Rooted’s Top Ten of September 2021

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Each month we compile a Top Ten list for youth workers. This list represents 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

What If I Had Known the Love of Jesus As A Teenager? By Charlotte Getz (New Growth Press)

​​What we learn from Christian Smith and his colleagues is that many teenagers today, even ones whove been raised in the church, are not receiving a theologically robust, grace-centered, or biblically grounded discipleship at church or at home. This should alarm you. If young people are growing up on a faith centered on being niceone that reduces the God of the universe to an occasional back-up dancerkids are missing out in an enormous way on the immense freedom and intimate love, joy, and forgiveness that is there for them in a personal, saving relationship with Jesus.

Editors Note: In the name of disclosing our biases, this article promotes Rooteds new book, The Jesus I Wish I Knew in High School. We are so excited to get this resource into the hands of teenagers and the adults who love them! And we think this article is immensely helpful in its own right as you share the gospel with students.

What should older Christians know about Generation Z in order to best disciple them and reach them with the gospel? The goal is not to shame older Christians or suggest we young folks are enlightened. The goal is to offer some fodder for discussion that might lead the generations to better care for, think with, and serve alongside each other in a changing world.

According to the Christian witness, the best news is that God is willing to take the blame for all our problems. Yes, the Bible is honest about human failure. It even provides an ancient account for disease, disaster, and death that originates with human choice. But the Christian gospelour good storyis that the God who created all things good, and who gives us all the good that we enjoy, became a human to absorb the storm and sickness that human sin first created. The cross of Jesus is the divine act when God raised his hands to take the blame for human failure.

Partnering with Parents

When to Tell Parents What by Mike McGarry (Youth Pastor Theologian)

As youth workers, we have a ministry of mediation. Not between students and God, but between students and their parents. It’s important to cultivate trust and respect with students. It’s also important to do that with parents. Otherwise you’ll hear things about parents and always assume the kids are right, the parents are hiding their dirty laundry, and your heart will be turned away from the parents. This will breed suspicion and contempt, which quickly erode any potential for partnering with parents. In these conversations with students, the following two categories can help you discern how to proceed.

Purity comes from one place, the blood of the Lamb, not from our behavior. Our purity comes through the imputed righteousness of Jesus that God gives to us by grace through faith. Talking about sexual ethics in terms of sin and obedienceusing terms like “holiness” or “godliness”—is better than talking about purity.

Youth Culture

It wasnt a profound scene in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings that made me feel instantly connected to the filmnot the Mandarin narration that opened the movie or even the early references to customs specific to Chinese culture like eating zhou, or congee, for breakfast and tomb-sweeping on the annual Qingming Festival. Of course, those storytelling choices told me that the latest Marvel superhero movie was crafted with viewers like me in mind. But it was a moment around 30 minutes in that let me know for certain I was watching my life experiences reflected on the big screen in a way Hollywood has rarely done: when Ronny Chiengs character, Jon Jon, exclaims, “Wakao!”

Larrivee is one of countless members of Gen Z, a generation that roughly encompasses young people under 25, who are responding to the planets rapidly changing climate by committing their lives to finding a solution. Survey after survey shows young people are not just incorporating new climate-conscious behaviors into their day-to-day lives theyre in it for the long haul. College administrators say surging numbers of students are pursuing environmental-related degrees and careers that were once considered irresponsible, romantic flights of fancy compared to more stablepaths like business, medicine, or law.

Ministry Skills

What Young People Want Your Church to Know As You Reopen by Jen Bradbury (Fuller Youth Institute)

Young people whove been shaped by the pandemic dont want to return to a church that has been unchanged by it. They dont need us to put on a happy face and DO MORE for them in order to make up for lost time. Instead, they need us to show up, admit our exhaustion, share how the pandemic has changed us, ask the questions the pandemic has brought to the forefront of our imaginations, and respond to their honest questions with these three powerful words: I don’t know.

Help! I Dont Know How to Initiate Meaningful Conversations by Cheryl Marshall and Caroline Newheiser (Crossway)
Whether speaking with strangers, acquaintances, or those we dearly love, we sometimes realize that we and they would greatly benefit if we would only dive deeper into our conversations and talk about Godwho he is, what hes like, what hes done, and how those biblical truths intersect with our lives. But how can we initiate those meaningful conversations?

How Do You Know If Your Church Is Legalistic? by Michael Kruger (Canon Fodder)

Lets begin with the most obvious meaning of legalism. At its core, legalism is when we base our justification on our own law-keeping rather than on the finished work of Christ.  If we depend on our own merits, our own efforts, even our own rituals, to make us acceptable before a holy God, then we have become legalists. In short, legalism is salvation by works. We will call this salvation-legalism.

Rooteds Two Most-Read of September

In my experience, students crave authentic relationships over entertainment. What seemed to be effective in youth ministry 15 years ago (i.e. entertaining students to get them in the door) doesnt translate very well to todays worldand that may be a blessing. Teenagers need an encounter with God more than they need to be entertained. Fun is an important element of building community, but entertainment wont sustain them when their faith is challenged, or when they experience suffering, or when they face the temptations of a college campus. Only a solid theological foundation and a personal relationship with Jesus will.

But Paul didnt stop with verse 23. Romans 3:24 says and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith(Rom. 3:24-25). God, in his infinite love, grace, and mercy, looks upon His rebellious creation and provides a way to be saved. That way is Jesus Christ, who says himself that I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one can come to the Father except through me(John 14:6). While every human being throughout time has sinned, God has provided a way to be redeemed from that sin: His name is Jesus Christ, the only person who would die on a desert island and go to heaven, because he never sinned.

In Case You Missed It (Rooteds September Honorable Mention)

Jesus is the one driving. He always was. He always will be. Jesuspromises in John 10 remind us that He is the one who leads students to himself. At the end of the day, our students belong to a Good Shepherd who will lead them and guide them exactly where he wants them to go in exactly the way he intends.

 

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