses the term “devoted” to mean consecrated, or set apart for special service. As a museum devotes a wing to displaying a particular art form, so God devotes us to display his image. Yet we sometimes mistakenly equate devotion with emotion. Devotion is not mere feeling, but action: It serves and it obeys.

The Lost Art of Catechesis by Lee Nelson (Crossway)

For those unfamiliar with the terminology, catechesis comes from the Greek word katēcheō, meaning to “sound down” or to “resound.” Paul writes: “in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct (katēchesō) others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” (1 Cor. 14:19) The church father Cyril of Jerusalem, writing in the late fourth century refers to how the word resounded in those hearing the instruction (called the catechumens) as in an empty space, like a cave, not having a word of its own, but made to resound with the praises and truth of God. This basic instruction we call simply catechesis. Since the Reformation, Christians have produced documents to guide and shape this instruction called catechisms.

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