The Top Ten: January 2017

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Each month we compile a Top 10 list for the Rooted community. This list represents ten articles we believe will encourage and equip you to continue in your ministry to students and their families. If you have an article you’d like to share, please include it as a link in the comment section below.

These are presented by category, not in order of which we deem most valuable.

Gospel Centered Ministry

10 Reasons Why I Still Believe in Youth Ministry (in spite of the haters) by Greg Stier (Dare 2 Share)

Of course there are some broken parts of youth ministry that need to get fixed. There are systemic challenges that keep many youth ministries from being all that God wants them to be. But God has a penchent for the weak, the broken and the foolish (1 Corinthians 1:26-29) and there’s nothing that describes this more than a group of hormone-filled, Red Bull fueled teenagers. So, with all that as a backdrop, here are ten reasons why I still believe in youth ministry…

Partnering With Parents

The Positive Phone Call to Parents by Cheryl Franklin Baertschi (LeaderTreks)

When was the last time you contacted your student’s parents? Oh, I don’t mean to tell them that their daughter broke the church window during the lock-in or that their son is coming home with a goose egg on his forehead from the winter retreat. When was the last time you reached out to a parent to share something positive about their son or daughter? If you have had enough time to say, “Ummm,” then it has likely been too long.

How to Destroy Your Child Through Sports by Ed Uszynski (Athletes in Action)

In more than 25 years of listening to athletes from youth to professional levels process their experience of sports, I’ve learned that these parental behaviors can be counted on not only to ruin their experience of play, but also to create multi-layered psychological and spiritual maladies that stick throughout life.

Help! My Teen is Abandoning Christ by John Piper (Desiring God)

Don’t turn every evening into a grilling about her faith. And beware of outbursts in some hostile moment when emotions are so raw. It is a terrible time to talk about anything rational about Christ. Instead, make periodic lunch dates with her on a Saturday, and ask her ahead of time for permission to talk about spiritual things. She will probably give you permission. She will say there is no point in it, but ask her.

Youth Culture

A Lawyer Rewrote Instagram’s Privacy Policy So Kids and Parents Can Have A Meaningful Talk About Privacy by Jenny Anderson (Quartz Media)

Jenny Afia, a privacy law expert at Schillings, a UK-based law firm, rewrote Instagram’s terms of service in child-friendly language. Here are some of the paragraphs…

Teens and Self Injury… A Helpful Infographic by Walt Mueller (Center for Parent/Youth Understanding)

Kids who cut and self-injure are everywhere. . . and we need to be there for them. Here’s a non-sectarian self-injury infographic that came to our attention recently. It offers an initial peek into an issue that we must understand and address in our homes and in our youth ministries.

The Drawbacks of Constant Connectivity by Jonathan McKee

Do you ever think about the ramifications of “constant connectivity” with our devices?Do your kids? … That’s probably why I found this video so intriguing… and a great resource as well. In fact, I’d show this incredibly insightful little video to today’s young people at youth group, at church, or even at home after a family meal.

Ministry Skills

8 Simple Ways to Make Your Ministry More Welcoming by Christopher Wesley (Download Youth Ministry)

Growing up I moved around a lot and I hated being the new kid.  There was always that fear of rejection that could be paralyzing.  Chances are there are teens walking into your ministry for the first time with the same fears.  If not addressed it could be the reason they won’t return. Creating a hospitable environment is key to eliminating that fear.  It’s an aspect of your ministry that cannot be overlooked.

Five Promises for the Worried Youth Worker by Doug Franklin (LeaderTreks)

Worried youth workers worry me. I see so many men and women who are facing burnout, enduring constant scrutiny, and bearing the weight of others’ expectations. These men and women lack self-confidence, tend to make decisions out of fear, and allow worry rather than mission to consume their thoughts and drain their energy. Let me say this to worried youth workers: it doesn’t have to be like this.

Should Students Be Exposed to Arguments Against Christianity? By Sean McDowell

Overprotecting kids encourages them to wonder whether there actually are good arguments against the faith. And when they do encounter evidence against Christianity, which is inevitable today, many wonder—what else have you not told me? Are you too insecure in your own faith to speak truth? Overprotection undermines trust. And as a result, many kids disengage the church.

Rooted’s Two Most-Read Articles of January

Mystery and Lament: When It Looks Like Your Child’s Life is Falling Apart by Cameron Cole (Rooted)

When it’s not your child, you can more easily perceive God’s long-game vision and wait a little more patiently for Him to write the story of a kid’s life. However, when it is your child, it’s close to impossible not to collapse into fear when his or her life seems to be falling apart right before your eyes. I write this article with the hope of fortifying patience and trust within the parent who is fretting because your child’s life just doesn’t look a thing like what you hoped and prayed it would.

Inviting Students to Count the Cost by Mike McGarry (Rooted)

Sometimes students, like the would-be-disciple in Luke, need us to clearly show them they don’t understand the cost of following Christ. Students who don’t understand their sinfulness are students who will never repent (because why should they?). In these situations, we need to pray for the Holy Spirit to bring conviction and repentance. Other times we will sit with someone like Eric and listen. After allowing him or her to marinate in the depths of their guilt, we invite them to receive the even wider depths of God’s grace and mercy through Jesus Christ.

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

Comedic Truth: Youth Pastors Are Punchlines Without the Gospel by Ben Beswick (Rooted)

Throughout his sketch, Thune hits on a number of laughable stereotypes commonly found in youth ministry; anyone who has ever worked with students can appreciate his observations. “They would hire me on my beard alone,” Thune says. He goes on to describe the guitar-playing, slang-using, technology-savvy youth pastor (usually named “Jeff” or “Bryan”), desperate to be deemed “cool” by teenagers – a man seeming to long for his glory days of high school. The stereotype is indeed comical, and easily identified in many church circles today. Any youth pastor can rattle off those same stereotypes, and then give personal examples of youth ministers who fit that bill to the tee.

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