Creating a dress code for your youth ministry

Does your youth ministry needs a dress code and if so, what should that look like?

Summer is on its way and it always brings up the inevitable issue of clothes. Or rather, lack thereof. Appropriate clothing can be a bit of an issue in youth ministry. But is it wise to enforce a dress code in youth ministry and if so, how do you go about creating a dress code for your youth ministry?

The 4B rule

Let me start with describing my own experiences. Yes, we did have a dress code in my former youth ministry, but only for those students who were up on stage. We simply enforced the 4B’s rule: no breasts, butts, boxers and bellies visible. Easy to remember, works like a charm. Every now and then the worship leader had to remind someone of the rules, but all in all it functioned pretty well. [Read more…]

Youth Sermon Idea: God Keeps His Promises

youth sermon topics

It can be tough to come up with fresh ideas for youth sermons. We love helping out here, so today we offer a sermon from the book of Jeremiah on God keeping His promises .

Bible passage: Jeremiah 29:1, 4-21

Key message: God keeps His promises

Synopsis: God had warned the Jews in Judah that He would punish them and send them in exile, because they had forgotten about Him. But the people didn’t listen. Now they were taken away and they were prisoners in a foreign land. They deserved every bit of punishment for forgetting about God who had done so much for them. God had warned them for years through the prophet Jeremiah that He would bring destruction if they didn’t change their sinful ways. But even though God punished them (and we read about the coming destruction of Jerusalem here in verse 15-21), He still kept His promise that He would never truly forsake them. He promised them that their captivity will last 70 years, but that He would bring them back to Israel. Also, He assured them that ultimately He had the best in mind for them. He wanted to bless them–but they do need to obey Him. [Read more…]

10 preaching tips from Tony Campolo


When I saw Tony Campolo was leading a preaching master class on the early day of the Youth Work Summit, I immediately booked this stream. He’s a brilliant communicator and I was pretty stoked to be able to spend a whole day learning from him. And I have to say: he didn’t disappoint. He was funny, sharp, and wise and I could have listened to him for hours more. Let me share some of the highlights of what he taught that day: 10 preaching tips from Tony Campolo himself.

1. Make sure you have the gift

Speaking, preaching, teaching, whatever you want to call it: it’s a gift. You need to have this gift if you want to have an impact. Churches are dying because their pastors don’t have the gift of teaching, so make sure you have a call and a gift to preach.

2. Prepare physically

This is something Tony Campolo could speak on with authority, considering he’s in his seventies and still going strong. He stressed the need to be physically fit, to eat well and keep yourself in shape to be able to keep going.

[Read more…]

Is your life your message?


My life is my message.

I love this quote from Ghandi. It’s the more poetic form of the well know saying that actions speak louder than words. Don’t get me wrong: we need words, absolutely. I’m not a big fan of the ‘we should preach the Gospel at all times and use words when necessary’ attitude.

We always need words, because you cannot explain the Gospel without words. You cannot teach the Bible without words. Jesus Himself used words to explain the Kingdom of God.

But words alone are not enough. [Read more…]

Visualize your priorities with red, yellow and green

Traffic light for bikes.

Prioritizing is of crucial importance, especially when your to do list is overflowing, as most of ours are. We’ve discussed several methods of prioritizing so far:

No matter which method you choose, it’s important to come up with a way to visualize your priorities, so you can see at once which tasks have priorities and which don’t. Again, there are several ways to do this:

  • Put the high priority tasks at the top of your list
  • Categorize by A (high priority), B (medium priority) or C (low priority)
  • Use an app like Evernote to separate high, medium and low priority tasks

[Read more…]

Youth Sermon Idea: Psalm 84

youth sermon topics

Psalm 84 is best known for the famous worship song Matt Redman has written: Better is one day. It’s a Psalm with a great message for teens that will help them find a place of belonging, a home with God.

Bible passage: Psalm 84

Key message: Home is with God

Synopsis: The question of where our home is, is an interesting one for many people. Is home the place where you were born, the place where you live, the place you long for, or something else? One thing is certain, as Christians our real home is not here. As Larry Norman once put it, we’re ‘only visiting this planet’. Our real home is with God. [Read more…]

Conquering ourselves


“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re usually right.”

Henry Ford said those words and I have to agree with them. I am often my own worst enemy and my ‘inner dialogue’ is not helpful a lot of the times, as I struggle with low self esteem.

“It’s not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves.”

It’s why Sir Edmund Hillary’s quote rings so true to me. I don’t know if you recognize his name, but he was the first man to climb Mount Everest together with Tenzing Norgay and Hillary climbed many mountains after that. I have no intention of trying to climb Everest (though one never knows – I;ve certainly grown to love hiking the last year), but I think he’s right. No matter how hard the task before us, it’s not the task that we have to conquer, it’s ourselves.

If we keep telling ourselves we can’t do something, that we’re just not good enough, not holy enough, not old enough or wise enough or whatever enough…then we’ll never do it.

In what area do you have to conquer yourself?


Helping youth thrive


It’s not often that you encounter people with the passion for youth of Peter Benson. His whole TED Talk titled ‘How youth thrive’ shows his love for young people and it encouraged me.

Peter Benson is not a youth pastor however; he’s a psychologist who does research amongst young people on their ‘spark’. By ‘spark’ he means a skill, a cause or a quality that makes people thrive, that makes them happy and whole.

In his talk, he shares some interesting statistics. Right now, there are 80 million young people aged 8-18 in the US. But only 25% of these 80 million are on a pathway to human thriving (meaning being happy, connected, kind, contributing, etc.) and the rest has fallen behind. They are lost, confused, medicated and alone. Those statistics should give anyone involved in youth work food for thought. [Read more…]

Setting priorities with the INO System


You can’t do it all. You know that deep down, but still you try. We all do. As youth workers, our to do list is often unending and things we cross off at the top, are being replaced just as quickly at the bottom.

That means we have to choose what we do. We have to set priorities and work according to these.

We’ve talked about two ways of defining priorities before: the 80/20 rule and Covey’s time management matrix. But on the Harvard Business Review Blog, I came across another method that you can use to decide how much time to invest in something: the INO system. [Read more…]

How the Zeigarnik Effect can help you battle procrastination


We all have those tasks on our to do list that we just can set ourselves to do. Sometimes it’s because we don’t like doing this (for me, making phone calls is a biggie since for some reason I really dislike calling people), sometimes it’s because the task is so big we just don’t know where to start or it may be that we wonder how we’re ever going to finish it.

Whatever the task is that you dread doing, chances are it will results in big time procrastination. So how do you get yourself to do the things you dread, especially if they are bigger tasks that require more time?

The solution is as simple as can be: just start. If you just take that first step, the rest won’t be as hard.

Believe me, I realize how stupid this sounds, but hear me out. In psychology, there’s a phenomenon known as the Zeigarnik effect, named after psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik who first studied it. She noticed that a waiter had better recollections of still unpaid orders and did further research. The Zeigarnik effect states that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.

It seems that as humans, we are designed for closure, we have a built-in desire to finish what we have started. If we don’t finish a task we’ve started, we experience dissonance and we keep thinking about that task.

[Read more…]