The Top Ten: September 2016

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Each month we compile a Top 10 List for the Rooted community (comprised of both parents and student leaders). This list is made up of articles from a variety of websites across the internet – 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.

Integrating Students in the Church

Why Some Young People Still Love Church by Kara Powell (HuffPost)
In the midst of the pain of parental divorce and the choice to wait to launch their own families, the church remains a vital source of relationships with peers as well as with both older and younger generations.

Young people are drawn to churches that are more like family rooms than theatres, and that invite young people not just to share beliefs, but to share life.

Are Millennials Just Entitled Consumers or Are They Ready to Get to Work? by Brad M. Griffin (Fuller Youth Institute)
You’ve probably heard the accusations that Millennials are fundamentally self-centered and want tailored consumer experiences—for church and everything else. If you’re a Millennial, those accusations may annoy the tar out of you. If you’re not, you might be able to identify some experiences that make this ring true, and others that call it into question.

What we hear less about is how churches can be communities in which young people find not only spiritual goods and services, but also purpose, significance, and calling. What if the young people in our churches are asking the questions above? What if they look around our congregations and wonder, do these people really need me, or am I just an extra, a nuisance, or—worse—a trophy?

Partnering with Parents

9 Tips for Email Communication with Parents by Nick Blevins (Orange Leaders Blog)
Every leader I talk with who leads in children’s or student ministry wants to improve their partnership with parents. We all recognize the power that comes from our church and our parents being on the same page. A core part of our church’s strategy for partnering with parents is communication. The premise is simple. The more parents know what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, the more equipped they’ll be to continue conversations at home.

Objectification and Cute Kids by Christian Gonzalez (Princeton Institute for Youth Ministry)
Youth ministry demands the hard work of having our own eyes opened to how we have participated in the systemic abandonment of youth. It won’t be fun, and it may mean that we have to look at some of the institutions we have established within youth ministry culture in order to understand how these seemingly sacrosanct events are more about us than they are about inviting young people to participate in the overwhelming mystery and joy of God’s Kingdom.

Youth Culture

Transgender Identities Are Not Always Permanent by Walt Heyer (The Witherspoon Institute)
The process of abandoning the transgender life and reverting back to one’s innate gender/sex is called detransitioning. As someone who has detransitioned myself, I only wish more would speak up about the reality of what life is like after transitioning to the other gender and why some people eventually decide to embrace their birth sex.

Did I Listen to Nirvana Because I Was Angry? Or Was I Angry Because I Listened to Nirvana? by David Zahl (Mockingbird)
Religious or not, when we cast pop culture as forbidden fruit, we do ourselves and our children a disservice. The coming-of-age stories are well-worn: ‘I’ll never forget the day my parents found my stash of Metallica CDs’. ‘We were only ever allowed to listen to Christian music, so when my cousin’s friend played me that Eminem track in his car, I started counting the days until I could get my own place and blast hip-hop’.
The real issue, however, is not that we make a questionable movie or band that much more attractive with our restrictions; it’s that we miss out on an opportunity to ask a deeper (and ultimately more biblical) question: what is it inside of us that makes us want to consume what we actually do want to consume?

Is Opiate Use Really a Problem Among Youth? by Chris Schaffner (Youth Specialties)
As an addiction counselor working exclusively with opioid dependent individuals I can tell you these number don’t surprise me at all. Having worked in this field for a few years now I can attest to the growing number of opioid users, especially among the populations listed below. We’ve also seen a growing number of overdose related deaths due to opioid use. To those of us working in the field, it feels like the problem is growing faster than we can treat it. If this were the Ebola virus and that was happening, we would do everything we could to contain its spread without hesitation.

Ministry Skills

Actually, You Have Something to Learn Too by Kris Fernhout (EFCA Today)
Mentors are one powerful answer—wise, godly adults in the church who will walk alongside. But I would argue that in traditional mentoring relationships, the influence often flows only one way. What if, instead, we emphasized relationships that are rooted in equality and mutuality?

Learning to Listen and be Present for Others by Mark Oestreicher (Why is Marko?) Sometimes my time on a plane is quiet, reasonably isolated (thanks to noise-cancelling headphones), and contemplative. Other times – usually due to a talkative traveler in the next seat – I’m engaged in conversation that brings about a different opportunity for reflection, insight or learning. A week ago, it was the latter of these.

The importance of presence and not missing Spirit led opportunities.

When Youth Workers Become Mug Shots… by Walt Mueller (CPYU)
Youth worker…you are just one bad decision away from being a headline…Don’t think it won’t ever happen to you. That’s one of the most dangerous lies you can tell yourself.

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

Worshipping God in the Dust: Words from a Hurt Youth Leader by Kendal Conner (Rooted)
I cannot expect to lead them well in suffering, if I never walk the valley myself. So that is what I did. I chose to not hide myself behind the mask of “I’m okay.” Knowing I still had to lead that evening, I chose to bear truth and not mask the pain. I did not simply say, “I’m fine.” Instead, I allowed the heaviness of my suffering to be displayed in light of the hope of future glory. I took the opportunity to show my students that in the midst of a suffering and hurting world, Christ is still enough.

Parenting a Child with Major Depressive Disorder by Ingram Link (Rooted)
We are called to trust a Holy God. That often means the picture of life that we have envisioned (and are hard at work to create) is destroyed. We have to trust that what God has is better. We have to trust that what He is taking us through, what He is taking our child through, and what He is taking the rest of our family through is better than our Facebook, Instagram, Christmas card picture-perfect image. And we have to trust that all of it is for our good and His glory.
In Case You Missed It (Rooted’s September Honorable Mention)

The Galaxy Note: Can a Phone Really Be Glorious? by Mark Culton (Rooted)
The Verge initially said, “The glorious Galaxy Note is what happens when a company isn’t afraid to go crazy.” Some even touted it as the greatest smartphone ever. And then, when it finally went on the market, it started to blow up (and not in the good, “that phone is really flying off the shelves” type of way). The Galaxy Note literally started to combust on some people, precipitating one of the largest recalls in smartphone history. The simple truth is – our technology can never deliver on what it promises.

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