Mark Cannister’s well-written article, “Doing it How They Did it,” is a fantastic overview of the origins of youth ministry. If you are looking for a brief primer on where youth ministry has come from and the implications for youth work today, I highly recommend his article below as one of the best youth ministry resources to have in your library:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! -Galatians 2:20-21
Our faith muscles are strengthened as we meditate on the grace of God, not on his impossible standards.
Can you imagine ever saying to someone that “Christ died for nothing!”? Yet the Apostle Paul says that in our actions and in our beliefs we may as well be saying that out loud. That is really convicting. I think leaders in particular sometimes get baited by performance, goals and expectations put on them and fall into this trap of trying to live up to impossible standards.
Whether you are speaking to a large group, facilitating discussion in a small group, or mentoring an individual, you can never stop improving as a speaker.
“Communication is the real work of leadership.” -Nitin Nohria
WHETHER AT HOME OR ABROAD HERE IS A CROSS-CULTURAL CHECKLIST I USE AS A SPEAKER TO HELP PEOPLE LISTEN & GET SOMETHING OUT OF MY TALKS…
The good news of Jesus Christ is that you are loved.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” –Romans 5:8
Jesus loves us not because we are these incredibly loveable fur balls who deserve his love. He loves us in a much deeper profound way than that. Jesus knows we are made from dust. He knows that we can’t possibly fathom how great and worthy he is of our awe and worship. He understands that we were all born of the seed of Adam which means in our own strength we have no chance of ever being completely pure. He knows how broken and frail we are even though we put on all sorts of prideful masks and crutches of victimization. And in the midst of all of that, when he was on the cross, paving a path for us sinners to cross over from death to life, he cried out to the Father in our defense:
Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. –Luke 23:34
WE NEED DAILY REMINDERS WE ARE LOVED
Most of us need daily reminders that we are loved so much. Without Gospel reminders we become jaded, cowardly, judgmental, and self-protective. And when we sway from feeling loved our ability to reflect the Light of Jesus’ love to others dims and dims and dims…
I really believe that ministry is more “caught” than taught. What I mean by that is that young people learn more about being a disciple of Jesus by being around someone who is intentionally pouring their lives into them. Jesus spent most of his time with Peter, James, and John, and then the bulk of the rest of his time in ministry with the other eight of his 12 Disciples. Jesus was intentional about showing them day by day what it looked like to be in relationship with him. By being around him all of the time they learned by observation what his priorities were, how he spent his day, and what seemed to matter to him. They even observed what he ate, when he slept, how he recreated, how he talked to the Heavenly Father in prayer. For Jesus, it was “quantity” time with his Disciples as much or more than the “quality of time.”
How to Share the Gospel with Young People
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. -Jeremiah 29:7
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.’ – Revelation 14:6-7
As I get to know student ministry leaders in dozens of countries around the world, one of the most important topics we constantly keep at the forefront is the Gospel of Jesus and how we can communicate it effectively to young people. As the passage from Revelation above excites our imagination about the activity of God in the spiritual realm to spread the yeast of his Good News to every tribe, tongue, and culture, we need to keep reminding ourselves that evangelism is absolutely central to the mission of the church. As we explore the Parable of the Sower in Mark 4:1-9 in this post, I want to encourage you that no matter how hard you find it is to share the Gospel, or how discouraged you get, never give up on introducing people to Jesus. The central message of this parable is exactly that: NEVER NEVER NEVER STOP SOWING.
Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them. – John C. Maxwell
Recently, my wife, Becky and I took a much needed retreat to Northern California with some friends to talk about life, marriage, leadership, and parenting. I talk alot about the need for retreat… and it was time to practice what I preach.
As a parent, and a leader in youth ministry development, I see a real need for encouragement from God’s Word on how to pursue God’s design for the parent-child relationship. The Apostle Paul offers some simple but life-changing instruction in Colossians that is probably drawn from his understanding of Exodus 20:12 which is the a commandment directed specifically toward the parent-child relationship: God instructs children:
“ ‘Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”(Exodus 20:12 )
This is the one commandment that is coupled with a direct blessing. All of the commandments are equally important, yet for some reason God adds a special blessing and motivation for following this commandment. Why? I think it is probably because FAMILY is the foundation of society. If we get this wrong, society will erode at break-neck speed. If we get the Parent-Child relationship wrong, patterns will get established that could govern the rest of our lives… and effect all of those other institutes God has ordained.
Foreign Policy recently reported on some of the current statistics of Mormonism. In the article, The Mormon Missionary: The Things They Carried, they reported there are:
83,000 full-time missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who serve in 405 missions around the world. The number of full-time missionaries has risen by some 40 percent since 2012, when the church lowered the minimum age for serving from 19 to 18 for men and from 21 to 19 for women. But conversions haven’t kept pace: The church recorded just 3.4 baptisms per missionary in 2013, compared with 4.6 in 2012.
In my travels I can attest to seeing more Mormon missionaries all over the globe. I remember being in Samoa and seeing Mormon church after Mormon church as I drove throughout the island. Most Mormons introduce themselves as “Christians” and talk about their goal as “introducing people to Jesus Christ.” The problem is that, although their culture has many attractive attributes that display characteristics of Jesus Christ, their beliefs do not align with the teachings of the Bible. This can be very hard to know how to navigate in a conversation with a Mormon.
Probably the best book I’ve read on how to share the Gospel with Mormons is, I Love Mormons by David Rowe. Dr. Rowe has been a missionary to Mormons for a long time and offers keen insight. For Rowe, the proper starting point to Mormon evangelism is to approach it just as you would approach any other “culture”. The wrong approach is to start with the perspective that Mormonism is a “cult.” Although their beliefs do not align with Christianity, it is not effective to start out accusing them of being part of a cult. I highly recommend Rowe’s book. Some say that Mormonism will soon be, if not already, considered a “World Religion.” Followers of Jesus have a great opportunity in evangelism Mormons, and we need to prayerfully consider the urgency of missions to Mormons, as they are one of the more active “evangelists” of any other religion in the world.