Top Ten of April 2019

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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. If you find an article that could speak to the Rooted community, please share it in the comment section below.

Gospel-Centered Ministry

Youth Are Not the Future: The Urgent Task of Evangelism Today Panel Discussion (TGC)

This panel titled Youth Are Not the Future: The Urgent Task of Evangelism Today with Cameron Cole, Jackie Hill Perry Glen Scrivener, Stephen Um was hosted at The Gospel Coalitions 2019 National Pre-Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. The two-day pre-conference was titled Evangelizing the Next Generation: Gospel Guidance for Parents. 

Dont Crash Your Ministry Trying to Fly Like an Ace by John Stevens (TGC)

Many of us may need to repent of jealousy and envy of others, and avoid comparing ourselves to them. Gospel ministry should be a collaborative—rather than a competitive—activity as we link arms to advance Gods kingdom. But we can all too easily grow envious of othersgreater gifting or easier ministry context. We can even succumb to a kind of historical envy, leading us to wish wed labored in an earlier age of greater gospel progress. Or we can wrongly assume the results of the past would be replicated in the present if we just adopted their methodologies.

Partnering with Parents

The Dos and Donts of Teaching the Gospel to Children by Starr Meade (Core Christianity)

“Simplistic” is not the same as “simple.” “Simple” is easy to understand; that is what we aim for when we talk to young children. “Simplistic,” however, concentrates on one aspect of the gospel to the exclusion of others. For instance, “Jesus died on the cross for us. We need to believe in him so we can go to heaven and be with God forever when we die.” What about sin and God’s wrath? Who is Jesus? What did he accomplish and how? Our gospel presentations must be faithful to the truth of the whole gospel.

Young People and the Hundred Pushup Challenge of Life by Tim Challies (Challies)

I spend a fair bit of my time interacting with teens and young adults, some of whom are my children, some of whom are friends, and some of whom are fellow church members or people Im mentoring. As I express interest in them, talk with them, attempt to speak wisdom to them, and inquire how I can pray for them, I often hear them lament the difficulties of their lives. They are overwhelmed by the responsibilities of high school and a part-time job. They are worried about breaking down in the face of the three or four final exams that are coming up. They have been asked to complete a project on what they consider a tight deadline and cant see how theyll ever get it done.

Youth Culture

In an era of never-ending stories, ‘Avengers: Endgameis teaching us how to say goodbye by Ann Hornaday

With the “Avengers” saga and deepest-of-deep-dives “Game of Thrones” wrapping up this year, the defining poles of early 21st-century common culture are forcing their fans to grapple with ideas of closure, absence and interior loss that will probably leave their youngest fans feeling disoriented at best, disconsolate at worst. (“That movie messed me up,” a middle-schooler said at an “Endgame” screening this week.)

Growing Teenage Depression Calls for Response from the Church by Helen Gibson (Facts & Trends)

“A kid needs to be able to walk into their small group and say, ‘Ive been seeing somebody about depression because its been really hard. Ive barely been able to get out of bed,’” Hussung says. “They should be able to come in and talk in the context of a small group and say that and be prayed for and supported.”

Ministry Skills

Why the Worlds Longest Reformed Bible Study Started in Africaby Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra (TGC)

Days 3 through 7 list questions to consider, but they arent the painfully obvious Sunday school ones. An example: “Psalm 33:6 says, ‘By the word of the LORD the heavens were made.How did Gods Word create the heavens and the earth? When John describes Jesus as ‘the Word,what does this say about Jesuss role in accomplishing Gods will? How did Jesus accomplish Gods will when he came to earth? Read Psalm 107:20. How does Gods Word not only bring creation but also salvation?”The studies come in eight different versions—for Rafiki mamas, for national workers, and for multiple grade levels. (“What is the Trinity?” asks the 4th-to-6th-grade lesson. “What is the incarnation?”) Each week includes a verse and a Westminster Shorter Catechism question and answer to memorize. (This lessons catechism: “What is forbidden in the first commandment?”)

How to Turn Teenagers Into Teen Leaders (Just Like Jesus Did!) by Greg Stier (Dare2Share)

But Jesus has a way of taking the sub-par and turning it into the spectacular. He loves to choose “the foolish things to confound the wise” and, I can guarantee you, that most of the religious leaders of Jesus’ time viewed his choice of disciples as utterly foolish and misguided. So how did Jesus do it? How did Jesus take 12 ordinary young men and turn them into 11 extraordinary leaders (remember Judas flamed out)?

Celebrating Seniors

Senior Sunday Is Coming by Brad M. Griffin (Fuller Youth Institute)

Aside from baptism, the Sunday we set aside to celebrate high school seniors may be the one moment the entire church community comes together to affirm a young person by name. It creates time and space to note that real life transition is taking place, and to communally bless and send these young adults into the world—even if they are physically staying close to home. How can we reimagine not only this service, but also the grad season more broadly? Here are three strategies to consider this year in your ministry. 

Five Questions to Ask Every Senior by Robbie Becker (LeaderTreks)

Every year when spring rolls around those of us in youth ministry find ourselves asking the similar set of questions regarding our seniors. We ask, “Did I tell them everything I wanted to say? Did I share with them the truth? Did I finish strong?” When the answer is yes, it makes us feel good; if the answer is no, it does the opposite. But Im not convinced that weve been asking ourselves the right questions.

Rooteds Two Most-Read of April

Why Are All the Kids Reading Dystopian? And How the Gospel Gives Us a Better Story to Tell by Chelsea Kingston Erickson (Rooted)

I read The Hunger Games somewhat begrudgingly (sometimes you just need to read what students are reading!) several years ago, and although the premise turned my stomach, I had to admit the writing was captivating. More recently, I binge-read Veronica Roths Divergent series, finding myself drawn into the story of post-apocalyptic Chicago and its teenage heroes in a way I hadnt expected. But its not only the writing that makes these stories compelling. Studentsinterest in dystopian literature and video games gives us a window into their souls. When we think about what attracts them to the genre, at least three features emerge.

Student Series: Gospel Hope for the Self-Righteous Overachiever by Connor Coskery (Rooted)

On the athletic fields I did everything I could to contribute, become a captain, and perform. In the classroom I studied after hours, attended countless ACT prep courses, and anxiously awaited every test grade. My obsession with building the perfect resume led me to join every club, pursue every student-wide election, and participate in every extra curricular. Nothing could stand in my way to my goal and my success.

In Case You Missed It (Rooteds April Honorable Mention)

And It Was Night: A Holy Week Meditationby Joe Gibbes (Rooted)

And it was night. This is a spiritual declaration. Yes, the sun had set a few hours before; but darker still, one of Jesusclosest companions was ready, willing, and seemingly able to derail the mission of God.  Darker still was the truth that Judas, the guards, Pilate, and the temple rulers were all simply Satans pawns – all the forces of Satan were being marshalled against the Son of God, and their victory seemed inevitable. And it was night.

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