Top Ten of September 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

How I Failed My Youth Group by Jimmy Davis (Sola)

Let me be blunt: your students have doubts. Maybe you have doubts. Historically, the church has taken one of two responses to doubt: (1) Real Christians don’t have doubts or (2) Just don’t talk about it. Sadly, Dr. Powell’s research has shown that the church’s silence on truth has been the main reason why high school graduates leave the Christian faith.

5 Reasons I’m Staying in Youth Ministry by Mike McGarry (TGC)

I realized that for all my frustration about people asking when I’d become a “real pastor,” I began to wonder the same thing. I don’t know if I was asking it on my own, or if the question’s frequency planted it in my mind. But over time I realized I’d begun to view youth ministry as beneath me, as something I’d outgrown. Others who knew my heart, however, were able to help me discern that my passion in ministry remained fixed on reaching the next generation. It was time for a change, but not yet time to leave youth ministry.

 Partnering with Parents

Child-Centric Families Dole Out God’s Passive Wrath on Kids by Cameron Cole (TGC)
Most parents are trying their best and want what’s best for their children. This child-centric current, however, represents society enabling and facilitating self-rule, the very thing Scripture says is the essence of sin. The tail is wagging the dog in a manner that often leads to self-destruction.

I Won’t Buy My Teenagers Smartphones by Sarah P. Weeldreyer (The Atlantic)
My 14-year-old son just started high school, and he does not have his own smartphone. When I tell people this, I get the same face I imagine I would if I said that I hadn’t fed him for several days. My son is fine, though—really. I don’t think he’s ever been lost, stranded, or even inconvenienced by his lack of that quintessential 21st-century accessory.

8 Questions to Ask Your High School Senior This Fall by Kara Powell (Fuller Youth Institute)
Based on our studies of both young people and their amazing parents, I’ve learned how important it is to have this “DTR” (or “Define the Relationship”) talk with your own child before your family moves to a next stage. It’s a great opportunity to practice what Steve Argue and I call “Growing With parenting” as you discuss questions like: What do we like about how were currently communicating? What do you wish was different? How can we best stay in touch in this next phase? How—and how often—do you want me to communicate with you?

Youth Culture

Mental Health: The Impact of Social Media On Young People by Martin Armstrong (Statista)

Is the end of the “like” coming? According to TechCrunch, based on the findings of researcher Jane Manchun Wong, Facebook is currently carrying out tests to reveal only a limited number of likes on a post. The social networking giant is currently conducting the same type of experiment in seven countries on its Instagram app.

How TikTok Holds Our Attention by Jia Tolentino (The New Yorker)

Young white people lip-synched to audio of nonwhite people in ways that ranged from innocently racist to overtly racist. A kid sprayed shaving cream into a Croc and stepped into it so that shaving cream squirted out of the holes in the Croc. In five minutes, the app had sandblasted my cognitive matter with twenty TikToks that had the legibility and logic of a narcoleptic dream.

Ministry Skills

Serious Bible Study is for Teens, Too by Katherine Forster (TGC)

I’m not just telling myself this story, though. Especially as a teenager, I’m surrounded by messages that feed my natural inclinations—inspirational quotes on Instagram, text posts on Pinterest, even some of the songs on my Spotify playlists. Today’s culture commands teenagers to believe in ourselves. It demands we take the reins of our own lives and assert control over our destinies. 

Why “Learn With Me” Is So Much Better Than “Learn From Me” by Karl Vaters (CT’s Pivot)

Even (particularly) as followers of Jesus, while we know the one who has all the answers, we need to constantly remind ourselves that we’re not him. The most effective teachers, preachers and storytellers don’t just tell people what they already know. They share what they’re learning.

What Not to Say At the Beginning of a Worship Service by Tim Challies (Challies)

The fact is, many leaders do not attach great significance to the opening and closing elements of their services and, therefore, do not adequately prepare themselves for what they will say and do not adequately guard themselves against the inevitable discomfort they will feel. The result is words or phrases that may be empty, distracting, or just plain silly.

*Bonus Content: Watch Ray Ortlund’s beautiful example of something we might say instead!

Rooted’s Two Most-Read Articles of September

Half Truths Series: God Will Make Us Happy and Give Us a Good Life by Dan Montgomery

Our students imagine the Good Life is marked by minimal suffering and maximum ease. The picture in their minds (and maybe ours) is something like the infamous Fyre Festival as it was advertised: an adventure filled with luxury, comfort, and entertainment surrounded by healthy and attractive people. Unfortunately, real life often feels more like the real Fyre Festival: a disappointing string of broken promises as terrified people slowly turn on each other.

Youth Ministers as A Bridge of Reconciliation Between Parents and Children by Mark Culton

The book of Malachi serves as a bridge between the vintage faith of the patriarchs and the new wine of Jesus’ coming. The covenant that God made with His people was still in effect, despite the unfaithfulness of so many. God still loved His people (Mal. 1:2) and Jesus was about to display this love in technicolor. Apparently, one of the key markers of the new covenant would be reconciliation between family members. All of this is confirmed in Luke 1:16-17, where we read that God’s people would return to the Lord, and fathers and children will turn towards each other.

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

10 Ways to Engage Your Youth Group in Cross-Cultural Thinking (And Topics Like Immigration and Politics) by Mark Howard

As you learn more about the people mentioned, you’ll realize how diverse and cross-cultural the early church was in its makeup. It really is incredible who the Lord brought together.

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