The Top 10: August 2018

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Here are the top ten articles from the past month that can be of benefit to youth workers and parents in their ministry to teenagers. Some of these give explicit instruction on gospel-centered ministry, while others are included because there is a message of common grace that can help us in our ministries. If you find an article that could speak to the Rooted community, please share it in the comment section below.

Gospel Centered Ministry

How to Recover From Handling Scripture Poorly in Your Ministry Kara Powell (Fuller Youth Institute)

“But probably my lowest point in engaging students with Scripture came during a busy season in middle school ministry. I was a full-time seminary student and part-time middle school pastor, which left me not very much time to prepare my Sunday and midweek talks. So, I turned to published worksheets that were touted as ‘easy to prepare.’ Typically, the day before I had to speak, I would work from the worksheets and craft my talk in less than ten minutes.”

Will You Lose Your Faith in College? Vaneetha Rendall Risner (Desiring God)

“None of us is immune from slowly drifting from God. As we see from King Joash’s life, even when we’ve lived an outwardly Christian life, it’s easy to start living like those around us. Yet those who truly know Christ cannot fall away. As 1 John 2:19 says, ‘If they had been of us, they would have continued with us.’ Those who leave the faith never truly possessed it but, as John Calvin said, merely ‘had only a light and a transient taste of it.’”

3 Pieces of Advice for Teens About to Start High School Jacquelle Crowe (Crossway)

“The kind of people that you want to have a heart-deep friendship with are the kind of people that are pursuing the same kinds of things that you are.” [Rooted’s Note: the video in this link is the most helpful resource]

Partnering With Parents

Lawnmower Parents Are the New Helicopter Parents & We Are Not Here for It We Are Teachers

“Lawnmower parents go to whatever lengths necessary to prevent their child from having to face adversity, struggle, or failure. Instead of preparing children for challenges, they mow obstacles down so kids won’t experience them in the first place.”

Why We Really Put Our Kids in Sports Melanie Springer Mock (CT Women)

“…if Christians truly believe we are all created equally in God’s image, we will need to rethink why we want our offspring to be bigger, faster, and stronger than the children of other parents, who are image bearers of their Creator, too. And the very life and ministry of Jesus should be worthy of emulating, even at a middle school football game. For Jesus, winning did not look like an end-zone victory dance; instead, he became as the least of these and walked with those whose physical weakness would not find a place in much of today’s competitive sports culture.”

Youth Culture

‘Eighth Grade’ and the Horror of Being Unknown Brett McCracken (The Gospel Coalition)

“For parents, pastors, and teachers of teenagers today, the ‘horror’ of Eighth Grade is thus also instructive, offering a funny/scary/cringe-inducing drama to pair with books like Nancy Jo Sales’s American Girls or Jean Twenge’s iGen. It’s not an easy film to watch, but for anyone seeking to understand and disciple today’s youth, Eighth Grade provides an insightful glimpse into their world.”

I Tweet, Therefore I Am: Adolescent Identity in a Digital Age Andrew Root (YouthWorker)

“While consumption and intimacy may promise young people energizing experiences, they don’t provide the solid foundation needed for developing a healthy identity. Consumption and intimacy have short half-lives and demand constant motion, often hurting the process of identity formation rather than helping it. So where do we look if we are seeking opportunities to walk with the young people we serve as they journey toward healthy identities? I believe we need to focus on suffering.”

Don’t Trust Anyone Over 21 Nicole Ault (Wall Street Journal)

“Young as it is, iGen is proving itself smarter than the avocado-toast-and-Instagram stereotype. Studies have found that we’re cautious and practical, more averse to student debt. We do less drinking, take fewer drugs and have less sex than millennials did at our age. With the war on terror and the 2007-09 recession shaping our earliest memories, we’re more realistic than idealistic.”

Ministry Skills

10 Crucial Questions Every Youth Leader Should be Asking Themselves Greg Stier (Dare 2 Share)

“With this as a backdrop here are 10 important questions I believe that youth leaders should be asking themselves on a somewhat regular basis…”

Youth Ministry and Winging It Walt Mueller (CPYU)

“One sad and distressing shift I’ve seen collectively in our calling and craft since I got started in youth ministry 40 years ago is a kind of dumbing down. Now nobody I know sets out to intentionally do youth ministry in a dumbed down manner. Rather, it’s just morphed into that over time. What it’s yielded is a youth ministry landscape marked by loads and loads of activity, but little or sometimes no personal study and preparation on the part of the youth pastor. Sure, pre-packaged curriculum has always been around, but the glut of stuff available to us know makes it possible to never study, plan, or prepare in ways that lead not only to our own growth, but to the growth of our kids. When we regularly depend on the preparation of others in our own lives and ministries, we tend to become lazy (someone else is doing the work for us) and shallow (we are not teaching/leading out of the depth of our own growing well of knowledge). Sadly, our passion for the Word will dwindle.”

Rooted’s Two Most-Read of August

A Letter to Teenagers Beginning Sorority Recruitment by Cameron Cole (Rooted)

“There is no turning in resumes to God. No debate over what picture to send him. No analyzing outfits and hair styles before you go into his presence. And let me tell you, there is absolutely zero concern or question about whether you will be accepted or rejected. God rejected Jesus on the cross so that he would never, ever – not in one trillion years – reject or judge you.”

Mommas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys by Mac Harris (Rooted)

“Whether in school, sports, or everyday interactions, society explicitly and implicitly drills a similar message to all students: boys—be your own man. Be strong. Grow up, get a job, and lead a family. And don’t you dare read an instruction manual or ask for directions along the way. And girls—it’s a man’s world out there. So put your big girl pants on, toughen up, and go change it. Asking for help is a sign of weakness, and that just won’t cut it. But that’s not God’s way.”

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

Won’t You be My Neighbor?: Youth Ministry Insights from Mister Rogers by Ben Birdsong (Rooted)

“The recent documentary film Won’t You Be My Neighbor? brings the story of Fred Rogers’ career and ministry into focus for a new generation. Through the medium of television, Rogers helped a whole generation of kids deal with the darkness of the world while pointing them to the hope that there is in Jesus. He modeled a life where just as every kid mattered to Jesus, every kid mattered to him. Through Rogers’ ministry, student ministers can learn how he modeled the value of the imago dei in every person, embracing struggle yet providing hope and intentionality.”

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