The Top 10: April 2016

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We at Rooted have scoured youth ministry blogs and news sites to find the most helpful articles from April that will strengthen and encourage your ministry to students. Most (but not all) of these articles come from a Christian perspective and we believe there are nuggets of wisdom to glean from each of them. If you know of an article you think we’ve missed this month, please link it in the comment section below! 

Without further ado, here are the Top 10 for April 2016, arranged only by subject! 

Gospel-Centered Ministry 

Healthy Student Ministries are Kingdom Expanding by Ben Trueblood (LifeWay Students)

Kingdom Expanding evangelism ensures that students understand the gospel and the reality that God invites us to respond to His grace. Because of this, student ministry leaders must consistently provide opportunities for students to respond to the gospel. Giving an invitation isn’t manipulative and thinking evangelistically doesn’t mean you’re all about the numbers.”

Don’t Practice Helicopter Discipleship by Andy Blanks (YM360)

If you ask me, my hunch is that “helicopter discipleship” is one of the many factors that contributes to teenagers leaving the church in young adulthood. I believe that for many of them, faith has never been anything more than ideas, in part because we as a Church (I’m including their parents here) are unwilling to intentionally create or tacitly allow situations that makes them rub their beliefs up against the world in a high-stakes environment. Because we’re scared life may be uncomfortable for them if we do.

It’s That Time of Year by Teer Hardy (Princeton’s Institute for Youth Ministry)

“I often wonder how much we weigh down our mission trips with fun and at the expense of mission. …Summer mission trips are a balancing act that I am afraid are tipping too far away from mission and too closely resembling summer camp. And more and more mission organizations seem to be erring on the ‘summer camp’ side of this balance.”

Youth Culture

The Priorities, Challenges, and Trends in Youth Ministry by Barna Research Group (Barna.org) 

“The fact that teens lack commitment due to general busyness, and the broad scarcity of student leaders, suggests that relationships and engagement in church are not reaching sufficient depth. Youth leaders are right to prioritize discipleship and relationship building.”

Speaking Their Language by Joel Moody (Princeton’s Institute for Youth Ministry) 

“It’s necessary to develop a familiarity with our young people specifically―their needs, their jokes, their struggles, and their dreams. And the best way to do that is to watch, listen, and ask questions in order to learn more…You’ll also see other ways that God is already at work in their hopes and dreams, since you’ll better understand their language.”

Having Safe One-on-One Conversations About Sexuality by Cooper Pinson (Youth Specialties) 

“Maybe you have a burden to say something to your students about their sexual struggles. But you’ve heard horrifying reports of student ministers sexually abusing kids and the resulting lawsuits, so you feel as if you’re caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. But you must speak with your students about sexuality, and often that means having safe one-on-one conversations. So how exactly do you do this?”

Ministry Skills

4 Guidelines When Helping Abused Teens by Tyson Howells (Youth Ministry Unleashed)

“Perhaps dealing with teenagers who find themselves in abusive romantic relationships is not something you deal with regularly, or maybe this is an on-going part of your ministry but either way it is always good to have a set of guideline or rules to follow when this issue arises.”

What to do If Your Pastor is Not on Board with Your Youth Ministry by Greg Stier (Dare2Share)

“I talk to youth leaders across the country, many of whom feel like their pastors are not fully behind their youth ministry efforts. Speaking as a former church planter and preaching pastor, here are a few tips that will help get your Sr. Pastor on board with you and your youth ministry.”

When You Have to Ask a Leader to Step Down by Cory Sullivan (Orange Leaders)

“When you have clear expectations and roles in your ministry, it helps leaders to be successful. They are able to know what is required of them to connect with kids and know just what their role is. When a leader is not meeting those expectations, the preset expectations can serve as a reminder during conversations.”

5 Practical Steps That Will Bring Consistency To Your Teen’s Attendance by Christopher Wesley (Download Youth Ministry) 

“At the beginning of the year we get excited by the huge turnout. Everything is new people want to start out fresh and attendance is at a high. Fast forward to the Spring and maybe you’ve noticed your numbers are dwindling. You panic, and wonder, ‘Am I going to lose my job?’”

The Two Most-Read Articles of April on the Rooted Blog

Why Our Teens Don’t Know They Need Jesus by Kristen Hatton (Rooted)

“Because our teens lack the awareness of the nuances of their internal sin – the idolatry, pride, wrong motives, jealousy, coveting and the like – they don’t realize that what they need is Jesus’ perfect obedience for them. At the same time, these students who feel self-righteous about their “good” performance also live under fear of God’s disappointment and others’ judgment when they slip up.”

Youth are NOT the Future of the Church by Joseph Peterson (Rooted)

“It always drives me crazy when I hear people say, “Youth are the future of the church.” I understand what they mean. People want to rightfully acknowledge that someday the youth in our churches will grow up to become our Elders, deacons, and leaders, while doing great things for Jesus. The problem is, that idea implies that youth are not doing great things for Jesus right now – which just isn’t true.”

In Case You Missed It (Rooted’s April Honorable Mention)

Why a Good Leader Will Disappoint by Darren DePaul (Rooted)

“For many years, I believed that the best pastors, youth pastors, and Christian leaders were those who carried themselves well, who always communicated the right words at the right time and in the right circumstances. Fortunately, after years of leading and being led, my paradigm of a good leader has shifted drastically. Gone is the fallacy that the best leaders are those who have their lives in balance, who never struggle with sin, and have all the right answers.”

Join us for Rooted 2016, an intimate youth ministry conference, where we will explore the good news that God’s grace is sufficient for our relationships: with ourselves, with others, with the world, and with God. Jesus is our reconciliation yesterday, today, and forever. 

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